County Perspective Week of 4/17/17

The County Perspective: Heroin-Opioid Epidemic, 9-1-1, Shared Services, Inflation, Training.
2017 County Finance School: May 2-4
Registration is now open. Visit to register today.
The County Finance School is a 3-day training event held in May at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel. The school features over 15 cutting edge workshops developed specifically for county finance officials and the growing educational needs of the local government community.
The County Finance School is co-sponsored by the Office of the New York State Comptroller and features a number of OSC/CPE accredited sessions.  The NYS County Treasurers and Finance Officers Association also serves as a valuable contributor to the conference.
Heroin & Opioid Abuse: County Leaders on the Forefront of the Epidemic
Last week, NYSAC convened county officials from across the state for a conference call addressing the recent surge of fatal fentanyl laced heroin overdoses across the state.  The call included an update from county officials who work on the forefront of the epidemic, including Joseph Todora, President of the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors and the Commissioner of the Sullivan County Division of Health & Family Services.  There were also updates from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the New York State Police, as well as representatives from the New York State Department of Health. 
NYSAC and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz have been traveling the state since January educating and training county officials on best practices to combat the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic. County Executive Poloncarz sits on NACo's National Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse. NYSAC and County Executive Poloncarz are working to share policy and partnership solutions that have been recommended by the Task Force.
Together, we have reached all 62 counties in the state.  We have held 7 regional forums, with representation by over 40 counties in attendance.  County Executive Poloncarz also spoke at NYSAC's annual Legislative Conference in January. 
Efforts to combat the epidemic are underway nationally as well.  A few weeks ago, President Trump announced the signing of an Executive Order establishing a federal drug commission to fight opioid addiction, abuse and overdose. The President also announced plans to tap Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).  In addition to these presidential actions bi-partisan legislation was also introduced by United States Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts to combat the amount of illicit fentanyl coming into the U.S. from foreign countries. 
National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and National 9-1-1 Education Month
April 10th - 14th was National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, and many counties honored their 9-1-1 Dispatchers.  Every year during the second week of April, the telecommunications personnel in the public safety community, are honored. This week-long event, initially set up in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office in California, is a time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public. It is a week that should be set aside so everyone can be made aware of their hard work and dedication.
Across the nation in times of intense personal crisis and community-wide disasters, the first access point for those seeking all classes of emergency services is 9-1-1. The local and county public safety communications centers that receive these calls have emerged as the first and single point of contact for persons seeking immediate relief during an emergency. In addition, our county 9-1-1 dispatch centers receive over 20 million calls a year.
On top of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week the whole month of April is dedicated to Nations 9-1-1 Education Month.    In 2008, the United States Congress recognized April as National 9-1-1 Education Month, supporting the efforts of the 9-1-1 to support public education about the optimal use of 9-1-1 services nationwide.
NYSAC News: Call for Articles
NYSAC is now accepting articles for the Spring/Summer 2017 magazine.  The theme of the magazine is Working for You (county services). Articles should be related to county services and functions.
Articles should be 750-1,000 words and can be sent to Nicole Correia ( by April 21. This will be an electronic publication, only available online.
Deadline: April 21.
Theme: Working for You (county services)
For further details, visit
For information about advertising in the magazine, click here.
Spring Break
State lawmakers will reconvene in Albany on Monday, April 24th. With a total of 26 days left of the 2017 Legislative Session the remaining weeks will be a busy time in Albany.
NYSAC continues to advocate for counties to ensure new programs place no additional financial burdens on county property taxpayers. NYSAC's complete legislative platform for 2017, indicating session priorities by issue area, can be found at
New York's Secretary of State To Provide Assistance and Guidance for Shared Services Panels
In response to the State Budget's Countywide Shared Services Initiative, the Secretary of State last week sent letters offering assistance and guidance to county leaders charged with establishing Shared Services Panel in their counties.
According to the letter, "The Panels will work to help develop, and ultimately approve, Countywide Shared Service Property Tax Savings Plans, structured around actions to share services; eliminate duplicate services; reduce back-office administrative overhead; and find new opportunities for inter-governmental coordination. Plans that create actual and demonstrable savings across at least one or more jurisdictions may be eligible for a onetime match of the net savings resulting from the actions."
The Department of State has created a web page ( designed to provide information and guidance to shared services panels.  "DOS is also working to schedule regional informational workshops within the coming weeks. DOS will present the Initiative, provide technical guidance and answer your questions at these workshops."
First Quarter County Sales Tax Data Shows Improvements
Sales tax data for the first quarter of 2017 shows an improvement for counties compared to recent trends. Only five counties recorded negative returns with the rest showing positive returns, with the average per county increase coming in around +4.7 percent higher than the first quarter of last year.  For the quarter, energy prices are higher now than they were last year so that may have contributed to the better numbers. As usual there are always timing issues that could be involved that account for some of the bigger swings -- 14 counties were more than +7 percent higher than last year.  New York City was up +3.8 percent and the state was up +2.1 percent.
New York High Court Rules in Favor of DA's, Facebook Cannot Quash Search Warrants on Consumer's Behalf
The New York Court of Appeals made a ruling in Matter of 381 Search Warrants Directed to Facebook, Inc. This matter has been tracked by NYSAC as the outcome of the case provides guidance for future criminal investigations by law enforcement and District Attorneys. The issue determined was if Facebook and other online social networking services can litigate enforcement of a warrants for on behalf of their customers prior to warrant compliance.
New York's high court ruled by a 5-1 vote, that it lacked jurisdiction to hear Facebook's appeal over warrants obtained by the office of Manhattan District Attorney.  This action ultimately is a ruling in favor of District Attorneys and other law enforcement officials by upholding the lower court ruling and which stated Facebook and the social network services do not have the right to quash search warrant on their consumer's behalf.  The court did state they were concerned with overall privacy issues, however the court said they must rule as the State's law are written.     
Facebook is an online social networking platform on which users record and place online personal pictures, opinions, and other data. This information is shared between other Facebook users and data can placed into private settings restricting who can and cannot view this data. On July 23, 2013, the Manhattan District Attorney's (DA) Office issued 381 search warrants for Facebook accounts. The warrants were issued as part of an investigation into the fraudulent filing of Social Security disability claims.  Facebook moved to quash the warrants, challenging the scope of the request as well as accompanying nondisclosure requirements forbidding Facebook to tell their users of this activity. The DA argued the nondisclosure requirements are necessary so that the end-user did not destroy any evidence that could be pertinent to the investigation.  Additionally, the DA argued that Facebook does not have legal standing to raise constitutional challenges on these warrants, as the end-users and not Facebook were the target of the criminal investigation.
The lower courts both sided with the DA, upheld the warrants as issued and denied the motion to quash. Facebook appealed to New York's high court with amicus curiae provided by the multiple interested parties including the ACLU, Google, Microsoft and Twitter.
Inflation Data Running Higher than in Recent Years
For the 12 months ending February 2017, the national inflation rate has been running at about 2.7 percent. This is significantly higher than inflation rates over the last few years where they have been coming in at, or below, 1.5 percent. Inflation rate trends are important for counties in regard to the calculation of the state imposed property tax cap. Through February 2017 we have the eight months of data necessary to calculate the 2018 inflation factor for counties. If current trends continue through June of 2017 counties would expect to see a property tax cap inflation factor of about 1.9 percent.  For the last two years the county property tax cap inflation factor came in around .7 percent. We will keep counties posted as more data becomes available in the coming months.
NACo: Congress sets ambitious spring agenda as it faces major deadlines
With the first three months of the year under their belt, lawmakers are moving quickly to pass legislation that may have large impacts on the operations of county governments. Click here to read NACo's overview of the largest issues ahead and an estimated timeline that includes some "must-past" pieces of legislation, including the potential impact on counties.
Distracted Driving Prevention Challenge
April is Distracted Driving Month, and the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) has posed a challenge to NYMIR counties and local governments.
Nationally, distracted driving has been the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes.  In 2014, the Official U.S. Government website for Distracted Driving reported that 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 injured in moving vehicle accidents. Vehicle claims represent a significant concern for insurers and local governments, and preventing distracted driving can boost your risk management efforts.
NYMIR is holding risk management seminars to provide train-the-trainer instruction for distracted driving classes to prepare your own employees as instructors. These training sessions can be provided by NYMIR Risk Management staff either regionally or at your county.
For more information contact NYMIR Vice President of Marketing and Member Services at 518-292-0057.
Training for 21st Century Leaders
The Center for Technology in Government at the University of Albany is hosting upcoming educational training opportunities for government leaders. The first: 21st Century Leader: Impact & Opportunity will be held May 2-3rd; and the second: Timeless Lessons in Creating Public Value will be held on May 4th.
The 21st Century Leader session will focus on the drastic changes in the global economy and shifting priorities of governments at all levels require a new attention to the promise of technology as a tool for creating new opportunity for citizens and greater efficiencies in the daily operation of government.  This course introduces participants to the role that information and communications technologies are playing in transforming governments worldwide. Participants will learn about the ways that information strategies and management approaches affect governmental functions, democratic processes, and public programs. The course explores key concepts such as public value, digital government, e-readiness, benchmarking and institutional and organization mechanisms such as benchmarking, public private partnership, ICT policy and governance. Particular attention will be paid to the interaction of policy, management, data, and technology in the design, operation, and evaluation of government operations, citizen engagement, and public services. Register Here
The session on Timeless Lessons in Creating Public Value will provide attendees with lessons for how to innovate successfully and avoid the pitfalls many of your predecessors have fallen into in this one-day, first-hand inside look into the insights CTG has gathered over more than 23 years of research and working with government agencies as they strive to solve pressing public problems. CTG fundamentally believes that innovation is a function of creative exploration of the interdependencies among public policy, public management, information resources, and technologies. Register Here.