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Wilson to Albany: Don’t Forget About CNY & the Finger Lakes

L-R: Mayors Rob Thurston and Don Wilson meet with Cayuga County Associate Planner Kari Terwilliger and Legislature Chairwoman Aileen McNabb-Coleman in Syracuse before being announced as winners of $10M in DRI funding. (Ed Vivenzio, Finger Lakes News Radio)

On Friday, the New York State Legislature approved extending the budget deadline to this Thursday, allowing for negotiations between the governor and legislature to continue.

As negotiations continue, Cayuga Mayor Don Wilson told Finger Lakes News Radio that he believes Albany needs to pay more attention to the needs of rural communities in the Central New York and Finger Lakes regions.

“Here, we always hear about cuts but yet the budget grows, so it’s disheartening; it really is,” said Wilson. “I don’t think that Albany has Central New York, at least this heartland part of the state, in its best interests

Wilson also mentioned the need for increased Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) funding. AIM funding is unrestricted funding provided to municipalities outside of New York City. The funding has remained stagnant, something Wilson said makes it difficult for smaller communities to adequately provide the services necessary to their communities.

“We need increases [in funding]. It all can’t go to New York City. The five boroughs can’t keep sucking it up,” said Wilson.

Earlier this year, the Auburn City Council sent a letter to the governor urging her to increase AIM funding.

Under the governor’s proposed budget, millions in discretionary funds would be made available to communities that receive a pro-housing designation. Wilson believes tying these financial incentives to the pro-housing designation is unfair to rural communities like Cayuga which he argues could see negative repercussions as an influx in residents could strain small municipalities’ infrastructure and emergency services.

“Not every community fits the cookie cutter of the pro-housing initiative. As a community that is getting a school converted into affordable housing, we have our concerns,” Wilson continued.

The village’s former school is set to be turned into 47 affordable housing units by March 2025.

Ultimately, Wilson believes the governor has too much power in the budget-making process.

The finalized budget was originally due on April 1; however, Governor Hochul requested an extender which was approved by the legislature.

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