More Than 1,300 Towns And Villages Across New York Could End Up Losing Money That Pays For A Multitude Of Services

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Lawmakers on Long Island say funding cuts in the governor’s budget came out of left field. They were not expecting to lose millions of dollars in money they say they have counted on from Albany for years.

There was an unwelcome surprise in the governor’s budget. Lawmakers say they were blindsided by cuts in state aid to New York’s towns and villages, money that helps pay for road upkeep, garbage collection and other services.

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Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen called it a potentially devastating loss of $3.8 million already counted in the budget.

“It’s money that we are relying on. Every dollar counts,” Gillen told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Thursday. “In no way are we a super-wealthy town that doesn’t need $3.8 million.”

Andrew Cuomo

(credit: CBS2)

Across the state $60 million would be cut, which is hardly a drop in the bucket, according Gerry Geist of New York’s Association of Towns.

“That’s going to mean reduction of services or layoffs of personnel, and it’s going to cause more communities to raise taxes,” Geist said.

Local governments would only keep state aid if they rely on it for more than 2 percent of their budget. That cuts out aid to almost all of Long Island’s towns and villages, like Oyster Bay.

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“Every town on Long Island is very concerned with these cuts,” Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said. “This is a very serious matter. We have been able to cut taxes, get things back where they belong and this could throw things out of kilter.”

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office responded, saying towns and villages have amassed more than $1 billion in reserves and that any loss of state aid will soon be offset by expected tax revenue from internet sales.

Hempstead, however, isn’t taking any chances. Gillen ordered department heads to find 5 percent savings, and is asking why cities are spared and only towns and villages are targeted.

“These cuts seem to target Long Island disproportionately,” Gillen said.

Lawmakers are are urging Albany to reconsider, but Cuomo’s budget spokesman said local governments can make up for the losses by sharing services. The state will match any savings when neighbors work together to tighten belts.

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In all, 1,328 towns and villages stand to lose this state funding.