Counties Comment on Public Safety Actions in State Budget
Counties Comment on Public Safety Actions in State Budget: Praise State Leaders and Call for Additional Action
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC)
today praised the Governor and State Lawmakers for restoring funds for marine patrol units. At the same time, NYSAC is calling on Legislators to enact post-budget legislation that would reduce the 9-1-1 surcharge on cell phones and apply a lower surcharge on all devices that access 9-1-1 centers.
State Restores Marine Patrol, Navigation Aid
The NYS Office of Parks and Recreation is the lead agency for marine law enforcement services, and they rely heavily on local law enforcement, including the Sheriff's Marine Patrol Units. Currently, Sheriff Departments in over 40 counties outside of New York City operate Marine Patrol Units on navigable waterways in their counties.
The final budget included $1 million so that local law enforcement can continue this important marine patrol function and ensure boating safety on New York's recreational waterways.
"These funds enable us to patrol the many waterways of New York," said Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike. "Without the state's partnership and assistance, localities are not in a financial position to fund these programs. We are grateful to the legislature for restoring these funds and appreciate the Governor's willingness to continue to support this program.
Counties call on State to Fund DA Salary Increases
Under state law, county DA salaries are tied to the salary of state Supreme Court judges. Since the recommendation by the Judicial Compensation Commission's to raise judges' salaries has been approved by State Lawmakers, raises for some DAs took effect on April 1st
Historically, the state has funded 100 percent of the incremental increase in DA salaries related to state judicial salary increases proposed by the Commission.
"We ask the State to reconsider and enact a chapter amendment that would reimburse counties for this mandated expense that was not included in county spending plans. Our local taxpayers are certainly in no position to absorb even more mandated costs from the state," said NYSAC President William A. Cherry, Schoharie County Treasurer.
Counties Call on Lawmakers to Address 9-1-1 Surcharge Outside of Budget
The current $1.2o public safety (9-1-1) surcharge on all wireless telephones does not currently address the emergency communication needs in communities across the state.
The current surcharge generates $185 million annually, with $75 million made available to county emergency communication services. In an era when acts of terrorism can take place anytime, anywhere, investing in a sound emergency communication infrastructure is more important than ever.
"Counties provide this vital service in our communities and the technology upgrades called for by the Federal Government are projected to cost over $1 billion. NYSAC has recommended a way to lower the surcharge, expand it to all devices that are used to contact 9-1-1 centers, and generate more revenue that can be reinvested in counter terrorism efforts, community emergency dispatch service upgrades and improve inter-operable emergency communication between first-responders and law enforcement agencies," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.
View NYSAC's reports and white papers on public safety issues impacting counties.
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State. Organized in 1925, NYSAC's mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties.