Medina will press for more aid from county, state

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 August 2014 at 12:00 am

MEDINA – Village officials say they will reach out to other local municipal leaders to make their case the county should share more sales tax with municipalities and the state should also provide more funding for villages.

Trustee Michael Sidari suggested the village look for more revenue-sharing with the county and state to help bring down village taxes. His suggestion on Monday was readily endorsed by the other board members.

“If we don’t ask, we won’t get it,” Sidari said. “We need to try to build support with the towns and other municipalities.”

Orleans Hub has been railing for the past year about the aid disparity, in particular with the state. The state gives far more in “Aid and Incentives to Municipalities” or AIM to cities, even those with fewer residents than many villages.

For example, the Village of Medina has 6,065 people and gets $51,971 in state support or $8.57 a person. The city of Norwich in Chenango County gets $1,089,279 in state dollars for its 7,142 residents or $151.50 per person.

The Village of Albion has 6,056 residents and will receive $45,249 in state aid in 2014-15, or $7.47 per person. The city of Salamanca in Cattaraugus County has 5,815 people and receives $928,131 in Aid to Municipalities funding or $159.61 per person.

With sales tax, the county takes in about $15 million a year and keeps about 92 percent of the total. It shares $1,366,671 with the 10 towns and four villages. The four villages collectively share $400,681 of the $1,366,671. The village share has been dropping because the county ties the allotments to assessed value of the communities. The villages have seen their tax bases erode while they go up in the towns.

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier said the villages should get more in both state aid and sales tax. The villages are population centers, providing many services to residents while working to update aging infrastructure.

The board will send a letter to other villages and towns, trying to build support for having the county modify the sales tax formula. The county hasn’t increased the share to towns and villages since 2001.

“It would be most compelling if we all signed,” Meier said about the letter to other local municipal boards. “The villages in particular get the short end of the stick.”

He acknowledged changing the sales tax formula may just move the same amount of money around. Getting more state aid could hold more promise because it would bring new money into the community.

That’s how David Callard sees it. He is chairman of the Orleans County Legislature.
Sales tax revenue has slowed in recent years. If the villages get more, the county taxpayers would feel the difference, he said.

“Sales tax won’t be the salvation,” he said. “It would be better to fight our battle over state aid.”

Callard said the county would support letters and official resolutions, pressing the state for more aid to the villages. The county also would take that case to Albany, he said. But that push should start with the villages.

“The current state aid to the villages is overtly unfair,” Callard said. “It’s grossly inequitable. We need to fight for more state aid.”