JAMESTOWN – Governor Andrew Cuomo says he wants to help local upstate governments get back on their feet.
On Tuesday, the governor announced a plan that would help ailing upstate governments receive loans, grants and other help from state coffers to fix local budgets. However, there is one catch – the local government’s would have to agree to follow the advice of a state-created financial planning board. That advice could include making hard and unpopular decisions, such as shrinking services, laying off staff, consolidating with neighboring governments and cutting elected official positions.
This new Financial Restructuring Board would not have the power to force local governments to seek advice, restructure or consolidate if local leaders choose not to participate. And failing to participate would not jeopardize the millions of dollars the state already shares with localities, called Aid and Incentives for Municipalities – also known as AIM funding. But by failing to seek help from the panel, localities could lose out on money available to other cities in similar financial crises.
On Tuesday, representatives from the New York State Association of Counties and the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials endorsed Cuomo’s plan.
Cuomo said he would introduce legislation creating the board this week. He said he wants lawmakers to act on it before their session ends on June 20.