Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP-Tompkins/Cortland) announced the Assembly’s budget has proposed a new commission to study aid to local governments. The commission is charged with preparing a report on local government aid and making recommendations on how to improve its allocations.
“While the Governor’s budget was a positive step in helping fiscally-distressed municipalities, it is still not enough to make up for the many years of cuts and flat-funding,” Lifton said. “I have advocated for this commission by writing letters to Speaker Silver and the Chairmen of several Assembly committees, because many small cities like Ithaca and Cortland are struggling to stay afloat.”
The commission is scheduled to complete a report by this November which will detail the commission findings, including the need for fiscal and demographic variables not currently factored into local aid levels. The report will also will also include recommendations for a new formula for aid to local government.
“While many small communities share similarities in the struggle for viability, some cities have unique characteristics,” Lifton said. “In Ithaca and Cortland much of the property value is tax exempt due to higher education facilities, and that should be taken into consideration when aid formulas are created.”
Lifton noted there are several initiatives in the Assembly’s budget which will help local municipalities, including grants of up to $200,000. Also, to help governments with their long-term planning, the budget includes a multi-year funding structure.
“For too long our local leaders have had to stretch dollars too far,” Lifton said. “By increasing aid to our local governments, we can make a significant difference in the ability of local governments to deliver critical services.”