Medina area municipal leaders say cuts from county, state would strain already tight budgets

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 July 2020 at 4:59 pm

File photo: Medina Mayor Mike Sidari said delayed payments and reduced funding the village could have “devastating effects.”

MEDINA – The mayor of Medina and the town supervisors of Shelby and Ridgeway have sent a joint letter to the leaders of the county, state and federal governments, saying cuts to local municipalities would hit the village and towns that are already stressed to provide local services with tight budgets.

Medina Mayor Mike Sidari, Ridgeway Town Supervisor Brian and Shelby Town Supervisor Jeff Smith sent the letter, along with Scott Robinson, president of the Medina Area Partnership.

They sent their joint letters on July 1 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson and a letter to Congressional leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The Medina area officials say in their letter they are writing on behalf of business owners, community leaders and 10,000 residents in the Medina area.

“Our Upstate New York communities have been part of a vibrant renaissance in recent years, one we hope can continue during these challenging times,” according to the letter. “However, we need your assistance to make sure this can continue.”

In the letter to Cuomo, the four local leaders urge the governor to continue pressing Congress for a stimulus package that would bring needed funding to local governments,

“The failure to approve needed aid to local governments could result in loss of funding to core services our residents rely on, while leaving some of our most vulnerable residents behind,” according to the letter from Sidari, Napoli, Smith and Robinson. “With no guarantee of federal funding, we encourage you to not slow or defer any funding to local governments, even those that were largely spared from the devastating numbers other portions of our state saw. As you’ve noted, all lost lives are significant, and we too lost neighbors.”

The four local leaders sent the letter on July 1, a few days after the County Legislature announced it would be delaying the July 1 quarterly sales tax payment to the four villages and 10 towns in the county. The 14 municipalities collectively receive about $1.3 million of the local sales tax in the county, which is usually about $17 a million a year.

If the towns and villages face funding cuts, there could be “devastating effects,” according to letter. Those impacts could include:

  • Decreased funding for first responders
  • Reduced funding for education and our teachers
  • Reduction in allocated tourism funding
  • A continuation of furloughed workers and eventually layoffs, which will also result in less spending in our business communities
  • Delayed or the elimination of sales tax dollars from county governments
  • Stalled projects that were in place to help boost our communities

“There is still a long road ahead and none of us know what the coming months will hold,” according to the letter to Cuomo. “We are imploring you to use the tools at your disposal to help mitigate the potential long standing negative effects we’ll face as a result of the pandemic.

We greatly appreciate your continued leadership and thank you for your consideration during these challenging times.”

In the letter to the Congressional leaders, the four Medina area leaders thank Pelosi, McCarthy, McConnell and Schumer for their prompt, bipartisan support for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the CARES Act.

“Now, we encourage you to once again act swiftly and support legislation to supply a much needed stimulus to help local governments,” according to letter.

In the letter to Johnson, chairwoman of the County Legislature, she is asked to not delay sales tax payments to the towns and villages.

“We understand the strain COVID-19 has had on all of our budgets, and we are encouraging both our state and federal governments to approve relief to address these challenges,” Sidari, Napoli, Smith and Robinson write in their letter. “Without additional funding, first responders, education, health care workers, businesses, and infrastructure may all suffer. While we wait on relief for local governments ravaged by the current pandemic, we must focus our attention on what we can do today. Any future delays in these funds may continue to pause our ability to progress in an expeditious manner.”

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