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Volume 33, Issue 3

C O U N T I E S

Fall 2012

INSIDE:

The Challenge of NYSAC News Efficiency

OSC Audits Tag PreK Special Ed

NY Native to Lead www.nysac.org NACo

12 Keys to Crisis Control

Affiliate Focus: Clerks of Legislative 1 Fall 2012 Boards


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NYSAC OFFICERS

PRESIDENT’S PAGE

Hon. Ed Diana, Orange County President Mark R. Alger, Steuben County President-Elect Hon. Anthony J. Picente, Oneida County First Vice-President Hon. Randall Douglas, Essex County Second Vice-President Hon. Mary Pat Hancock, Genesee County Immediate Past President Members Hon. A. Douglas Berwanger, Wyoming County ww.wyomingco.net

Hon. Maggie Brooks, Monroe County www.monroecounty.gov

Hon. William Cherry, Schoharie County www.schohariecounty-ny.gov

Hon. Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga County www.ongov.net

Hon. Edward Mangano, Nassau County www.nassaucountyny.gov

Hon. Christopher Moss, Chemung County www.chemungcounty.com

Hon. William Ross, Niagara County www.niagaracounty.com

Hon. C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County www.co.rockland.ny.us

Steve Williams, New York County www.nyc.gov

Parliamentarian Hon. Herman Geist, Esq., Westchester County www.westchestergov.com

Treasurer Robert F. Currier, Albany County www.albanycounty.com

From the NYSAC President, Hon. Ed Diana As NYSAC President, I pledge to continue our collective effort to achieve mandate relief, and to bring about the fiscal relief necessary to run our government operations and provide local services. This will be no easy feat. I am sorry to say that in most of our counties today, providing local services with local revenue is a major challenge. Our ability to provide home health care, nursing home and mental health services is becoming a thing of the past. How will we provide public safety, economic development opportunities, build and repair our roads, bridges, water and sewer lines and repair our public buildings for future generations? These are the pressing questions facing all of us. Whether you are a county executive, a county legislator or a county supervisor, all of us are challenged with balancing our 2013 budgets while providing the local programs and services we need to sustain our communities. With the present mandate system and the State imposed property tax cap, we can only do this with meaningful mandate relief from the State. I remain convinced that our ability to serve our constituents is handcuffed by the State of New York and has been for decades.

As you all know well, most of our revenue goes to Albany. In 2012, local taxpayers at the county level continue to send $12 billion to Albany to pay for State-mandated programs. In exchange, our taxpayers are seeing losses in local services and reductions in county staffing levels. The truth is, most of our fiscal challenges will be solved if and when those in the State Capitol take some responsibility for decisions that take tax dollars out of our communities to pay for State level programs. Then, and only then, can we begin to have a constructive dialogue for getting us all—all of our counties, all of our communities and this great State of New York—going in the right direction. Then, we can take additional steps toward meaningful and immediate mandate relief. Then we, as local leaders, can go back to using local tax dollars for the programs and services that our residents need and demand. As your President, these are the things that I will work for on behalf of all of our counties. I pledge to continue the efforts that you all have started: meaningful mandate relief, economic development and strengthened home rule authority so that we can use local tax dollars in a way that is smart, efficient and in the best interests of our constituents, those in need, and our taxpayers.

We recently made great strides and achieved important mandate relief with the State’s decision to assume all growth in the local share of Medicaid. In addition, the new pension tier will be critical to stabilizing our pension costs in the future.

2013 Editorial Calendar Winter 2013 Deadline • December 28, 2012 Article submissions of 750 words may be sent to mlavigne@nysac.org. To advertise, contact Juanita Munguia at jmunguia@nysac.org.

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NYSAC STAFF

DIRECTOR’S NOTE

Stephen J. Acquario, Esq. Executive Director Karen Catalfamo Office/Financial Manager Nicole Correia

From the Executive Director, Stephen J. Acquario

Communication Coordinator Patrick Cummings, Esq. Assistant Counsel Jackie Dederick Records Manager Mark LaVigne, APR Deputy Director Dave Lucas Director of Finance & Intergovernment Relations

Permit me to take this opportunity to introduce Matt Chase, the new Executive Director of the National Association of Counties (NACo). Matt hails from New York and brings with him decades of experience and a drive for excellence. Matt will serve this fine organization with great zeal and distinction and all of us look forward to our continued partnership with NACo. An article highlighting his appointment appears in this edition.

Patricia Milkiewicz Executive Assistant Juanita Munguia Marketing Specialist Melissa Tiberio, Esq. Associate Counsel Jeanette Stanziano Director of Education & Training Tammy Thomas Communication Assistant/ Receptionist Katy Vescio Deputy Director of

Governing by Triage. That’s what is happening at the local government level all over the State. Triage is critical, as it prioritizes the present problems/situation and organizes them for treatment according to best outcome for success. But, this is generally a temporary measure used during moments of great duress and often without time for planning. It is by no means a permanent measure to address a patient, or for that matter, to run a government. But, that has become the new norm for county government. It is not what to cut, it’s when and how much. It’s not a measured way to sustain a community’s need for public services.

the need for public services at record levels. Oddly enough, it appears we are now doing less with less. Counties have implemented substantial cost cutting measures for years. We have cut the fat off the bone. We have depleted some of our lean muscle, now we are lopping off limbs—closing or selling county assets, like certified home health agencies (CHHAs) and nursing homes, and public buildings and land. In fact, over the past decade, the county workforce has shrunk by over 11,000 employees. Counties continue to deplete reserves, delaying capital projects, and reducing funding to community agencies and cultural institutions. Our future focus must be on the economic resurgence of our State and the vibrancy of our communities and local economies. We, the State and its county government partners, must move beyond triage to a more coordinated care approach to public service delivery. New York is worth saving.

Governmental Relations Shawn Voland Legislative / Office Clerk

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The phrase that “government needs to do more with less” or “we all have to tighten our belts” may be old saws, but they have become the day-to-day operational reality for county government operations. Our costs continue to rise, our revenues stagnant and

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FALL 2012  •  VOLUME 33, ISSUE 3 COVER IMAGE  •  MOODNA VIADUCT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

NYSAC Informs ... with our e-news publications.

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NYSAC Weekly Wire

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A publication sent every Friday during the Legislative Session to highlight county-related issues and activities that take place in Albany each week. Counties in the News NYSAC provides daily news updates from counties across the state, delivered to your e-mail inbox every day. To sign up visit www.nysac.org

Matt Chase: Ready to Lead NACo in A Changing Washington, D.C........................ 13 The Challenge of Efficiency in Local Government: What the Research Shows .......... 14 Protecting Your County in A Shared-Services Environment..................................... 15 Jail Cell Vacancy? The Challenges and Opportunities of Boarding Inmates............ 16 Are Local Governments Ready for A Wave of Veterans?......................................... 19

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The Time is Now for Accountability in Special Education Services .......................... 20 National State Budget Crisis Task Force Studying Threats to Fiscal Sustainability.... 21

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12 Things to Remember When Dealing with A Crisis, Conflict or Controversy........ 23 FEMA Seeks Counties for Flood — Risk Awareness Pilot......................................... 24

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Making County Purchasing More Efficient with the P-Card..................................... 25 Workers’ Comp Assessments: New York Remains the Highest in the Nation........... 26

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Is The Hospital Overcharging Your Employees?..................................................... 30 Deferred Compensation Plans: Fee Discosure Guidance....................................... 33 Child Care Subsidy in New York State: Making Every Dollar Count........................ 34

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Business Transformation in Government: 7 Steps to Improving Operations............ 35 NYS Department of State Local Government Efficiency Program............................ 37

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State, Counties Improve Efficiencies & Cut Costs By Scanning Paper Documents.... 38 FEMA Recovery Framework Emphasizes Local Control .......................................... 39

Target Your Market!

Counsel’s Corner: New County Laws.................................................................... 41 Efficiently Manage and Reduce Your Equipment Maintenance Budget.................... 43 Affiliate Focus: Clerks of County Legislative Boards............................................... 54

Advertise with NYSAC...

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contact NYSAC Marketing Specialist Juanita Munguia at 518-465-1473 or jmunguia@nysac.org NYSAC News

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PUBLISHED 3 TIMES A YEAR President • Hon. Edward Diana Publisher • Stephen J. Acquario Managing Editor • Mark F. LaVigne Staff Writers • Patrick Cummings, Melissa Tiberio and Katy Vescio Advertising Staff • Juanita Munguia Published 3 times a year by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) the NYSAC News is the official publication of NYSAC, a non-profit, municipal association serving the 57 counties of New York State and the City of New York with its five boroughs for over 80 years. NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for Member Counties at the federal and state levels.

NYSAC News Magazine 540 Broadway, 5th Floor Albany, New York 12207 Phone • (518) 465-1473 Fax • (518) 465-0506 Send submissions to mlavigne@nysac.org. Submissions should be 750 to 1,000 words and include a high resolution photo of the author­. All submissions­are subject to editing for clarity, content and/or length. The advertisments and articles in NYSAC News in no way imply support or endorsement­by NYSAC for any of the products, services or messages conveyed herein. 2012 © New York State Association of Counties 12

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NY NATIVE MATT CHASE: READY TO LEAD NACO IN A CHANGING WASHINGTON, D.C. By Charles Taylor National Association of Counties

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t should surprise almost no one that Matt Chase would find himself ensconced in political Washington. His master’s degree in political management from George Washington University gave him the credential for it.

“I worked with the top-level career executives and managers across the federal government,” he said, “so I had a front-row seat at a really young age of probably the most significant restructuring of the federal government since the 1960s.” He believes that experience will serve him well in the current era of change and fiscal uncertainty in Washington. “I think NACo is just essential to the nation’s domestic policy agenda, and there’s going to be so much happening at the federal level with budgets, programs — reorienting the federal government, and NACo and its members are going to be impacted.”

But his childhood experiences in upstate New York also laid the foundation. His stepfather, Gordon Hemmett Jr., held two elective offices in Washington County, N.Y. — district attorney and later as a judge. His grandparents were also active in civic affairs. “I spent a lot of days knocking on doors and going to chicken dinners and the county fair — engaged in politics — in junior high and high school,” Chase said recently. On Sept. 17, he succeeded Larry Naake as Executive Director of NACo.

Chase said he will sharply focus on problem-solving and how NACo adds value to its member counties’ day-to-day operations. This will encompass building strong partnerships with the state associations, affiliates, funders, corporate partners and members.

Chase comes to NACo from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), which rep“I want to build on the foundation that Larry Naake resents the nation’s local government-based regional Matt Chase has built,” he said. “He’s done a phenomenal job in planning and development organizations. During his that NACo has the foundation needed; it has the tenure, he served nine years as executive director, and tools, the talent and membership engagement. as legislative affairs director and deputy executive director before that. He began his career in Washington with the Professional Managers “What I want to do is really align some of the divisions and programAssociation (PMA) including stints as chief operating officer and ming at NACo into a more targeted agenda and really look at where membership services director. counties need to be in the future,” Chase added. “I think a lot of it’s going to be looking at cost efficiencies, at how counties can collaborate, He has been a regular speaker nationally on federal budget and policy at noteworthy practices and beefing up the research agenda to help issues related to regional community and economic development, with advocacy, but also with county operations.” including rural development, transportation and workforce development. A native of Glen Falls, N.Y. in Warren County, Chase also spent parts of his childhood in Lake George, and in Hudson Falls in neighboring Chase serves on advisory committees for the Ford Foundation’s Wealth Washington County, where his stepfather worked. Growing up in the Creation in Rural America initiative, the Rural Policy Research Institute foothills of the Adirondack Park, the largest state park in the Lower and the University of Vermont’s Transportation Research Center. 48, helped to nurture his love of hiking and other outdoor activities. Asked how that background prepared him for his new post, Chase This summer, he and his wife of 12 years, Shana, spent two weeks said, “NADO is structured almost like a Triple-A baseball team for hiking across the Canadian Rockies, around Jasper, Banff and Lake NACo. We work on a lot of the same issues, especially community and Louise. They met more than 20 years ago at Hartwick College in economic development, transportation, emergency management and Oneonta, N.Y. and have been together ever since. Shana Chase was workforce preparedness. On many of these issues — NACo has taken the formerly government relations director for the National Endowment lead, and we’ve been a partner.” NADO’s members, CEOs of Councils for the Arts but is now raising their young sons: Nicholas, who says of Governments and Regional Development Commissions, work for he’s “three-and-half,” and 5-month-old William. county commissioners, and city and town councils. His three-and-a-half years at PMA taught this New York Yankees fan “about the inside baseball part of Washington.” It was during the Clinton administration’s Reinventing Government era, when more than 300,000 career federal manager positions were eliminated. PMA was at ground-zero during this intense process. NYSAC News

“When you see me, I’ll have bags under my eyes,” Chase joked. Maybe it will make him look older. He said most people are surprised to learn that he is 41 years old. Because of his youthful appearance, “They think I’m about 12,” he said with a laugh. “But I have plenty of gray hairs.”

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THE CHALLENGE OF EFFICIENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT: WHAT THE RESEARCH SHOWS By Mildred E. Warner Professor, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

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ew York State local governments are under tremendous budgetary pressure. The continuing recession puts downward pressure on home values and tax receipts and upward pressure on demand for services. Exacerbating the challenge is the tax cap imposed by NYS for 2012. All of this is well-known to county officials. As local governments seek to respond to these pressures, one approach is to look for efficiencies in service delivery. Privatization and inter-municipal service sharing are often recommended as reforms that can promote more efficiency in local government service delivery. What does the research show? New York State’s local governments are leaders in shared service delivery. A 1997 survey conducted by Cornell (with NYSAC) found that inter-municipal cooperation was the most common form of service delivery restructuring in New York State (Warner and Hebdon 1998). The State has many local governments—townships, villages, cities, counties and school districts—and service sharing offers the possibility to gain economies of scale, promote coordination across districts, and secure lower prices through joint purchasing. Local governments in New York State have a long tradition of shared service delivery, and although the State encourages shared services, some State barriers to cooperation still exist. But how much cost savings result from cooperation? Holzer and Fry (2011) conducted a major review of all the research on inter-municipal cooperation in 2011 and found limited evidence for cost savings. While individual case studies show significant savings, when one looks across the board, the savings from shared services are not as great as one might hope. What explains this? First, economies of scale are exhausted at relatively low population levels. Second, cooperation is already widespread and so new opportunities for savings from service sharing are limited. Third, service sharing may be more important for improving service quality, professionalism and coordination across the region. In Australia and New Zealand, major local government reforms were pushed in the last decade to create a local government system that better matches the population and ecological boundaries of the 21st century. These consolidations did not result in lower costs. But they did result in a more professional and regionally coordinated local government system (Aulich et al., 2011). Shared services may be most important for helping local governments respond to 21st century challenges in new technology, regional coordination and competitiveness in a global economy. Such innovations may not be cheaper, but they may help position New York as a leader.

What About Privatization?

improve technology, reduce costs and be more responsive to citizen consumers. But what does the research show? A meta analysis of all published studies comparing public and private production in water and solid waste (the two local government services with the most privatization experience worldwide) finds no statistical support for cost savings with private production (Bel et al., 2010).

What It Means What would explain this finding? First, many local government services are natural monopolies and thus competition would increase costs, not reduce them. Second, a national survey of local government managers found most have less than two alternative providers—without competition there is no market pressure for cost reduction (Hefetz and Warner, 2012). Third, local governments must balance cost savings with service quality. One of the primary benefits of privatization may be improved technological processes, which raise service quality but often cost more, not less. National surveys of local governments across the US find privatization accounts for only 17 percent of service delivery and inter-municipal cooperation accounts for 16 percent (Warner and Hefetz 2009). New outsourcing is now equal to new insourcing (where local governments bring previously privatized work back in house) (Warner and Hefetz 2012). The three top reasons for insourcing are problems with service quality, lack of cost savings and improvements in public service delivery. Local government leaders are pragmatic managers who experiment with reforms but must ensure a balance between cost savings, service quality and technological improvement.

What Does the Future Hold? Pressures for local governments to find new efficiencies will continue. Additional privatization and cooperation will be explored. But the evidence to date suggests efficiency gains from these reforms may be limited. Quality pubic services are not cheap. They are the foundation for a productive, competitive and just society. New York needs a conversation about how we will pay for the quality public services we value. Cornell University will be conducting another survey with NYSAC (and the NYS Assoc. of Towns, NYS Council of Mayors, NYS Council of School Superintendents and the Upstate New York Chapter of the Am. Planning Association) in 2013 on service sharing among local governments in New York State. We will report survey results in a future issue of NYSAC News.

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PROTECTING YOUR COUNTY IN A SHARED SERVICES ENVIRONMENT By Melissa Tiberio NYSAC Associate Counsel

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rticle 5-G of the General Municipal Law provides municipal corporations and districts with the authority to enter into shared services agreements with each other to carry out their obligations and responsibilities. Such cooperative agreements provide municipalities with an opportunity to generate fiscal savings, deliver services more efficiently, and increase the quality and level of services they are able to deliver to the population they serve. In 2008, 181 services were reported as being provided jointly by municipalities through shared services agreements. Some of the services include youth programs, water and sewer, refuse and garbage, planning and zoning, libraries, and transportation. Shared services agreements can range from an informal “handshake agreement� to a formal, written inter-municipal agreement. While the benefits of shared services agreements may be evident to the participants, it is important to consider how potential liabilities will be addressed. In most cooperative arrangements, a formal written agreement is essential to clearly define the scope of the agreement and protect the interests of each municipality. The drafting of these agreements should not be taken lightly, and legal counsel should oversee every stage of developing, negotiating, and executing a legal agreement that will govern an inter-municipal shared service arrangement. This process will ensure that the liabilities of each municipality are clearly defined and also prevent costly and unnecessary litigation. It will also make certain that the agreement entered into is one that will hold up in court should litigation occur. Cooperative agreements can be divided into two types. The first type of agreement is a service agreement. In a service agreement, one municipality contracts with another municipality to provide a service at a stated price. Service agreements are commonly used where one municipality is serving the other municipality by providing a quantifiable service or commodity. The second type of agreement is a joint agreement. In a joint agreement, two or more municipalities agree to share in the performance of a function. Joint agreements are commonly used when all participating municipalities contribute roughly equal amounts of effort and resources. A typical contract for an inter-municipal agreement begins with introductory clauses that identify the parties and the rationale for entering into the agreement. The contract should also contain the statutory authority under which the municipalities are acting. Next, the contract should clearly define the services to be provided or jointly performed. Additionally, the financial duties and obligations of each municipality should be specifically stated. NYSAC News

Finally, the contract should contain an indemnification clause. This clause may specify requirements for insurance coverage and/or provide indemnification for one or more parties. It is especially important to consult with legal counsel on matters of indemnification, as there may be instances where one party cannot legally indemnify the other. To illustrate the importance of a formal inter-municipal agreement, consider this hypothetical case of an inter-municipal shared highway services agreement. County Blue and Town Green enter into a handshake agreement where Town Green agrees to remove snow and ice from County Blue’s road. Town Green removes the snow in such a manner that the snow accumulates and impairs the ability of drivers to see oncoming traffic. As a result of this, an accident occurs and results in a wrongful death lawsuit. Who is liable? Would it be Town Green because they were charged with removing snow and ice from the road? Or would it be County Blue, because they own the road? In the absence of a formal agreement, the answers to these questions will likely be determined by a court through the process of costly litigation. However, unnecessary litigation can be avoided by entering into a formal agreement. An indemnification clause should be included, stating that Town Green shall indemnify and hold harmless County Blue for any and all liability for personal injury or wrongful death for losses arising from or occasioned by the manner of performance of the functions under the agreement. Once a formal inter-municipal agreement has been entered into, there is one more step municipalities must complete in order to have a legal agreement under General Municipal Law. All inter-municipal agreements must be approved by each participating municipality. The approval must be done through the passage of a resolution by a majority vote. Unless this statutory requirement is complied with, regardless of whether there is a written agreement signed by all parties involved, there is no agreement in the perception of the court. This is an essential step that cannot be overlooked. As the demand to provide services continues to increase, counties must seek innovative ways to deliver services more efficiently and cost effectively. Inter-municipal cooperation is one avenue that should be considered. If done thoughtfully and with foresight, counties have an opportunity to generate fiscal savings, deliver services more efficiently, and increase the quality and level of services provided.

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JAIL CELL VACANCY? THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OF BOARDING INMATES By Kathryn Vescio NYSAC Deputy Director of Government Relations

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ounties in New York are permitted to board-out inmates to other counties’ jails. This system works well for counties – those with extra jail space can “rent the room” out to other counties that are experiencing overcrowding and are in need of a temporary place to house extra inmates. Many counties that have plenty of extra space accept boarded-in inmates in order to operate at a more efficient capacity, maximizing resources and ensuring cells are filled to an optimum level given block size, staffing constraints and a variety of other factors. The State Commission of Correction (SCOC) oversees the boarding out process and approves Substitute Jail Orders (SJO) so counties can legally move their inmates into other counties’ facilities. Similarly, some counties also house federal inmates in their local jails and are reimbursed for this expense. Inmates detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that are housed in New York’s county jails are paid for by the federal government, ensuring that counties are compensated for the space these individuals take up as well as the services provided to them while they are in the county facilities. Counties may also find themselves housing New York State prisoners in local jails. While counties used to receive reimbursement for doing so, now Parole Violators are housed in local jails without providing compensation to the counties. Some of these offenders wait to stand trial for the new charges brought against them, while others that could be returned to State Prison instead remain in the local jail, at local cost. If you are counting, that’s three different populations of inmates that counties can have in their county jail at any one time. And that is in addition to inmates actually sentenced to serve time in that jail. Despite being able to house inmates from other counties, New York State and federal prisoners in local jails, until recently, counties were not permitted to house inmates from other states. This meant that a county could more easily house an inmate from 200 miles away in a different county but could not house one from just 30 miles away across the State line.

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This presented somewhat of a boarding-in dilemma: how was it that counties could harbor such specific inmates, but not others? In 2011, after the urging of several counties, NYSAC advocated for a statutory change that would permit counties with available capacity in their jail to enter into agreements with other states to house their inmates. This option seemed potentially beneficial for counties that had large jails with available space too plentiful to be filled by inmates boarded-in from within New York. Now counties would be able to fill available space and be compensated by the sending state. This setup also poses benefits for inmates themselves, as they have the ability to stay closer to their state of residence. For example, Vermont used to board-out inmates to Virginia. Now, with the ability to board-out to New York, Vermont prisoners remain closer to their home state, facilitating easier visitation by friends and relatives. Further they are better prepared to reenter the community upon their release, since their proximity to their home state allows for more practical meetings with probation officers and community programs. A number of counties are taking advantage of this change in the law, which became effective as Chapter 573 of the Laws of 2011. Albany County even secured additional legislation in 2012 permitting the county to board-in out-of-state inmates for longer than the one-year term of current jail inmates (Chapter 433 of 2012). The State of Vermont even issued an RFP so that counties in New York could submit their proposals to house their inmates. While administrative and legal details are worked out, New York counties are taking advantage of this new arrangement and reaping the benefits. No longer will counties lose money by operating half-empty jails. Jail administrators and sheriffs now have another tool in their tool box, rather than another hurdle to overcome. There has long been controversy on this issue of frequently transferring inmates between facilities. SCOC has taken the position in the past that a SJO is a temporary measure to assist counties experiencing short-term overcrowding, not a long term solution. In the current economic climate, the costs of managing inmate populations is mounting while counties are losing their ability to control their budgets due to mandatory spending on other health and human services programs. Measures that give sheriffs and jail administrators the flexibility they need to manage their facilities more efficiently are more important now than ever. With construction costs sky-high, and available funds at an all-time low, many see boarding-out as the key to helping counties find housing for their inmates at a time when they cannot afford to expand their jails. There is no one-size-fits-all way to run a jail. Administrators and sheriffs need added flexibility to make decisions locally about how best to address their inmate population issues practically and quickly while meeting minimum standards and ensuring inmate health and safety.

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ARE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS READY FOR A WAVE OF VETERANS? By Jonathan Walters Executive Editor, Governing Magazine

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ere is some sobering news straight from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: A backlog of nearly 900,000 disability claims – with more than 65% of those claims pending for more than 125 days – has amassed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Why should this be alarming news to state and local government officials? Because it is just the beginning of a significant wave of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. These veterans will not just be coming back with the obvious physical disabilities. They will be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, substance abuse problems and domestic violence issues, as well as with challenges finding housing and employment. Between the number of veterans who need services and the logistics of connecting those veterans with VA resources, there is little doubt that a lot of the responsibility will fall to states and localities. In other words, state and local human services officials – whether they like it or not and whether they are ready or not – are going to be involuntarily drafted into caring for and helping veterans. At the same time, state and local officials will be turning to street-level service providers for help.

The federal government has shown that they can move in a coordinated fashion on key veterans’ issues, like homelessness. Darman’s group, in fact, is involved in one of five pilot projects being funded by the VA aimed at eliminating homelessness among veterans. Still, the VA has a startling backlog to clear. For its part, it blames an over-reliance on paper documents as one of the culprits. Officials at the VA say that its new paperless claims system will help the agency get a handle on the backlog. But even if this massive IT overhaul is actually successful, do not expect the VA to magically transform itself into a fabulously efficient bureaucracy finely honed to meet every veteran’s needs. Getting veterans a wide variety of health and human services is going to be crucial. It is not crucial just because we owe it to veterans; veterans, says Darman, have a lot to offer. “Veterans have great leadership and organizational skills, and they are not afraid to take risks. They can be amazing assets.”

“Civilians in general do not really get that”, says Steve Darman, who runs a veterans service program in upstate New York, and who also chairs a three-county veterans homeless assistance coalition. “They think the VA or the U.S. Department of Defense has it covered. But when a veteran comes home, it takes a community. Returning veterans are going to have a huge impact on communities around the country.” The good news is that there is a growing awareness among state and local officials about the impending tsunami of veterans, particularly among those in jurisdictions that either host or are in close proximity to large military bases. Those towns offer everything from job training and therapy to domestic violence and substance abuse prevention. At the same time, the beefed up GI bill is certainly going to help when it comes to upgrading veterans’ skills and education. New York’s Darman says there are already 800 veterans enrolled in Monroe County Community College and another 500 at Erie County Community College. He also points to other promising programs for veterans, including a model program in Rochester, NY, that offers a wide variety of integrated services, which was started, says Darman, “by a bunch of pissed off Vietnam veterans whose families were breaking up and who could not find jobs.” In New York City and two upstate counties, officials have launched courts that are just for veterans. They created this model after witnessing an alarming spike in run-ins with the law among veterans. One thing is clear: A lot of the work being done is by citizen activists, particularly veterans. But it is equally clear that a significant and well-coordinated intergovernmental response is going to be required if veterans are going to get the services they need as they come home. NYSAC News

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THE TIME IS NOW FOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES By Thomas P. DiNapoli New York State Comptroller

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buses in New York State’s special education itinerant teacher (SEIT) program found by my office show the urgent need for more robust oversight. Each year, New York spends $2 billion to provide special services and instruction to 37,000 children with physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities. Counties pick up a large portion of that bill through the SEIT program. It’s clear the system for monitoring these dollars is broken and taxpayers are paying the price. Money that should be spent solely on children is instead being wasted, misspent or even pocketed by certain special education contractors. Earlier this year, after seeing several red-flags in audits and data collected by my staff, I launched a new initiative to look into the special education sector. There are nearly two dozen audits of private contractors completed or underway. Already, evidence is mounting of widespread fraud and a system riddled with problems. My auditors have found several cases of contractors who have cheated the system and bilked the taxpayers out of millions of dollars. There have been several criminal referrals, felony arrests and hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution made. In one case, my office found nearly $250,000 in improper costs claimed by a contractor, including $3,162 used to purchase trees, bushes, gravel, carpeting and tiles for the vacation residence of its executive director and her husband. One contractor couldn’t document the need for $1.5 million in staff salaries, including $850,000 paid to 11 relatives of its executive director. The provider even charged taxpayers $15,382 for rent and expenses for the California home of the executive director’s son. And another provider paid its assistant executive director, the wife of its executive director, $324,881 as a full-time employee even as she was employed at the same time as a full-time dean, professor and department chair for the City University of New York. With more than 400 special education contractors doing business with the State and county governments, audits alone are not going to solve the problem. In order to successfully eliminate fraud, waste and abuse in special education, government agencies and private providers must work together to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately.

We can no longer let millions of tax dollars be used to enrich providers who are boldly stealing or padding expenses due to inadequate oversight. New York State needs to significantly strengthen and improve oversight of these public monies and service providers. This should minimally entail three key elements: the creation of clear contractual requirements concerning the appropriate use of program expenditures and performance requirements; a much more active field program and fiscal monitoring by SED; and a strong, ongoing independent audit presence from the Office of the State Comptroller. The method in which rates are set must be evaluated. Those that overbill should pay up and those that misuse money should be held accountable. When wrongdoing is found or persistent poor performance is uncovered, strict penalties should follow. Additionally, special education contractors have to be much more diligent in policing themselves. This is imperative. The boards overseeing these providers must be strengthened to keep a better eye on executive staffers. To that end, my office has initiated a training program to help special education providers detect and combat fraud and encourage the reporting of suspected wrongdoing. Further investigation of the effectiveness of independent CPA audits of providers is warranted, as is the practice of allowing owners and administrators to live outside the state and work extensively off-site. The vast majority of provider agencies are staffed by dedicated educators and human service professionals truly working to help some of our most vulnerable children. With the right training and tools, they could become one of the best resources in our effort to eliminate fraud and abuse. All the key partners -- parents, providers, state and county policy makers, and legislative leaders -- must come together to address these issues and reform this important service sector. We cannot continue to allow waste and fraud to deprive students with special needs of the resources intended for them. Taxpayers have the right to know their money is being well-spent, and the parents and children who rely on special education programs deserve better.

State government must put some teeth into its oversight and actually penalize those providers who are cheating the children who need and deserve these services. This is especially true for the State Education Department (SED), the agency that directly oversees private special education providers.

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Fall 2012


NATIONAL STATE BUDGET CRISIS TASK FORCE STUDYING THREATS TO FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY By Donald Boyd Executive Director, State Budget Crisis Task Force

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number of state and local government retirees to whom health benur federal system gives state governments responsibility for providefits were promised. In addition, pension costs will rise as a result of ing most domestic governmental functions such as public education, earlier pension underfunding and failure to recognize liabilities, and health and welfare services, public safety and corrections and essential investment earnings that have fallen infrastructure for transportation, water below assumed rates of return. Internet supply, sanitation and environment. shopping is eroding the states’ alreadyStates oversee the elementary and Threats to Fiscal Sustainability Create Risks to Essential narrow sales tax bases. Some states face secondary school systems that educate State Functions Throughout the Nation significant cost pressures for prisons the nation’s future voters, jurors, and and other spending areas. workforce and, together with localities, Since 2008, state funding of K-12 education has pay more than 90 percent of the cost of declined as a share of state spending while Medicaid Extremely volatile income tax revenues this education. State and local public spending has increased in share. There have also bring seesaw swings in state revenues colleges and universities educate more been significant cuts in state funding of public higher overall. States will suffer greatly if fedthan 70 percent of the students enrolled education. Relatively uncontrollable Medicaid spending eral budget cuts eventually come their in this country’s degree-granting instituand rising obligations to contribute to pension funding way. In some states, especially where tions. States spend more than $200 bilcrowd out spending for education and will continue to the consequences of a collapsed real lion annually for health care for the poor do so until these problems are brought under control. estate market persist and residents and medically needy. States and their Continuing cuts in state funding have put access to and businesses are still in trouble, localities finance nearly three-quarters of education and the quality of instruction and student local governments face especially severe all public infrastructure— schools, highperformance at serious risk. fiscal challenges. ways and transit systems, drinking water, America’s aging infrastructure faces growing capital and other projects crucial to economic To understand the threats to fiscal susneeds, most of which are funded by state and local growth and public health and safety. They tainability, the State Budget Crisis Task governments. However, these critical needs suffer employ 19 million workers—15 percent of Force examined six states—California, from low budgetary priority. Like education spending, the nation’s workforce and six times as Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, essential infrastructure spending is now crowded out by many workers as the federal government and Virginia—in depth. While all more immediate spending pressures, pushing essential employs. In total, state and local governstates are different, these states reflect investments off to the future and increasing the risks to ments combined spent $2.5 trillion in important geographical and political public health and safety and economic growth. 2009, which is more than the federal variations within our country. They Both state borrowing to finance long-term capital assets government spent on direct implementaaccount for more than a third of the like infrastructure and temporary state borrowing to tion of domestic policy. nation’s population and almost 40 adjust to cash flows within a fiscal year are appropriate cents of every dollar spent by state and States are grappling with unprecedented reasons to borrow. Borrowing to finance current spending local governments. All six states face fiscal crises. Even before the 2008 finanis not an appropriate reason. Yet, confronted with fiscal major threats to their ability to provide cial collapse, many states faced long-term distress, states have borrowed to finance budget deficits basic services to the public, invest for structural problems. Many economists and even have, in effect, borrowed from pension trusts to the future, and care for the needy at a believe that in the aftermath of the crisis, make current payments to these trusts. Extensive misuse cost taxpayers will support. the economy will grow sluggishly for years of state borrowing could diminish state credit ratings, as it works off the excesses of the credit increase interest costs, and further limit their ability to The states studied all suffered considerand real estate bubbles and endures slow borrow for much-needed capital projects. ably after the 2008 financial collapse. employment growth. Tax revenues are One measure of this damage is employrecovering slowly and remain well below ment, an important broad-based meatheir pre-crisis trends. sure of the economy. Employment in California fell by nine percent from its peak, the largest decline among Large fiscal pressures loom. The most important demographic force states in the study. California was followed by Illinois and New Jersey, of the next two decades, the aging of our society, is upon us. The first at 6.9 percent and 6.4 percent employment drops respectively. The wave of baby boomers is at retirement age. The medically expensive elderly population that is eligible for Medicaid will swell, as will the NYSAC News

Continued on page 22  •

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Continued from page 21 declines in New York, Texas, and Virginia were less acute but still in the range of four to five percent. Tax revenues generally fell much further than employment, reflecting, among other things, significant declines in stock market gains, retail sales, and corporate profits, which drove income, sales, and corporate taxes down sharply. In New York between 2007 and 2009, for example, overall adjusted gross income fell by 18 percent; but capital gains subject to income tax fell by 75 percent. Tax revenues would have fallen sharply but for tax rate increases that the state enacted. Texas does not have an income tax, but its sales tax revenues fell by nine percent between 2008 and 2010; other tax revenues fell substantially as well. Revenues have resumed growing in the six states, but in 2011 they remained below their prior inflation-adjusted peaks. Illinois, which increased its income tax rate by two-thirds, will show considerable revenue growth in 2012. While the states in the study differ along many dimensions, including politics, policies, economies, and demographics, they share many problems, including these six major fiscal threats:

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• Medicaid Spending Growth Is Crowding Out Other Needs • Federal Deficit Reduction Threatens State Economies and Budgets • Underfunded Retirement Promises Create Risks for Future Budgets • Narrow, Eroding Tax Bases and Volatile Tax Revenues Undermine State Finances • Local Government Fiscal Stress Poses Challenges for States • State Budget Laws and Practices Hinder Fiscal Stability and Mask Imbalance These problems threaten the states’ investments in education and infrastructure and affect the ways in which the states are likely to issue debt. More broadly, these problems threaten states’ abilities to provide other essential services, such as justice systems, welfare, and environmental protection.

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Fall 2012


12 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN DEALING WITH A CRISIS, CONFLICT OR CONTROVERSY By Sean Casey, Partner Eric Mower and Associates, and Matthew Maguire, Senior Counselor Eric Mower and Associates

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he best way to manage a crisis is to avoid it in the first place. But when a crisis cannot be avoided, don’t go it alone. Before you talk to the media, talk to professionals. Draw on extensive “battlefield experience” wherever you can find it. And it’s out there. Your county’s reputation is too valuable to risk. Properly managed, a crisis can actually become an opportunity. First, get your organization crisis-ready with critical risk assessments and crisis planning before a situation occurs. You know where you are most vulnerable, and what departments and operations are most likely to encounter a crisis. Here are 12 factors that should be recognized in preparing for any potential crisis or controversy. 1. If you don’t actively manage your reputation, someone else will. Chances are you won’t like the results. There are two (or more) sides to every conflict or controversy. Avoiding or refusing to speak to the media guarantees only that your side won’t be heard. 2. Both perception and reality must be managed if your organization expects to continue operating after the trouble is over. As you certainly know, perception and reality are often two very different things. Trying to manage both in the same way with the same messages rarely works. 3. Over 90 percent of what you communicate is how you look and how you sound while you’re saying it. 4. The damage from negative press is not correlated to its intensity – it’s a function of time. The longer the duration, the greater the damage. Your primary strategy is always to get any controversy, conflict or crisis behind you as soon as possible. 5. If bad news is going to come out anyway, it’s best if it comes from you—not your opponents, critics, adversaries or the press. People respond far more positively to bad news than to uncertainty, unanswered questions or shifty responses. An organization that reveals a negative story about itself marks it in a positive way and defuses suspicion and hostility. You only get one chance to shape the story, so get all bad news out at once. Ignoring bad news doesn’t make it go away and cover-

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ing up bad news never helps— either approach merely cause problems that spiral out of control. 6. “No comment” is never an option. Remaining silent means you agree with your critics, and that nearly always equals “Guilty as Charged.” Today, both the press and the public demand institutional transparency. When the news media sniffs a cover-up, the risk of igniting a media frenzy increases enormously. 7. Speed is everything when responding to a controversy, conflict or crisis. The only way to control it is to get out in front of it, and you only get one chance. If trouble is coming, the earlier public relations counsel is involved, the better. 8. “I don’t know” can often be the best / smartest answer—especially when it’s a fact. Don’t let your ego / pride / emotions prevent you from using it. 9. There’s no such thing as “off the record.” Don’t say it if you don’t want to read it in tomorrow’s paper. 10. Facts are your friends. Facts are specific—platitudes are ignored. Facts fill the space that rumor and innuendo would otherwise fill. Show the media that you will be their primary source for facts, and they will treat you very differently. 11. Crisis communications, done properly, should never jeopardize a legal case. In nearly all situations, legal and public relations counsel can agree upon a mutually advantageous strategy. Both should be in the room. Work only with public relations professionals who understand this. Allowing your lawyers to devise your public relations strategy alone rarely proves wise—they know how to deal with reality, not perceptions. 12. It is possible to apologize and take responsibility for solving a problem without accepting blame, admitting guilt or acknowledging wrong-doing. Current evidence suggests this strategy also minimizes damages and reduces the risk of further litigation.

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FEMA SEEKS COUNTIES FOR FLOOD — RISK AWARENESS PILOT Reprinted from National Association of Counties

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he storm surge from Hurricane Isaac drove home once again that flooding can pose as great a problem as driving winds. A new FEMA pilot program is designed to raise awareness of flooding threats, and the agency is seeking county participants. Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in the country, and significant opportunities exist for individuals to prevent flood damage. FEMA and seven other federal agencies concerned about flood risk are working with local officials to help their residents do just that. Together, this federal working group is developing a turnkey outreach initiative to assist local officials in elevating the issue of flood risk within their communities. The initiative, “Know Your Line: Be Flood Aware,” will help communities showcase their local history of flooding and motivate residents to take action.

The majority of local officials understand that flooding not only can “happen here,” it likely has happened. Whether a community experienced severe flooding a century ago or just last spring, showcasing the dramatic outcome of a community’s most severe flood can offer a powerful testimony and daily reminder to residents and businesses — empowering them to understand the consequences of flooding and reduce their risks before the next one.

A Unique Opportunity FEMA found through its nationwide survey of homeowners that citizens expect to hear about flooding from their local officials. As a result, local officials have a unique opportunity to raise awareness of flooding risk in their community. Communities that reach out to the public to help prevent the effects of flooding:

Know Your Line encourages local officials to post high-water-mark signs in prominent places throughout their community, for example on county courthouses, city halls, libraries or tourist attractions, to identify how high flood waters have risen in the past. Communities will then be encouraged to hold a high-profile event to announce the initiative, followed by supporting activities to continue to remind residents of their flood risk and prompt them to take steps to reduce it.

• underscore their commitment to the well-being of residents and the local business community

A Call to Action

• can put Federal and state mitigation assistance funds to work.

To gain local officials’ perspectives on the elements of the Know Your Line initiative, FEMA and its partners are preparing to launch up to six pilots this fall. Pilot communities will be the first to review the initiative’s tools and materials and will provide insight into the campaign prior to the national roll-out.

To learn how your county can participate, contact Vincent Brown at FEMA, at vincent.brown@fema.dhs.gov or 202.646.2725.

• galvanize their community to take steps now to reduce the often devastating impact of floods • can receive Community Rating Systemg (CRS) points to reduce the cost of flood insurance, and

Members of the federal working group will work with the pilot communities to tailor a strategy and materials to suit the community’s needs, provide recommendations and consultation on implementation activities, and provide recognition to pilot participants online and at conference and trade association meetings. Following the pilots, the working group will further refine the approach and then offer the Know Your Line initiative’s strategy, tools, and relationships to communities nationwide. Over 30 years (the length of a typical mortgage), there is a 26 percent chance of a 100-year or greater flood occurring. But residents and businesses often take few, if any, steps to protect themselves from these potentially life-changing events, opting instead to trust that, “It won’t happen here.”

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Target Your Market! Advertise with NYSAC... Contact NYSAC Marketing Specialist Juanita Munguia at 518-465-1473 or jmunguia@nysac.org

Fall 2012


MAKING COUNTY PURCHASING MORE EFFICIENT WITH THE P-CARD By William T. Sullivan, Managing Director of PFM Asset Management LLC

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t a time when interest rates are at historically low yields, revenues are harder and harder to achieve. Counties and other municipal entities are being asked to “do more with less,” as taxpayers look for additional services. One solution for what seems to be a daunting task is to find a way to perform ongoing, required functions—making purchases and paying bills—while earning additional revenue at the same time. The answer is a purchasing card that provides your County with cash rebates when used to pay bills. The NYSAC, in conjunction with PFM Financial Services LLC (“PFM”) has developed a program called Payment Solutions to do just that—and more. The Payment Solutions Program streamlines the payments process for invoices, reduces staff time and banking costs, and gives counties better control over their purchases by consolidating all record keeping electronically. At the same time, by agreement with a major financial institution, it generates additional revenues for the county through cash rebates.

How Does It Work? • As long as your annual spend is a minimum of $50,000—and this is easily reached by most counties—the Payment Solutions Program selected by NYSAC provides cash rebates on 100% of payments made through the program, no matter how small or large the transaction. • The program uses a MasterCard® platform issued by BMO Harris Bank N.A. • Payment Solutions is offered absolutely free to all NYSAC members, has zero liability on fraud transactions and provides the county with employee misuse insurance of $100,000 per cardholder (5 cards or more) and $25,000 per cardholder (2-4 cards). • The program is Internet-based and requires no additional software to utilize the online system. All transactions are available online to cardholders and administrators. • More than 90 standard reports and ad hoc reporting capabilities are available to participants. All activities may be downloaded to various formats (e.g.; Excel, CSV, PDF, etc.) and uploaded to your accounting software. If your county is large enough, a flatfile integration could be provided “free of charge.” Seems almost too good to be true, but third party researchers have explored the benefits, reported below.

NYSAC News

What Can Purchasing Cards Really Do? Third Party Research Based upon the 2010 Purchasing Card Benchmark Survey Report, state agencies report average purchasing card spending growth of 5.1% per year over the past two years. The report projects average purchasing card spending growth of 8.6% per year over the next five years. Clearly, use of purchasing cards like Payment Solutions is on the rise as organizations realize the extensive cost savings possible. Some of the noteworthy results include: • Counties can reduce the cost associated with each traditional PO process from $93 to $22 for a savings of 76% • Cycle times are reduced by 12 days or 72% • The number of suppliers maintained in the AP master file can be lowered on average by 16% • 26% of respondents report that they used Purchasing Card historical data to obtain higher discounts and 60% report obtaining discounts, with the average being 2.2% AND • Based on a new IRS regulation, which became effective January 1, 2011, public sector organizations are permitted to eliminate 1099 reporting when transactions are paid for with a Purchasing Card.

How Is this Program Different? It is important to note that this program does not change the way you make purchases or your approval process but simply how you pay the invoices. All merchants or suppliers are paid within 24-48 hours after processing the transactions while your county only pays its program bill once a month (31 day cycle with payment 7 calendar days later) which may provide additional “float dollars” for investment. Many counties currently use credit cards or a P-Card program but NYSAC’s Payment Solutions is not designed around a rebate (although we believe it to be competitive). Customer service support focuses on working with and training your staff to efficiently utilize the program to pay for more goods and services. It is estimated that P-Card growth overall in North America will reach $255 billion by 2014 at the same time the average growth rates for cities and counties is projected to grow by 46% from 2009. Your county can be part of this growth. Through NYSAC’s Payment Solutions program, you will generate additional revenues for your county while reducing time and cost associated with the traditional purchase order process.

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Fall 2012

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WORKERS’ COMP ASSESSMENTS: NEW YORK REMAINS THE HIGHEST IN THE NATION By Paul Jahn, Executive Director The Workers’ Compensation Policy Institute

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surcharge added to workers’ compensation costs for all New York State employers remain the nation’s highest, nearly five times the average of the same surcharge imposed in other states, according to the annual study conducted by the Workers’ Compensation Policy Institute. New York’s 18.8 percent surcharge is more than double the 8.3 percent tax in Minnesota – the state with the second highest assessment. These surcharges, called assessments, are essentially a tax on workers’ compensation premiums and are used by state governments to fund the system. Thirty-two states impose this premium tax with an average assessment of 3.8 percent. The 2007 Workers’ Compensation Reform Act attempted to reduce the burden on employers; however, for the last three years assessments have increased. In the last three years, New York State has increased this tax by 10.4 percent, 27.5 percent and decreased it by 6.9 percent, respectively. While assessments in New York decreased by 6.9 percent in 2012, nationally assessments were actually down by an average of 9.5 percent. This tax continues to burden all employers—and municipal employers feel this mandate intensely as they continue to struggle to provide essential services and contain taxes. This pressure was recently intensified by the imposition of a two percent property tax cap. Local governments expected some relief from the burden of assessments through the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2007. Prior to passing the reform act of 2007, assessments stood at 18.6 percent of premium. Since then, New Yorkers were charged 15.5 percent, 13.4 percent, 14.2 percent, 18.1 percent and 20.2 percent. This year’s 18.8 percent assessment is the second highest New York has seen since undertaking reform. The Institute’s new analysis shows that assessments are continuing to be a larger part of increasing costs, and employers pay nearly 50 percent more of their compensation dollars in assessments to fund the system than they did four years ago. Just one part of the assessment burden, a 9.6 percent tax on premium, is assessed to support just one fund, the Second Injury Fund. This fund was created decades ago with the original purpose of encouraging employers to hire disabled veterans returning from World War II.

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This fund accounts for half of New York’s high assessment charges. The fund is intended to mitigate workers’ compensation benefits if an injured employee had a permanent impairment prior to filing a compensation claim. Although the 2007 reform law closed this fund to new claims after July 1, 2007, claims will continue to enter the system for the next few years because it only kicks in after 260 weeks of paid benefits. The assessment burden also includes: • A 4.9 percent tax on premium is used to fund the Reopened Claims Fund. This fund activates when a claim reopens at least seven years after the work-related accident and three years since the last payment or award of lost wages. More claims will become eligible for the Reopened Claims Fund now that permanent partial disability claims have been capped. Once capped benefits are paid in full and these reopened claims become eligible, the cost of this assessment or tax will increase. • A 3.1 percent tax of premium is the cost that employers pay for the state to administer the Workers’ Compensation Board. New York’s administrative costs exceed the total cost of assessments in all northeastern states except Connecticut. New York State’s municipalities continue to find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Their ability to raise revenues is constrained by the two percent cap on property taxes. No such constraint exists on unfunded mandates and high employment costs such as retirement contributions, health insurance, county Medicaid mandates. At the same time, workers’ compensation benefits regularly increase and actuarial experts are concerned that the New York system remains significantly underfunded. Ultimately, employers will absorb the full cost of the system. This hidden tax on workers’ compensation premiums, which has grown rapidly since 2008, complicates an already difficult situation and cannot be sustained over the long term. The slight relief from this burden offered this year was not enough to change the fact that New York continues to have the highest administrative costs in the country. The Workers’ Compensation Policy Institute’s report is available at www.wcpinstitute.org.

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Pelletier Institute

ENROLLMENT FORM Please complete this enrollment form and return to:

Dennis A. Pelletier County Government Institute C/O NYSAC 540 Broadway, 5th Floor Albany, NY 12207 Name____________________________________ Title_____________________________________ County___________________________________ Address__________________________________ E-mail___________________________________ Phone___________________________________ Fax______________________________________ Method of Payment: Enclosed Check  Bill Me 

Dennis A. Pelletier was elected NYSAC’s First Vice President in September 2003, after serving four years as a member of the association’s Board of Directors. He also served as President of the NYS Association of Chairs of Legislative Boards, a NYSAC affi liate. Dennis Pelletier served as President of the Monroe County Legislature from 1998 through 2003 and had been a member of the legislature for 11 years. In 2003, he was appointed Executive Director of the Monroe County Water Authority, the position he held at the time of his death. During his career in county government, Dennis developed a strong reputa-tion for his hard work to become fully informed on the issues. As President of the Legislature, he encouraged active debate concerning the impact decisions made by elected leaders would have on the lives of the citizens they represent. Even after the most contentious debates, Dennis was re-nowned for visiting the legislators he might have disagreed with to make sure that the tone of the political discussion was never personal and to attempt to achieve consensus on the important work ahead.

Required Courses

Enrollment Fee: $55.00

Core Courses (20 credits)

Signature_________________________________ For more informaiton on how to participate in the Dennis A. Pelletier County Government Institute Certificate of Achievement program, contact Jacqueline Dederick at the New York State Association of Counties at jdederick@nysac.org or call 518-465-1473. 28

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1. Principles of County Budget & Finance 2. Foundations of County Government 3. Public Sector Labor Management Relationships 4. Ethics 5. Building Consensus in a Political Environment Elective Courses (10 Credits) Continuing Education (4 Credits)

Fall 2012


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Fall 2012

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IS THE HOSPITAL OVERCHARGING YOUR EMPLOYEES? By Mike Bertrand, Government Affairs The iCan Group, an AMPS partner

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een to a restaurant lately? Chances are, the price you paid for your meal bore at least some relation to the quality of the meal and service you received. Been to a hospital lately? Chances are, you got ripped off . . . or at least your insurance plan did. As our nation continues to look for ways to get health care spending under control, perhaps the time has come to lift the hood on your health care system and take a hard look at where all the money is going. A good place to start would be hospital spending, which accounts for roughly a third of U.S. health expenditures. But beware: America’s system of hospital billing is an ugly and broken mess, and most hospitals would prefer to keep their dirty laundry hidden from view. The bill for a hospital visit often has little relation to the actual cost of the service provided. Instead, in this walled-off and stunningly non-transparent world the price depends upon who you are, what kind of health care coverage you have, and what kind of deal your insurer has worked out with health care providers. It’s a system that is ripe for abuse. For all the attention given to the importance of controlling health care spending, not nearly enough light has been cast upon the stomach-churning world of hospital billing practices. If government officials and employers focus on this long-ignored issue, they could find savings of hundreds of millions—perhaps billions—of our health care dollars each year. In 2008, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that auditors working in three states had identified over $1 billion in improper Medicare payments over a three-year period. Roughly 96% of those improper payments were overpayments: medical providers and hospitals charging more than they should have. Whether those bills were simply inaccurate, or whether they were intentionally inflated, is a question for others to answer. But it is ample evidence that hospital overcharges are a problem of gargantuan proportions. Many employers and health care consumers assume that someone, somewhere deep inside the headquarters of their insurance company is methodically analyzing each and every bill, scrubbing them for errors, making sure everything is perfect before cutting a check.

item, making it difficult to ascertain exactly what medical services were provided and at what cost. Adding further confusion and complication to the system, insurers have negotiated their own deals with health care providers. For instance, a chain of hospitals might agree to give a big insurer a “discount” off standard rates. The insurer can then trumpet that “discount,” and make their clients believe that these negotiations are helping them save some serious money. But that begs the question, a “discount” off of what? If hospital bills are routinely overinflated to begin with, a discount is meaningless. Those discounts are, more than anything, just a good old fashioned sales tactic. Pity the employer: that county government (and their taxpayers) who has to pay the health insurance bill at the end of the day. They are the ones that will feel the pain from this broken system, where everyone is spending someone else’s money and nobody is responsible for preventing fraud, waste and abuse. There is a solution. Patients and their advocates have a right to obtain a detailed version of their hospital bill, which will list every procedure, every medicine, and every bit of medical care provided to the patient. These detailed (and often complex) bills can then be analyzed by professional auditors to identify potential overcharges and other billing mistakes. The iCan Group uses a proprietary system to format these detailed bills into a spreadsheet so that they can be more easily and expeditiously reviewed by our team of doctors and medical compliance specialists. These professionals work to determine what items were billed appropriately, what items should not have been included in the bill, and which items are in need of further discussion with the hospital. Then the “acceptable” charges are compared with various reimbursement data sources, such as hospital chargemaster procedure costs, federal reimbursement data. At the end of the day, the hospital receives fair and appropriate reimbursement for the medical services that have been provided, while the person that pays the bill—the employer—can rest easy knowing that they were not “ripped off.” Over time, those savings will accrue to the employer in the form of lower premiums.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The bills themselves are (to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill) a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Just like you would never give a restaurant your credit card without reviewing your bill, you should never pay a hospital bill—or permit an insurer to pay a bill for you—without first understanding what you are being charged for.

Insurers typically receive what can best be described as a “Cliffs Notes” version of the bill: the standard hospital bill format, UB 92. These summaries use Revenue Codes to report charges, and oftentimes multiple charges are lumped together into a single line

For more information on solutions for recouping over inflated claims from hospitals, please call Michael Dendy at 404-379-1380, or call Ken Fransson at 401-862-1169.

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DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLANS: FEE DISCLOSURE GUIDANCE By Edward Lilly, Executive Director New York State Deferred Compensation Plan

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s your county one of the 40 counties or county authorities that locally sponsors and administers a deferred compensation plan in accordance with Section 457(b) of the Internal Revenue Code? Are you aware that the Rules of the New York State Deferred Compensation Board requires each deferred compensation plan to annually inform each plan participant of all fees and expenses paid out of or charged against any assets of the plan, including all fees and expenses netted against any investment return on amounts held under the plan? To be honest, there are no free deferred compensation plans. Most often, plan participants are paying investment management and plan administrative fees through an explicit dollar or asset based fee, reimbursements the plan service provider receives from investment managers, or additional fees deducted from participants’ accounts. Counties and county authorities, as the plan sponsor, and participants should be fully aware of these fees. Lately, there has been significant talk about the costs of retirement plans, including deferred compensation plans. The U.S. Department of Labor recently enacted a Fee Disclosure Rule that applies to retirement plans in the private sector. The State Deferred Compensation Board enacted a Fee Disclosure Rule in 1999 that provides counties and county authorities with the support they need to obtain fee information from their plan service providers and to pass that information along to their employees.

to disseminate that information to plan participants. The letter can be found on the Board’s web site, www.goer.ny.gov/nysdcp/ under the ‘Local Governments Interested in Sponsoring a Deferred Compensation Plan’ tab and then ‘Board Letters and Guidance to Plan Sponsors’. The guidance recommends that the county or county authority should annually request from the plan administrator and all other plan service providers a description of the services performed, the categories of fees imposed upon the participants or assets in the plan and the amount of those fees, and the total amount of compensation received by the plan service provider for providing plan related services. Upon receipt of the fee and compensation information, the county or county authority should provide the fee information to each plan participant. The guidance letter provides a number of suggestions on how to disseminate the fee information to plan participants including the disclosure of the total dollar amount of the compensation received by the service provider from the plan, the expense ratio for each plan investment option for the reporting period and the dollar amount for each $1,000 in investments that the expense ratio represents, and the total per-participant cost of administrative services (e.g., record keeping custody, accounting, legal). The guidance letter also provides suggested formats in which the information can be provided.

Ensuring that plan costs are reasonable is a primary responsibility of a plan sponsor. Fee disclosure will give counties and county authorities the information they need to fully understand how much they or their employees are paying for investment services, general plan administration, trust and custody services, and other relevant plan services. With this knowledge, the county or county authority can better evaluate the cost of those services and take necessary steps to provide quality service at a reasonable price. Plan participants will benefit from fee disclosure through a better understanding of the fees associated with their deferred compensation plan.

Embrace fee disclosure. It will help you better understand your deferred compensation plan and the costs to administer it. Ensuring that your plan is a reasonable cost plan is the responsibility of the plan sponsor. The employees who participate in your county or county authority deferred compensation plan will thank you for doing your job properly.

The New York State Deferred Compensation Board recently sent a letter to all counties and county authorities that locally administer a deferred compensation plan that provides guidance on how to obtain fee information from plan service providers and how

Contact: Edward Lilly • 518-473-6619 • elilly@nysdcp.com

NYSAC News

For more information, please call Edward Lilly or David Fischer at the office of the New York State Deferred Compensation Board at 518-473-6619.

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CHILD CARE SUBSIDY IN NEW YORK STATE: MAKING EVERY DOLLAR COUNT By Gladys Carrión, Esq., Commissioner, NYS Office of Children and Family Services

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raud exacts a huge cost on state and local governments. The public and the media are paying more attention to child care subsidy fraud, in which parents or providers misrepresent their circumstances in order to receive undeserved publicly funded subsidy dollars. National estimates of the scope of child care subsidy fraud range from 10 percent to 40 percent. Even at the low end, 10 percent of New York’s $738 million allocation to local social services districts for child care subsidies means that important resources are being diverted from subsidies for eligible children and families. New York State has taken a proactive approach to addressing this problem. In October 2010, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) convened a roundtable of key stakeholders to identify obstacles that impeded the ability of those on the county level to detect, investigate, and prosecute child care subsidy fraud. The recommendations that emerged from the roundtable became a blueprint for action, the goal of which is to promote program integrity, eliminate improper child care subsidy payments, and maintain the health and safety of children in child care. The first element implemented was new fraud regulations. OCFS heard clearly from the roundtable participants that existing subsidy regulations did not give local districts enough impetus to act. New regulations provide social services districts more authority to stop child care payments. Before these regulations became effective, enforcement actions could only occur if there was a conviction. Second, OCFS deployed a statewide automated Child Care Time and Attendance (CCTA) System, which not only improves the accuracy and timeliness of payments to providers, and decreases the administrative burden on local districts, but also increases fiscal accountability and identifies “red flags” to use in fraud detection. A third component of OCFS’s Child Care Program Integrity Initiative involved a competitive solicitation seeking a technology solution to identify and rank risk indicators for potentially fraudulent activities. Fourth, the Child Care Fraud Prevention and Detection Incentive Program began April 1, 2012. The $1.2 million competitive minigrants program provides local social services districts with resources for fraud detection and prevention. Twenty districts were awarded one-year grants ranging from $40,000 to $100,000. Some counties are using the funds to launch work in fraud detection/prevention. Other counties had fraud detection/prevention work underway, and are using the funds to expand existing efforts. The Chemung County Department of Social Services worked with the Chemung County Child Care Council to compare billing for child care subsidies and reimbursement for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This revealed several discrepancies in child attendance between the subsidy records for those children and their CACFP attendance records, which resulted in subsidy 34

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disallowances. The county DSS also hired an investigator to examine suspected fraud cases; this led to the closing of six cases, and the identification of overpayments in others. In five months, the county recovered or negotiated repayment agreements for over $30,000. The initiative has intensified front-end detection efforts on the part of many counties. Denials of applications, withdrawn applications, and realized cost avoidance means more resources available to serve eligible families. Between April 1 and August 31, 2012, Albany County denied approximately 90 child care applications for an approximate cost savings of $499,500. Nassau County began its fraud detection and prevention work in 2005, with an emphasis on child care fraud waste and abuse initiated in April 2011. Encompassing the full range of human services, including child care subsidies, the county estimates restitution re-payments of $1.7 million since January 2011. Schenectady County is attempting to match benefit eligibility data (from the Welfare Management System) with payment data (from the Benefits Issuance Control System) to confirm the accuracy of provider income. In Erie County, investigators found that between April 15 and August 31, 2012, underreported income resulted in overpayments of $13,935 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and $6,592 in Temporary Assistance benefits. Several counties created task forces to increase awareness of child care subsidy fraud and to communicate zero tolerance. Essex County formed a task force of state and local law-enforcement agencies to establish a sustainable detection program to identify the legitimacy of providers’ and families’ child care claims. Cayuga County established a Welfare Fraud Task Force to combat fraud by individuals receiving public benefits, including child care subsidies. Public education campaigns are key in many counties. Chemung County created and distributed “Day Care Subsidy Fraud Fact Sheets” for both parents and child care providers. Rockland County’s “CHILD CARE FRAUD…is not a GAME” posters were produced in English, Spanish, Creole, and Yiddish, and are being given to parents and providers and posted throughout the county. Arrests send especially powerful messages. On September 12, 2012, the Cayuga County District Attorney announced arrests of nearly three dozen people, of which five are charged with fraudulently obtaining child care services worth over $12,000. In Schenectady County, of nineteen cases referred to law enforcement in 2012, eight resulted in arrests; the county estimates that it will receive up to $100,000 in restitution repayments. New York State and its counties have made significant progress in eliminating child care subsidy fraud, and will continue to vigilantly pursue waste and abuse. Fraudulent payments reduce funds available for eligible, deserving families who rely on subsidies to help pay for child care. It is imperative to make every dollar count.

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Fall 2012


BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION IN GOVERNMENT: 7 STEPS TO IMPROVING OPERATIONS By John M. Druke, Principal KPMG LLP

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overnment budgets at all levels are under pressure – and the pressure won’t be letting up anytime soon! “Business Transformation” is an approach to improving government operations and/or making them more efficient.

4. Types of Transformational Changes

The following steps outline how to apply this approach to your county’s operations, and offer new ways to think about change and efficiency.

Sourcing – consider outsourcing some of your operational functions such as payroll, benefits administration, customer service call centers or similar functions; or, consider bringing them in-house if you can demonstrate that would save money.

1. Understand the Problem What is the primary driver or motivation for making a change? Business transformation can be a difficult process and it’s important to understand what’s driving you to initiate change and to motivate you to see it through. Are there particular pressing issues that involve operations that need to be addressed or improved? Is it decreased funding? Are there operational issues or regulatory demands? The nature of the problem should be specified and summarized in the form of a goal.

2. The Case for Change Before you begin, you need to make the case for change. You need to understand how you will get from your current state to a future state of improved operations and weigh the costs of implementing those changes against the benefits. You should document your objectives, what changes you will implement, what steps you will take, the resources and funding that will be required, and the expected benefits. Your key stakeholders should understand and buy-into the plan.

3. Understand Your Operations When considering taking steps to improve how your government is operating, you need to have a good understanding of how you currently operate – at least at a high level. You should be able answer the following questions: • What functions do each of your departments perform? • How do these functions align to the mission of the agency? • Where are you spending most of your resources in terms of people and dollars? • What results are you getting? How do you measure the results of your programs in terms of program outputs (e.g., transaction counts or quality of results), resources invested, or dollars spent?

There are many approaches to business transformation – here are a few:

Shared Services – consider consolidating like functions into one operation; here are several examples: • Consolidate financial management and/or human resource functions that may be operating in multiple departments into a central, government wide operation • Consolidate call centers, incident management functions, or customer service centers into a single operation • Research programs offered by State and National Associations. NYSAC offers several programs and services designed to pool member resources and save money for counties and residents, as does NACO. • Consolidate IT operations into a single data center and single application support center, and • Team with other government entities to consolidate the performance of common functions such as those above or others such as highway maintenance. Business process improvement – the traditional approach to improving your processes follows these steps: identify your objectives for improving your operation; measure your current results; identify and implement improvements through brainstorming, root cause analysis and similar techniques and associated operational improvement steps; and measure the results. Engage this cycle until you have achieved the results you are seeking.

5. Considerations: Change Can Be Complex When implementing business transformation, there are many elements to consider. Governance – who is the executive ultimately responsible? They should be kept informed of status including progress, costs, issues and results. They should approve any changes in the business transformation program. Clear Objectives – objectives for the implementation of the change should be defined, measured, and tracked throughout the implementation and once implemented. Continued on page 36  •

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Continued from page 35 Project Management – your business transformation effort should be managed like any project: identify a project manager; plan twice and do once (determine the scope, project plan, resources needed); drive the execution; and monitor the results. Process – operational processes will be impacted; determine and manage these impacts. People – identify those who will be impacted; communicate appropriately; provide training where needed. Technology – work closely with your IT team to address any changes to current systems or the implementation of new systems required.

7. Evaluate Your Efforts When you have completed your business transformation, dust off your “case for change” document and your “project plan.” What were your results compared to what you hoped for? What were your successes and improvement points? These are important lessons learned for your future efforts. Business transformation can pay off with focus and perseverance. Good luck with your transformation efforts! You and your constituencies will appreciate the results!

Internal controls – remember to consider any changes to your internal control structure, including security.

6. Getting Help Often, you will need to get assistance from resources outside your government. You may know peers in other government entities or associations that can provide advice during the course of your efforts. You may know retirees who bring experience and knowledge of your operations and are looking for part-time work. Interns from public administration programs can provide a helping hand and gain valuable experience.

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NYS DEPARTMENT OF STATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY PROGRAM By Kyle Wilber, Municipal Management Consultant III NYS Department of State

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ew York State’s Department of State (DOS) has a long tradition of working with local governments to promote economies of scale to reduce costs, address common needs and leverage regional assets. With today’s economic realities, local officials are relying on this cooperative regional spirit to develop new opportunities to more efficiently meet their residents’ service delivery needs. Increasingly, county governments are taking a strategic position at the forefront of these efforts.

that includes the formation of the Consolidated Urban Highway Services Area (CUHSA) for the urbanized area of the county, the centralization of technical services at the county, while the decentralization of other services to towns and villages. Centralized services may include technical engineering, bridge and large culvert maintenance, sign fabrication, and safety training. Decentralized services could include snow and ice removal, roadside mowing, and other daily maintenance activities.

The Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency Program (LGe) provides both technical and financial assistance to New York’s local governments to reduce local expenses through consolidations and multi-municipal projects, as well as internal re-organization efforts. This LGe program can provide up to $200,000 in grant funds to a local government for local government efficiency efforts. Since the program was established in 2006, the Department of State has approved the investment of over $50 million in 326 projects that will produce upwards of $480 million in local government and taxpayer savings.

In January 2011, the CUHSA including the City of Elmira, Villages of Elmira Heights and Horseheads, Towns of Horseheads and Elmira, and Chemung County began integrating their highway services through an inter-municipal agreement. Implementation of all three phases of this program is expected to save $2.7 million annually.

In 2012, Governor Cuomo increased the state’s commitment to reward innovation and cost savings through a $40 million authorization for the new Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program (LGPEP). Under LGPEP, the Department of State is authorized to provide up to $5 million in general purpose aid to a local government to match existing savings that have accrued through actions implemented after January 1, 2010. Individual awards are based upon the scope of the reduction on local government expenditures and the size of the impacted municipality’s population. These actions can be internal to a single municipality or inter-municipal efforts to decrease costs. In determining an award amount the total cannot exceed $25 per resident. To be granted and award, the savings from the projects must be measurable, show a sustained reduction in local costs, and positive benefit to taxpayers. As the LGe program has grown, our partnership with counties continues to increase. In fact, the county governments’ percentage of financial assistance awarded through LGe grants has increased from 2.7% in 2006 to 26.5% in 2011. Impacted services include: highways and transportation, records retention, general administration, health care, infrastructure and asset management, public safety and communications and others. It is clear that counties are leveraging their professional services capacity and employing emerging technologies to reduce costs, while assisting its smaller governments.

Highway Services With the assistance of the LGe program, Chemung County highway officials have formed the Highway Services Board to explore and coordinate shared services among the county’s highway departments. Realizing the benefits of cooperation, the members have planned a hybrid highway services model with three parts NYSAC News

Infrastructure and Asset Management In 2008, five local governments in Lewis County came together to jointly meet the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) requirements for the replacement and maintenance of community infrastructure. Those early efforts dovetailed with the Village of Lowville’s completion of a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) needs assessment and Lewis County’s completion of a county-wide evaluation of the condition of municipal water and wastewater systems. With the assistance of LGe, the Lewis and Jefferson County Joint Infrastructure Asset Management Initiative (JIMI) established a partnership with the counties and 15 rural municipalities to develop an asset management program. Each community will apply JIMI’s programs to determine the useful life of their most valuable assets and develop a plan for their replacement. LGe funds assisted with the purchase of computers, Global Positioning System (GPS) services, and software to manage the 15 municipalities’ infrastructure asset inventory and digital image log. One county provides IT services and data storage for their municipalities and the other serves as the off-site data back-up to each other. While the initial cost savings of $40,000 might be modest, future savings and municipal benefits will be gained from enhanced capital planning and coordinated municipal infrastructure investments. These two efforts are a small indication of the willingness among local leaders to pursue new ways to provide services through structural governance changes and regional collaboration at the county level. The Department of State’s Division of Local Government will continue to work with counties and other local governments to implement these types of programs and to continue to identify options for efficiency. For more information on the LGe program at the Department of State, please visit our website at www.dos.ny.gov/lg/, or call (518)473-3355.

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STATE, COUNTIES IMPROVE EFFICIENCIES & CUT COSTS BY SCANNING PAPER DOCUMENTS By Chuck Tobin President & CEO of Focused Technologies

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n 2008, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) decided it would be beneficial to convert all manually filed fingerprint cards to an electronic format. Within 10 months, under secure conditions on-site at DCJS, our company had scanned 80 million fingerprint card images, destroying tens of millions of pieces of paper and eliminating DCJS’s need for thousands of square feet of costly storage space. Moreover, the electronic statewide fingerprint database the project created significantly aids law enforcement efforts. Considering the budgetary restraints state and local governments are operating under, the DCJS project perfectly illustrates how document scanning and management can save tax dollars and stretch an operating budget. In fact, Focused Technologies was founded on such scenarios, after witnessing more and more governments and public sector entities tie up office space or rent storage space to catalog important documents. Some organizations are reticent about taking the step to digital document management, not recognizing the efficiencies inherent in a paper-free office. In addition to eliminating the bulk and space requirements of traditional cabinets, digital records improve work output and internal operations with easy access. Search capabilities allow staff to locate documents within seconds and share or forward them to clients more quickly. It’s possible to search through an

entire archive with one word or phrase or name. And the security and disaster recovery advantages are invaluable. Document scanning companies of excellence operate under strict standards. For instance, Focused Technologies offers 100 percent confidentiality on its projects, working on-site and carefully respecting the value of the information being processed. Such organizations also have the flexibility to adapt to each client’s special needs. The efficiency and savings benefits of document scanning and management are obvious, but the industry’s positive effects can be even more far reaching. For example, Focused Technologies provides much-needed work options for veterans and individuals with disabilities, clearing the obstacles they often face trying to enter the workplace and become economically independent. By deciding to enter the digital age you can help more than your organization. Founded in 2003, Focused Technologies is the largest New York State based document imaging and document management company. It provides a full-range of document imaging solutions to New York State and local government agencies within the Preferred Source Program through their membership with New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID). For more information on Focused Technologies, please visit www.focused-tech.com.

Save These Dates!

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Legislative Conference

47th Annual

February 4-6, 2013

County Finance School

The Desmond Hotel

May 1-3, 2013

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and Conference Center

The Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel

Albany, New York

Syracuse, New York

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Fall 2012


RECOVERY FRAMEWORK EMPHASIZES LOCAL CONTROL, DISASTER PREPARATION, INTERAGENCY COLLABORATION By Marianne Luhrs, AICP, FEMA Region II

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ince its 1982 creation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has become known as the federal government’s emergency management branch. What many may be less aware of is the role the agency plays in disaster recovery. In 2005, our country was faced with an unrelenting, unparalleled hurricane season. Millions were affected by a steady stream of storms—Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Wilma— that pushed many communities to the breaking point. In a matter of hours, thousands of local governments saw their municipal workloads increase exponentially just as their tax bases were literally washed away. It was during this time that FEMA created Emergency Support Function (ESF) -14, known as Long Term Community Recovery (LTCR). Through the efforts of a dedicated cadre of FEMA staffers--community planners, outreach specialists, city managers—LTCR’s mission was to help community officials and residents identify investment strategies to drive the community towards recovery. While other federal agencies were tapped for technical assistance, it was largely regarded as a FEMA initiative. Despite LTCR’s success in helping countless communities develop Long Term Recovery Plans, it was determined that a more robust program would better serve disaster-struck communities. In September 2011, FEMA released The National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). The NDRF identifies six core functions of community recovery along with an appropriate federal agency to lead each one. FEMA remains responsible for coordinating the effort and leads the Community Planning and Capacity Building function. The NDRF is guided by three key concepts: Leadership, Planning, and Structure. Each of these concepts is described below.

Leadership: Designated Disaster Recovery Coordinators First, the NDRF calls for communities and states to designate recovery “czars” before a disaster occurs. Town, Village, City, and County governments are encouraged to appoint Local Disaster Recovery Managers (LDRMs). Many New York communities, in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, did just that, assigning individuals or departments to oversee recovery efforts. States are advised to assign State Disaster Recovery Coordinators (SDRCs), while tribal nations are encouraged to appoint Tribal Disaster Recovery Coordinators (TDRCs). At the federal level, each FEMA region has a designated Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator (FDRC), to oversee recovery coordination.

Planning: Post-Disaster Appointing a local recovery coordinator prior to the disaster can save a community time just when it is most needed—in the weeks, days, and hours immediately following a disaster. Having a predetermined local recovery coordinator can pave the way for immediate state and federal interaction. The LDRM can voice local concerns and push for local priorities to be addressed. Designating a steady point person to coordinate community recovery—even for non-federally declared incidents—can help solidify the recovery network, i.e, the unofficial network of businesses, and voluntary, faith-based and community organizations active during recovery. Having a one-stop-shop recovery point-of-contact can also help foster the development of a consistent approach to community recovery, one unlikely to result in anything—or anyone—being overlooked.

Planning: Pre-Disaster In addition to overseeing post-disaster recovery activities, the Local Disaster Recovery Manager can also help facilitate pre-disaster recovery planning. Pre-disaster recovery planning includes any policies, practices, or activities designed to expedite post-disaster recovery. Examples can include maintaining an up-to-date hazard mitigation plan; adopting a recovery ordinance; or creating an open space fund to match FEMA-sponsored mitigation buyouts. In the days following a disaster, local officials and staff will be forced to make many rapid-fire decisions; some of these will turn out well while others may not. In the midst of this, the state or federal government may announce that disaster funding is available but the locality may be hard pressed to identify a local match or to decide on community priorities. A community will never be “ready” for a disaster, but pre-disaster recovery planning can provide a community with a head start on the road to recovery by forcing it to consider some of the difficult questions that will inevitably arise.

Structure: Recovery Support Functions Consistent with the NDRF’s focus on community planning, the six Recovery Support Functions (RSFs) closely correspond to elements commonly found in Local Comprehensive Plans: (1) Community Planning and Capacity Building (i.e., Planning and Municipal Services); (2) Economic; (3) Health and Social Services; (4) Housing; (5) Infrastructure Systems; and (6) Natural and Cultural Resources. FEMA is the lead on the Community Planning and Capacity

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Continued from page 39 Building RSF. Other RSF lead agencies include the Economic Development Administration (EDA); the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); and the Department of Interior (DOI). The NDRF, through the RSFs, provides a scalable, flexible and adaptable coordinating structure; all levels of government, as well as the private and non-profit sectors are linked through their common areas of interest or expertise. By aligning key roles and responsibilities, the resulting efforts—of all involved in the recovery process, not just the federal agencies—are more likely to achieve greater efficiencies, improved coordination, and all-round better government services. By developing an internal organizational structure that parallels the NDRF RSF structure—simply through the identification of local points-of-contact—either individuals or departments—for each of the RSFs, a community will be better prepared to communicate with their state and federal partners on disaster recovery planning, both post- and pre-disaster. See the example of a state -federal alignment in Figure 1. How does this play out at the local level? Historically, a community may depend overwhelmingly on the public works manager for spearheading community recovery efforts. Fleshing out the local RSF structure—and possibly providing some relief to the public works manager—might involve assigning the Environmental Commission and the Historical Society to be responsible for considering needs

related to the Natural and Cultural Resources RSF, both before and after a disaster. The Planning Commission and the Financial Officer may be tasked with considering the impacts and implications of a disaster on local land uses, and the budget, respectively. Housing related needs may be the responsibility of a consortium of housing non-profits working with the Planning Commission.

Local Primacy and Community Resilience The post-disaster environment can be very stressful—as anyone who experienced Irene and Lee last year can attest. While FEMA has—and will continue to—bolster communities planning capacity during critical, post-disaster periods, leadership remains the responsibility of the local community. Communities are very complex socio-economic organisms: Determining the best path to local community recovery—a path that builds community resilience, fosters self-reliance, and maximizes intrinsic community strengths—is something that can only be done at the local level. By developing a local recovery framework, complete with the elements described here, communities can take steps towards being pro-active, rather than reactive, and in so doing, become more resilient to any catastrophic event that might occur. The author leads the Community Planning and Capacity Building RSF for FEMA Region II (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands). She can be reached at Marianne.pollay@ fema.dhs.gov.

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COUNSEL’S CORNER: NEW COUNTY LAWS By Patrick Cummings, NYSAC Assistant Counsel Warren County Passes a Local Law Banning the Sale of Synthetic Marijuana The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in May for a local law that criminalizes the sale of synthetic marijuana. The Board of Supervisors found that synthetic marijuana is a threat to their citizen’s public safety and general welfare. The Board cited the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration finds that the substance can cause “extreme agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, tremors, seizures, hallucinations, paranoid behavior and loss of consciousness.” The law prohibits anyone or any entity within the county to sell or knowingly possess synthetic cannabinoids. Any individual violating this local law the will be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail and/or fined up to $1,000.00.

Ulster County Passes a Local Law Providing Property Tax Exemption for First Time Home Buyers Ulster County has passed a local law which grants a real property tax exemption for first time home buyers of newly constructed houses. First time home buyers are defined in the law as persons who have not owed an existing home for a period of three or more years. There are additional qualification restrictions based on annual income. For those individuals that qualify, the exemption reduces the property’s assessed valuation percentage over a five year period. The exempt valuation percentage will be allocated as follows: Year 1- 50%, Year 2- 40%, Year 3- 30%, Year 4- 20%, and Year 5- 10%.

Madison County Passes a Local Law to Prohibit Tobacco Use on County Property Madison County passed a local law that prohibits tobacco use of any kind on any real property owned or leased by the county and within all county owned vehicles. This law was passed in September as an effort to “protect the public’s health, safety and welfare by eliminating exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke and tobacco residue.” Any person found guilty of this law shall be subject to a violation punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1000.00).

SEL’S COUN ER CORN

The law states the authority to exempt local property taxes for first time homebuyers is granted by New York State Real Property Tax Law section 457. The Ulster County Legislature’s stated purpose for this law was the finding that “home ownership within the County by persons of moderate income is essential in order to create a positive climate for economic growth and to attract future homeowners.” This law was passed in July and will take effect for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2013.

Albany County Proposes Law Requiring the Labeling of Products Containing Certain Beef Additives Albany County is considering a local law that would require retail establishments to label any product that contains “lean finely textured beef,” an additive that is more publicly known as “Pink Slime.” This proposed law defines the beef additive as “any beef product that is created by means of heating and spinning beef scraps in a centrifuge and treating the resulting product with ammonium hydroxide or other means to increase the pH level of the resulting product.” NYSAC News

This law is intended to allow local residents to be better informed of the contents of the food they purchase. If passed, any restaurant, retail market, or person in violation of this labeling law shall be subject to a civil penalty imposed by the Albany County Health Department.

Suffolk County Passes a Local Law to Expand the County’s Farmland Development Rights Acquisition Program

Suffolk County passed a local law in April to expand the Farmland Development Rights Acquisition Program with the purpose of strengthening the equestrian industry within the county. Under this program the county can acquire development rights for farmland to insure they remained as farms and open space rather than being developed for housing. This local law follows the State legislature recently amending section 301 of the Agriculture and Markets Law to include equine operations with the definition of farm operations. The local law uses the same definition for defining commercial equine operations as the Agriculture and Markets Law, and includes “horse riding lessons, trail riding activities, and horse training.” For a commercial equine operation to be considered to be a part of the Farmland Development Rights Acquisition Program the following criteria must be met: 1) all development rights to the subject land shall be intact; 2) the subject land shall be actively used in support of a commercial equine operation; 3) the subject land shall be at least seven acres and the associated farm operation shall have an average annual gross value of at least $10,000.00.

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EFFICIENTLY MANAGE AND REDUCE YOUR EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE BUDGET By Laura Barclift, The Remi Group

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ith local, state, and federal budgets under financial stress, governments are looking for ways to reduce costs across the board. Counties are faced with an increasing demand for services despite these budgetary constraints. Many are confronted with the reality that expenditures exceed revenues, and they are forced to examine each budget line-item carefully. They need to find ways to reduce spending without sacrificing the quality of services demanded by the taxpayer. Decision-makers are challenged to do more with less, find new ways to save money, and seek innovative programs to deliver cost savings. County officials know the importance of finding added value in the services they procure. The Remi Group’s Equipment Maintenance Program (EMP) was first introduced to New York State in 2002. After a competitive bidding process, a contract was awarded (Contract #PS65207) to implement the EMP in New York. The strong relationship that was formed with the Office of General Services continues to this day. Over the course of the past decade, the EMP’s sole purpose has been--and continues to be--to examine the equipment maintenance budget and eliminate all the unnecessary hassles, distractions, and costs associated with managing New York municipalities’ equipment portfolios while providing the same or better maintenance services. By consolidating existing service contracts under one comprehensive program, that goal was accomplished and a 27% savings was immediately recognized. This opportunity for significant savings originates from the common practice of purchasing manufacturer extended warranties and service contracts on electronic equipment. Government entities cannot afford to have equipment not covered under a service contract or warranty; so they often spend millions of dollars each year purchasing such contracts, even though they never really know what the true costs are to maintain and service the equipment. The Remi Group’s EMP provides a solution to those Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) maintenance contracts and provides significant, measurable, and sustainable cost savings without sacrificing the quality of the service that’s being provided. By using this model, The Remi Group’s EMP opens up an avenue to reduce costs with few operational changes, and gives governments the opportunity to reallocate those same maintenance funds (operational costs) to other needed areas. The EMP also helps organizations defer capital expenses. Typically the OEM ends maintenance on equipment well before the useful life of the equipment. With the EMP, we can extend the life of “end of life” equipment until “you” deem it is end of life. This allows you to defer the replacement cost by at least a few years. Another valuable feature of the EMP program is our consistency. You can use our EMP maintenance costs for future budgets as our price remains the same year after year. The only change in NYSAC News

your maintenance costs will be a 27% reduction over what you are spending now when you add new equipment to the EMP program. This is in stark contrast to typical OEM maintenance which usually increases each year until it hits end of life. The types of equipment covered under the program are extensive, but to keep it simple, it is basically anything that is electronic in nature and plugs into a wall. Ranging from low-level telecommunications and general office equipment such as computers and fax machines, to high-end research, laboratory, and medical equipment. More recently, through a working partnership with Service Management Systems (SMS), we have moved into IT data center equipment (servers and storage), making our program a more “all inclusive” package. The Remi Group’s EMP has proven its purpose throughout the years, adding value to an area that is often overlooked or not considered. With over 11,000 equipment items covered within the State of New York alone, our comprehensive approach to managing an equipment maintenance budget is unmatched. Remi’s EMP delivers more than just monetary savings. The headache that accompanies managing multiple vendors and multiple service contracts is essentially eliminated. How does the EMP actually work? Simple. When equipment is in need of maintenance or repair, the client calls Remi’s toll free service center. Remi contacts the client’s preferred vendor, dispatches service, and manages the vendor response. Once the vendor has performed the service, The Remi Group handles all call administration & pays the vendor directly. In our arrangement with Systems Maintenance Services (SMS) for your data center servers and storage repairs, you contact SMS directly. The Remi Group’s EMP can and has assisted government entities save money; not only within New York, but across the country. The Remi Group has shown that its program can both reduce annual maintenance budgets and simplify the equipment management process. The Remi Group’s experience has demonstrated that its model can fit any opportunity size. Clients range from small townships all the way up to New York City; and everything in between. In the area of county governments, we have successfully implemented programs within Albany and Rockland, among many others. We were able to guarantee a 27% discount from their previous processes (through our New York State Contract #PS65207), which made a significant difference in tightening their budgets and reducing unnecessary costs. We believe the knowledge The Remi Group provides assists county governments realize the cost savings potential an Equipment Maintenance Program can deliver.

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NYSAC Thanks the Exhibitors and Sponsors of the 2012 Fall Seminar EXHIBITORS

ProAct, Inc.

ProAct, Inc.

AARP

Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux

Salient HHS

Advanced Medical Pricing Solutions (AMPS)

Salient HHS

US Communities Government Purchasing Alliance

AmWINS Group Benefits

ShoreTel

ANGA

SMRT Architects and Engineers

Blue Springs Energy

SUNY Empire State College

Clark Patterson Lee

SWBR Architects

CSC

Syracuse Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

EBS-RMSCO, Inc.

The NYSAuctions.com Team

Ephesus Technologies, LLC

The Rochester Group

FacilityDude

Troy & Banks, Inc.

Fort Orange Press Inc.

Value Payment Systems

Health Economics Group, Inc.

VMC Group, Inc.

ITS (Island Tech Services)

Waste Management of New York, LLC

LaBella Associates, P.C.

Wendel

M.J. Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. Maps Indeed Microsoft Motorola Solutions

KeyBank MERSCORP Holdings, Inc.

SILVER SPONSORS Accenture

CSC

Constellation Harris Beach PLLC

Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux, LLP

New York’s 529 College Savings Program/Upromise

Palladian Health

Northrop Grumman

SPECIAL EVENT SPONSORS

NYMIR

Altria Client Services

NYS & Local Retirement System

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

NYS QBS Council

Barton & Loguidice, P.C.

Palladian Health

Crown Benefits Group, Inc.

Paul Revere Life Insurance Co./Colonial Voluntary Benefits

Jefferies

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Gilberti Stinziano Heintz & Smith, P.C.

C&S Companies

New York Safety Program

POMCO Group

Fiscal Advisors & Marketing, Inc.

AARP New York

Clark Patterson Lee

Polaris Library Systems

Bonadio & Company, LLP CPA’s, Consultants & More

Bollam, Sheedy, Torani & Co. LLP, CPAs

Nationwide Retirement Solutions

Pharmacy Benefit Dimensions

BHL Insurance Agency

CORPORATE SPONSORS

PLATINUM SPONSORS

Pfizer, Inc. - Integrated Health

GOLD SPONSORS

Bernier, Carr & Associates

Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance, Inc.

PERMA

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SEFCU

Hunt Engineers, Architects & Land Surveyors, P.C. KPMG LLP New York Center For Conflict Dialogue O’Brien & Gere

LaBella Associates, P.C. Motorola Solutions Nationwide Retirement Solutions

O’Connor Davies, LLP Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC Park Strategies LLC Petrone & Petrone, P.C. Roosevelt & Cross Incorporated Rose & Kiernan The LiRo Group The Pike Company, Inc. Tyler Technologies, Inc.

NYMIR PERMA www.nysac.org

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SCENES FROM NYSAC

NYMIR Executive Director Kevin Crawford announces that Schoharie County has been awarded with NYMIR’s annual Risk Management Award for their post storm efforts of 2011.

Orange County Executive Edward Diana addresses county delegates (above) after being sworn in as NYSAC President (below).

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney welcomes county delegates to the NYSAC Fall Seminar held in Syracuse this past September.

The Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance (MEGA) Board of Directors toured the New York Independent Systems Operator headquarters in Albany this summer to gain a better understanding of New York’s electric grid and how it impacts the flow and pricing of energy throughout the state. 48

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Baseball Hall of Famer Richard “Goose” Gossage greeted NYSAC members at the Fall Seminar Opening Dinner Banquet.

The Goose poses with NYSAC past presidents Bill Ryan, Westchester (above) and Jean Raymond, Saratoga (right).

Immediate Past President Mary Pat Hancock (Genesee) addresses county delegates during the Annual Meeting held at the Fall Seminar in Onondaga County.

Members of the Schoharie County Risk Management Team were honored with NYMIR’s annual Risk Management Award at the September Schoharie County Board of Supervisors meeting in September.

The most recent graduates of the Dennis A. Pelletier County Government Institute were honored by county colleagues at the NYSAC Fall Seminar in Onondaga County.

The Inter County Association of Western New York convened at the Livingston County airfield in August. The Hon. Glenn Larison (Schuyler County) presiding (center) next to Karen Demay (left).

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AFFILIATE FOCUS:

ASSOCIATION OF CLERKS OF COUNTY LEGISLATIVE BOARDS By Stacy Husted, NYSACCLB Past President Clerk of the Schuyler County Legislature

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s the past President of the New York State Association of Clerks of County Legislative Boards (NYSACCLB) for 2010-2012, I would like to share what our Association stands for, and what we are all about as an organization.

We generally offer other educational presentations such as the ones given by Nick Mazza, former Livingston County Administrator, who works for the Bonadio Group. Last year’s presentation was on the topic of Fraud and this year the topic was on the Tax Cap.

Our mission is to promote a standard of excellence in the services offered by Clerks of Legislative Boards of the State of New York. We strive to assist all clerks in the execution of their duties and responsibilities, whether they have been in the position for many years or are just starting out. We work with clerks across the State in the interest of accomplishing sound county government by providing information on current issues, forthcoming legislation, new programs or other matters with which they should be concerned. We offer a means for clerks and their staff to meet and discuss common interests and observations. We also give a voice to the concerns and recommendations of clerks in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.

At this year’s conference, Karen Miller, Clerk of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, spoke regarding the 2011 flood in her county and how it affected her role as the Clerk and Public Information Officer. She provided valuable recommendations in regard to having documents available for communication purposes and disaster preparation.

NYSACCLB holds one annual three-day conference in the month of May. We rotate host counties around the State in order to give members the opportunity to attend a conference in their region. We also wish to promote that host county in hopes that all in attendance will revisit the area, bring their families for a vacation, or tell their friends and families what a great area it is, thus boosting tourism rates in that host county. Local businesses are given the chance to shine by donating or sponsoring meals, or issuing discounts to purchase goods at their establishments while NYSACCLB members are in the area. At the 2011 conference our Association had the opportunity to share input on pending legislation regarding the Open Meetings Law and posting of material on web pages. The final product was legislation we could all abide by. We also had a presentation by Nadine Hanlon, Orleans County Clerk of the Legislature, on “Tips, Tricks & Best Practices.” This presentation shared many ideas, processes, and templates from a number of counties. Attendees have always been able to gather some new efficient process, template, or procedure to bring back to their office and incorporate, improving efficiency and making their job easier, as well as the jobs of others in their county.

Our Association is now a part of NYSAC’s Pelletier Orientation Course for newly elected/appointed officials, as of the January 2012 Winter Conference. In 2012 Cheryl Ketchum, Clerk of the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors, and I presented on the role of the Clerk of the Legislative Board. We will be at every NYSAC Legislative Conference going forward. Clerks of Legislative Boards play an intricate role in county government. As the State organization for those in this role, we take our educational mission seriously. This year alone our current membership consisted of 42 counties out of 57. Out of that number 17 counties were represented at our conference. As a clerk who knows firsthand the benefits of attending these conferences, I recommend that all county leaders encourage their clerks of the board to attend our 2013 Conference. We realize budgets continue to be a challenge, but the Association currently offers scholarships for your Clerks and it is likely that attendees will return home with cost-saving processes to implement. The current list of our slate of officers and more information can be found at our web site www.nysac.org/board_clerks. Our tentative upcoming conference locations are 2013 in Niagara County, 2014 in St. Lawrence County, and 2015 in Broome County. NYSACCLB thanks New York’s county officials for supporting your clerks and hope that you continue to do so by encouraging participation in our Association and our conferences.

We strive to provide timely and valuable educational sessions at our conferences. Since May of 2009, we have been offering the Dennis Pelletier Institute training each year. This year was a new module titled “Professional Communications Best Practices” presented by Jeanette Stanziano, Director of Education & Training at NYSAC. The course spoke about the proper use of email, how to communicate with staff, and how to handle productivity within your office. 54

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