Local Governments Feel Financial Pressure Of Pandemic

By: Shawn Magrath

NORWICH - Local municipalities are facing real financial trouble as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impede revenue streams and state aid gets withheld to select cities and counties, according to a new report from the state comptroller.

If federal aid isn’t made available directly to local governments soon, the comptroller says municipalities may be forced to make drastic cuts in services.

The report details a nearly 24 percent drop in statewide sales tax collections in April and 32 percent in May, even as businesses started to open back up. Local governments took in $824 million from March through May, 2020.

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In Chenango County, officials last month saw a $700,000 wane in sales taxes from this time last year. And with little communication from the state, they’re unsure how much aid they’ll get to offset their losses - if they get any at all.

“I don’t think any of us have any idea how this will impact us until they come back with some numbers,” said Chenango County Deputy Treasurer John Williams. “It’s so hard to tell because we don’t know what the governor is going to cut. There really has been little communication on when cuts are coming and how much they’re going to be.”

Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would be cutting aid and incentives to 12 cities by 20 percent in order to save the state more than $70 million, in addition to the cuts his office made last year. 

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