Local officials attend state Conference of Mayors
ALBANY - Local leaders from across New York State recently traveled to Albany for a meeting of the New York Conference of Mayors and to directly share their concerns with state legislators on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2020-2021 New York State budget.
The governor unveiled his executive budget proposal in late January and the Legislature’s fiscal committees have been conducting public hearings on the $178 billion plan over the past several weeks.
State Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning, met with Corning Mayor Bill Boland, Corning City Manager Mark Ryckman and Corning City Councilman Alison Hunt.
Ryckman said the primary reasons for city officials to travel to Albany was to secure an increase in Arterial Reimbursement Aid and to upgrade Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM).
"We receive $55,000 for maintaining Denison Parkway (Route 352) and Centerway (Route 414), which are state-owned highways," Ryckman said. "This rate was set in 1987 and has never been adjusted for inflation. We have been requesting an Arterial Reimbursement Aid increase for many years. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed last year’s legislation."
Hunt said city officials traveled to Albany to discuss the Arterial Aid with the chair of the Transportation Committees of both the State Assembly and the State Senate.
"We wanted to get them to put an increase within their budget because the governor has said he will sign (the increase) if it’s in their budget," Hunt said. "Last year it actually passed by both the Assembly and Senate. The governor vetoed it, with a note saying if (the Assembly and Senate) were able to get it within the budget, he will pass it."
Ryckman said the AIM funding program is the city’s primary source of financial support from the state.
"It was cut 7.5 percent approximately 10 years ago and never restored," Ryckman said. "If the funding was restored and adjusted for inflation, the City of Corning would receive an additional $746,000 each year. That would make a significant difference in funding city services."
O’Mara and Palmesano said in a joint statement that Cuomo’s proposed state budget has "sounded alarms at the local level over potential costs shifts in Medicaid, new unfunded state mandates, and funding cuts in numerous areas, including local roads and bridges."
"We agree that the Cuomo budget plan, as it stands, risks putting a heavier burden on local governments and local property taxpayers, who are already at the breaking point in fundamental ways," O’Mara and Palmesano said. "Consequently, we appreciate many of the local officials we represent raising their voices, and we will continue to work closely with them to protect our local communities and property taxpayers from unreasonable and unfair state efforts to pass the buck on fiscal responsibility."
O’Mara and Palmesano also stressed that they would keep working with their legislative colleagues across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions to keep attention focused on unfunded state mandates, a stronger commitment to AIM funding to support local municipalities and property taxpayers, "job-killing" state regulations, "out-of-control" debt, public safety, and a state tax burden "that hurts family budgets and keeps New York’s business climate one of the worst in the nation."