Towns respond to governor’s proposed budget cuts

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York towns will have their budgets cut in his newly proposed state budget, and town supervisors in Chautauqua County are not happy with the idea.

His proposed budget would cut nearly $60 million in funding to local governments, including towns, villages and counties. The reduction in funding is included in Cuomo’s $175 billion state budget proposal.

The state Association of Towns called the cut “disrespectful,” a sentiment some Southern Tier town supervisors share. More than 1,300 towns will lose funding if state lawmakers support the budget.

While Cuomo’s spokesman said the reductions will amount to less than 1 percent of towns’ usual annual budgets, local town officials were quick to point out that the reduction is still a significant sum.

“Cuomo is cutting and slapping the hand that feeds him,” Busti Town Supervisor Jesse Robbins said. “It’s just a sorry state of affairs. It’s not right.”

Robbins is frustrated by the cut when he considers how local municipalities fund the state government through courts, taxes and general services. He expressed his displeasure with the proposal and said he wishes Cuomo would give him and other supervisors throughout the state a call.

“We can’t afford him,” Robbins said.

The supervisor said that the representation from State Sen. Cathy Young has helped give towns a voice in the area. Robbins said that it’s unreasonable that Cuomo expects all towns to stay below the tax cap while he cuts funding.

Ellicott Town Supervisor Patrick McLaughlin also wrote to Young with is concerns. He takes issue with how Cuomo plans to make the 2 percent tax cap permanent, regardless of how the economy changes in the future.

McLaughlin said the town of Ellicott would lose approximately $40,000 if the budget gets passed. He noted, that in addition to the funding reduction and the interest in enforcing the tax cap further, no increase in CHIPS funding and the elimination of the Extreme Weather Recovery Program are other problems with Cuomo’s budget plans.

“This affects towns and villages,” McLaughlin said.

Carroll Town Supervisor Laura Smith said that with rising costs, cuts like these are bound to happen. She likened the state-level cuts to the difficulty she has experienced deciding to cut things on the local level.

“Cuts affect all of us,” Smith said. “It’s not anything that we like to hear.”

She said she understands that munici

She said she understands that municipalities anticipate state funding, including CHIPS dollars and other aid. Smith also pointed out that she doesn’t believe the governor liked cutting town funding but had to slash funding somewhere.

“Cuts are inevitable no matter where you are,” Smith said.