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Mayors hoping for mandate relief

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Mayors hoping for mandate relief
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Mayors from across the state are hoping to see a little more mandate relief beyond what's included in the governor's budget proposal. But the Cuomo administration says things are not that simple and cities should not expect a bailout from the state. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman explains.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- As mayors from cities big and small around the state face a financial crunch, Governor Andrew Cuomo is sending Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy to make the case to local officials that the administration is willing to help, even if state aid is drying up.

Duffy said, “The governor wants to give more. He would like nothing better than to elevate the AIM aid. But there just is no money. There is no money and the same situation that you are facing in your respective areas, he is facing statewide.”

Duffy spoke to mayors from small cities and villages in Albany Monday for the winter gathering of the New York Conference of Mayors. Cuomo's $142.6 billion budget proposal keeps aid to municipalities flat at $715 million from the previous year, but does include other ways of saving money, including a pension smoothing proposal that's been criticized by Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, the governor's own Democratic Party co-chairwoman.

“There really is not money to satisfy all these issues. He's looking at different ways to satisfy these issues. He has taken a bigger whack at mandates than anyone I've ever seen,” Duffy said.

Deploying Duffy makes sense for Cuomo. He's a former mayor of Rochester. It's a part of his resume that Duffy cites when talking about Cuomo's efforts to cut back on burdensome required state spending. And some mayors are encouraged by Cuomo's pension smoothing plan that allows them to lock in current pension rates now at the expense of future savings.

“You can better budget, it makes more sense in times of extreme fiscal distress on all communities and pension costs are going up and continuing to rise,” Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan said.

But when it comes to increasing state aid, mayors would likely want to see more.

“It's now up to the legislature and in negotiations with the governor to find resources and I think it's a question of priorities,” said Peter Baynes, Conference of Mayors Executive Director.

The governor's budget is due by April 1st, but lawmakers expect it to pass by late March.

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