Save the Date: 50th Annual County Finance School
May 18-20, 2016 at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel
Each May, NYSAC partners with the Office of the State Comptroller and the New York State County Treasurers and Finance Officers Association to present the Annual County Finance School. County Finance School offers a unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of county-specific financial regulations, procedures, challenges, and solutions. County Finance School features a number of workshops that are CPE-accredited by the Office of the State Comptroller and the NYS Dept. of Education for CPAs.
Special Report: Promoting Public Health at the Local Level
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) called on State Lawmakers to renew their commitment to public health issues with a special report that addresses the role that counties play in promoting public health in communities across the state.The report, Counties Promoting Public Health: A Special Report, is available on the NYSAC website. [LINK]
LHDs are the front line of defense for diseases like influenza, Ebola, and the Zika Virus. They work closely with the New York State Department of Health to encourage healthy behavior, protect New Yorkers from communicable diseases, prepare of weather-related and environmental for emergencies, and develop community health assessments.
The report highlights the disparity of state funding for counties that deliver core health services. The State Budget includes funding through Public Health Law, Article 6 - known as Article 6 funding - which provides full or partial reimbursement for mandated public health services that are delivered at the local level.
NYSAC continues to fight for reimbursement to counties for the cost of electronic waste recycling. The Senate one-house budget included language to allow counties, electronic waste consolidation, and electronic waste recycling facilities to submit an application for state assistance payments toward the cost of collecting, handling and recycling of electronic waste. They also allocated $4 million out of the Environmental Protection Fund for municipal recycling and waste reduction. The Assembly one-house budget provides $3 million for household hazardous waste collection events for the recycling of electronic waste. The Assembly also provides language to add new eligible uses for EPF funding for marketing for productive reuse of cathode ray tubes.
NYSAC continues to fight for reimbursement to counties for the cost of electronic waste recycling. The Senate one-house budget included language to allow counties, electronic waste consolidation, and electronic waste recycling facilities to submit an application for state assistance payments toward the cost of collecting, handling and recycling of electronic waste. They also allocated $4 million out of the Environmental Protection Fund for municipal recycling and waste reduction. The Assembly one-house budget provides $3 million for household hazardous waste collection events for the recycling of electronic waste. The Assembly also provides language to add new eligible uses for EPF funding for marketing for productive reuse of cathode ray tubes. NYSAC staff joined the New York Product Stewardship Council at the Capitol this week to lobby legislative leaders to ensure our local governments see significant relief in the final budget.
NYSAC staff joined the New York Product Stewardship Council at the Capitol this week to lobby legislative leaders to ensure our local governments see significant relief in the final budget.
Albany Budget Update: Senate and Assembly Budget Conference Committees Meet, Internal Negotiations Continue
On March 23rd, the Senate and Assembly announced table targets, allocated amount of funding to be spent for each policy area. These are as follows amounts:
Health: $25 million
Education: $60 million
Higher Ed: $60 million
Human Services: $55 million
Public Protection/Criminal Justice: $13 million
Mental Health: $15 million
Environment/Agriculture/Housing: $20 million
General Government/Local Assistance: $15 million
Economic Development: $9 million
Transportation: $5 million
Total: $277 million
Now with dollar amounts known, negotiations begin in earnest to iron out specific programs and funding allocations within each issue area. Many Legislators have indicated that they are disappointed with the allocated funding. Legislative leaders have also alluded to an on-time budget, aiming to finish by Sunday, March 27th and begin printing bills to age appropriately. With many issues still to reach consensus, including "raise the age", minimum wage, paid family leave, education funding and transportation funds, it is unclear when lawmakers will finalize their negotiations. A budget is not due until Thursday, March 31st. This would be the sixth consecutive on-time budget.
The 2016-17 State Budget presents a unique opportunity for the State Legislature to build upon recent mandate relief efforts in support of counties and local taxpayers. Counties project our tax cap will be nearly zero in 2017 (.3%), and maintaining the tax cap under these circumstances will be difficult.
County leaders are encouraging state lawmakers to fight for:
1. A takeover of county indigent defense costs
2. Increased community college funding
3. Lowering and expanding the E 9-1-1 surcharge
4. Targeting bank settlement funds for infrastructure
Traction Building on Indigent Defense Expansion and State Fiscal Takeover
NYSAC lobbying efforts continue for a phased in state takeover of the costs and an expansion of Indigent Defense services. Currently counties pay close to 80 percent of the state mandated program. Additionally, the lack of uniformity of the system across the state must be addressed. Currently a State settlement to expand indigent defense services in five counties and New York City is leaving the remaining 52 counties with the choice of either not provide these same expanded services or to fund the expansion with local tax dollars.
Bipartisan State legislative support is growing for a state takeover the fiscal responsibility as well as expand Services. As reported earlier, bill S.6341
DeFrancisco) /A.6202B (Fahy) have been introduced to accomplish these goals, and now both the Senate and the Assembly have included the language in their one-house budget proposals.
Motor Fuel Price Projections for 2016 Continue to Fall
As recently as December, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that the average price of a gallon of gasoline would be about 3 percent less in 2016 compared to 2015. These projections for the average price of a gallon of gasoline continue to fall as we move into 2016. In early March, just three months later, the EIA is now projecting that the average price of a gallon of gasoline in 2016 will be about 22 percent less than it was in 2015. This continues a trend where each monthly estimate since December by the EIA has dropped further. Global supply and demand make accurate projections difficult, but current trends seem to indicate that fuel prices could remain lower than previously estimated through most of 2016 - at least for now. County sales taxes are applied as a percent of the retail price of a gallon of gasoline so lower fuel prices translates to lower county sales tax collections from motor fuel sales. The full year impact on total county sales tax collections from this fuel price trend, however, remains unclear at this time.
Assembly to Adopt a Series of Rules Reforms
The Assembly Majority released a series of 42 recommendations aimed at increasing transparency, integrating technology and streamlining the Legislative process. These proposed recommendations come as a result of a working group Assembly Speaker Heastie established nearly a year ago.
Some of the most significant reforms include increasing transparency by making documents such as expenditure reports, sponsor memos, support and opposition memos and procedural paperwork available online, for free. Another significant reform would be a two-year legislative process established through a rules change that eliminates automatic regression of bills when the second year of the two-year cycle begins. Eventually they will work toward a fully integrated two year session, so bills passed in the first year by one house may be passed in the second year by the other, and sent to the governor. The Senate would need to agree to this, and a change in statute would be required. The committee process will also be reformed to allow all members to have priority bills of their choosing be considered and voted on in committee. Lastly, in an effort to make the first half of a Legislative year more efficient, efforts will be made to bring more bills to the floor for a vote early in session, rather than waiting until after the NYS budget is adopted or until the last few weeks of session.
Some recommendations will effect local governments. Reforms will require that home rule messages from localities be made available online to the public. Reforms also require that when Assembly members introduce a new piece of legislation that they consider the bills fiscal impact on localities and notate any impact on an Introducer's Memorandum.
The Assembly is expected to formally consider these recommendations next week.
Census Bureau Releases 2015 Population Estimates
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released population estimates for 2015. Population growth for New York State from 2010 through 2015 came in around 2 percent. Population growth across the United States over the same time frame was 3.9 percent. Population growth in the Northeast and Midwest averaged around 1.5 percent and growth in the South and West was about 5.5 percent on average. For New York State the main driver of population growth was New York City which experienced growth of about 4.4 percent from 2010 through 2015. The combined areas outside of New York City grew by only .3 percent from 2010 through 2015, with only 14 counties experiencing population growth (ranging from .2 percent to 4.3 percent) and the rest seeing population declines (ranging from -.4 percent to-4.2 percent). While there are a few exceptions, the counties experiencing population growth were those generally in the orbit of the largest urban centers across the state.
· New York City - Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Orange and Westchester
· City of Albany - Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga
· City of Buffalo - Erie
· City of Rochester - Monroe
· City of Syracuse - Onondaga
· The others were Jefferson, Ontario and Tompkins
County Health Rankings offer new comparisons and data
For the first time, counties will be able to use the 2016 County Health Rankings to learn how they stack up against similar counties in other states. The data are being provided in response to counties' requests, according to Julie Willems van Dijk, co-director of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program - and can be accessed through the Compare Counties tool on the health rankings website www.countyhealthrankings.org.
Now in their seventh year, the rankings are a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The rankings are based on 30 health factors and five health outcomes, enabling counties within a state to assess their performance relative to each other. Among the measures rated are physical inactivity, access to health care, household income, educational attainment and children in poverty. This year's key findings from the rankings show that following a few years of improvement in premature death rates (deaths before age 75), rural counties lag "far behind" urban and suburban counties. And the rural rates are worsening. Nearly 1 in 5 rural counties saw increases in early deaths over the past decade. Large urban counties have seen the greatest declines in premature death rates since the late 1990s, according to the findings.
See you county's rank and compare data with other counties at http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/.
|Training & Funding Opportunities
Solar Opportunities: NYSAC Webinar
NYSAC will present a webinar outlining solar energy opportunities for counties on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 from 2:00-3:00 PM. Details are below.
New and Continuing Solar Opportunities for Counties
The State of New York's goal to add more than 3 gigawatts of installed solar capacity by 2023 is being leveraged by several counties to save not only fossil fuels, but taxpayer dollars as well. For the past several years, New York State and the federal government have been offering incentives to help governments, schools, businesses, and homeowners defray the upfront cost of installing solar panels, helping them lock in long term ongoing savings in monthly electric bills.
Presenters from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will discuss the NY-Sun Incentive and other programs designed to help New Yorkers reduce the cost of electricity and make New York State a national leader in developing a robust, sustainable solar industry.
Click here to register.