Local government to see no increase in state funding
CAPITAL REGION Funding for local governments will remain flat in the state budget now being approved.
The budget includes a little more than $714 million in direct aid to cities, towns and villages. The budget bill allocating this spending was approved Wednesday morning in the state Senate and is expected to be approved today in the Assembly.
Most municipalities had expected their state aid to remain consistent and budgeted accordingly.
“We planned very conservatively,” said Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile, whose village receives $8,380 in state aid.
Since the late summer flooding of tropical storms Irene and Lee in 2011, he said, the budget process has been difficult, but the village has enacted two budgets without increasing taxes. This has meant sacrifices throughout the village.
“We always hope for an increase [in state aid],” Avitabile said. “We always hope for more, but we try to keep realistic budget expectations”
Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said the city had planned on no increase in aid, but argued that it is time for the state to raise this number. The city is set to receive $2.87 million in the 2013-14 budget.
“We’ve been flat in [aid] for years,” she said.
The lack of an increase was especially troubling for Thane because she felt there wasn’t any relief in the budget from unfunded mandates, costs passed down from the state to local governments. Unfunded mandates, she said, have meant exponentially growing costs that are out of the city’s control.
“It becomes increasingly difficult for us to budget,” Thane said.
Last year, the state budget included a “spin up” for Amsterdam, which meant they received a portion of their state aid early. This helped their 2012 budget, but no longer provides any local help.
City of Gloversville Mayor Dayton King said the consistent state aid was in keeping with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position that local governments need to find savings.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he said of local aid breakdown.
Gloversville, which spends about $15.4 million in its 2013 budget, is getting slightly more than $2.3 million in state aid.
The Assembly had proposed increasing aid to municipalities by 10 percent in its budget resolution. In the city of Schenectady, that increase would have meant $12.46 million in state aid, instead of the $11.2 million in the final negotiated budget.
The negotiated budget also includes $1.65 million in aid for Saratoga Springs, $1.39 million for the city of Johnstown, $176,000 for Glenville, $173,000 for Rotterdam and $98,000 for Clifton Park.
A full breakdown of local aid is available on the Capital Region Scene blog at www.dailygazette.com.