Weekly Wire Week Ending March 11, 2016

State Budget news, Webinars, Resources for County Officials
NYSAC Presents
Counties & NY's Natural Resources
Counties are involved in preserving and promoting our natural resources, from agriculture to clean energy, from parks to waterways, from recycling to recreation.
The next issue of the NYSAC News magazine will focus on the many ways counties work with New York's varied natural resources. We're now accepting articles about innovative county programs, services, and solutions related to New York's land and water. Articles should be 750-1,000 words and can be sent to Nicole Correia ( by April 15.  View recent issues of NYSAC News magazine.
County Leaders Urged to Contact State Representatives 
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.
Counties have worked hard to hold down local taxes and recently submitted more than $2 billion in government efficiency and shared service plans to the Executive as required under the property tax freeze initiative. County governments are significantly leaner today than just before the Great Recession, with the total county workforce down by more than 10 percent. (Some counties are down more than 30 percent.) Many counties have privatized functions, consolidated internal operations, and last year more than 40 percent of counties held their tax rate flat or cut it. With your help we can continue these efforts in support of local taxpayers.
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
For the latest on these issues, view 

NYSAC's 2016-17 State Budget Fact Sheets (click issue title to view each fact sheet): 

·        9-1-1 Surcharge
·        Agriculture
·        Bank Settlements
·        Bond Allocation
·        Community Colleges
·        District Attorney Salaries
·        Early Intervention funding
·        Elections
·        End Cost Shifts
·        Environment
·        Government Consolidation
·        Indigent Defense
·        Organ Donation
·        Public Safety
All of NYSAC's 2016 budget advocacy materials can be found at
State Update
Budget Negotiations Expected to Begin this Week
The Senate and Assembly have released their One House Budget proposals and the legislative team is preparing a Budget Summary that reviews both houses' proposals. Once the One House proposals have aged each house will adopt or pass their proposals. We are expecting the legislature to release the Budget Subcommittee Hearing schedule and then release their spending priorities for the State's 2016-17 Fiscal Year.
NYSAC will have a prepared analysis of the Governor's plan and the two house items this week.
This is the time for county officials to connect with their state legislators on areas of collective and specific concerns to their counties. County officials are urging their State Lawmakers to target the items included in our ACTION ALERT.
Assembly and Senate Tax Plans Come into Focus
Highlights of tax proposals are coming out in advance of the one-house budget bills that should be introduced early next week.
Assembly Budget Proposals
The Assembly proposes raising taxes on the wealthy and provide modest reductions in income taxes for lower incomes. The centerpiece of the Assembly plan is an increase in income tax rates for high income earners of $1 million to $5 million to 8.82 percent, the current top income tax rate. There also would be boosts for earners of $5 million to $10 million (to 9.32 percent) and earners of $10 million or more (to 9.82 percent). This is expected to raise $1 billion annually in revenues for the State.
The current tax for millionaires is set to expire after 2017. The new tax rates would take effect in 2018. 
Income tax rates for those earning less than $40,000 would not change and there would be slight modifications for salary brackets under $1 million, as follows:
Income Range Current Law Tax Rate Assembly Proposal
$40,000 to $150,000 6.45% 6.25%
$150,000 to $300,000 6.65% 6.65%
$300,000 to $1 million* 6.85% 6.85%
*under current law the 6.85% rate extends from $300,000 to $2 million, under the new proposal the tax rate for $1 million to $2 million would rise from 6.85% to 8.82%.
The Assembly would also increase the NYS Earned Income Tax Credit from 30% of the federal amount to 35% over two years.
Education Funding in Assembly Budget
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced last week, that the Assembly school aid proposal would exceed the Governor's Executive Budget proposal of a $991 million school aid increase, including appropriations for pre-kindergarten, community schools and early college programs.
The Assembly has included in their Budget proposal to set aside $30 million to fight the growing heroin epidemic in New York.
According to the Assembly, this measure would expand prevention, treatment and recovery efforts around the state, with a special focus on areas and populations that are considered underserved by current programs.
Senior Communities
The Assembly budget proposal also includes funding to restore $118,000 for items that were eliminated from the Executive Budget including:
  • $86,000 for the Foundation for Senior Citizen Home Sharing and Respite; and
  • $32,000 for the Statewide Senior Action Council
In addition to renewing $951,000 in funding, the Assembly's SFY 2016-17 budget proposal includes an additional $2 million to expand these important community based programs. The Assembly has also proposes modifications in the eligibility and requirements for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) and Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NNORC) programs, including:
  • Changing the required minimum and maximum senior population for NORCs and NNORCs;
  • Changing the types of buildings that can participate as a NORC or NNORC;
  • Allowing the program to supplement services from other local entities to meet the residents' needs;
  • Lowering the match requirements to 25 percent of state grant funding, with half of the match to be raised from the community served; and
  • Requiring a report on or before March 1, 2018, and every five years thereafter
Senate Budget Proposals
The Senate budget proposal includes a total of $3.5 billion annual cuts to state income taxes by 2025. This is in addition to exempting a larger amount of private pension income from NYS income taxes, accelerating the phase-out of the current utility surcharge tax reduction by one year, as well as phasing in currently schedule reforms of the estate tax on a faster timeline. The Senate plan would also increase the amount of income exempt from taxation for small businesses and farmers.
Income Tax ($3.5 billion annual reduction by 2025)
The central part of the income tax cut proposed by the senate is to reduce the current tax rate by 25 percent by 2025 for incomes under $300,000, from as high as 6.65% down to 5.14%.
Pension Exemption ($275M annual reduction when fully implemented)
Since 1981, seniors have been able to claim the first $20,000 of pension or retirement income as exempt income. The Senate Majority's proposal increases that exempt amount to $27,000 in 2017, $34,000 in 2018, and $40,000 in 2019. This would provide tax relief to more than 377,000 seniors and, in the first year alone, would save each an average of $361.
Small Business Tax Reforms ($494M annual reduction when fully implemented)
The key provisions include:
  • expansion of eligibility of a small business to include any business that files under PIT regardless of how the business structure;
  • raises the income eligibility threshold from $250,000 to $500,000 when the business entity income is less than $1.5 million;
  • eliminates the employee requirement;
  • increases the exemption from 5 percent to 15 percent for small business income and from 5 percent to 20 percent for farm income;
  • increases the Corporate tax threshold from $390,000 to $500,000; and 
  • reduces the Corporate business income rate for small businesses from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent over two years
More details on both the Assembly and Senate proposals are expected next week when the one-house budget bills are released.
Senate Details Infrastructure Spending
The Senate one-house budget proposal should reflect a modification to the Governor's 5-year transportation plan which includes a state administered program to target funding toward state and local roads and bridges over the next five years based on criteria developed by the State ($1 billion PAVE-NY and $1 billion BRIDGE-NY programs). The Senate is indicating it would provide an additional $200 million per year for the next five years to the CHIP program and distribute funds using that methodology as the preferred way to direct resources for local roads and bridges.
The Senate is also indicating that while they support the five year $26 billion commitment for the MTA, they also want the same dollar commitment for roads and bridges. The Governor's Budget, depending on how you count the dollars, comes in anywhere from $4 billion to $6 billion short of the funding parity goal. 
Schools Overriding the Tax Cap
On March 1, the New York State Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO) released an analysis of tax cap data submitted by school districts to the State Comptroller.
The data school districts reported on shows that 483 school districts have a tax levy limit under two percent. NYSASBO has highlighted that inflation is based on prior year inflation data for urban households across the country, but budgets are for the coming year when the New York State Division of the Budget projects inflation will be two percent. And costs of school districts vary from that of urban households and some parts of the budget, such as for health insurance, pensions and special education, are growing at a much faster rate.
Of 601 school districts, 36 , or 6 percent, currently are expect to propose budgets that exceed the tax cap at their May vote. Eligible taxpayers in these districts will forgo the STAR tax rebate available for districts that stay within the cap and budgets will require approval by 60 percent or more of voters.
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.
NYS Assoc. of County Coroners and Medical Examiners Conference
NYSACCME will hold their Spring 2016 Conference from Friday, March 18 - Sunday, March 20, 2016 at the Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen.  The agenda and registration information can be found at The conference topic is Fire Related Deaths.  With legislation already introduced [again] in the form of Senate Bill 6251 regarding minimum training for newly elected or appointed Coroners, an 8 hour Coroner 101 training class will be held on Friday, March 18.
NYMIR Playground Equipment and Inspection Training
The New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal will be holding a playground equipment training program on Monday, March 21, 2016 from 8:30 am to noon in the Town of Clarence auditorium.
The training will focus on reviewing playground inspection and documentation designed to avoid or reduce litigation against your municipality. They will cover legal matters related to recreation programs, use of facilities, athletic participation waivers and other related topics. Issues surrounding background checks will also be discussed along with case law and other legal principles associated with municipal parks and playgrounds.
Please RSVP by March 17 to: Erin Barilla -518-437-1171 ext. 318 or via email
US Communities to Host Cooperative Purchasing Summits
Strategic sourcing summits are free, half-day educational seminars for public officials to learn about the program, meet the U.S. Communities program managers, and hear from several suppliers about products and solutions and the best overall government pricing that may be of interest to your counties.
Friday, March 18, 10:00am - 1:30pm (Complimentary Lunch Included)
Nassau BOCES (Garden City, NY)
Address and Registration Link can be found here.
Wednesday, April 20, 10:00am - 2:00pm (Complimentary Lunch Included)
New York State School Boards Association Rita M. Lashway Conference Center (Latham, NY)
Address and Registration Link can be found here.