County, Albion village pass resolutions seeking fair AIM funding from state

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2015 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – The Albion Village Hall is a historic building at the corner of Platt and East Bank streets. The Village Board on Wednesday approved a formal resolution, asking the State Legislature and Gov. Cuomo to direct more state aid to villages.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature and Albion Village Board both passed formal resolutions on Wednesday, calling on state government leaders to update a formula for sharing aid to villages, towns and cities.

Right now, 90 percent of the $714 million in Aid and Incentives to Municipalities goes to upstate cities, about $277 per capita for city residents compared to only $7 for residents in towns and villages.

The resolution approved by the Village Board says the current AIM formula is a form of “state-sponsored economic discrimination” for villages, because those residents pay for a myriad of services with little state aid, resulting in high property taxes for villagers.

Albion passed the same resolution as the Medina Village Board on Monday. The issue is gaining momentum in Orleans County with several municipalities passing resolutions that are forwarded to the governor and local state legislators. The Albion Village Board also is sending its resolution to Carl Heastie, the new speaker of the State Assembly and a Bronx resident.

The village is challenged with a shrinking tax base and many needs, from dilapidated housing and decaying infrastructure, while trying to meet the public needs for police, parks, water, sewer and other services.

The County Legislature joined the push for state aid with its own resolution. Legislators said the revenue-sharing formula – intended to ease property taxes – has not been updated in at least 30 years.

The state should boost the AIM funded by 50 percent and share more with towns and villages, the Legislature said. That state aid would be an effective way to knock down the local property taxes, according to the resolution.

The formula should factor population, population density, poverty and public safety services, and should also consider tax-exempt property within a municipality’s borders, legislators said.

The current formula is not targeted to communities based on economic and demographic factors, and “fails to accurately reflect the fiscal need and capacity of recipient cities, villages and towns,” according to the county resolution.

County officials raised the issue with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul last week when she visited Albion. David Callard, Legislature chairman, said he is optimistic Hochul can push for a change in AIM funding with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“She can bring it closer to the governor than maybe anyone,” Callard said.

The Legislature chairman said an increase in state aid is critical for the local governments, especially during a time of 2 percent tax caps.

“The time has come when we need to help our villages and towns,” Callard said.