It was a mixed bag of cuts and funding for local agencies when Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual budget address Jan. 17 in Albany.
Perhaps the biggest mixed bag of news came with proposals involving the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), which saw increases to funding for capital projects but a decrease of $321,000 in its line item and a recommendation by Cuomo to have the organization take over the operations at the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount, over 225 miles away from Whiteface in Wilmington and over 150 miles from Gore Mountain in North Creek.
The proposal transfers management from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to ORDA. Cuomo said that he felt ORDA had more “expertise” to run Belleayre.
According to the Department of Budget, a report issued late last year by the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission detailed that Belleayre had additional funding from the state for the past five years.
However, Cuomo also proposed that the state add $94 million for parks to address a large backlog of capital rehabilitation and improvement needs in 48 state parks and historic sites and the ski facilities operated by ORDA.
Spokesman Jon Lundin said that, with plenty of politics and time left before a budget is finalized, it was “too early” to get a sense of what the proposals meant for the organization.
Another increase was the addition of $102 million in new state funding for DEC to advance flood control, coastal erosion and critical dam safety projects, something that pleased local leaders who are dealing with flood recovery and the fears of the upcoming spring season.
“That is something that is desperately needed,” Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randall “Randy” Douglas of Jay said. “We need to provide these funds and programs so that in the long term, towns can save on the costs on protecting them from flooding.”
The Adirondack Park Agency saw a reduction in the governor’s proposed budget of $105,000.