Attack On Municipalities Coming From Multiple Fronts

It didn’t take long for the assault on local governments to start in Albany this year; not that it has ever truly ended. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s out-of-touch Executive Budget proposal eliminates crucial state funding that will hurt towns and villages. State money that localities have relied upon for years—called Aid to Municipalities (AIM)—will be reduced or taken away from nearly 90 percent of New York's towns and villages.
 
As a former town supervisor, I know how tough this is going to be on local officials and their budgets. Their annual spending plans are already in place. Programs and services need to be paid for. AIM funding has been consistently available without interruption for years with no increase. By cutting this funding stream by $59 million, the governor has basically pulled the rug out from under towns and villages, which are now left scrambling to find answers.
 
LOCAL BUDGETS NOW FACING ADDED STRESS
 
If enacted, this will have real-world implications in communities across New York. The loss of state resources directly impacts the services a locality can provide. Roads may not get paved. Staff may face layoffs. Planned upgrades to parks, bridges and equipment may be delayed or eliminated.
 
This proposal is insulting and represents the second part of a financial 1-2 punch from Albany. Local governments already face tremendous burdens from New York State in the form of unfunded mandates—the true driver of our outrageous property taxes. Albany passes it. Localities must pay for it. And our taxes go up.  
 
On the first day of legislative activity for 2019, Albany wasted no time in forcing more costs on municipalities without providing any financial assistance. With the passage of election reform bills, local governments now have a new program to install—with no financial help from the state. The Assembly Minority Conference offered a measure that would require the state to pay the local costs, but the Majority rejected the common-sense proposal.
 
BUDGET PRIORITIES MISPLACED
                                         
There is no shortage of irony associated with the governor’s treatment of towns and villages as a result of this proposal. The loss of AIM funding will hurt; even the reduction of a few thousand dollars will be felt. But as localities now scratch and claw to make their budgets whole, roughly $3 billion in taxpayer-funded incentives will be handed to Amazon, and its CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the word.
 
In addition, Gov. Cuomo likes to complain about the federal government’s “assault” on the state. Yet, he seems to be comfortable taking advantage of the local governments within his jurisdiction, offering no relief for existing mandates and, now, eliminating relied-upon funding streams. It’s the definition of hypocrisy. The Assembly Minority Conference will continue to fight against this unnecessary attack on local governments before they crack under this immense downward pressure.
 
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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