Weekly Wire Week Ending April 8, 2016

Minimum Wage Schedules, Organ Donation, Expanding Indigent Defense Eligibility, and more
NYSAC Presents

Registration Open: 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 New York State Department of Education for CPAs.
Funding Opportunities for Appalachian Region Counties
Our nation's shifting energy landscape is affecting many communities that have historically relied on the declining coal industry. The Appalachian Region, which covers land from southern New York State to northern Mississippi, has been impacted severely. In the President's 2016 Budget, President Obama has proposed the POWER Plus (POWER+) Plan to offset the burden this shift has placed on local governments, their workers, and their families. With grants provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), municipalities in the Appalachian Region can apply for aid concerning economic diversification, job creation, capital investments, and workforce training and reemployment opportunities. For more information, click here to read NYSAC's white paper on the Appalachian Region and the POWER+ Plan.
Raising the Minimum Wage
In the past year, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and state officials have made increasing the state's minimum wage a top priority. Beginning with fast food workers, state employees and SUNY staff, to nearly all industries and businesses of New York, workers will begin seeing their hourly take home pay increase in a phased in basis, beginning April 4, 2016 when the Governor signed Chapter 54 of the Laws of 2016.
For information and clarification, NYSAC has put together a report detailing the scheduled regional wage increases and the process state leaders employed to raise workers' hourly pay. Click here for the report.
Counties Encouraged to "Raise the Flag for Life"
NYSAC and the New York Alliance for Donation (NYAD) are partnering together to encourage all levels of county government to join our effort to increase awareness of the lifesaving cause of organ and tissue donation by hosting a "Raise the Flag for Life" event.  To increase the awareness of this lifesaving issue, we are encouraging county governments to host a press event where they raise the Donate Life Flag over one of their official county buildings. County officials are leaders in their communities and waving the Donate Life Flag will make a significant impact on gaining cultural awareness and support for organ and tissue donation. These public expressions of support can make the difference to those thousands of men, women and children waiting for a lifesaving transplant. NYAD is providing participating counties with all the materials you will need to increase awareness of this important issue in your community.  To get your Donate Life Flag and event toolkit, please contact Brittani Sawchuk at or 518-326-3237.  You can also access the toolkit on the NYAD website at
Below is video clip from St. Lawrence County's recent "Raise the Flag for Life" event.
State Update

State Expands Assigned Counsel Eligibility
On April 4, 2016 the New York Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS) distributed a document titled "Criteria and Procedures for Determining Assigned Counsel Eligibility." This document is intended to be standard uniform eligibility guidelines throughout the State for when assigned public counsel is potentially needed. ILS cites in the document their authority and reasoning for creating and distributing these guidelines by way of the New York Executive Law Section 832(3)(c) as well as the State settled Hurrell-Harring lawsuit.  The guideline implementation takes effect in October 2016.   
Counties need to be aware of these guidelines for a number of reasons, perhaps most significantly due to the fact that the new guidelines could increase the amount of residents that could be eligible for public defense. Most notable of the changes is the guideline to making anyone eligible for public defender counsel if their net income is at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Many areas in the state currently provide council for those making at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
As counties are well aware they already pay the vast majority of indigent defense costs and adding to the fiscal burden that counties currently encounter providing this service will be difficult to manage. Now more than ever the counties need fiscal relief from the state to continue providing this important program.
Climate Smart Communities Program
The State Budget establishes a new Environmental Protection Fund program with $14 million to establish Climate Smart Communities. Funding will be made available for flood mitigation and coastal and riparian resiliency, greenhouse gas reduction, climate change adaptation planning, and clean vehicle projects. Counties can apply for state funding for no more than 50% of the cost of the project or $2 million. 
Clean vehicle rebates will be available for municipalities to buy clean vehicles or for the construction of vehicle charging stations until April 1, 2023 or until funding is exhausted. The rebate will be capped at $250,000 per facility, and up to $5,000 per vehicle (with the minimum rebate will be $750 per vehicle).
Federal Update
NACo publishes freight transportation economic engine report
NACo has released a new transportation issue brief,
Keeping Counties Moving: Freight Transportation as an Economic Engine. The report describes how freight transportation planning and investments can fuel local and regional economic development. It provides best-practice takeaways for county leaders through four county case studies.  Read the report here.
Justice and mental health collaboration program grants available
The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications for the FY16 Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grants.  Awardees will receive up to $250,000 and direct technical assistance to develop a system-wide coordinated approach to reduce mental illness in local jails.  Applications are due May 17. 
Learn more here.
Training & Funding Opportunities
Grants Management Training in Syracuse 
SUNY OSWEGO Division of Extended Learning and Grant Writing USA will present a two-day grant management workshop in Syracuse, April 21-22, 2016.  This training is for grant recipient organizations across all disciplines. This class will cover how to administer government grants and stay in compliance with applicable rules and regulations. Click here for full event details.
NYSAC members and their staff can receive a special tuition rate of $565. Please use code "NYASSN" to receive this $30 discount off full price at registration. Tuition includes Grant Management USA's 400-page grant management workbook and reference guide.  Seating is limited, online reservations are necessary. Complete event details including learning objectives, class location, graduate testimonials and online registration are available here.
Harvard Offers Innovations in Government Awards
Applications are now being accepted for the $100,000 Innovations in American Government Awards. Offered by Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Innovations Award is the nation's premier award for the public sector. It recognizes programs that demonstrate creative and effective government at its best.
All units of government - federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial - from all policy areas are eligible to apply for recognition.  

This year, the Ash Center is also once again offering the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government, a special Innovations Award that will recognize government-led programs that demonstrate novel and effective approaches to increasing public engagement and participation in the governance of towns, cities, states, and the nation.
The winners of the Innovations in American Government Award and the Roy and Lila Ash Award will each receive a $100,000 grant to support replication and dissemination activities in 2017. Top finalists will also receive monetary grants. Applications and additional information are available at

Federal Funding Available to Local Governments to Support Clean Transportation and Data-driven Clean Energy Strategies
Programs with available funding include:
*EPA Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program - ($26 million) with applications due: April 26, 2016.
*DOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Program - ($500 million) with applications due: April 29, 2016,
*DOE Cities-LEAP FOA for Data-Driven Decision Frameworks by Local and Tribal Governments - ($1.25 million) with concept Paper Submission Due: May 17, 2016 and full application submission due: June 17, 2016.
For more information please visit the website.