ALBANY — More than 80 city and village officials, including 50 mayors, from across New York State converged on Albany on Monday to discuss the New York State Conference of Mayors’ priorities for the upcoming 2019 Legislative Session.
“Whether it’s clean water, garbage pick-up or public safety, cities and villages are responsible for providing essential services that New Yorkers rely on,” said Gary McCarthy, president of NYCOM and mayor of the City of Schenectady. “Today, mayors and officials from around the state are sending a clear message to state leaders that we stand ready to be your partner so that we can strengthen our communities and in turn, our state.”
“From infrastructure to tax structure, there are many challenges facing local governments in New York State,” said Peter Baynes, executive director of NYCOM. “NYCOM will continue to try to work with state leaders to ensure that all cities and villages receive the attention from the state that they need and deserve.”
In the spirit of partnership, NYCOM is proposing a new $100 million Municipal Investment Initiative that would provide need-based funding to cities, villages and towns while incorporating the kinds of shared services and economic development that municipalities have done for years into each region’s strategic vision. To that end, NYCOM ties this state funding to municipalities completing multi-year financial plans, engaging in efforts to encourage economic growth and working collaboratively to accomplish goals set by the Regional Economic Development Councils.
At the same time, existing state programs aimed at addressing transportation and water and sewer infrastructure have begun to make a difference, but significant local needs remain. The Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) is an important tool that assists local governments with the cost of construction, reconstruction and improvement of local highways, bridges and highway-railroad crossings. NYCOM supports increasing CHIPS funding in order to ensure that critical resources continue on a recurring basis.
Further, NYCOM believes that additional CHIPS funding should be targeted toward compliance with federal curb redesign mandates and the related sidewalk repairs necessary to create more pedestrian-friendly and accessible municipalities.
In addition to maintaining highways, cities and villages must also address aging and deteriorating water and sewer infrastructure to protect their communities and their residents. NYCOM supports the establishment of an annual funding stream that could be used by all cities and villages to supplement water infrastructure operation and maintenance costs, as well as a fund to address emergency water infrastructure needs.
Cities and villages would benefit not only from innovative state resources, but also from the ability to generate new resources of their own. NYCOM supports the collection of taxes on sales by online retailers with a substantial economic presence in the state. Last year, the Executive proposed an internet sales tax and projected it would generate approximately $150 million in local sales tax revenue statewide.
To expand the benefit of this infusion of local sales tax revenue, NYCOM also supports legislation to ensure that villages are included in sales tax sharing arrangements in all counties.