Village and town officials pushed back Friday against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal that would cut $19 million in funds from local budgets.
Led by State Sen. James Gaughran and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, the bipartisan group of about 25 officials from around Long Island stood together at Huntington Town Hall to point out the damage the cuts would impose on local budgets that have already been adopted.
“Towns rely on this funding,” Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said. “This likely will translate into significant cuts.”
Huntington stands to lose nearly $1.1 million under the cuts in the program known as Aid and Incentives to Municipalities.
“Local governments here on Long Island and across New York State cannot afford to lose the crucial state aid they need to provide residents with essential services including public safety, water quality, or paved roads,” Gaughran said. “We cannot afford these devastating cuts and as chair of the Committee on Local Government, I look forward to a productive conversation with the Executive branch on full restoration and an increase in AIM funding, a top priority for me this budget season.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to make sure Long Island is protected.”
Thiele noted that budget negotiations are just beginning in Albany and noted, “AIM funding is the only source of funding that comes from the State of New York to local governments that has no strings attached.
“This has a disproportionate effect on Long Island,” he said, but added that he is “optimistic that we can restore funding.” He is chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Local Government.
Several officials said such local programs as public safety, mental health,senior services, youth programs, and public infrastructure were endangered by Cuomo’s proposed cuts.
The Suffolk County Supervisors Association, led by Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer, also issued a letter criticizing both the cuts and their timing. Signed by all 10 Suffolk supervisors, the letter concluded, “We must strongly object to the method and timing of this drastic cut in state funding. By announcing this cut after every Town has adopted its 2019 budget, each administration will now start the year with a significant hole in their budget that will by necessity be filled by shifting funding from another priority. The only thing worse than a drastic cut in vital funding is a drastic cut in vital funding without warning.”