Weekly Wire Week Ending January 20, 2017

The County Perspective for January 23, 2017

NYSAC Update

Unlock the Power of Learning at the NYSAC Legislative Conference
Registration is open for the NYSAC 2017 Legislative Conference, which will be held January 30, 31 and February 1, 2017 at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany.

County officials are invited to attend a series of informative and timely workshops, standing committee meetings, conference-wide presentations, and networking opportunities.
Today is the last day for online registration at After today, county delegates are welcome to register at the conference.
NYSAC Testifies to Assembly on Shared Services Grant Programs
Since 2011, the State has created a seemingly endless series of local government shared service incentive programs, some of which were altered before rules were written for the program it replaced, according to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), which provided testimony today to the NYS Assembly Committees on Local Governments and Cities.  For a copy of the testimony, click here.
It his verbal testimony, NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario referenced the government efficiency plans submitted by counties in 2015 for a total property tax savings of more than $882 million. Those plans are accumulating savings through county fiscal year 2019. For a copy NYSAC's 2015 Report on Government Efficiency Programs, click here.
State Update
The State Legislature reconvened today in Albany, and will be in session Monday and Tuesday.  Lawmakers will begin their 2017/18 Joint Legislative Budget Hearings on Tuesday, January 24 with higher education. The full list is available here:
NYSAC will prepare testimony for the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing for Local Government scheduled for next week on January 30, 2017.
Governor Releases 2017-18 Executive State Budget Proposal
Last week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released his proposed FY 2018 Executive Budget. The total state budget proposed by the Governor comes to $162.2 billion, a 3.8 percent increase over last year's spending plan. This includes about $570 million in federal disaster aid related to Superstorm Sandy and $9.3 billion from federal health care reform.
The state budget for 2017-18 faces a $3.5 billion deficit if no actions are taken. A significant portion of the savings required to fill the projected deficits are yet to be identified, including adhering to the 2% spending threshold in future years and $500 million in state agency operations savings in the proposed budget and in the following three years.
In the 2017-18 state fiscal year, closing the deficit comes from a variety of actions, including reforms to programs, changes in state employee fringe benefits (retiree health benefits), cost shifts to other levels of government, fee increases, keeping the millionaire's tax, and converting certain STAR related expenditures to tax credits and shifting the cost of 3,000 state employees to other budget lines.
Highlights of County Impact: General

Mandated Shared Services Referenda  

Under the proposed budget, the chief executive officer of each county must prepare a savings plan for shared services among the county, cities, towns and villages within such county. The chief executive officer of the county must seek consensus among the mayors and supervisors, then must submit the plan to the county legislative body.  The plan must contain new recurring savings through actions “…such as, but not limited to, the elimination of duplicative services; shared services, such as joint purchasing, shared highway equipment, shared storage facilities, shared plowing services, energy and insurance purchasing cooperatives, reduction in back office administrative overhead and general coordination of services.”
The plan must be submitted to the county legislature by August 1, 2017.  The county legislature may make modifications to the plan.  The plan is then to be finalized by September 15, 2017 and made public.  At the upcoming November election the question of if the plan should be adopted will be voted on in a countywide referendum format.  If the people vote no, the chief executive officer of each county must repeat this process in 2018 with a new plan. 
There is no State funding provided for the costs associated with putting the property tax savings plan proposal together; nor for implementation, election and other expenses.

New Budget Authority to Rescind Appropriations

New budget language is added that allows the Director of the Budget to sweep amounts from a wide variety line items including the Citizen Reorganization Grants and Tax Credits ($35M), and all VLT aid to municipalities ($28.6M) for other purposes if state and/or federal receipts fall short of financial plan expectations. There are a couple of general guidelines on how the rescissions should be applied, including:
  • Uniformly against existing liabilities and spending; and
  • In a manner that maximizes federal financial participation, if applicable.
This new authority to rescind appropriations is contained in hundreds of line items in the budget encompassing tens of billions of dollars in appropriations. Many of these line items directly impact counties. If this authority is triggered, it would allow midyear financial plan adjustments to occur without state legislative approval.

Tuition-Free College at Community Colleges

The Governor proposes to make college tuition-free for New York's middle-class families at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges. The tuition-free college degree program would begin immediately for students of families making up to $100,000 annually, and phase in over the next two years to those making $125,000 annually. The fiscal impact of this program on community colleges has not been estimated.

Design-Build Authority for Counties

The budget would expand the set of authorized entities that may use design-build contracts to include all state agencies, authorities, and counties outside of New York City.  To qualify it must be a capital project and not be less than $1,200,000 in scope.

Highlights of County Impact: Revenues 

Allows Property Taxpayers to Make Partial Payments of Their Property Taxes
At local option, a local government could allow for partial payments of property taxes (as well as special ad valorem levies and special assessments). The local government would be allowed to establish a process for accepting partial payments (that could include local surcharges and interest for the balances due on partial payments). This would not be effective for tax collections until January 2019.
Modernize Sales Tax Collections over the Internet
The proposal would require marketplace providers to collect sales and use tax on taxable sales of tangible personal property that they facilitate through their operations. The bill would define large Internet marketplace providers as “persons required to collect tax” on sales they facilitate. The requirement only applies to marketplace providers that facilitate more than $100 million in sales in a calendar year. This proposal is expected to streamline the sales tax process by relieving small vendors from having to collect and file sales tax returns. The bill estimates $136 million in state sales tax that are due under New York State law can be collected. A similar amount of local sales tax should be collected as well.   
Extend the Public Safety Surcharge to Prepaid Devices
Proposes to amend the state and county law to authorize the state and any county or city that is currently authorized to impose an Enhanced Emergency Telephone System Surcharge on wireless communications service to adopt a local law to impose such surcharge on the sale of each prepaid wireless communications service or device within that locality. The prepaid surcharge would be $.60 per retail sales under $30, and $1.20 per retail sale over $30. The bill would be effective December 1, 2017 and provide $26 million annually to the state.

Commercial Gaming Revenues

For the first time, the state has included revenue sharing funds from commercial gaming operations as they open in late 2016 and 2017. The state estimates up to $88 million may become available to share with host communities and counties in these commercial gaming regions including the Capital District and Southern Tier. Commercial gaming operations are not expected to open in the Hudson Valley region until 2018.
Highlights of County Impact: Expenditures

Reforms Early Intervention (EI) Program

The Budget includes a series of reforms to increase reimbursement from third-party insurers with an estimated State savings of $3.9 million in FY 2018 and $14.3 million in FY 2019. Reforms include facilitating the collection of insurance information, maximizing appeals of insurer payment denials, and requiring insurers to pay for benefits covered by the child's health insurance policy and to abide by existing prompt pay requirements.

Elections Reforms

This Executive Budget proposes changes in DMV voter registration; allows early voting in all special, primary, and general elections; and permits a same day registration/voting process.  Early voting polling sites to be open for a period of 12 days prior to special, primary, and general elections. The number of early voting polling sites be based on the number of registered voters in each county, but each county must offer at least one site. The budget would also allow New Yorkers to register and vote on the same day, which would require an amendment to the constitution, subject to voter approval. There is no additional funding provided to counties to implement these changes.

Indigent Legal Defense Costs

The Governor's budget requires the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services to submit a plan by year end 2017 to extend the provisions of the Hurrell-Harring settlement to the rest of the State. Under this plan, counties must front the expansion costs and the State would fund 100 percent of the costs that they deem necessary to support the reforms. The plan's service expansion will be phased in over a seven-year period. The expansion of services will include public defender caseload caps and off-hour arraignment coverage.  It is important to note that this proposed reimbursement model is only applicable to expanded services and nothing is allocated to reduce current county costs.


Foster Care Block Grant

The proposed budget includes some significant cost shifts from the state to counties under the Foster Care Block Grant. The state is proposing to lower its current funding percentage from 54 percent down t0 50 percent. Based on NYS Division of Budget estimates this funding share change would cost counties outside of NYC $19.5 million, and New York City would lose $21.3 million for the funding share change. NYC would also lose another $23 million from foster care tuition changes proposed by the state


Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility

The 2017-18 Executive Budget proposes language to implement juvenile justice reforms through for raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to age 17 on January 1, 2019 and to age 18 on January 1, 2020. This program will require counties to develop an array of alternative to incarceration programs currently not in place for these individuals.  Under the current proposal counties would have to pay for these programs up from and seek state reimbursement, under the conditions that counties show that any expense incurred as a result of the implementation of raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction above fifteen years of age would result in fiscal hardship; that they have met the requirements of the property tax cap; and a plan has been developed by the county that shows how the county will appropriately implement the requirements of law.

Title XX

The state budget also proposes a shift in how counties can use Title XX funding by mandating that $23 million must be used for child care services. Counties would need to find other local sources to fund what they are currently covering with these federal Title XX dollars. NYSAC views this proposal as a cost shift for services that must be backfilled by counties locally due to the restrictions placed on the federal funds by the state.  

District Attorney Salary Increase

For the second year in a row the increase to DA salaries that, under state law, is tied to the state judge salaries and salary increases is not included in the budget.  This State action costs counties approximately S1.6 million per year.
Federal Update
NACo Posts Key Federal Dates and Deadlines
New York's Donald John Trump became the 45th President of the United States of American last week. Now he will work to continue to fill his cabinet, and finalize thousands of other federal appointments. President Trump is required, per the Congressional Budget Act, to submit an annual budget proposal to Congress in early February. He has suggested, however, that he may not submit a budget after all. While many budgets have been submitted late — some by several months — or have been pared down, no administration has failed to submit some form of annual budget plan since the law was enacted in 1974.
For more dates and deadlines, visit NACo at
Training & Funding Opportunities
Second Round of DEC e-waste recycling grants
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced a second round of grant funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is being made available to help municipalities across the state address costs associated with the collection and recycling of eligible electronic wastes (e-waste). The recently completed application period in October generated $1.2 million in grant requests, leaving almost $1.8 million available for a second chance opportunity that will be held in January 2017 for municipalities that missed the initial application period. DEC will accept applications for second chance opportunity funding from January 2 through January 31, 2017.
As of April 1, 2011, manufacturers are required to implement programs for consumers to recycle e-waste, such as computers, keyboards, televisions, and other small electronic equipment, in an environmentally responsible manner. Beginning in 2015, all consumers were prohibited from disposing of e-waste. These costs have become very burdensome for local municipalities to manage, these grants will provide much needed relief. 
Grants Training in Syracuse
SUNY OSWEGO Division of Extended Learning and Grant Writing USA will present a two-day grants workshop in Syracuse, February 16-17, 2017.  This training is for grant seekers across all disciplines.  Attend this class and you'll learn how to find grants and write winning grant proposals.
Click here for full event details.
Beginning and experienced grant writers from city, county and state agencies as well as nonprofits, K-12, colleges and universities are encouraged to attend. Multi-enrollment discounts and discounts for Grant Writing USA returning alumni are available.  Tuition payment is not required at the time of enrollment.
NYSAC members receive a tuition rate of $425, which includes two days of instruction, workbook, and access to tools, discussions and more than 200 sample grant proposals.  Please use discount code "NYASSN" to receive this $30 discount off full price at registration. Contact Kaelee DeLisle at Grant Writing USA at 888.435.7281 or for more information.