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Debate around AIM funding gets local, as leaders call for full-restoration across New York

Should villages and towns have to justify their existence?

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that $59 million in aid to towns and villages across New York would be cut under his proposal – small communities in the Finger Lakes took notice.

The Seneca County Board of Supervisors’ Ways & Means Committee unanimously approved a motion Tuesday supporting the restoration of Aid and Incentives for Municipalities funding to its 2018 level. That motion will go to the full board for a final vote at its February 12th meeting.

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Similarly, communities in rural Yates County are bracing for an impact, which would take hold immediately if approved. Penn Yan Village Clerk Gary Meeks said that if $40,621 disappears the village’s tax levy would increase by 1.3 percent. “That’s a sizable increase when we are striving to be under the tax cap of 2 percent increase,” he told media last week.

Dundee Clerk Christine Sutherland says losing the $11,733 it received for the current year will result in a tax increase of 2.01 percent.

Dresden would lose $3,145, Rushville would lose $4,265, Hammondsport would lose $9,760, and Bath would lose $103,906, according to figures provided by NYCOM (New York Conference of Mayors). The village of Naples stands to lose out on $8,338, which is about 0.71 percent of its budget.

Ontario County villages would also be hit hard.

The eight Ontario County villages — including Clifton Springs — stand to lose out on more than $95,000 collectively if the proposal is approved.

Clifton Springs Mayor William Hunter said “It may not sound like a lot to the governor, but it’s a lot to our municipal services.”

“He’s giving tens of millions to education, which nobody is opposed to,” Hunter said. “He’s probably taking it from us.”

The villages of Shortsville and Clifton Springs stand to lose out on the highest amount, at $17,860 and $16,219, respectively. Shortsville’s AIM funding makes up 1.15 percent of its budget. Victor would lose $14,471, which is about 0.28 percent of its budget.

Click here if you want to see where your community lands on the loss, or scroll to the bottom of this story to see how it breaks down in PDF form.

The proposal sparked an interesting debate on this week’s episode of The Debrief Podcast.

Jackie Augustine, co-host of the program, said she supported the measure, even asserting that villages and towns should have to justify the funding they receive from the state. She hoped that efforts like this one would encourage small municipalities to work together.

Josh Durso, who co-hosts the weekly program pointed out that the funding is important for small municipalities that are struggling to get by. Furthermore, the assertion that these, or any funds, would be returned to the communities hit by the cuts was not made clear in the legislation.

Listen to the entire debate in the video window above.

Cayuga

Ontario

Schuyler & Seneca

Wayne

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