JAMESTOWN – Mayor Sam Teresi says there were a couple of positives for the city of Jamestown in relation to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget that was announced Tuesday in Albany. The mayor says the governor did not call for any funding reduction to the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) line item, nor was there any reduction in CHIPS funding for local governments. He said that should bode well for the city of Jamestown.
“There is no cut in general purpose AIM funding which is a good thing for us. It could have been a lot worse,” Teresi explained. “We were also concerned, as we are every year, that CHIP funding – or ‘Comprehensive Highway Improvement Program funding’ – would be cut. That seems to be holding its own and to the city of Jamestown that’s critically important because the CHIPs funding from the state is the lion’s share of what we invest every year for our summer streets improvement program. So we see that as a positive.”
Teresi added that there were two other key proposals in the governor’s budget that would be especially beneficial to Jamestown. One was his call to reform binding arbitration as it relates to local governments and bargaining units, something the mayor has been hoping would happen for quite some time.
“Municipalities, whether they be cities or villages with career fire departments and professional police departments, for years have been calling a clause that shows that any binding arbitration resolution that is imposed on the management – or the taxpayers – and the union – the workerforce – that there is an ability for the taxpayers to pay for that without substantially raising property taxes,” Teresi said. “The governor’s proposal tags that to the two-percent cap for property tax increases.”
Teresi said the other call for reform by Governor Cuomo deals with how local governments pay into the state pension system, by creating a Tier 6 Savings Finance Plan.
“The best way that I can describe it, it’s akin to a utility company’s balanced billing mechanism, where you are on a stable month-to-month payment, whether it is during the high consumption months during the winter and summer or the lower consumption months of the spring and the fall,” Teresi told WRFA. “What this would do is have a leveling out impact on the pension bill and help to get rid of the year to year spikes that have literally been killing this city and every other local government across the state.”
The mayor said obviously all of the governor’s aid and reform proposals are still only tentative at this point and still need the full support of both the state Assembly and Senate. Both chambers will begin reviewing the budget proposal in the coming days and weeks. They have until March 31 to finalize the budget.