There was no increase in state or highway aid for Jamestown in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget.
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi said he has received an email from New York Conference of Mayors officials stating there was no adjustment in both state aid and highway funding for municipalities. If the state aid is not increased by the state legislature as they deliberate over the governor's proposed budget, this will be another year it has remained flat for the city.
The city's aid and incentives for municipalities, also known as AIM, has not increased since 2009. In fact, the aid went from $5,029,795 in 2009 to $4,665,592 in 2010. In 2011, AIM was lowered again to $4,572,280, and has remained flat since.
"The state has not been bashful to add mandates to municipalities. There have been steps in reigning in the mandates, but there is still a lot of work to be done," he said. "AIM payments to municipalities to carry out state mandates is extremely important to us."
Teresi said the mandates aren't the only problem. He also said the strict way the state expects the mandates to be carried out is also a burden. He said the reason for AIM is to carry out the state's business at the local level. He said it would only be fair if the state offsets the mandates with equitable aid.
"It is our job as a subdivision of the state government, we are all part of the state government, to carry out the state's job at the local level because we can do it more efficiently," he said. "If the expectation is to deliver things in a certain way, there should be a level of support to carry out those mandates."
As for the highway funding, Teresi said it was increased last year from the appropriation in the governor's budget. He said the funding was increased by the state legislature prior to the final budget being passed. The state legislature has the deadline of April 1 to pass a budget. The highway funding is the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, also known as CHIPS.
"This will be part of our continuing conversation with our legislative representatives as the governor and the legislature moves down the road," Teresi said. "We are mindful there will be changes, as the legislature added significant dollars to CHIPS last year."
Teresi said overall he thought Cuomo's proposed budget was a good start. He said he liked seeing ethics reform being tied to the budget process.
"If you don't have a clean, ethical government, you don't have the support of the people," Teresi said. "Maybe this will be the trigger to drive through the legislative ethics package that should have been done long ago. The sticking point has been how to get it done. Maybe this budget will get the ethics package through. They need to get rid of the political mess holding back New York state."