Assemblymember Wallace, Local Leaders Call for Restoration of AIM Funding in State Budget
Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace (D-Lancaster) and local elected officials are expressing deep concern over the 2019-2020 Executive Budget Proposal, which purports to slash funding to local towns and villages in Erie County and across the state. Under the Executive Budget Proposal, towns and villages that rely upon Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding for less than two percent of their overall budget would see that funding completely eliminated. The proposed cuts do not affect cities, which receive the vast majority of AIM funding, or localities in which AIM funding accounts for two percent or more of the municipal budget.
Over the past several days, Ive spoken with local officials in my Assembly District about the impact these proposed cuts to AIM funding will have on their towns and villages, said Assemblymember Monica Wallace. Municipalities across the state work hard to balance their budgets, to stay within the property tax cap, and to provide vital services to residents. We cannot move forward with a state budget that cuts millions of dollars in AIM funding from municipalities.
The proposed 2019-2020 budget includes $655,576,729 in AIM funding, a decrease of $59,154,972 from the $714,731,701 included in last years 2018-2019 enacted budget. However, the brunt of those proposed cuts will be borne exclusively by towns and villages. The proposed cuts will eliminate funding for 24 of Erie Countys 25 towns and 13 of the 15 villages in Erie County. Only the Town of Alden and the villages of Kenmore and Sloan are unaffected by the proposed cuts to AIM funding. Meanwhile, the proposal seeks to maintain last years funding levels for all cities across the state.
In Wallaces district alone, multiple towns and villages are facing AIM cuts that zero-out 2018-2019 funding levels, leading to the following municipal budget gaps under the proposed 2019-2020 budget:
- Town of Cheektowaga: -$820,898
- Town of Lancaster: -$121,895
- Village of Depew: -$213,280
- Village of Lancaster: -$152,209
Cheektowaga currently receives the most AIM funding of any town or village in Erie County, said Town of Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski. While I have implemented many cost saving measures, state funding through AIM has been a contributing factor for Cheektowaga keeping tax levy increases below the state mandated tax cap. The loss of this funding, after it has already been budgeted for, will no doubt cause severe cuts to programs and result in higher taxes in 2020. I am thankful that Assemblymember Wallace has taken the lead in fighting for the restoration of this funding. I hope Governor Cuomo will meet with state legislators over the next couple of weeks and restore this funding in the final state budget.
Losing AIM funding, in addition to the unfunded mandates that we are faced with, puts a great deal of pressure the Town of Lancasters finances, said Town of Lancaster Supervisor Johanna Coleman. Our 2019 budget already includes the anticipated AIM funding from the state. If we lose this funding, we will have to make adjustments to our budget, which would come from the scaling down of vital services that Lancaster residents rely on.
With the pressure of unfunded mandates levied on municipal budgets, AIM funding is critical to balancing our books, said Village of Lancaster Mayor William Schroeder. Now, the state budget is proposing cuts that will force us to do more not just with less, but without any of the AIM funding which we rely on. Im glad that Assemblymember Wallace realizes the critical importance of AIM on local budgets, and I plan on partnering with her and other state representatives over the coming months to restore this vital funding.
If these proposed cuts were to go forward, town supervisors and village mayors would be faced with having to cut services and raise taxes. Thats not acceptable, and I intend to fight to fully restore AIM funding, concluded Wallace.