Warren makes case for Rochester at joint budget hearing

Warren makes case for Rochester at joint budget hearing


By Ryan Whalen

ALBANY, N.Y. — It’s been well established the state is running on a tight budget this year, but mayors from across New York are trying to get the biggest piece of the pie they can.

“We of course want to get more in additional AIM, which is Aid to Municipalities,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, D, said.

Warren said her city, as is the case every year, is beginning its budget process with a significant deficit of its own. That’s in part because the city is trying to cover services once provided by nonprofits, churches and other entities.

“We’re funding afterschool programs. We’re funding libraries and recreation centers and all of that and so we want to be able to continue to provide exceptional service to our citizens but also do the necessary repairs as it pertains to infrastructure and investment in our capital projects,” Warren said.

She is asking the state to at least protect the existing revenue when it comes to Aid to Municipality or AIM funding. She noted Rochester gives $119 million to its school district which represents roughly 68 percent of the taxes it collects.

“I know that every city is asking for the same thing but one of the differences with the city of Rochester as compared to Buffalo and Syracuse, which are our sister cities, is the fact that we give $32 million more to our city school district than any of those other cities,” Warren said.

The mayor also asked the Legislature to support the governor’s capital spending plan as funding for tourism and economic development. She said the city is finalizing details with the state about a plan to revitalize its riverfront.

“We just want to be able to provide that, just a little bit more for our businesses that are currently there to be able to expand and grow but also businesses that are looking at our community to be able say ‘yes, this is where we want to go because look at this great riverway,’” Warren said.

She also asked for support for the proposed photonics attraction fund. She believes the industry will be successful despite another recent setback with the company NexGen pulling out of its commitment to Rochester and choosing to build in Syracuse instead.

“I believe that the photonics will take off,” she said. “With anything new, with anything a little bit different, you have your challenges.”

Meanwhile, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was the only mayor from the Big Four Upstate cities not to appear before the joint budget committee but his office said he will send written testimony.