SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Passing state costs on to local government, revenue caps and unfunded mandates are crippling New York’s towns, villages and cities, Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said Monday.
Thane was sworn in as new president of the New York Conference of Mayors by fellow Amsterdam native U. S. Rep. Paul Tonko, with more than 200 people on hand at Gideon Putnam Hotel.
"Our costs are going up and our funding is flat," she said. "They’re (the state) capping our revenue sources. It’s very critical. It’s not sustainable. It can’t just be ignored and hope it goes away." Thane called on fellow mayors and elected officials to petition their respective state legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, urging them to increase aid to municipalities and change course on policies that hurt local government.
"The future of New York state is in your hands," she said. "Talk about mandate relief to everyone you can. Share our message. Be a catalyst for real change." Thane succeeds outgoing conference President Richard Donovan of Minoa, near Syracuse. She took the oath of office with First Vice President Richard Milne, mayor of Honeoye Falls near Rochester; and Second Vice President Tom Roach, mayor of White Plains.
Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen welcomed attendees to the three-day conference that began Sunday and concludes Tuesday.
"We can get so much done by working together," she said.
The conference is comprised of 582 local municipalities that represent 11 million of New York state’s more than 19 million residents.
"I think the move is back into cities," Tonko said. "The next generation is moving back there to live, work and socialize. This nation needs to get strong urban policy so we can get ahead of the curve." However, many upstate New York cities, large and small, have suffered from the loss of well-paying manufacturing jobs and a population exodus in recent years.
"The state must respond to the needs of local government," Thane said. "Our local governments are under siege by a state government that sees us as frivolous. We need the state to cap our costs." "Cap my cost and don’t lecture me about sharing services," she added. "We’ve been sharing and partnering for years." At the local level, constituents watch closely to see how money is spent on everything from potholes to new police cars and playgrounds, she said.
"If we do not meet the expectations of those voters the consequences are harshly personal," Thane said.
She called on mayors to redouble their efforts to educate the public about how state tax "We must understand the power and legitimacy we represent," she said.