April 20th, 2019
HORNELL, NY – Hornell Mayor John Buckley once again gathered together with our local politicians and held a Town Hall meeting Saturday morning at the Hornell VFW. At the head table with Buckey were Senator Tom O’Mara, Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano. Buckley has held well over 20 Towns Halls over the last 9 years because according to him, it gives residents a chance to get updated on many decisions coming out of Albany and allows residents to ask questions.
Topics up for discussion this meeting were the State budget and the impact on municipalities, legalization of recreational marijuana and the opioid crisis, AIM funding, CHIPS funding, Plastic Bag Ban, and Internet Sales Tax.
Buckley got the ball rolling with the discussion of AIM (Aid & Incentives for Municipalities) funding. According to the Mayor, this is funding given to all cities, towns and villages that can be used for various projects. “AIM funding has remained stagnant for the last 10 years. The same dollar amount we had 10 years ago is the same dollar amount we have today, and adjusting for inflation, were actually losing money now.” Buckley continued saying that he thinks it’s time to see a major increase in this funding. Another major cut was the Extreme Winter Recovery money, which according to Buckley is essential to keep our roads in good condition after our usually hard winters.
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano also chimed in with his frustration with the cuts in CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street & Highway Improvement Programs) funding. “We had a CHIPS increase several years ago, but it has been flat ever since. To some communities, that is the only money they have to fix roads in the spring and summer, and the Governor had the audacity to completely eliminate it in this year’s budget.”
Another area passed in the budget that that concerned the lawmakers was the 3 hour paid leave Albany mandated so people could vote. “Look at how that will affect our local police, fire, and medical staffs,” said O’Mara, “what will happen if they are not on their posts in a given emergency?”
The roughly 2 hour meeting wrapped up with a discussion on the possible legalization of marijuana in our state. No one in attendance seemed to be for the idea with many emphasizing the detrimental effects it will have in the workplace. “I still consider it a gateway drug,” said Palmesano with O’Mara adding, ”All this is is Albany’s solution for a revenue generator for the state, without looking at the long term consequences down the road.”
Some other areas of frustration that were discussed were the lack of a valid ID needed to vote, the closing of 3 prisons in the state, the lack of adequate mental healthcare facilities in our area, and STAR program changes. Over 60 people were in attendance.