NYSAC Update on the Veto of the Public Defense Mandate Relief Act

January 3, 2017

Dear NYSAC Board,
As you know, this weekend the Governor vetoed the Public Defense Mandate Relief Act (S.8114/ A.10706). This bi-partisan bill was sent to the Governor after being passed unanimously by the Senate and the Assembly as they recognized the importance of both strengthening the criminal justice system as well as providing impactful mandate relief for our local taxpayers.

The Association will not stop advocating for this legislation and for mandate relief, and we plan to use our resources to combat this veto in the 2017 Legislative Session. We anticipate you will be asked locally about this veto and how it impacts your county. Attached to this letter is the Governor’s Veto Message #306 for your review. As you can see the message is clear: the Governor states this bill is only a cost shift from county government to the State.

If you have an opportunity, it would be helpful if you could please define this veto action from the county property taxpayer point of view.

Property taxes are too high in New York State, and those high taxes are driving population out of our state. Unfunded state mandates, which are Albany’s way of creatively shifting the costs of state programs on to the backs of local governments and their property taxes. Nine state mandates equal 90% or more of the county property tax bills that will arrive in New Yorker’s mailboxes this week. If the state starts to take back the costs of state programs, which they could have done with the Public Defense Mandate Relief Act, then counties can lower county property taxes.

It is the State, through their laws and regulation, that controls how programs such as indigent defense operates. They don’t lower the costs of these programs because they do not have to pay for these programs. When the State takes on the fiscal responsibility for their programs they will also change current operational requirements, find efficiencies, and save taxpayer money. We have already seen this blueprint with the Medicaid Cap, and it has worked. After the State took over larger portions of Medicaid
payments from the counties, the State changed the operational structure resulting in billions in savings to the overall program.

Our local governments are operating under a property tax cap. When it passed in 2012, we did not oppose the property tax cap based on the State’s promise that as we locally cut services, consolidate operations, and cut spending, they would provide mandate relief and lower the costs the state imposed on counties. The counties have stepped up and fulfilled their end of the bargain for all New Yorkers. The State Legislature unanimously passed the Public Defense Mandate Relief Act, proving they are willing to help.

Please know that we will continue to work with the Governor and Legislature to support this legislation, and advocate for state mandate relief proposals that are introduced in the 2017 Legislative Session, which begins tomorrow.

Sincerely,

William E. Cherry
President
New York State Association of Counties

County Leaders Elect Putnam’s Odell Second Vice President of the New York State Association of Counties’ (NYSAC)

County Leaders Elect Putnam’s Odell Second Vice President

LAKE PLACID – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell was elected Second Vice President of the New York State Association of Counties’ (NYSAC) at the Association’s recent Board of Directors meeting. Previously an at-large member of the Board of Directors, County Executive Odell will now hold a position on the executive committee.

Odell has served on the NYSAC board since 2013 and has served as Putnam County Executive since 2011. She has brought dedication to fiscal responsibility and economic development programs to her time in office, and to her role on the NYSAC board.

Immediately prior to her election as County Executive, Odell served as the New York State Senate’s Director of Veterans and Local Government Affairs. She also served for several years on the Putnam County Legislature.

“I look forward to continuing to advocate for all of New York’s counties in my new leadership role on the NYSAC board,” said Odell. “Counties deliver vital services to our residents, and NYSAC gives us a strong voice before the State and Federal government. I am proud to serve as second vice president of this important organization.”

“We are honored to have County Executive Odell in this leadership role. Her guidance and perspective as second vice president will be valuable to the Association as we continue to address the critical issues facing counties and property taxpayers across the state,” said NYSAC President Anthony Picente.

The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving all 62 counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.                                                 ###

 

 

A Statement by NYSAC President Anthony J. Picente, Jr. regarding legislation linking Upstate Sales Taxes to NYC Rent Control

A Statement by NYSAC President Anthony J. Picente, Jr. regarding legislation linking Upstate Sales Taxes to NYC Rent Control

Today, we learn that the New York State Assembly has introduced legislation to link the renewal of Long Island and Upstate New York tax extensions to rent control and other NYC specific issues. Since sales tax revenues are shared, this move effects hundreds of municipalities and their residents, none of which have any stake in, or influence over, the current stalemate in the State Capital. Holding upstate communities, who are not involved in these negotiations, hostage to an issue we have no stake in sets a bad precedent and we urge that this be rejected.

We hereby urge all legislators to oppose this measure, decouple these issues, and pass legislation (S5321/A2387) that would block the Legislature from holding county sales tax bills hostage in the future.
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.

Sales Tax Revenues Show Signs of Economic Weakness

Another quarter of weak sales tax receipts have county leaders concerned, according to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).

“Counties rely on two forms of revenue: sales taxes and property taxes. We are not raising property taxes. When our sales tax revenues are flat or decline, we have to pay attention,” said NYSAC President Anthony J. Picente Jr., who saw Oneida County’s sales tax receipts fall more than 5 percent from the first quarter of 2014.

Thirty-three (33) counties collected less in sales tax in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014. Of these counties, 12 saw their collections drop by more than 5%. Outside of New York City, the average change per county was -.9%. NYC had an increase of 1.2% in sales tax revenue, far less robust than recent quarterly returns.

It is not clear what the reason for this sharp drop off is, but there are two major factors that may be contributing to these numbers. This winter brought some cold and snowy weather, and gasoline prices were nearly 32 percent lower in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014. Both factors are likely to be part of the cause, but don’t negate the impact of these disconcerting numbers.

“Sale tax collections are an important economic indicator. These taxes have a direct relationship to consumer confidence and the general direction of the economy measured during a certain period of time,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “As property taxes remain flat across the state, sales taxes are even more important to local governments trying to continue essential governmental services. This quarterly distribution continues to demonstrate volatility and uneven collections across the state.”

2015-16 New York State Budget Initial Summary Points New York State Association of Counties. March 31, 2015

2015-16 New York State Budget
Initial Summary Points
New York State Association of Counties.
March 31, 2015

Budget Positives

  • Upstate Revitalization Initiative—$1.5 billion of the bank settlement funding will go toward economic development. The competition will go on as the Governor proposed, but all regions will receive nearly $100 million.
  • Broadband — $500 million plus $500 in private money to be allocated over the next 3 years.
  • Water and Sewer projects have been earmarked for $200 million.
  • Brownfields cleanup program has been extended, includes a new $100 million appropriation and extends the state’s superfund cleanup fund for 10 years.
  • The Oil Spill Fund is increased to $40 million with state staff resources also being directed to emergency prepared tied to the rail transport of oil.
  • Medicaid cap is firmly in place. State is picking up all Medicaid increases.
  • Community College Funding—Includes modest increase in state aid for community colleges.
  • Youth Placement Relief—Budget caps county liabilities for retroactive and prospective reimbursements back to the state for youth placed in state facilities operated by OCFS. Waives excess retroactive billings to counties, all within the parameters of the current State Financial Plan.
  • Regional rates for Preschool Special Education providers.
  • CHIPS – Continues last years’ level, which includes funding to account for the increase devoted to fix roads damaged by severe winter weather.

Awaiting Post Budget Details

  • Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility—the budget includes funding for the state and counties to implement raising the age of criminal responsibility, but the details of that proposal are still being worked out.
  • Circuit Breaker—Income Tax Relief tied to Property Taxes—Not included in the final spending plan are the Governor’s proposed circuit breaker or the Senate’s STAR rebate plan. We expect this issue to be negotiated when lawmakers return form their recess.

Negatives

  • No direct investment in upstate road and bridge infrastructure from the bank settlement funds. We will be advocating that localities apply for funding through their regional economic development councils, as this is a critical piece of upstate revitalization.
  • There is no reduction in State mandated programs and expenses imposed on county governments.