Forty-four of Chautauqua County's cities, towns and villages are eligible for financial assistance through New York state.
Additionally, 44 municipalities in Cattaraugus County are eligible.
In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo - along with Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver - announced an agreement on legislation to create a Financial Restructuring Board for local governments, as well as reform the binding arbitration process. The board aimed to help eligible municipalities manage their finances and provide public services in a more cost-effective manner.
The legislation established a 10-member board, which is available year-round to offer assistance to eligible localities. Members include the budget director - who is also chairwoman of the board state attorney general, comptroller, secretary of the state, and six other members who were appointed by Cuomo.
Any locality, not including New York City, that is deemed a fiscally eligible municipality by the board is eligible to request review by and assistance from the board. The board has the discretion to provide review and assistance. Additionally, it is authorized to make recommendations to the municipalities on improving fiscal stability, management and the delivery of public services and to provide awards of up to $5 million per municipality through the Local Government Performance Efficiency Program. If a municipality agrees to the board's proposals, it is contractually bound to fulfill those terms.
"This is the first time I can say that there has been an overall recognition and attempt to understand the deep seeded structural economic problems the cities in particular and local governments in general across the upstate region have been facing for multiple generations, and an understanding that it's going to take more than the same old same old approaches, to use the governor's term of papering over problems that have existed for generations with a new approach to retool and restructure, and I see this proposal today as another tool to go into the tool chest for local governments," said Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi at a May event.
The board was given a pot of $80 million to distribute to municipalities as it sees fit. Although any municipality may apply for the funding, 389 municipalities were deemed automatically eligible last week. Those municipalities were selected by a measure of their relative property tax rates and whether they have had to use their reserve funds.
In Chautauqua County, 44 municipalities were determined to be automatically eligible. They include: Arkwright; Bemus Point; Brocton; Busti; Carroll; Cassadaga; Celoron; Charlotte; the town and county of Chautauqua; Cherry Creek; Clymer; the town and city of Dunkirk; Ellery; Ellicott; Ellington; Falconer; Forestville; Fredonia; French Creek; Gerry; Hanover; Harmony; Jamestown; Kiantone; Lakewood; Mayville; Mina; North Harmony; Panama; Poland; Pomfret; Portland; Ripley; Sheridan; the town and village of Sherman; Silver Creek; Sinclairville; Stockton; Villenova; and the town and village of Westfield.
The Cattaraugus County municipalities include: The town and village of Allegany; Ashfold; Carrollton; the county and village of Cattaraugus; Coldspring; Conewango; Dayton; Delevan; East Otto; the village and town of Ellicottville; Farmersville; the village and town of Franklinville; Freedom, Gowanda; Great Valley; Hinsdale; Humphrey; Ischua; Leon; the town and village of Little Valley; Lyndon; Machias; Mansfield; Napoli; New Albion; the city and town of Olean; Otto; Perrysburg; Persia; the town and village of Portville; Randolph; Red House; the city and town of Salamanca; South Dayton; South Valley; and Yorkshire.
Any municipality wishing to take advantage of the Financial Restructuring Board's services and to find information can do so at frb.ny.gov. There is also a link to request services.