Tuesday was Tin Cup Day in Albany, when mayors from across New York meet with state lawmakers to discuss their funding priorities.  

Following New York City Mayor Eric Adams, mayors from Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers answered questions from lawmakers on what their city’s needs are, with lawmakers grilling them on specifics.

A common thread for the leaders of New York’s cities north of the Big Apple was the yearly quest for an increase in AIM funding, which stands for Aid to Municipalities. It has remained at the same rate for a dozen years and the mayors say that needs to change for their cities to keep up with expenses. 

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan stressed the importance of the formula-based aid to New York’s small to mid-sized cities, and why finally securing an increase in the budget is crucial.

“Inflation is up 32% since the last time we got an increase in AIM,” she said. “These are dollars we use to pay for police officers, firefighters, deal with quality of life issues.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown emphasized that municipalities need the stability of a regular increase as they plan for the future.

“We need to get back to revenue sharing from the state budget for municipalities across the state that goes up in a predictable way so municipalities can balance their budget,” he said.

State Sen. Rachel May, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Small and Mid Sized Cities, says those in state government across the board from the executive branch to legislators need to come together to find a solution.

“They really do need the funding and you can hear it in the desperation in their voices,” she said. “We’ve have to figure out how to ask the question in a way that will get the answer that we need to get.”

Ranking member Rob Rollison agrees, saying that without even a modest increase, the cost could be passed off to residents.

“The cost of doing business in government has, of course, increased and the only other place you can get additional revenues to support your services, that cost more, is through property taxes and other fees,” he said.

Additionally, each city has its own needs — some of which could be helped by more AIM funding. Rochester Mayor Malik Evans stressed the need to tackle gun violence, Brown the impact of severe winter weather, and Ben Walsh highlighting the city of Syracuse’s drive to create more housing.

With Sheehan in particular taking the floor to lobby once again to make Capital City Funding, intended to support Albany’s role as the center of state government in New York, permanent.

As it stands, Sheehan must bring that figurative tin cup to the Capitol each year to ask legislators to continue the funding. 

“We support the workforce that comes in here, the visitors, the people who come here to lobby from all across the state, we need to make sure we can fill the potholes, pave the streets, fix our sidewalks,” she said.

As for what an AIM increase would look like, Mayor Brown said it would be a 30% increase if tied to inflation, but 10% would be a good start.