Villages of Lynbrook, East Rockaway awaiting AIM funding

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Villages and towns across Nassau County still have not received roughly $8 million in Aid and Incentives to Municipalities funds they were due to be paid by the state in September. The villages of Lynbrook and East Rockaway are owed more than $430,000.

According to the New York Conference of Mayors, it is unclear when the funding might be distributed to local municipalities. In an Oct. 17 memorandum, the organization advised Nassau County mayors to formulate their budgets without it.

“The reduction of the AIM funding due to East Rockaway, in the amount of $194,855, will certainly have an impact on our budget,” Mayor Bruno Romano said. “I am quite sure that Governor Cuomo could have sourced other items and could have cut expenses other than eliminating funding to the villages.”

In a small village, Romano said, officials have few revenue sources to tap into to reduce property taxes, and they may have to “fine-tune” the village’s budget to account for the loss of AIM funds. He did not offer further details.

“I would hope that Governor Cuomo would have some better consideration for the hardworking taxpayers in our community,” he said.

Lynbrook May-or Alan Beach said that he and the board were “working with state officials on these matters to ensure that our much-needed state aid payments are restored and scheduled on a timely basis to villages like Lynbrook and East Rockaway.” 

AIM funding comes from state sales tax revenue, which is collected by the state comptroller’s office and sent to villages and towns. State law requires that a fiscal control board receive all AIM funding in a given county, leaving no mechanism by which the money can be distributed to villages and towns.

The state has agreed to negotiate terms for distributing AIM funds to the two counties in New York — Nassau and Erie — that are overseen by fiscal control boards, said Tania Lopez, the state comptroller’s deputy spokeswoman.

The State Legislature created the Nassau Interim Finance Authority in 2000 to oversee the county’s finances after a series of large budget deficits.

According to the New York state comprtroller’s office, the 2019-20 state budget reduced Aid and Incentives for Municipalities funding by $59 million, eliminating aid for 1,326 towns and villages where AIM is less than 2 percent of expenditures.

On Oct. 1, County Executive Laura Curran met with state officials, who agreed to work with NIFA to reach an agreement on AIM funding. It’s now up to the state budget office to hammer out the language of that agreement.

“Municipalities that rely on this revenue should not be hurt by this complication,” Lopez said. “We urge the state Division of the Budget to work with the local governments involved so our office can make the necessary payments by mid-December.”

Curran scheduled an emergency meeting of the county Legislature on Nov. 13, after press time, to address the issue. The Legislature must now approve the agreement to allow NIFA to work with the state comptroller’s office.

Meanwhile, the Town of Hempstead faces a $3.8 million budget hole because of the lack of AIM funding. It passed its $437 million budget for 2020 on Nov. 4. Officials agreed to create a contingency plan if the AIM funding were not to come through.

“We have received assurances from the county executive and the presiding officer in the [county] Legislature that the $3.8 million will be there,” Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman said. “We also consulted with our financial people, and we feel that in the unlikely event it’s not there, we would be able to develop a contingency plan to make up for that.”

Alexandra Whitbeck and Mike Smollins contributed to this story.