The County Perspective: Week of March 6, 2017
The County Perspective: Executive Budget, Internet Sales Tax, Albany Update
NYSAC's Legislative Team is developing a series of fact sheets on State Budget priorities, designed to clearly communicate the county position on several issues of concern to counties as lawmakers begin to prioritize their spending plans for the 2017-18 State Budget.
NYSAC will be sharing these fact sheets with State Lawmakers, and they will be available for download at https://www.nysac.org/nysbudget on Tuesday, March 7. We encourage county officials to use these fact sheets as they discuss budget priorities with their representatives in the State Senate and Assembly.
Closing the Internet Sales Tax Loophole Top priority for NYSAC
Counties and New York State have seen a stagnation or reductions in sales tax revenues from the Great Recession and an increase in Internet retail activity. Brick and mortar retail stores in communities across the state have seen a reduction in retail activity, with some closing and laying off New Yorkers who work in their stores.
Counties rely on sales tax receipts to offset property taxes, while also providing a significant revenue source for cities, towns, school districts and villages through sales tax sharing arrangements. The Governor's State Budget proposal seeks to modernize the state's sales tax collection process for tangible personal property purchased over the Internet. The proposal does not increase sales taxes. It simply provides a streamlined way for Internet retailers to collect and remit sales tax that is already owed under state law.
The proposal does not change current rules regarding sales tax nexus and relieves small vendors from the burden of having to collect the sales tax owed. This will streamline the sales tax collection process and improve compliance.
NYSAC is urging the Legislature to support this provision as it will streamline sales tax collection practices, reduce burdens on small business, improve tax compliance, preserve a critical revenue base for counties and local governments, while creating a fairer and more balanced retail marketplace for our New York-based retailers that create jobs in our communities.
NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario joined the NYS Retail Council President Ted Protikus to discuss this issue with Liz Benjamin on Capital Tonight last week. Click here to see that interview.
State Legislative Update
The Senate and Assembly will convene for session in Albany Monday, March 6 through Wednesday, March 8th. Both houses are expected to release their one house spending plans the Week of March 13th. These could take the form of bills or resolutions that establish the major priorities of each house.
Once these one house measures are released and passed by their respective chambers, legislative leaders will name Budget Conference Committees which negotiate aspects of the budget still in question. Conference committee meetings could begin as early as the week of March 13th, leading up to final negotiations and a budget agreement due by April 1st.
Joint Economic Revenue Consensus Forecast
Last week the Legislature and Governor agreed to add $200 million in available revenues to the Governor's original budget proposal. This is below what the Senate and Assembly projected in their one-house revenue forecasts. The Senate projected newly available revenues of $503 million for the end of the current state fiscal year and the 2018 fiscal year. The Assembly projected nearly $1.4 billion in newly available revenue. For the most part the differences stem largely from economic projections and how different growth models impact New York State tax collections. All sides agreed there are important risks to these estimates and many unknowns related to federal fiscal policy (both spending and taxation) that could alter this forecast. Global economic growth, energy prices and the general strength of the U.S. economy and its' major sectors (finance, housing, construction, manufacturing, retail and services), along with consumer confidence, all carry upside and downside risks to the State Financial Plan and the agreed upon revenue forecast. The new revenue estimate will become a key contributor to finalizing the state budget, which will also be further informed by each chambers' one house budget proposals and caseload estimates.
County Officials Gather in Albany to Rally for Indigent Defense Reform
On February 28, 2017 dozens of county officials came to Albany to continue advocating for indigent defense system reform. County officials, including Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and Chief Defenders Association President Mark Williams, asked state lawmakers to enact legislation that will enhance the indigent defense system by way of State fiscal takeover and adding funding in all counties for arraignment counsel and public defender caseload caps.
Last year, the State Legislature unanimously passed S.6341 (DeFrancisco) /A.6202B (Fahy) to accomplish this goal, but it was vetoed on December 31, 2016. Those attending the rally stressed that indigent defense system proposals are in the current Executive Budget are only a half measure, and changes are still needed to include reimburse the $400 plus million counties/property tax payers are spending on current services.
Water Infrastructure: Multiple Proposals on the Table
The state's aging water infrastructure, deteriorating pipes, struggling wastewater treatment plants and water main breaks have become commonplace throughout the state. Comptroller DiNapoli recently issued a report indicating that the State would need and estimated $80 billion to repair, maintain and replace drinking and wastewater infrastructure in New York over the next 20 years. To begin addressing these issues, the Governor and State Legislature have started to release various water infrastructure proposals.
The Governor's proposal creates a$2 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act to be funded at $400 million per year over five years for municipal drinking water and waste water infrastructure improvements and source water protection. Funding would be utilized to improve municipal drinking water distribution and filtration systems, replace lead service lines, improve wastewater treatment infrastructure, make strategic open space and farmland protection investments, expedite the cleanup of hazardous waste that may impact drinking water, and support green infrastructure.
There are 4 program proposals included within the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017:
A State Senate republican proposal, put forth by Senator Tom O'Mara, who chairs the Environmental Conservation Committee, and Sen. Kemp Hannon, who chairs the Health Committee, would provide a $5 billion bond act for water infrastructure. Under this proposal, $1.5 billion would be used for protecting watersheds, drinking water supplies and water quality research and restoration. The remaining $3.5 billion would be used for water and wastewater infrastructure, replacing septic systems, new filtration systems and other measures to address water contamination.
Any bond act would have to approved by voters in a referendum.
New NY Broadband Program - Phase 2 Awards
On Tuesday, February 8th Governor Cuomo announced $212 million in New NY Broadband Program Round II grants have been awarded to projects across Upstate New York. In total, Round II will drive $268 million in public-private investment and will support a total of 54 projects that will reach 89,514 homes and institutions in unserved and underserved communities. With upstate high-speed broadband buildouts and upgrades being carried out by Charter under mandates from the New York State Public Service Commission, Round II awards will potentially provide 98 percent of New Yorkers access to the high-speed broadband. For a list of Phase 2 Awards, visit https://nysbroadband.ny.gov/new-ny-broadband-program/phase-2-awards.
Celebrating Women's Suffrage: Centennial Commission Announces Events
From the inception of the women's rights movement in Seneca Falls in 1848, New York has been a leader in advancing women's equality. Women obtained the right to vote in New York in 1917, and the 19th Amendment was ratified three years later. To honor the centennial of women's suffrage in New York, the State Legislature passed and Governor Cuomo signed a law establishing a 14-member Women's Suffrage Commission.
The Commission will organize a series of statewide programs starting in 2017, which marks the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in New York State. The programs will continue until 2020, a century after the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting all women across the United States the right to vote. The state has begun to move forward with plans for the three-year celebration of the centennial of women's suffrage, with a new display going up in the Capitol and several events planned for the summer.
The Commission's programs will celebrate the accomplishment of women's suffrage and the central role of New Yorkers and New York State in this milestone, while also helping shape the future to ensure a more just and equitable society for all. For more information, please click here.
Legislation would support county DMV's and provides aid to counties
Assemblymember Anthony Brindisi and Senator Patricia Ritchie have introduced bipartisan legislation (S1908/A3397) that provides an equitable share of DMV generated revenue to counties. The State requires counties to operate and staff DMV's on their behalf yet the State retains 87.3% of all revenue generated from this county provided service. The costs of operating local DMV's only continue to increase while at the same time counties are required to operate under a property tax cap. This legislation seeks to fix the current broken system by increasing the county share of DMV created revenue from 12.7% to 25%. This legislation does not increase the fees or costs to residents, but it does provide county DMV offices with the resources they need to better serve residents.
NYSAC commends Assemblymember Brindisi and Senator Ritchie for their continued effort to champion this legislation. NYSAC encourages county leaders to voice support for this measure, and encourage them to include this language in their one-house budget proposals.
County Leaders Convene in Nation's Capital
NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario and staff joined county officials from 6 counties to attend the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
On Monday February 27 and Tuesday, February 28 NYSAC staff and county officials met with members from the New York State Congressional delegation, including:
For more information on our issues, please visit our website to view our 2017 NYSAC Legislative Conference resolutions.
President Trump resets 'waters' rule
Surrounded by county leaders from across the country that were convened by NACo, President Trump signed an executive order this week to revamp the Obama administration's controversial "Waters of the U.S." rule under the Clean Water Act and directed the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a new definition.
Under the order, the EPA and the Corps are to restart and rewrite the rule to enable more common-sense local implementation. Since the rule was originally proposed, the National Association of Counties (NACO) consistently requested the agencies withdraw and revise the rule to include state and local government concerns.
Counties own and manage public safety infrastructure including 45 percent of the nation's road miles and associated ditches, 40 percent of bridges, as well as flood control channels, drainage conveyances and culverts used to prevent flooding, all impacted by the rule.
Since the proposal was unveiled in 2014, NYSAC has advocated for more collaboration and greater clarity. For additional information, please click here.
|Training & Funding Opportunities
Cornell offering census bureau workshops to help 2020 population count
Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Operation is a once-a-decade opportunity for local designated representatives to review the addresses that will be used to conduct the Decennial Census.
In preparation for Local Update Census Addresses (LUCA) the Census Bureau made address list counts available. These counts represent the number of residential and group quarters addresses in each Census block. These counts can be compared with local address listings and if differences are observed it is important that the local area participates in LUCA, as that is the best way to tell the Census Bureau where to count the local residents.
The Cornell Program on Applied Demographics added information from the 2010 Census to these counts and linked them to shapefiles, so they can be imported and analyzed in a GIS system.
The Cornell program is now offering a series of works to help local governments ensure an accurate census count. These regional workshops will be held over the next two months at the following dates and localtions.
March 21, 2017
Location: Ithaca, NY 14850
Click here for details and registration
March 23, 2017
Location: Jamestown, NY 14701
Click here for details and registration
May 18, 2017
Location: Albany, NY 12205
Click here for details and registration
May 30, 2017
Location: Goshen, NY 10924
Click here for details and registration
Seeking Nominations for Excellence in Public Service Awards
On Monday, May 22, 2017 the New York State Academy for Public Administration (SAPA) will be hosting its 6th annual Public Service Excellence Award Program.
Counties are invited to nominate an individual or team for this award. Applications are due April 10, 2017. Awardees will be announced on May 3, with a ceremony to be held on May 22.
The Public Service Excellence Award is a great way to recognize an outstanding individual or team of individuals in your agency who exemplify the best of public service in New York State. Agencies and local governments may nominate both a team and an individual if they choose. For a copy of the nomination form, please email email@example.com.