Standing outside Doubleday Field with David Bliss, chair of the Otsego County Board of Representatives; Gary Herzig, mayor of Oneonta; Ellen Tillapaugh, mayor of Cooperstown; and Allen Ruffles, Otsego County treasurer -- U.S. Senator Charles Schumer renewed his push for immediate, direct federal aid for state and local governments.
Schumer explained that as communities reopen and seek to recover from the devastating financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in New York, state and local governments need federal relief that can be used to pay for essential services, offset lost revenues and increased costs, and aid in economic recovery.
“Our state, county, and local governments heroically ratcheted up their spending to confront the COVID challenge, even when the virus ripped a hole in their budgets due to collapsing revenue,” said Senator Schumer. “Senate Republicans must join our push to act swiftly and decisively to provide a shot-in-the-arm of financial resources so state, county, and local governments can save tens of thousands of jobs, continue to offer essential services for their communities, and provide the assistance necessary to revive the economy. ”
The senator explained that with municipal governments across the state and the Southern Tier facing budgetary crises and forced to consider layoffs of tens of thousands of public health care workers, firefighters and EMS workers, police, sanitation workers, teachers, and other vital staff, additional aid for state and local governments is vital to community recovery as counties reopen.
Schumer added, “Providing urgent relief to state, county and local governments is not an abstract concept – it is keeping healthcare workers, firefighters, bus drivers and other public service workers on the job; it is preserving vital services during a pandemic; it is staving off tax hikes at the worst possible time for already cash-strapped New Yorkers; and it is providing resources to help keep small businesses open and rebuild local economies. Communities throughout Otsego County were nothing short of heroes as they fought on the frontlines to protect their residents, they shouldn’t have to fight to keep their jobs, stay afloat, and keep hospitals open.”
The senator explained that despite the unexpected good news of an increase in employment numbers for the private sector in June, job cuts within state and local governments continued to historically mount.
Specifically, the City of Oneonta estimates a more than $3 million deficit, Otsego County expects an over $12 million loss. Schumer said without direct, federal aid for municipalities, more and more staff in the Southern Tier will continue to be cut or furloughed, severely impacting government services and support to local communities as they reopen.
Several Otsego County leaders joined Schumer in his call for direct state and local aid.
“I thank Senator Schumer for his leadership in advocating for desperately needed financial support for local governments in this time of great uncertainty. The City of Oneonta is facing a potential deficit of more than $3,000,000 as a result of unexpected decreases in sales tax, state aid, and water, sewer and other fees,” said Gary Herzig, Mayor of Oneonta. “Without federal support, small cities like Oneonta will have no other options than to cut services including police and fire protection. Local governments are depended upon to provide for public safety, quality of life, and economic vitality. Cuts to these services will have a devastating impact on the people we serve and protect.”
Ellen Tillapaugh, Mayor of Cooperstown said, “Senator Schumer recognizes that for upstate New York, the Village of Cooperstown is a major economic engine which generates millions in revenue for regional businesses as well as employment to hundreds of thousands. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, that tourism engine has been shut down. There is a critical need for federal assistance on the state and local level to sustain the economy and prevent job loss.”