Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she will introduce emergency legislation that will allow the county’s finance control board and the state comptroller to return $7.9 million in state aid to local towns and villages.
The state's Aid and Incentives for Municipalities, or AIM, funding was reduced in the 2019-20 state budget and required the state comptroller “to withhold certain county sales tax revenues and make payments to the impacted towns and villages in the amounts that they had previously received through AIM.”
Curran’s office said late Thursday that she has been working with state officials to propose legislation redirecting sales tax revenue to Nassau towns and villages. The proposed legislation would allow the Nassau Interim Finance Authority to work with State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to make payments by Dec. 15.
Curran said she would seek an emergency resolution for a Nassau County Legislature vote at the Nov. 13 meeting before the resolution is submitted to the state.
“There is a technical problem in the state budget language negotiated by the governor and the State Legislature with how the Aid to Municipalities funding will be paid this year in counties with control boards, namely Nassau and Erie counties,” DiNapoli spokeswoman Tania Lopez said Friday in a statement. “Our office has raised the issue with the state Division of the Budget. Municipalities that rely on this revenue should not be hurt by this complication.”
The Hempstead Town Board delayed a vote on its $437.6 million budget until Monday because council members were unsure of $3.8 million allotted to the town in state aid. It is the second time the board has postponed a vote on the budget, and they have scheduled a meeting the night before Election Day.
Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen accused the Republican board members and Democratic Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby of violating the state's Open Meetings Law when they planned to postpone the hearing without communicating with the supervisor’s office.
“This was fake hysteria about AIM funding,” Gillen said. “It was just an excuse to tie me up before the election and not have a tax cut voted through.”
Gillen, a Democrat, is seeking her second term as supervisor on Tuesday, while Republican Deputy Supervisor Bruce Blakeman is seeking re-election along with appointed Councilman Thomas Muscarella.
Blakeman had warned his fellow councilmembers on Wednesday as he sought a delay on the budget vote that the uncertainty of state funding could leave the town with a $3.8 million hole in its budget.
Town Board members are considering a budget with a 3.5% tax cut. Board members made 28 amendments to Gillen’s proposed budget, further increasing the tax cut from 1.7% and cutting $9.3 million in taxes. The board first postponed a budget vote to consider additional amendments and then delayed a vote to review state funding.
“I look forward to passing the tax cut budget drafted by Senior Councilwoman Goosby and my Republican colleagues that will now ensure residents get their fair share,” Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said Friday. “Shame on Supervisor Gillen for calling our responsible budget practices ‘political theater.’ It is government at work.”
Gillen has criticized the board’s revenue projections to add $4.2 million to next year’s budget and said any fears of a shortfall could be addressed by making more conservative projections.
The Town Board is set to vote on the budget at 7 p.m. Monday at Town Hall. It must be approved by Nov. 20.