Officials respond to state aid cuts
BY ANTHONY PERROTTA
ISLIP TOWN—Officials confirmed that under New York State’s recently proposed 2019 budget, Islip Town stands to lose just under $1.8 million in state aid.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget, which costs $176 billion, is rather ambitious. It looks to legalize recreational marijuana, ban plastic bags, require universal background checks for gun purchases, and strengthen penalties for those possessing illegal firearms. The budget also hopes to see $150 billion put towards infrastructure projects across the state within a five-year period.
In addition, the budget wants to make the popular 2 percent cap on local property tax increases permanent and—as a result of the federal tax reform that limits deductions for state and local taxes to $10,000—lower taxes for those making between $40,000 and $150,000 from 6.85 percent to about 5.5 percent.
The budget could also change how the state distributes aid and incentives for municipalities funding to over 90 percent of towns and villages throughout the state.
In the last two years, the cumulative amount has been just under $715 million to cities, towns and villages, according to the New York State comptroller’s office. The state’s 61 cities, not including New York City, receive the majority of AIM funding. According to reports, the largest recipients include Buffalo, which gets $161 million; Rochester, which gets $88 million; and Yonkers, which gets $108 million. These cities will be unaffected, according to the budget.
This typically leaves about $68 million for towns and villages, reports say. But, under the proposed budget, only $8 million will be divided among 9 percent of New York State’s towns and villages. The remaining 91 percent will reportedly get nothing.
“To learn about this after we’ve already adopted the budget for 2019 presents a tremendous problem for municipalities,” Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter wrote in a statement. “If the AIM funding is cut, town board members and I would have to take the necessary steps to replace the lost revenue stream in the town’s 2019 budget.”
Carpenter continued by saying that, like all the townships affected, these state cuts could force the town to cut back on full-time and part-time staff, and delay projects which would negatively impact residents.
Caroline Smith, a representative for Islip Town, said previous AIM monies have gone towards the “Part Town” fund, which covers, but is not limited to, building, engineering, planning and registrar costs.
Brightwaters Village announced earlier this week that they are one of the 480 villages, out of 531 in New York State, which will no longer receive AIM funding. They also stand to lose $19,875 in extreme winter recovery reimbursements, which is also provided by the state.
If Cuomo and lawmakers don’t reapply AIM funding by March 31, Brightwaters – a village of a little over 3,000 residents – figures it could lose just over $40,000 combined. Village officials said they are working with the Suffolk County Village Officials Association and the New York Conference of Mayors to help restore these cuts.
Richard Smith, SCVOA president, said Cuomo’s proposal hurts village residents the most, being that villages have the largest budgetary needs. “The governor continues to add to village responsibilities and costs, but simultaneously wants to force villages to increase their local property taxes to pay for the same village services as were provided last year,” Smith wrote in a statement.
SCVOA officials said they have long complained about the governor adding mandatory legal obligations to villages “year after year,” forcing village property tax increases to pay for these unfunded mandates, “while also claiming credit for a ‘tax cap’ that forces villages to reduce the services and capital improvements that local residents want at the expense of providing services dictated by the governor.”
The hardest-hit towns are on Long Island, with the Town of Hempstead losing out on $3.8 million. Brookhaven Town will also lose $1.8 million, according to sources, while nearby villages like Patchogue and Bellport stand to lose $92,000 and $17,000, respectively.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone responded to a request for comment regarding the cuts. “We understand the concerns of municipal governments as it relates to this budget proposal and will be sharing those with the [governor’s] administration and the state Legislature in the days ahead,” the statement read.
Monica Martinez (D-Hauppauge), a former Suffolk County legislator who, earlier this year, began representing New York State’s 3rd Senate District, also responded to a request for comment. “I will do everything in my power to ensure that Long Islanders get their fair share, just as those who elected me expect me to do,” Martinez wrote. “As a conference, we will be reviewing the governor’s budget proposal and if it falls short to our respective districts, will fight to restore the necessary funding. I am not a person who is afraid to stand up and fight for the people of my district.”
New York State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) had the following to say regarding the cuts. “Every municipality that got money every year is losing it. It’s [Cuomo’s] way of saying, ‘now you don’t need that much money.’ I can’t wait for the local government committee meetings; I’m sure [Martinez] will work together with us on this. We’ll get from the local municipalities what services will be cut.”
Linda Leuzzi contributed to this article.
Like what you have read? Click here to subscribe to the Suffolk County News so you can read more stories like this, and find out everything that’s going on in your town!