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2019-02-06 / News

Senate, Assembly, Chamber Fight Against Proposed State Aid Cuts

By Lillian Browne


Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President Ray Pucci, representing the business community, detailed the negative impacts to Delaware County taxpayers and businesses if the proposed cuts in the 2019-20 state budget are passed. Pictured are: Pucci, at podium, front row, NYS Assembly Representative Aileen Gunther, NYS Senator Jen Metzger, second row from left, Liberty Supervisor Brian Rourke, Liberty Mayor Ron Stabek, Callicoon Supervisor Tom Bose and Sullivan County Executive Luiz Alvarez. Lillian Browne/The Reporter Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President Ray Pucci, representing the business community, detailed the negative impacts to Delaware County taxpayers and businesses if the proposed cuts in the 2019-20 state budget are passed. Pictured are: Pucci, at podium, front row, NYS Assembly Representative Aileen Gunther, NYS Senator Jen Metzger, second row from left, Liberty Supervisor Brian Rourke, Liberty Mayor Ron Stabek, Callicoon Supervisor Tom Bose and Sullivan County Executive Luiz Alvarez. Lillian Browne/The Reporter LIBERTY - Delaware County officials and its business community joined New York Senator Jen Metzger at a press conference on Feb. 1, to fight against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal to slash $59 million in Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) in the state’s 2019-20 budget.

In New York’s 42nd district, which includes the towns of Colchester, Hamden, Walton, Delhi and Masonville in Delaware County, the proposed cuts will impact 19 villages and 31 towns.


NYS Senator Jen Metzger, representing New York’s 42nd senatorial district, held a press conference on Friday, Feb. 1, in Liberty, where she vowed to fight proposed cuts in funding to municipalities. Lillian Browne/The Reporter NYS Senator Jen Metzger, representing New York’s 42nd senatorial district, held a press conference on Friday, Feb. 1, in Liberty, where she vowed to fight proposed cuts in funding to municipalities. Lillian Browne/The Reporter Metzger, joined by Assembly member Aileen Gunther, pledged to fight against the proposed cuts to the areas rural communities they represent, which they said are being harmed at the expense of New York City, which is not slated for cuts in AIM funding.

There is a stark disparity between funding in upstate and downstate communities, Gunther said. While upstate communities saw only $7 in AIM funding per person last year, downstate cities received nearly $100 per resident.

There is little awareness of how disproportionately high property taxes are in rural communities in relation to the average working person’s income, Metzger said.


Assembly representative Aileen Gunther of Sullivan County, right, details impacts of proposed state funding cuts to Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President Ray Pucci, left, at a press conference held on Feb. 1 Lillian Browne/The Reporter Assembly representative Aileen Gunther of Sullivan County, right, details impacts of proposed state funding cuts to Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President Ray Pucci, left, at a press conference held on Feb. 1 Lillian Browne/The Reporter As an example, Metzger explained, nearly 75 percent of the property in the village of Delhi is not on the tax rolls. “A 1-percent increase in taxes is $8,500, so cutting AIM for them represents a 4-percent tax increase.”

It’s critical for the Governor to understand the impacts of the proposed cuts to upstate communities, Metzger said. “We are strapped and incredibly resourceful, but we can only stretch that rubberband so far,” Metzger continued.

If the proposed budget passes in its current form, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President Ray Pucci said, it will mean an approximate loss of $340,000 for Delaware County communities.


Kim Eighmey and Hope Knapp working in the kitchen during the Burnham family benefit. Kim Eighmey and Hope Knapp working in the kitchen during the Burnham family benefit. “This is a business issue,” Pucci continued. If state funding is cut, it is not likely that cuts will be made at the local level. Instead, Pucci said, the increases will be added to the tax levy. “And let’s face it, businesses pay a disproportionate share of those property taxes,” Pucci said. “The Delaware County Chamber and business community join your voices in asking for changes to the Governor’s proposed budget.”

Hamden Supervisor Wayne Marshfield provided written comments at the press conference, read by Liberty Supervisor Brian Rourke, saying the proposed funding cut could mean that his town might exceed the state’s mandated 2-percent property tax cap in its 2019-20 budget.

Rourke said the proposed cuts were “a slap in the face” to upstate communities.

Callicoon Supervisor Tom Bose, whose town is poised to lose approximately $13,000 in funding, is considering eliminating town-wide clean up services to make up the difference.

Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber suggested replacing town and village courts with district courts and a revamp to the New York State Health Insurance Plan as statewide cost savings measures rather than eliminating funding that is critical to upstate communities.

Metzger and Gunther pledged to fight to restore the AIM funding and for a long overdue increase. AIM funding has been stagnant for the past 10 years, legislators said.

“We are going to be pushing really hard, together, to make sure that this money is in the budget and you have the resources that you need and that our communities need,” Metzger told community leaders.

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