Cities to see $29.6M more in aid

The state budget will include a $29.6 million increase in aid for cities to help New Yorkers struggl

The state budget will include a $29.6 million increase in aid for cities to help New Yorkers struggling with local property taxes, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said Thursday.

“Despite the fact that we faced a budget gap of over $4.6 billion, providing additional aid to cities was a priority in this budget,” Bruno said.

Dan Weiller, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, confirmed that the city aid would be included in the new budget. Both Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans pushed for more aid for cities than was proposed in the executive budget.

Gov. David Paterson, who took office after former Gov. Eliot Spitzer was linked to a prostitution ring and resigned in disgrace, had previously proposed cutting city aid growth by 2 percent. The Assembly and Senate have agreed to restore that cut in growth and add another $29.6 million.

According to figures provided by the Senate majority, Schenectady will get an extra $235,957 in a restoration of the funding that Paterson had proposed cutting from Spitzer’s budget proposal. It will not get any share of the statewide $29.6 million funding enhancement, which is above and beyond the restoration money.

Albany will get $273,857 in restored funding, and a $215,725 enhancement.

Amsterdam will get a $60,203 restoration. Cohoes will get a $57,755 restoration plus a $48,311 enhancement.

Gloversville will get a $48,484 restoration and Johnstown $29,245. Saratoga Springs will get a $35,834 restoration and Mechanicville $13,947.

Troy and Rensselaer, which are in Bruno’s home county, got enhancements in addition to restorations of funding. But it was unclear why some cities got enhancements as well as restorations, while other cities did not.

Last week, Paterson went to Schenectady and Mayor Brian Stratton supported his proposed cuts to the AIM program as necessary and prudent, given the state budget deficit and looming national recession.

The Senate did not go back into session late Thursday to address other pressing budget issues, including transportation and education.

The Assembly had a majority conference about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to charge drivers extra tolls in congested parts of Manhattan, but nothing was resolved and they didn’t go into session Thursday.

Silver said he still needs to hear from about 40 Assembly members on the so-called “congestion pricing” issue and no decision would be made at least until Monday.

Silver, Bruno and Paterson met privately Thursday evening, but it was unclear what issues they were discussing.

The state Senate is also expected at some point to reject a “car tax” proposed in the executive budget that would have permanently raised the motor vehicle law enforcement fee from $5 to $20. Instead, they’re proposing extending the current fee of $5 for one year only.

The Senate also is expected to reject a nearly $5 million plan to expand broadband Internet access in New York. Senate Republicans say they support making broadband available to more people, but the additional money isn’t urgently needed because $5 million that previously had been allotted for that purpose was just released last month.

After two weeks of negotiations, lawmakers are still trying to agree on the $124 billion state budget plan, which was due Tuesday.

The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would require judges to sentence repeat violent felons to life in prison without the possibility of parole after three offenses.

Categories: Schenectady County

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