Upcoming Events

2018 Legislative Conference

January 29-31
Desmond Hotel
Albany, NY  (Albany County)

 
52nd Annual County Finance School

May 2 – 4, 2018
Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel
Syracuse, NY (Onondaga County)

 
2018 Fall Seminar

September 24 - 26
Hyatt Hotel
Rochester, NY (Monroe County)

News

The County Perspective on State, Federal Actions

Updates on State, Federal, and Local issues Impacting NY's Counties.

NYSAC Update

Save the Date: NYSAC Fall Seminar in Syracuse
The 2017 NYSAC Fall Seminar will be held from September 13-15 at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown in Onondaga County. The Fall Seminar will feature a robust line up of workshops on the issues impacting counties, innovative solutions to challenges counties face, a reception celebrating the launch of the Women's Leadership Roundtable, expert speakers, a lively exhibit hall, and opportunities to connect with county colleagues from across the state.

The full agenda and registration information will be sent out later this summer.
 
View photos from last year's Fall Seminar.
View photos from the 2015 Fall Seminar.
 
County Job Board at NYSAC.org
NYSAC hosts a county job board, where members can post job openings free of charge. The job board is public, and job-seekers can search for job postings.  View listings and submit job openings here.
 

County Update

County Leaders Continuing to Host Shared Services Panel Meetings Ahead of August 1 Deadline
Shared services panels across the state have less than two months until the August 1 deadline to submit a plan to their county legislature.  Counties that submit a plan this year are eligible to receive a one-time match of the net savings from new actions implemented pursuant to the proposal.
 
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is optimistic about meeting the deadlines set for 2017.  At a meeting on Thursday, Mahoney presented the state-mandated plan as an opportunity because of the potential state match.  She contended, “I don't know why we would do anything except roll up our sleeves and give it our best shot right now.”  Several municipal officials in Onondaga County also welcomed the opportunity to look for cost savings but worried that, in return, constituents will expect tax cuts that are not always possible in fiscally stressful times.
 
Last week, Greene County held the first of three public hearings required by the state.  At the Panel's first meeting last month, supervisors from the county's 14 towns and leaders from five villages discussed various services, such as animal control, legal services, and information technology, and the possible ways they could be consolidated.  County Administrator Shaun Groden highlighted the difficulty of effectively consolidating services when he remarked, “Just because you cut a dollar here, doesn't mean you save a dollar.”  Conceptual ideas that were raised but are not likely to be pursued because they are unpopular or would not save money include consolidating town police departments and disbanding the county highway department.  

State Update

Albany Update 
The Legislature is back in session for a four-day work week. With 11 session days remaining, NYSAC continues to track all measures that may impact counties. Our Legislative Team is focused on issues that will assist county operations and relieve county property taxpayers.
 
Mayoral Control expired on June 1, 2017 and will be top priority to restore for the Assembly.  The Senate has been working hard on Kendra's Law. In addition, neither house has made any recent comments on procurement reform.
  
In the final days of the session, we encourage you and members of your county board to contact your Assembly and Senate representatives to urge support for these measures.
 
Sales Tax Extenders
All counties have submitted their Sales Tax Extenders bills to the legislature. The Assembly has not moved any of the individual sales tax extender bills. The Senate has moved all but the counties listed below.  We encourage all of you to speak with both your Assembly and Senator Sponsor about the importance of passage on all sales tax extenders. Both houses have signaled interest in granting permanency in sales tax subject to a local government renewal process. This is a policy advanced by NYSAC for decades. It is unclear if legislature will continue to enact individual county renewals at the state level or authorize the local action to renew. 
 
Unfunded Mandates
NYSAC supports S2323 Griffo/A2922 Brindisi, stating state mandated programs imposed on municipalities and school districts must be funded by the state, is on the Senate Active list for Monday, June 5th and will likely come up for a Senate vote today. This bill had been stalled in the Senate, and moved largely as a result of outreach by NYSAC member counties. Once the bill passes the Senate, it will be imperative that county leaders reach out to their Assembly representatives to encourage them to move the bill and vote in favor of its passage.
 
The legislation requires the State to fully fund the cost of new mandates placed on local governments (or the expansion of existing mandates), while also limiting the State's ability to implement property tax exemptions or abatements that reduce local revenues.
 
While some recent actions taken by State legislators have helped reduce the out-year costs of state mandates on counties and local governments, other actions have increased costs in other areas. The result is that local taxpayers are continually being asked to fund more and more of the State's programs and services. This year's budget shifted $39 million in Foster Care costs from the state directly to county budgets. Furthermore, in the 2011-12 State Budget, the state dramatically lowered the State's fiscal responsibility in the Safety Net Program by shifting the cost share to 71 percent county/29 percent state, severing the historic 50 percent state/50 percent county partnership. These two actions are requiring local taxpayers to pick up more of the costs of state programs and services.
 
Enactment of this “no new unfunded mandates” legislation will improve accountability to all New York property taxpayers, as it will require those setting statewide public policy goals to finance the cost of these initiatives, instead of shifting the cost to local governments and taxpayers.
 
Judgement Interest Rates
NYSAC supports S4755 Griffo/A6965 Schimminger, relating to the rate of interest to be paid on judgments and accrued claims.
 
Under current New York law, defendants of a lawsuit are required to pay interest on the original judgement until an appellate division determination is made. Judgement interest rates are set at 9 percent under an outdated state law. Unfortunately, the appeals process can take months and sometimes years to be resolved. In some instances, a county defendant's interest penalties can exceed the underlying award. This state rate was set in the 1970's when 9 percent matched the federal rate and at a time where less court volume equated to a quicker appeal process. Today, federal interest rates are below 2 percent. It is inequitable and unjust to carry forward outdated interest rates that have a chilling effect on the appeal process.
 
This bill's solution is common sense: match the state rate with current federal rates. Aligning state with federal judgement interest rates is an equitable solution that allows for all parties to appeal matters when justified. The proposal allows for the state rate to float with federal rates and not be locked into the time the state law was passed. Additionally, this change would provide mandate relief for local governments and will result in taxpayer savings.
 
Changing the state's judgment interest rate to match the federal rate is a reasonable and fair system for all parties. This solution will lead to more cases being heard when justified and the outcomes of these cases to be more equitable for all involved.

Federal Update

U.S. Senate Struggles with Repeal and Replace Legislation for the Affordable Care Act
The Senate returned today from its Memorial Day break amid uncertainty if it will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The Senate was not in lock step with the House passed version of the bill and they are set to start from scratch if necessary. A major stumbling block for the Senate remains the large $900 billion cut to Medicaid in the House bill. Many senators have significant concerns over cuts to that program of such a large magnitude (they equate to a nearly 25 percent reduction). Senate Majority Leader McConnell has indicated the Senate will vote on a bill at some point, but cannot assure that it will be able to pass. The Senate will likely release an outline of principles of their reform efforts in the next few weeks prior to releasing any bill text. The Senate is boxed in under their current budget rules because until they finish the debate on health care they cannot move on to tax reform under budget reconciliation which allows them to pass a bill with a simple majority vote, rather than the usual 60 that is needed for legislation in the Senate.  
 

National Flood Insurance Program Re-Authorization – News from NACo
As the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) current authorization will expire on September 30, 2017, Sens. Bill Cassidy and Kristen Gillibrand have released draft legislation that would extend the program's authorization for 10 years.
 
The NFIP, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is designed to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures by providing affordable insurance to property owners, and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations.
 
The new legislation being worked on by Sen. Cassidy and Sen. Gillibrand titled the Flood Insurance Affordability and Sustainability Act of 2017 would reauthorize the NFIP for a 10-year term from 2017-2027.  The current draft would also promote overall financial solvency of the program by giving FEMA the authority to cede a portion of the flood insurance program's risk to private insurance markets at rates and on terms that would be determined by FEMA to be reasonable and appropriate. Ensuring long-term financial solvency has been a key priority in talks to reauthorize the NFIP which is currently over $24 billion in debt.
 
The draft legislation would provide greater investment in flood mitigation and resiliency as the legislation stipulates that FEMA will be required to reallocate funds to better finance pre-disaster mitigation and flood mitigation assistance programs which could yield an approximate $400 million annually for flood mitigation activities.  Also, the draft legislation would reauthorize the National Flood Mapping Program which is the official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the NFIP.
 
For home owners and county residents, the draft legislation would provide certain low-income residents with vouchers to offset the cost of flood insurance if their premiums and fees result in their housing costs exceeding 40 percent of their household income.  Additionally, the draft legislation would modernize coverage limits to align with actual replacement costs of residential and non-residential structures damaged by floods by increasing coverage limits from $250,000 to $500,000 for residential structures and $500,000 to $1,000,000 for multifamily and businesses structures. (Read more.)
 

Courts and Rulings

Court of Appeals Ruling Defines Defendants Burden when Filing Notice of Claim Defenses 
The New York Court of Appeals recently ruled in the Matter of Newcomb v Middle Country Cent. Sch. Dist. which established further rules regarding of notice of claim defenses for public entities.
 
General Municipal Law § 50-e (1) (a) requires a party seeking to sue a public corporation must serve a notice of claim within 90 days after the claim arises. The intent behind this law, in part, stems from the desire to provide the public entity the ability to investigate the site of the alleged wrong doing in a timely fashion which otherwise can created substantial prejudice due to fading witness memories. Failing to properly serve a notice of claim within 90 days after the claim arises provides public entity a procedure defense motion they can submit that can dismiss a matter. However, General Municipal Law § 50-e (5) permits a court, in its discretion, to extend the time for a petitioner to serve a notice of claim for various reasons, including lack of prejudice to the defendant by the late service. The appellate courts have been split on if the burden rests solely on the plaintiff to prove no prejudice to the defendant for the late service or if both parties have a burden to prove or disprove prejudice.
The fact pattern in this case involved petitioner's son, who was hit by a car while attempting to cross an intersection causing substantial injuries. The driver of the car fled the scene and was later involved in a hit and run police investigation.  The petitioner filed suit against multiple public entities including the local school within the required 90 days however the petitioner was unable to obtain the information gathered in the police investigation until months after the notice of claim date expired.  Upon receiving the police investigation, the petitioner discovered in a picture a temporary sign placed by the road of the school advertising a play that potentially could have obstructed the driver's view. The petitioner refiled the notice of claim including this newly discovered fact. 

The Court of Appeals had to determine if the burden is solely the plaintiffs to prove the school was not prejudiced by the notice after 90 days of the accident or if the defendant also had to counter with proof of actual prejudice. The court ruled that the burden of proving substantial prejudice should not be solely on petitioner. The court rule now establishes that a petitioner to make an initial showing that the public corporation will not be substantially prejudiced but then requires the public corporation to rebut that showing with particularized evidence. The court stated it is the public corporation that is in the best position to know and demonstrate whether it has been substantially prejudiced by the late notice.

Training and Grant Opportunities

New York State Cyber Security Conference
The NYS Cyber Security Conference will take place June 7 and 8 in Albany, with pre-conference training opportunities on June 6.  The event is hosted by the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, in partnership with the University at Albany's School of Business, and The New York State Forum, Inc. The conference is part of a statewide effort to boost cyber security awareness and empower state and local governments, academia, organizations and citizens to take better control of their digital security.
 
This year's conference examines the broad range of today's cyber challenges and the ways in which organizations can improve security, and create resiliency against cyber threats. The conference offers something for everyone--whether you're a technology user, IT professional, government employee, or business owner. Learn more at https://its.ny.gov/2017-new-york-state-cyber-security-conference.
 
Creating Pathways for Low Income New Yorkers: The Intersection of TANF and the Workforce System
In advance of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization, New Yorkers need to ask ourselves, what is working? Where are there roadblocks? What would the ideal piece of legislation include to increase education and training outcomes for low income New Yorkers? This event, hosted by the NY Association of Training Employment Professionals (NYATEP) will examine the intersection of the TANF and workforce systems.
 
The event will be held on June 7, 2017 from 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM in New York City.
Register here: http://www.nyatep.org/event
 
Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA) 
The Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 invests at least $1 billion in clean and drinking water infrastructure projects and water quality protection across New York. $225 million will be made available this year, with one half allocated for drinking water projects, and the other half allocated for wastewater infrastructure projects. Under this program EFC provides grants to assist municipalities in funding water quality infrastructure projects for the replacement or repair of infrastructure or for compliance with relevant environmental and public health laws. Awardees will receive grants of either 25 percent of eligible project costs or $5 million, whichever is less, for wastewater infrastructure projects. Drinking water project awardees will receive 60 percent of eligible project costs or $3 million, whichever is less. 
 
Intermunicipal Grant Program 
The Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 provides at least $150 million to fund the new IMG, with $30 million available in 2017. Under this program, EFC will provide grants for water quality infrastructure projects to be undertaken by two or more cooperating municipalities. IMG funding will be awarded to projects for the construction, replacement or repair of water quality infrastructure or for compliance with environmental and public health laws. Projects may include shared water quality infrastructure or interconnection of multiple municipal water systems. To be eligible, cooperating municipalities must have a current, executed Intermunicipal Agreement pertaining to the project to be funded. Successful applicants will receive 40% of eligible project costs or $10 million, whichever is less. 
 
A grant application and documentation for both the WIIA and the IMG grant must be submitted to EFC no later than 5:00 p.m., June 23, 2017. More information can be found at https://www.efc.ny.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=677
 
 
 

Contributors