Minoa Mayor Bill Brazill recently attended this year’s winter meeting of the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM), opposing planned cuts to statewide funding.
Earlier this year Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a budget proposal that would strip over 1,300 local governments across New York of $59 million in Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding. According to the governor’s proposal, if AIM funding accounts for less than two percent of a municipality’s budget, the state is proposing cutting this funding altogether.
It is estimated this would impact about 90 percent of the towns and villages across the state. This would mean cuts for all 19 towns in Onondaga County and all but one of the 15 villages.
If the governor’s proposal is adopted, Minoa would lose $30,000 in revenue, one percent of the village’s $3 million budget that runs from June 1 to May 31.
“It hurts our municipality,” Brazill said. “Every little bit hurts.”
On Sunday Brazill made the roughly two-hour drive from Minoa to the Hilton Albany, alongside Deputy Mayor John Champagne and Village Trustee John Abbott. In order to attend the NYCOM event, they all dipped into personal vacation time.
“It’s worth the sacrifice,” Brazill said. “Sometimes it’s tough to get away to do something like this, but it’s very important.”
About 175 other mayors registered for the annual winter legislative meeting, which ran from Sunday afternoon to Monday night. According to Brazill, many of the officials present expressed their disapproval of the cuts to AIM funding.
“I think definitely the message got across to our legislators and hopefully the governor,” Brazill said.
On Monday, Feb. 11, after pushback, Cuomo said he would be taking “a second look” at his proposal but that he would have to eliminate funds in some way.
The gathering in Albany included a banquet the first night and day-long breakout sessions about municipal topics the second.
“You realize everyone’s got the same sorts of problems,” Brazill said. “It’s a really good educational tool.”
Brazill said he returned home with reshaped insights into approaching village projects and budgetary actions. For the future Brazill said he will try to solidify energy efficiency and build up housing developments in Minoa while maintaining the quality of life in the town, despite the added pressures of state aid potentially being slashed.
That $30,000 would otherwise go toward the rebuilding of infrastructure, such as highways, roads and sidewalks, according to Brazill.
Brazill said his last resort in such a budget crisis would be a property tax increase, a course of action other village and town leaders have said they would take if these cuts were to be adopted.
“I’m not a big proponent of doing that,” Brazill said. “We all pay too much tax as it is. It’s just one of the ways our governor is hitting the taxpayer.”
Brazill, who became Minoa’s mayor in 2016, has lived in the town for the past five decades.
“We have a wonderful, beautiful village,” Brazill said. “I really feel we’re one of the best-kept secrets in Onondaga County. We’re off the beaten path more or less.”
NYCOM, a private, not-for-profit association comprised of and catered toward cities and villages, will hold their next conference in May at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown.