Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport) is proud to announce that legislation he sponsors (A.6601) to establish the New York State Aid and Incentives for Municipalities Redesign Task Force has been passed in the Assembly. It was previously passed in the state Senate, and now will return to that house to be delivered to the governor for his consideration to become law.
“When we talk about the upstate-downstate divide in our state, the antiquated funding formula for our municipal governments is a perfect example. Upstate taxpayers are being shortchanged because of decades old funding formulas like this. But this bill is an example of how my colleagues and I came together and worked across the aisle to address this issue,” said Norris. “This is an important step in modernizing and enhancing the way this funding will be calculated in future state budgets.”
This legislation is significant because it would reimagine the state’s funding for local governments, commonly referred to as Aid to Municipalities (AIM). In recent years, AIM funding has been the cause of contention as local governments have gone without any funding increase from Albany while at the same time being asked to foot the bill for new costly mandates, as well as increased costs (such as energy, transportation, etc.). This causes local taxes to go up, although local taxing entities try to stay within the 2 percent property tax cap.
The current AIM funding formula is based off of aid levels dating back to the late 1990s and early 2000s for cities, and even later for towns and villages – putting the amount of state aid municipalities receive at an unfair disadvantage, particularly in upstate communities.
Norris said, “The problem has been further exacerbated by the pandemic in so many towns and villages across our state – particularly in small, rural communities. That’s why I am so pleased my colleagues finally recognized how this revenue stream needs to be addressed in order to aid taxpayers and smaller jurisdictions.”
The bill creates a temporary municipal redesign task force (set to expire by Dec. 31, 2022) to investigate state funding for cities, towns and villages through AIM, which have not seen an increase in 12 years. The task force would report to the governor and state Legislature within one year of convening on a variety of issues, including the AIM funding formula, distribution of resources and alternative solutions and models. The goal would be to have the findings included in the next state budget.
Norris was among a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to sponsor the bill in both houses, and it also had the support of the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials. If signed into law by the governor, the bill will immediately allow for the convening of the temporary task force.