State legislator urges Orleans municipalities to protest governor’s cuts in AIM funding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2019 at 6:49 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: State Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport, speaks during the Legislative Luncheon today at Tillman’s Village Inn. About 100 people attended the event organized by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce.

ALBION – Orleans County towns and villages are urged to fight proposed cuts in the governor’s budget that would take nearly $300,000 away from the local municipalities.

State Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport, said the state should be increasing aid to towns and villages, especially given the big disparity in funding provided to cities.

“We need our money,” Norris told about 100 people during today’s Legislative Luncheon. “Not only do we need it restored, but we need it increased.”

The governor’s budget cuts Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) by $290,276 to Orleans County, which already receives a tiny sum compared to counties with cities.

The four villages in Orleans – Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina – would all be wiped out in AIM, while eight of the 10 towns in Orleans would go to zero in AIM funding.

The governor proposed eliminating the funding unless it represented more than 2 percent of a town or village’s budget. Two towns in Orleans are just above the 2 percent threshold. So the governor proposed that Murray keeps its $44,677 and Albion, its $46,944.

The other villages and towns would lose the following in AIM funding, going from the amount listed to zero:

Villages ($108,371 total)

Albion, $38,811

Holley, $17,786

Lyndonville, $6,251

Medina, $45,523

Towns ($181,905 total)

Barre, $12,486

Carlton, $13,680

Clarendon, $11,416

Gaines, $21,323

Kendall, $21,299

Shelby, $45,007

Ridgeway, $46,273

Yates, $10,421

The governor has proposed cutting $59 million from the $715 million in AIM. The cities’ AIM is not touched, nor are villages and towns where AIM accounts for 2 percent or more of their budgets.

Norris urged the towns and villages to pass resolutions opposing the cuts and send those official stances to the governor and local state legislators.

“I encourage all of you to get on the record  right now so we can have backup to take to Albany,” said Norris whose district includes Shelby in Orleans, as well as portions of Niagara and Erie counties.

Many of the local towns and villages have protested the AIM program before, sending resolutions to the governor and state legislators about the unfairness of the aid. Cities get far more per capita than towns and villages.

For example, the Village of Albion (population 6,056 in the 2010 Census) has been getting $38,811 in AIM or $6.41 a person. The Village of Medina, population 6,065, has been receiving $45,523 or $7.51 a person.

Those villages have more people than some cities in the state. For example, Salamanca in Cattaraugus County has 5,815 people and receives $928,131 in AIM or $159.61 per person. Sherrill in Oneida County has about half the residents as Albion and Medina. Yet, the small city of 3,071 people receives $372,689 or $121.35 per capita.

The total AIM budget has been $715 million in recent years, and hasn’t been changed until the governor proposed cuts in 2019-2020.

State Sen. Robert Ortt said Republicans in the Senate could have be counted on to stop any proposed cuts in AIM. But now that they are out of the majority, Ortt said the cuts could go through.

“If the Senate were in Republican control I have no doubt that would go back,” he said about the AIM cuts.

Ortt said it’s upsetting to think the proposed AIM cuts may be part of strategy by the governor, treating the upstate town and villages as “pawns” in budget negotiations.

To see a previous Orleans Hub article on the AIM disparity, click here.

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