Jun. 11—Proposed legislation to establish an Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) redesign task force was passed in the state Assembly, bill co-sponsor Mike Norris announced on Thursday. The bill was previously passed in the state Senate and now returns there to be delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The legislation is significant, Norris said, "because it would reimagine the state's funding for local governments ... . 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."
"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," Norris, R-Lockport, said. "This bill is an example of how my colleagues and I came together and worked across the aisle to address this issue. This is an important step in modernizing and enhancing the way this funding will be calculated in future state budgets."
The current AIM funding formula is based off of aid levels dating back to the late 1990s and early 2000s for cities, and later for towns and villages. Funding hasn't increased in 12 years, according to Norris.
"The problem has been further exacerbated by the pandemic in so many towns and villages across our state, particularly in small, rural communities," he said.
The bill authorizes a temporary municipal redesign task force to investigate state funding for cities, towns and villages through AIM. The task force would report to the governor and state Legislature within one year of convening on various issues, including the AIM funding formula, distribution of resources and alternative solutions and models. The goal is to have the findings included in the next state budget.