Leaders meet with Wallace to discuss cut in state-aid

Local leaders who's municipalities are impacted by a proposed cut in state aid attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Assemblymember Monica Wallace on February 6, 2019. (Contributed)
Local leaders who's municipalities are impacted by a proposed cut in state aid attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Assemblymember Monica Wallace on February 6, 2019. (Contributed)

BUFFALO – Local municipalities impacted by a proposed cut in state aid attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Assemblymember Monica Wallace Wednesday.

The Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program will see a cut in funding under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2019-2020 Executive Budget Proposal.  The Town of Cheektowaga will lose $820,898.

“Cheektowaga currently receives the most AIM funding of any town or village in Erie County,” said Supervisor Diane Benczkowski.  “While I have implemented many cost-saving measures, state funding through AIM has been a contributing factor for Cheektowaga keeping tax levy increases below the state mandated tax cap.”

The money from the state goes to fund a budget line in the highway department says Brian Krause the town’s Director of Administration and Finance.

He says if the state had eliminated the funding before the adoption of the 2019 budget its impact on the tax levy would have increased it by 1.1% raising it to 2.3% – just slightly over the tax cap.

Ms. Wallace said that her office is currently preparing a letter to Mr. Cuomo outlining the need for AIM funding to be reinstated in his 30-day budget amendments.  A similar letter will be sent to legislative leaders urging AIM funding inclusion in the Senate and Assembly budget proposals.

“Today’s discussion has made one thing clear; if these proposed cuts were to go forward, town supervisors and village mayors would be faced with having to cut services and raise taxes. That’s not acceptable, and I intend to fight to fully restore AIM funding,” said Ms. Wallace.

The funding cut has Ms. Benczkowski looking to 2020.

“The loss of this funding, after it has already been budgeted for, will no doubt cause severe cuts to programs and result in higher taxes in 2020,” said Ms. Benczkowski.  “I hope Governor Cuomo will meet with state legislators over the next couple of weeks and restore this funding in the final state budget.”

The proposed cuts do not affect cities, which receive the vast majority of AIM funding, or localities in which AIM funding accounts for two percent or more of the municipal budget.  Funding through the AIM program, an unrestricted state aid program introduced during the 2005-2006 fiscal year, had been held flat at $714.7 million for seven years prior to its currently proposed reduction.

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