NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna Town Board on Tuesday called for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to restore the $60 million in funding to state towns, villages and cities that last week was cut from the proposed 2019-2020 executive budget.
In a unanimous vote, board members asked the governor to bring back the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding during his 30-day amendments to the budget.
Niskayuna stands to lose $101,675 in state AIM money. If not restored, town residents stand to gain a 1.25 percent tax increase.
The resolution was drafted and sponsored by Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw, who chairs the town’s highways and public facilities and public works committees.
“It was very important to draft this resolution because at a time when we’re doing our best to be as fiscally prudent as possible, we held the line on taxes this year in our budget,” McGraw said.
McGraw added, “To then be presented with such a dramatic decrease in state aid that would force us in essence to cut $100,000 in programming or public safety or road maintenance or have to start the budget process next year with more than a 1 percent tax increase, it’s unsustainable on our part.”
Town officials are counting on support from state Sen. James N. Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Assemblyman Phillip Steck, D-Colonie.
“I am glad we are voting on this resolution tonight,” said Supervisor Yasmine Syed. “I believe it’s imperative we pressure state legislators to do the right thing, to advocate on behalf of towns to have this funding reinstated.”
Syed believes Cuomo’s fiscal move penalizes localities for being prudent and building up fund balances, or surpluses.
“That’s one of the reasons that was given for why this funding has been pulled,” Syed added, “is that towns have done such a great job in building up their fund balances reserves. But they are nowhere near what they were pre-2008, before the recession.”
Councilman Bill McPartlon said he believes Tedisco and Steck will push hard to re-establish the lost money.
“And not just our town,” added Councilman John Della Ratta, “but a lot of towns, cities and villages are really feeling this pinch.”
More than 1,300 towns, cities and villages will lose money if the AIM payments are not restored. Locally, Rotterdam would lose more than $173,445. Glenville would be out $176,465.
Councilwoman Lisa Weber said she is optimistic funds will return to municipalities. Syed is also hopeful.
“I don’t think this is a popular measure from what I’m gathering, from talking to our state senator and assemblyman,” she said. “The towns just can’t bear it and I hope the governor will see that. And I hope all the towns join with us and pass similar resolutions.”
The final budget is due by April 1.
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]