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What you need to know for 02/23/2018

Mayors to Gov. Cuomo: We're already sharing

Mayors to Gov. Cuomo: We're already sharing

McCarthy: Municipalities not looking to have adversarial relationship with state
Mayors to Gov. Cuomo: We're already sharing
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan speaks Monday during the New York Conference of Mayors Winter Legislative Meeting.
Photographer: Andrew Beam

Editor's note: This story was corrected at 3:38 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2018. An earlier version included an inaccurate quote from Mayor Gary McCarthy. The quote has been corrected and is the final line of this story.

ALBANY — A group of mayors demanded on Monday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledge the work they’ve already done to share services between municipalities.

Several of the mayors spoke during a news conference at the Albany Marriott on Wolf Road, during the New York Conference of Mayors Winter Legislative Meeting.

The event was attended by a total of 60 mayors and 175 village and city officials from across the state.

Several mayors hit back at what they called a “mandate” from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

A law adopted in the 2017 state budget aims to reduce property taxes by requiring chief executives in each of the 57 counties outside of New York City to create panels of town supervisors and city and village mayors to develop plans to share municipal services.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy spoke during the news conference and said municipalities weren’t looking to have an adversarial relationship with the state.

“We’re looking for a partnership,” he said. “A partnership that produces results for everyone.”

McCarthy listed some of the shared-services initiatives that have been accomplished between the city and other municipalities. They include the sales tax agreement between the county’s five towns, the sharing of the city’s wastewater treatment facility with the towns of Scotia, Glenville and parts of Saratoga County, and a new solar array being installed in Rotterdam that will be shared by municipalities.

“We haven’t existed in a vacuum,” McCarthy said. “We’ve tried to do things collectively. The evaluations at the state level didn’t take those things into account.”

The state, though, has asked for more to be done.

Lee Park, spokesman for the state Department of State, said that, while the state recognizes the efforts of municipalities to share services, the state believes there are more savings to be had.

“That’s why Gov. Cuomo’s County Wide Shared Services Initiative provides real incentives to bring all stakeholders together to find efficiencies,” Park said in an emailed statement.

Park then pointed to the success seen in the 34 counties in the state that have already had submitted their plans, which prescribe savings of $225 million in taxpayer money.

Some of those that have submitted plans include Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan also said many municipalities have not seen an increase in state aid. She said those funds were cut following the 2008 recession, and regional leaders would like to see some of that funding restored.

“That’s what we really need,” Sheehan said.

McCarthy said he’d like to see at least $5 million in state aid, as that would bring the city in line with what the city of Utica is getting. He said the funding used to be given out on a “rational basis,” but it doesn’t work that way anymore.

"Now, there's a wide disparity of what municipalities get based on their population and actual need," McCarthy said.

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