Niagara Falls regains some aid

Rick Pfeiffer, Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
·2 min read

Feb. 15—For the first time in a long time, City Controller Daniel Morello delivered good fiscal news to members of the Falls City Council.

In a recent presentation to members, Morello told them that much of the city's state aid that had been withheld as a result of New York's pandemic induced budget crisis will be coming soon to city coffers.

"Based on improved state revenues and the availability of additional coronavirus relief and federal Medicaid funds, the state will be releasing all but 5% of the 20% in local aid that has been withheld," Morello said.

Throughout 2020, the state had withheld the payment of 20% of the city's anticipated state aid, a total of more than $3.558 million out of had been projected to be $17.794 million in aid.

The restoration of 15% of the withheld aid with bring $2.669 million to the city, leaving a 2002 deficit in aid of just $889,721. Morello said the additional aid should be in the city's accounts by March 31.

Morello said if more funding became available to the state the remaining 5% of the withheld aid might also be recovered, but that there were no guarantees of that.

"At least this is good news that the amounts that were withheld, at least a portion of it, is coming back, " Morello said.

The controller also told the council members that state aid for the city in 2021, based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive budget proposal, would be reduced from 2019 levels. But he stressed that the reduction would be less than in 2020.

Under Cuomo's 2021-2022 budget plan, aid to municipalities across. the state would be reduced by $34.6 million. That reduction would result in cuts to individual cities of 2.5%, 10%, 15% or 20% based on their reliance on state aid as a percentage of their 2019 budgets.

"The greater the reliance (on state aid), the lower the percentage reduction," Morello said.

A 2.5% cut in state aid for the Falls in 2021 would leave a $444,861 hole in the city budget.

In response to questions from council members, Morello said federal aid to states and municipalities proposed by President Joe Biden in his $1.9 trillion stimulus package could possibly close the hole in 2021 state aid funding.