Rome, Utica mayors eye impacts of state budget

Posted

In a year she plans to run for a full term, Gov. Kathy Hochul has unveiled a proposed state budget of $216.3 billion for fiscal year 2023 that promises to spur New York’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Hochul, who took office in August following former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s resignation after facing several sexual harassment allegations, has promised significant investments in infrastructure, including highways and bridges, housing developments and education.

Both Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo and Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri weighed in on what the state budget funding proposals mean for their cities, with additional funding possible, they say, from economic and brownfield redevelopment to bridge repairs to property tax relief.

Hochul’s 2023 proposed budget is $4.3 billion more than what was approved by state legislators last year. Highlights of the proposal include:

• $10 billion for healthcare workers;

• $31 billion for teachers and schools;   

• A tax relief proposal for taxpayers and small businesses;

• $32.8 billion transportation capital plan;

• $900 million in Childcare Stabilization Grants;

• $1.5 billion investment in SUNY and expands TAP eligibility; and

• $224 million to fund law enforcement and community-based gun violence initiatives.

As for attracting a workforce, as well as new business developments that would create new jobs, Izzo said Thursday she is pleased with the announcement for additional funding toward improving infrastructure, but that municipalities “haven’t seen enough” in the proposed budget from an economic development standpoint. She said she hopes more details are forthcoming.

“It looks like good news for the Restore New York program, which has been funded for many years and is important for Rome,” said Izzo. “A lot of development has been accomplished through that program, and our next project will be the former Rome Cable site. We have $1 million going there. That’s good news.”

The Restore New York Communities Initiative provides municipalities with financial assistance for revitalization of commercial and residential properties. The program encourages community development and neighborhood growth through the elimination and redevelopment of blighted structures. 

The mayor said according to the proposal, it looks like there will be one-time property tax rebates (as part of the new Property Tax Rebate Program)” to assist small businesses, as well as low and middle class homeowners, “but there have been no details on that yet.”

While $224 million has been earmarked to fund law enforcement and community-based gun violence initiatives, “I would like to see more money go directly to law enforcement so that the monies being spent are coming to the localities that really need it, so it can make a real difference,” said Izzo. “Law and order needed to be addressed better.”

Under the executive order of former Gov. Cuomo, law enforcement agencies across the state were mandated to develop reform plans that were adopted by April 1 of last year, that were promised to be eligible for state funding for on-going officer training, proper staffing and recruitment programs, equipment, etc.

Izzo said Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) funding, which provides aid to cities and towns outside New York City, will remain flat in 2023, which is disappointing.

“It’s better than nothing, but again, we were hoping that with the state surplus, we would finally get a raise,” the mayor added. “That money has remained stagnant for several years and it’s not keeping up with inflation.”

However, Izzo said she is very pleased for monies going toward roads and bridges, which will be provided at historic levels. Rome is slated to receive funding from the Consolidated Local Streets and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and PAVE-NY program. The mayor also commended the BridgeNY program for assisting the city in replacing and repairing its bridges.

“We’ve utilized BridgeNY funding for the last three years and have gotten a significant amount of our bridges done, and we’re so very happy to see that,” Izzo said. “We will also take a good look at the five-year housing plan, because we’d like to create more affordable housing in Rome, like we’ll see with Copper City Lofts.”

She said, “The biggest thing is funding for infrastructure for roads, and RESTORE NY will help improve properties — that will help attract businesses and development,” as well as support sewer and water projects.

The mayor is also hoping that infrastructure funding will be available for broadband developments.

“Broadband is significant and if money can come to us, we have issues with our outside district — it’s rural and spread out,” said Izzo. “Many of our citizens try to have Spectrum run fiber optics to their residences, but the cost is astronomical. We hope monies for broadband can come to municipalities and we can help these homeowners.”

State and local cyber defense is also something that needs attention in the state budget, the mayor added.

“There is no information on that yet, but it is very important,” Izzo said. “Cyber attacks on the city’s information technology infrastructure are real, and our vendor MC Polce has been doing a good job fording attacks, but they’re happening almost on a daily basis. They continue to monitor and manage them, and we’re very happy for that.”

In summary, proposed money for health care infrastructure will also go a long way to help developments at the Rome Health campus, Izzo said.

“We are following that money as well anything the city can do to help Rome Health System to access money,” she said.

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said he is pleased with the announcement of proposed funding that will help Utica Police combat gun violence.

“Training and education are key components in combating gun violence.  The Utica Police Department is an accredited police agency that prioritizes training, education and community engagement,” the mayor said. “My administration recently proposed adding five police officers to address gun violence, and I commend Governor Hochul for proposing additional resources to local law enforcement agencies in support of these important initiatives.”

Palmieri said funds proposed for much-needed infrastructure improvements is also good news.

“I’m pleased this was a priority in the governor’s budget,” he added.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here