Flanked by town and village leaders in Onondaga County Tuesday, County Executive Ryan McMahon expressed concerns about the Governor’s new plan to pay for AIM funding.
AIM or Aid and Incentives to Municipalities has been distributed by the state to town and village governments for years. In mid-January Governor Cuomo proposed cutting the funding altogether, but since receiving backlash across the state he has proposed a new amendment.
Instead of cutting funds, on Thursday the Governor suggested skimming money from internet sales tax revenue that would otherwise go to county governments.
“The proposal would basically take from our county taxpayers right pocket and instead of their left pocket,” said McMahon.
Towns and villages in Onondaga County receive about $2.5 million in AIM funding, about 0.3% of the total AIM budget, but McMahon says if pushed to the county, it would cost Onondaga County about $1.8 million and the City of Syracuse about $600,000.
“This is a troubling policy we are pleased people recognize aim funding needs to be restored, but not this way,” said McMahon, “$1.8 million to us, a cut, is either a property tax increase or a cut in services plain and simple, that’s a lot of money for us.”
Elbridge Town Supervisor Vernon Richardson, who stood alongside McMahon Tuesday, said he doesn’t want to tax residents more, but if the Governor’s AIM proposal does go through it could leave towns scrambling.
“With the governor wanting to cut it this year, 2019, our budgets are already set. We would have to find that money somewhere else,” said Richardson.
McMahon is also worried, if “OK’d” the proposal could set a dangerous precedent.
“What is even more troubling about this proposal is that for the first time you have a state government telling a local government how to spend its money,” said McMahon.
In a statement, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh sided with Onondaga County Tuesday.
“The proposed budget amendment to apply new internet sales tax revenue to towns and villages acknowledges the serious problem created by the reduction in AIM funding. AIM is a critically important source of revenue to the city, so I understand why my counterparts in the towns and villages are so concerned. The state, however, should find another solution. I join with the County Executive and village mayors and town supervisors in asking our local state delegation to oppose the budget amendment and restore AIM to towns and villages.”