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Yates officials look for changes in AIM structure

Last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed budget amendments to the fiscal year 2020 Executive Budget to restore funds to towns and village that were cut in the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program. According to a Cuomo press release, the proposal would use additional sales tax revenue from the Internet Fairness Act to keep towns and villages whole with approximately $59 million in revenue.

The state will also implement the Internet sales tax requirements earlier, starting June 1 of this year as opposed to Sept. 1, the date originally proposed in the Executive Budget.

“The original proposal only impacted localities receiving a relatively small amount of money, but I have been contacted by mayors and local officials who say in these tough times it would still be a challenge for them,” Cuomo said. “That is why we are revising the executive budget to use internet sales tax revenue to make these impacted localities whole.”

If this tactic becomes reality, it will mean Yates County will be required to disperse Internet sales tax revenues to the towns and villages. The county historically keeps all sales tax revenues.

Yates County Treasurer/Acting County Administrator Winona Flynn says the funding levels for the 12 Yates County towns and villages in 2019 is $167,241 (unchanged from 2017 and 2018). She says the additional revenue the county is expected to receive from the Internet Fairness Act is approximately $278,000 beginning in September.

In 2017 and 2018, the Village of Penn Yan received $40,621, and the Town of Milo received $40,526 in AIM funds.

Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar had a measured reaction to the news. “That will help us try to make it under the tax cap, but the state is not making it easy. The source — the internet sales tax collecting process — is still missing,” says MacKerchar.

“We (Yates County towns and villages) are doing great things in shared services,” MacKerchar adds, “but the 5,000 people I represent are already unduly burdened.”

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