NYS Budgets Proposes Cuts to AIM funding

In a move that would hit most local municipalities, the proposed NYS budget slashes Aid & Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) funding to most local Towns & Villages.

The loss of funding would hit Nassau villages hard, with only two out of the current 29 recipients retaining any of the funding in the Governor’s proposal.  In response, local Town and Village officials have been contacting state legislators to try and restore this important stream of funding that helps to bring back important resources sent to Albany.

The loss of funding would mean the contraction of village budgets that are already severely limited in ways that they can raise revenue.  Some villages could see a loss of upwards of 2% to their annual budgets, though the average cut will be in the neighborhood of 0.67%.  AIM funds themselves comprise only one one-hundredth of 1% of the total $172 billion budget.

“Our hope is that when we can give these facts to our state legislators that they will realize that this, although a small amount of the state budget, is very very important to the villages,” said Nassau County Village Officials Association executive director Ralph Kreitzman.

If the cuts were to be realized it would be especially tough on some villages that have begun improvement plans under the current funding model.  In particular, Great Neck Plaza would lose $65,000 in funding at a time when they passed a budget aimed at keeping the Village under the property tax while balancing necessary road repairs.

“It is an important amount because, as I said, if we knew about that [before the budget vote] and didn’t want to cut somewhere else in the budget, we would’ve had to go above the cap,” said Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender.

Suffolk Towns and Villages have also expressed dismay at the proposed cut, with a recent press conference being held at Huntington Town Hall to push back on the proposed cuts.  The bipartisan group of Town Supervisors and Village Mayors including Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer, Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Councilwoman Joan Cergol, Town of Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, Town of Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino, Suffolk County Presiding Officer Duwayne Gregory, and Village of Northport Mayor Damon McMullen.  NYS Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Senator James Gaughran were also on hand to represent the State, and have pledged to try and work with Governor Cuomo to have the funding restored.

“Considering the significant financial support the State receives from the Town of Huntington and the Long Island region in general,” said Supervisor Lupinacci, “it is disappointing to learn of the unprecedented $59 million in cuts Governor Cuomo has proposed in his 2020 New York State Budget, effectively gutting the unrestricted state revenue sharing program known as Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM), significantly affecting the Long Island region.”

Huntington is set to lose about $1.1 million in funds if the AIM cuts are realized.

The Suffolk County Supervisor’s Association also sent a letter to Cuomo opposing the move.  The letter stated that any such cuts could result in the raising of local taxes or the tapping of reserve funds. The Governor’s office did point to those reserve funds when questioned on the cuts, but the Supervisors pointed out that many of them are just now recovering after being used during the 2008 financial downturn.

Continuance of AIM funding was a priority for the LI Lobby Coalition in last year’s platform and we continue to support this important source of funding for local municipalities.  We urge our readers to contact their local legislators on this important issue to ensure that Towns and Villages can get this revenue for muich-needed projects.

You can read more at The Island Now here, and Newsday here.