NYCOM members, including Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni, and the Ontario County Board of Supervisors seek restoration of state funding

Earlier this week in Albany, Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni joined mayors from throughout the state in urging state legislators to reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $59.2 million funding cut in Aid and Incentives to Municipalities, or AIM.

In all, more than 1,300 of 1,465 municipalities — including towns — would see reductions. The city of Canandaigua would not see a reduction in AIM funding but instead will receive the same amount as it did last year, which officials say is problematic in its own right.

The eight Ontario County villages would lose out on more than $95,000 in AIM funding; local towns stand to lose a collective $261,322 of funding.

The Ontario County Board of Supervisors on Thursday night OK'd a resolution of support for restoring the aid. In urging support of that resolution, Richmond Deputy Supervisor Steve Barnhoorn called the AIM cut, as well as proposed cuts to the Extreme Winter Recovery program and highway funding, "hideous proposals" that are "unacceptable."

" ... this is an obvious squeeze play by the governor to undermine local government and home rule as we know and cherish," Barnhoorn told supervisors Thursday night.

The mayors stated their case during a press conference at the New York Conference of Mayors annual winter legislative meeting. NYCOM members also are advocating for increases in infrastructure funding — in particular, highway aid — and the collection and equitable distribution of internet sales tax revenues. Also on their agenda: making sure that cities and villages are provided a share of taxes imposed on the cannabis industry in New York.

Freeport Mayor Bob Kennedy, who is first vice president of NYCOM, said in a prepared statement that mayors, legislators and citizens have spoken out against gutting AIM funding because it helps provide essential services.

“The proposal to eliminate AIM funding should be dead on arrival,” Kennedy said. “Cutting this funding will have a detrimental effect on quality of life and taxes in more than 1,300 communities across the state.”

Local officials have said the only way to make up the difference in the loss of aid is raising taxes — and running the risk of exceeding the state property tax cap — or cutting services.

Polimeni said back in January the proposed cut for municipalities is worrisome.

Some have speculated the AIM funding will be restored when it comes time to adopt a budget for the state's 2019-20 fiscal year. By law, legislators have until April 1 to do so.

Mayors also said that providing for the collection of sales tax on online transactions is not a new tax, but instead addresses a situation in which Main Street retailers have been placed at a competitive disadvantage, according to Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who is treasurer of NYCOM.

"While closing this tax loophole, the Legislature must also ensure that this rising tide of revenue lifts all boats and is shared with all levels of municipal government," Sheehan said in a statement. "In addition, as New York gives serious consideration to legalizing adult-use cannabis, our state leaders must also ensure that a portion of the taxes imposed on this new industry make their way to cities and villages, the levels of government that will be most affected by the far-reaching impacts such legalization would have on public safety, land use, and our local economies."