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Mayor: Give villages their AIM funding

AIM loss would leave Freeport with $1M deficit

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Village of Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy traveled to Albany on Monday to lobby against the elimination of Aid and Incentives for Municipalities funding for New York’s villages and cities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2019 executive budget, if adopted in its current form, would eliminate nearly $60 million in AIM funds to local governments across the state.

The deadline to approve the state budget is April 1.

“These proposed revenue cuts in this year’s state budget by the governor must be stopped,” Kennedy said.

The loss of the funding would result in a roughly $1 million deficit in Freeport’s 2019-20 budget, which will take effect March 1 and run through Feb. 28, 2020. The deficit would necessitate a 3 percent increase in village taxes in the next budget year.

In 2017 and 2018, the village received a little over $900,000 in AIM funding, which, Kennedy said, traditionally goes toward village street repairs and cleaning, and salaries in the fire and police departments.

The state is seeking to close a $4.4 billion gap in its 2019-20 budget caused by declining revenues, including a $2 billion cut in federal funding for health care, according to state Budget Director Robert Mujica Jr.

In a recent budget report, Mujica said, “Under Governor Cuomo, taxes are down for every New Yorker, middle class tax rates are at their lowest level since 1947, corporate tax rates are at the lowest level since 1968, and the manufacturers’ tax is at the lowest level since 1917. The state’s 2 percent property tax cap . . . has kept those levies in check as well.” 

Meanwhile, State Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat from Seaford who represents Freeport, wrote in an email, “Where we live, residents face some of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Eliminating [AIM] funding would set the stage for layoffs and cuts in essential services.”

Kennedy, who is first vice president of the New York Conference of Mayors, said that AIM funding has not increased in the past 10 years, and rather than cut it, Cuomo should increase it.

Since 2011, $715 million has been divided statewide among cities, towns and villages. Sixty-one cities, not including New York City, claim the majority of the funds, about $647 million. Towns and villages receive far less, dividing about $68 million. Long Island is expected to see the biggest hit, with the Town of Hempstead expecting a $3.8 million cut, while some villages, like Freeport, may receive nothing.

Kennedy said that Freeport has not fully recovered from Hurricane Sandy, and the loss of AIM funding would add “insult to injury from Governor Cuomo.”

The mayor said that AIM funding has allowed Freeport to replace defective water mains and sewer lines, while maintaining 350 zombie homes. He added that after six consecutive years of no increases in property taxes and staying below the 2 percent tax cap, the elimination of AIM funding would punish Freeporters.

“AIM funding is desperately needed,” Kennedy said. Eliminating it “would require to cut back or eliminate services which protect and better the quality of life for our residents.”

Kennedy is asking all residents and business owners to contact the governor’s office to lobby for reinstatement of AIM funding.