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Fall 2013

Volume 34, Issue 3


NYSAC NYSAC News Resolutions

The New Fiscal Reality

Innovative Counties at Work

Best Practice: Shared Services

Making the Most

1 Spring/Summer 2013 of Membership



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Mark R. Alger, Steuben County President Hon. Anthony J. Picente, Oneida County President-Elect Hon. Randall Douglas, Essex County First Vice President Hon. Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Second Vice President Hon. Edward A. Diana, Orange County Immediate Past President Members

From the NYSAC President, Mark R. Alger THE STATE OF OUR ASSOCIATION: STRONG In my first column as president, I want to acknowledge the leadership, the courage and the wisdom of my predecessor, Orange County Executive Ed Diana.

$75 million increase in CHIPS funding for local roads and bridges. We need much more to improve the safety of roads and bridges, but we’re grateful to state leaders for the increased funding.

Ed and I have both fought our own personal battles over this past year, and Ed’s fighting spirit is unmatched. Thank you, Ed, for your tireless advocacy for our counties over so many years. We wish you all the best.

We are a strong association for all of these reasons, but we have our challenges.

Hon. Mary Ellen Odell, Putnam County

Hon. James Hoffman, Wayne County

Hon. John LaPointe, Washington County

Hon. William Cherry, Schoharie County

Hon. Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga County

Hon. Edward Mangano, Nassau County

Hon. Lynn M. Marinelli, Erie County

Hon. Christopher Moss, Chemung County

Hon. William Ross, Niagara County

Following the Annual Meeting in Saratoga, I can tell you that the state of our association—NYSAC—is strong. What makes us strong? Our membership represents 100 percent of New York’s counties. We have a delegation of county officials committed to making their communities a great place to live. We have a small but agile and effective staff, whose advocacy in the statehouse is secondto-none. We have a dedicated executive director in Stephen Acquario, a steadfast voice for county government.

Steve Williams, New York County

Parliamentarians Hon. Herman Geist, Esq., Westchester County

Hon. A. Douglas Berwanger, Wyoming County

Treasurer Robert F. Currier, Albany County

This year, the association effectively advocated for another round of pension reform. We accelerated the Medicaid cap, and in 2014 we should see our weekly Medicaid shares lowered for the first time in 50 years. Local governments received a

In our budgets, there are some things we can control and some we can’t. That’s why, three years ago, the board instructed NYSAC’s staff to develop solutions to the fastest-growing budget items that are within our control. As a result, NYSAC has programs to help you save on workers’ comp, health insurance, employees’ pharmaceutical costs, property and casualty insurance, energy, and debt collection. I urge you to explore NYSAC’s first-rate programs. They may not all work for your county, but I challenge you to get a quote. The programs are designed to lower non-mandated costs, something we all want to do. Our association is as strong as we make it. The future of our counties and the association is in our hands. I look forward to working with all of you on behalf of our counties.

Winter 2014 NYSAC News magazine Deadline: December 20, 2013 Submit articles of 750 words to To advertise, contact Juanita Munguia at


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

From the Executive Director, Stephen J. Acquario

Communication Coordinator Patrick Cummings Assistant Counsel Jackie Dederick Records Manager Mark LaVigne Deputy Director Dave Lucas Director of Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Patricia Milkiewicz Executive Assistant Juanita Munguia Marketing Specialist Jeanette Stanziano Director of Education & Training Tammy Thomas Communication Assistant/ Receptionist Melissa Tiberio Associate Counsel Katy Vescio Deputy Director of Government Relations Shawn Voland Legislative / Office Clerk

A VISION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT EFFECTIVENESS Aside from the extensive partnership with state government, educational programs, and cost savings programs that NYSAC has worked on for decades, there are two new initiatives that deserve a special mention in this magazine and need the support of our members throughout the state. The first is, quite simply, a matter of life and death: Organ Donation. Currently, more than 117,000 patients are waiting for an organ transplant. Ten percent of those waiting live right here in New York State. And some of them are NYSAC members, including our own past-president, Ed Diana. Unfortunately, New York has one of the lowest percentages of donors of any state. There is misunderstanding surrounding the benefits of this important life-saving program and our counties can help. County leaders are opinion shapers in our communities. To stand up and collectively endorse organ donation in New York can be an effective way to promote this gift of life. Over the past year, our county boards have joined county clerks, the state Department of Motor Vehicles, and Dr. Oz to increase the number of New Yorkers willing to sign on as organ donors. Last spring, many of our counties passed resolutions declaring April as “Organ Donation Awareness Month,” and encouraged residents to become organ donors. It’s simple. Here are four ways to sign up to become an organ donor: • Visit your county DMV office • Visit • Enroll through the NYS Department of Health at

PAYGO NY - Best Practices in Local Governance The second new initiative was started by Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, president of the County Executives Association. Local government leaders from across the state came together in five regional PAYGO NY hearings over this summer. NYSAC moderated each of the five events, and the discussions, ideas and feedback were simultaneously inspirational and alarming. Alarming because the challenges that our local governments face are real, costly and are not going away on their own. Inspirational because we have extremely motivated local government leaders applying innovative solutions to the challenges they face. NYSAC has pledged to help document some of the innovations revealed through the PAYGO NY tour and also other programs that have been spear-headed by members over the past several years. These examples published in a report later this fall. But that will not be the end of it. We know there are more examples of innovation, of barriers to success. And, we know the Governor and our state lawmakers will help with state policy to embrace these findings. There are more than 1,600 local governments and taxing jurisdictions in New York State. We need a way for all of us to share the good things that are being done by local leaders across the state. NYSAC is hoping to work with other municipal associations to create a means of sharing those good ideas in the future. In the meantime, we tip our hats to County Executive Hein for his vision and courage to make a difference. We encourage you to submit your ideas at

• Enroll through the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles at NYSAC News

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PUBLISHED 3 TIMES A YEAR President • Mark R. Alger Publisher • Stephen J. Acquario Managing Editor • Mark F. LaVigne Staff Writers • Nicole Correia, Patrick Cummings, Melissa Tiberio, and Kathryn Vescio Advertising Staff • Juanita Munguia NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate, advocate for, and serve member counties at the federal and state levels. 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 News Magazine 540 Broadway, 5th Floor Albany, New York 12207 Phone • (518) 465-1473 Fax • (518) 465-0506 Send submissions to 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. 2013© New York State Association of Counties



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NYSAC Informs with e-news publications:


NYSAC Weekly Wire


Emailed every Friday during the Legislative Session. Highlights county-related issues and activities that taking place in Albany.

Local Communities Face a New Fiscal Reality........................................................ 15

To sign up visit

The County Perspective on a New Environmental Bond Act.................................... 17 Shared Services: A Reform that Works................................................................... 19 Better Together: Cross Jurisdictional Initiatives in Public Health............................. 21


Using Analytics to Drive Your County’s Social Media............................................. 22 Wyoming County’s Initiative to Create


Government Efficiencies and Support Agriculture.................................................. 24 VALER4Valor Supports Veterans in Erie County...................................................... 25 County Milestones................................................................................................26

Counties in the News Daily news updates from counties across the state, compiled by NYSAC and delivered to your inbox every day.

NYSAC Resolutions: Fall 2013 Highlights.............................................................. 13


Tax Reform Trap: Status of Municipal Bonds Threatened........................................ 27 Addressing Climate Change at the County Level .................................................. 29


Renew My Community Offers Energy Savings........................................................ 31 Keeping Your County Safe from Cyber Attacks...................................................... 32 Are Affordable, High-quality Health Benefits Possible for Municipalities?............... 33


Counsel’s Corner: New County Laws.................................................................... 34 Steuben County: History and Beauty in the Southern Tier...................................... 36


Making the Most of Your NYSAC Membership....................................................... 37

Target Your

Affiliate Focus: NYS Sheriffs’ Association “Sheriffing” In a New Economy............... 38


Dutchess County Office Building Dedication.......................................................... 40

Advertise with NYSAC


Contact NYSAC Marketing Specialist Juanita Munguia at 518-465-1473 or NYSAC News


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NYSAC RESOLUTIONS: FALL 2013 HIGHLIGHTS By Melissa Tiberio NYSAC Associate Counsel


ach September, county delegates meet at the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Fall Seminar to adopt a series of resolutions that become NYSAC’s legislative platform for the upcoming legislative session. These resolutions represent months of effort and analysis and years of practical experience operating government programs that serve the needs of the voting public. The majority of these resolutions focus on reforms to New York State law, however some resolutions address federal issues as well. NYSAC forwards the resolutions to key decision makers, including the Governor, the State Legislature, state agency heads, and the congressional delegation to educate and encourage important reforms. This year, NYSAC’s delegation passed (36) resolutions developed by 10 standing committees representing a variety of issues affecting county government.

• Enact legislation that promotes New York State agricultural products in order to preserve New York’s farms and agricultural business • Promote improved broadband development and provide residents and businesses with better Internet access • Address problems associated with invasive species and conduct ongoing statewide collaboration with local efforts to begin implementation of policy and programs to control and manage invasive species

Intergovernmental Affairs • Pass legislation to permit the federal primary and the state primary election to be held on the same day or absorb all increased expenses to local boards of elections stemming from different dates and also to absorb all costs associated with future early voting legislation

The resolutions called on state lawmakers to take action on several items. Highlights include:

Public Health and Mental Health

Mandate Relief

• Provide fiscal support to local health departments for accreditation resources in the areas of personnel costs and application fees

• Enact no new unfunded mandates legislation and reverse recent cost shifts from the state to counties

Public Safety • Amend the NY SAFE Act to address county concerns and implementation problems • Reform statewide interoperable communications grants program and more equitably and efficiently allocate 9-1-1 surcharges to counties • Fully fund any proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York • Amend the navigation law to support county marine patrol stability • Enact legislation that will bring mandate relief to county jails

Children with Special Needs • Reform the rate-setting process in the Preschool Special Education program, and reduce the county share of program costs from 40.5% to 25%

Economic Development, Environment, and Rural Affairs • Coordinate and align statewide efforts to promote regional economic development • Revive state efforts to encourage foreign direct investment and attract foreign companies to New York State

• Request that the Office of Mental Health ensure appropriate reinvestment in community mental health services as part of the regional centers of excellence plan

Medicaid and Human Services • Gradually reduce the local share of Medicaid costs by augmenting automatic federal savings that accrue to New York counties under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with additional savings the state can generate by fully leveraging all flexibilities allowed under the ACA • Avoid shifting new costs to counties as the state takeover of local administrative functions takes place • Restore the historic 50/50 state/local cost sharing for the state’s mandated safety net program or provide more program control to local social service districts commensurate with counties increased fiscal responsibility for the program • Ask that the state continue to partner with counties to successfully reform juvenile justice programs while avoiding cost shifts to counties

Public Employee Relations • Enforce the provisions of the 2007 Workers’ Compensation reform laws that cap compensation payments • Ask that the state refrain from enacting new public employee benefit mandates Continued on page 14


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Continued from page 13 • Amend Chapter 403 of the Laws of 2011 which amended sections 17 and 23 and added 17-A to the Civil Service Law

Taxation and Finance • Request that the New York State Legislature honor Home Rule revenue requests in order to meet the intent of home rule authority granted to counties in the State Constitution • Urge the Governor and the State Legislature to continue to support the federal tax exemption for municipal bonds

Transportation and Public Works • Provide greater investment in the state’s Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and Marchiselli program • Enhance state investment in airports to promote economic development and job creation • Create a state aid to local bridge and culvert program to increase bridge safety, promote economic development, and create and retain jobs • Reform the state Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund (DHBTF) • Urge federal legislators to seek county safety and highway officials’ input prior to allowing larger trucks on New York roadways The full text of the Fall 2013 NYSAC resolutions, as well as information about NYSAC Standing Committees, can be found at 



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LOCAL COMMUNITIES FACE A NEW FISCAL REALITY By Thomas P. DiNapoli New York State Comptroller


hen Detroit, once one of America’s largest cities and industrial engines, files for bankruptcy to resolve its fiscal woes, it gets people talking. As a result of Detroit’s problems, a brighter spotlight has been placed on the fiscal challenges facing local communities around the nation and here in New York State. Many are asking if Detroit’s fiscal situation and bankruptcy foreshadows what’s to come for other local governments as a number of factors continue to push them towards a financial cliff. Municipal bankruptcies are rare around the nation. They have never happened in New York, and with good reason. Bankruptcy proceedings of municipalities in other states have left fiscal problems unresolved for years, while making it more difficult for local governments to deliver services. But there are bigger lessons to be learned from Detroit. One of the primary take-aways is the importance of having an honest conversation about the difficult challenges facing local governments, and how they can achieve real solutions when regional economies, demographics and traditional revenue sources change. Here in New York, the Great Recession and our slow national and state recovery have directly affected several sources of local revenue. For instance, sales tax revenues have suffered major declines, state and federal aid haven’t kept pace with inflation, and the property tax rate – the most significant source of local revenue – has been capped by the state. As a result, spending is outpacing revenues. From 2006 through 2011, county expenditures jumped 17.2 percent, while revenues climbed 13.4 percent. Total city expenditures increased 8.4 percent, but revenues only increased 6.4 percent. The slow growth in local government revenue has led to repeated budget shortfalls for many communities. Data shows that county operating deficits have grown from $13.5 million in 2007 to $261.1 million in 2011. Not surprisingly, the issuance of short-term debt has become more common for our counties. The reliance on borrowing is due to various causes: counties depend on some volatile sources of revenue (like state sales tax); and counties have a number of large expenses (including tax certiorari claims, Medicaid, social service programs and, in some cases, nursing home subsidies) that are not necessarily within their control. Unfortunately, the problems for our localities may only grow worse. For the first time since its implementation, the tax cap for counties has dipped below 2 percent. In 2014, our counties, towns and a majority of cities will need to budget around a 1.66 percent cap on their tax levy growth if they choose to stay within the cap. NYSAC News

Why the change? Based on the law, tax levy growth is limited to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. With inflation lagging, local governments will now face even greater financial constraints. Meanwhile, population and job losses in many communities outside of New York City have resulted in higher-than-average unemployment, rising poverty rates and an increased demand for government services. Taken together, these factors are having a very real and adverse effect on the day-to-day operations of our local governments.

So what are the solutions? Before you can attack a problem, you need to understand what you are facing. This is why my office has developed an early warning system to present a realistic account of local government finances and help foster much needed public discussions at the local level about fiscal stress so that corrective actions can be taken. This way, we can reach lasting solutions and avoid steps that may cause needless harm to our communities. My Fiscal Stress Monitoring System uncovers specific counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts that are in significant stress or approaching stress. The system – developed by experts who understand the complexity of local government finances – scores municipalities and school districts on various financial indicators. To date, our system has identified more than three dozen communities from every region of the state facing some level of fiscal stress. There are 14 counties, 18 towns, five cities and one village listed in some level of stress. This list was a wakeup call for many local officials and for taxpayers. Now the attention must turn to solutions. Although we found that municipalities in stress share a number of common characteristics, such as low fund balance, a continued pattern of operating deficits and inadequate cash on hand to pay their bills, the circumstances that drive these issues are unique in each of these municipalities. This means that there will be no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with fiscal stress. However, there are a number of initial steps that should be taken. Given the tough choices facing local governments, elected leaders and their constituents must work together. Local officials should go the extra mile to inform their constituents and seek their input on budget decisions. Voters owe it to themselves to learn more about the financial decisions being made in their communities and help prioritize their community’s needs more effectively. To help our partners at the local level become more efficient, more creative, more forward-thinking and more effective with available Continued on page 16

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Continued from page 15

resources, my office also created a new local government support program – ACT FAST – which stands for Avoid Crisis Tomorrow with Fiscal Awareness Strategies Today. By request, we will provide accelerated risk assessments to determine the specific services from the Office of the State Comptroller that could be beneficial to individual communities. This approach should be considered a resource for local governments so that they can make better financial decisions. These can include audits, budget reviews and help with long-range financial planning. I believe these types of preventive actions – ideally developed with active participation from citizens who will be affected – will result in less cost and less disruption to vital services. At the end of the day, knowledge is power. By fostering a much-needed public discussion about fiscal stress, we can help communities across New York avoid following Detroit down a troubled financial path. 



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t’s no secret that New York’s infrastructure is in need of repair. One way of funding these projects is through the issuance of environmental bonds. In August 2013, the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation held hearings on the need for a new Environmental Bond Act (EBA). According to the Assembly, “A 2008 assessment of the costs to repair, replace and update New York’s wastewater infrastructure estimated the total funding need to be $36.2 billion over a 20 year period. A similar assessment for drinking water infrastructure found a need of $38.7 billion over a 20 year period. In the past, the issuance of environmental bonds has helped to provide funding for capital projects; however, the last environmental bond act was approved in 1996.” NYSAC supports the creation of a new Environmental Bond Act. This will help local governments make important and sorely needed updates to municipal wastewater infrastructure and drinking water supply systems. Additionally, it will help local governments act to protect the state’s watersheds and natural resources, areas that protect our drinking water supplies and provide important ecosystem services, such as flood control and wildlife habitat. Other important goals include helping to protect open space and conserve farmland. All of these factors contribute to the unique rural qualities of our upstate counties and are worth preserving for future generations.

Impact of the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act For nearly two decades, New Yorkers have benefitted from the improved air quality, environmental restoration, and overall improved health of our communities due to projects funded by the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act. Our state has become a pioneer in promoting the use of green infrastructure and pollution prevention projects in urban communities. We are restoring contaminated properties and returning those areas to productive use, improving environmental health, creating community gardens and green spaces, establishing parks and recreation facilities, and undertaking other initiatives that make New York stand out as a leader in environmental policy.

Steps Toward a New Bond Act On August 26th, Assemblyman Sweeney and Senator Grisanti, the respective chairs of the Assembly and Senate Standing Committees on Environmental Conservation, introduced S.5925 / A.8121, an act authorizing $5 billion dollars in state debt in relation to creating the Clean Water/Clean Air/Green Jobs Bond Act of 2014. As stated in the proposed legislation, this bill would “provide moneys for the preservation, enhancement, restoration, and improvement of the state’s environment, to provide for state assistance payments for such purpose, and providing for the submission to the people of a proposition or question therefor to be voted upon at the general election in November 2014.”

A Real Solution: An Environmental Bond Act and Mandate Relief State investment in environmentally sound capital projects will stimulate local economies, promote job creation, and help local governments complete potentially critical construction and other projects that benefit the public. However, investment of this kind only offers a temporary solution when it comes without corresponding mandate relief to local governments. NYSAC and local government officials continue to call on state lawmakers to provide mandate relief and reduce the cost burdens placed on counties. So long as the costs of programs continue to rise while counties have no control over those costs, county budgets will be stretched thin, even with the support of a Bond Act. Discussion about a new Environmental Bond Act is part of a larger conversation we need to have about the real infrastructure needs of communities across New York. While many local governments would stand to benefit from an infusion of funding for environmental capital projects, relief from state-imposed mandates would give local governments the freedom to budget for these projects on their own. Currently, county policymakers must fulfill their requirement to spend their scarce funding on mandated health, human services and other programs, while dangerously forgoing necessary infrastructure projects. 

Counties have come to rely on the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) for funding many of these key areas. Cuts in other important funding streams, and the overall decline in General Fund revenue due to the recession, mean the EPF’s dollars are stretched thin. A new Bond Act could go a long way toward helping local governments make important capital investments while taking pressure off the EPF to be the sole source of funding.


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SHARED SERVICES: A REFORM THAT WORKS By George Homsy, Bingxi Qian, Yang Wang, and Mildred Warner Cornell University Shared Services Project


ocal governments in New York State face many challenges: to improve service quality, to control costs, and to encourage service coordination with neighboring governments to promote regional development. Shared service delivery is an approach that addresses all three goals.

Administrative and Support Services have the lowest levels of sharing and those agreements have been in place the shortest length of time. (See Table 1.) For this reason, this area may hold the greatest potential for increased service sharing for municipalities. More than one-third of local governments share tax assessment.

In the winter of 2013, Cornell conducted a survey of New York towns, counties, villages and cities (not including New York City and its counties) to assess their level of collaboration in the delivery of public services, as well as the motivators and barriers to service sharing. The survey had an excellent response rate – 60 percent of all municipalities responded. Elected officials account for 69 percent of respondents, while 31 percent were appointed officials (town or village clerks, county administrators, etc.)

By joining together, municipalities can gain economies of scale and purchasing power in the market for liability insurance and health insurance. Already, purchasing of supplies, energy, and insurance is coordinated by state contract. Information technology and payroll/ bookkeeping are two areas with low amounts of sharing. Changes in technology may make service sharing a more attractive option in these areas.

Service Sharing is Common New York’s municipalities have been sharing services – and doing it for a long time. Across the responding municipalities, service-sharing accounts for 27 percent of the 29 services measured on the survey. More than one-fifth of sharing arrangements are informal understandings between local officials. Almost 40 percent use a somewhat more formal memorandum of understanding (MOU), while 26 percent contract with another government. The amount of sharing and the type of agreement varies significantly across services. The survey measured 29 services grouped into five categories: Public Works and Transportation, Administrative/Support Services, Recreation, Social Services, Public Safety, and Economic Development & Planning. The public safety sector traditionally has higher rates of sharing and some of the longest standing agreements. More than two-thirds of municipalities report sharing dispatch/911 services. This helps ensure cross-jurisdictional coordination, which is critical to a timely response – and it saves money. Fire departments are the pioneers of service sharing with their long-standing mutual aid agreements (since World War II). Along with public safety, roads and highways are the most common services provided by local governments in New York State. Almost half of all municipalities share in the maintenance and construction of their roads and highways. More than half of all local governments share in public transit or paratransit for elderly/disabled, which is typically a regionally coordinated service. Recreation and social services also show high levels of sharing. Almost half of municipalities share recreation programs with their neighbors. More than half share library systems, this could be with a school district or a local library coordinated in a regional system. About half share youth recreation and youth social services, while only 17 percent share parks.

Table 1 – Service Sharing: Administrative and Support Services Munici-

Average length of palities arrangement engaged (years)

Most common arrangement

Tax assessment





25% 10


Health insurance




Tax collection




Professional staff



Inf. understanding

Information Technology




Building maintenance




Liability Insurance



Joint ownership




Inf. understanding

Source: Cornell University, New York State Municipal Shared Services Survey, 2013, N=946

Sharing economic development services is relatively common. In addition to saving money, research shows that economic development is more effective when coordinated within regions and almost 40 percent of responding municipalities cooperate.

What Drives Cooperation in Service Delivery? The top three motivators for service sharing are cost savings, fiscal stress, and maintaining service quality. Local governments seek to increase service effectiveness through more effective use of labor and improved inter-municipal coordination. Sharing also is used to maintain services and promote regional equality in service delivery. Design of the agreement is critical. Sharing requires a partner and the availability of a partner municipality turns out to be the biggest management issue. The second biggest issue, a common one with any Continued on page 20


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Continued from page 19 inter-municipal agreement, is the effort it takes to implement and maintain a relationship along with planning and design of that agreement.

and coordination are outcomes achieved much more often in the other service areas.

Liability and accountability are key obstacles. (See Table 2.) State rules and regulations were also named as major obstacles. Although conventional wisdom suggests that politics, unions, and personality conflicts are major obstacles to shared service agreements, these obstacles are ranked lowest by New York municipalities.

Fiscal Stress

Table 2 – Obstacles to Shared Service Agreements Issue Municipalities ranking as important Liability/risk concerns (N=771)


Accountability concerns in sharing arrangements (N=764) 85% State rules/legal regulations (N=754)


Local control/community identity (N=770)


Loss of flexibility in provision options (N=760)


Job loss/local employment impact (N=762)


Elected official opposition/politics (N=773)


Restrictive labor agreements/unionization (N=769)


Personality conflicts (N=768)


Source: Cornell University, New York State Municipal Shared Services Survey, 2013

Outcomes of Shared Services Sharing services allows governments to achieve economies of scale and cost savings. Moreover, it can improve service quality and regional coordination. Across the 29 services measured, municipalities reported on average that they achieved cost savings (56%), improved service quality (50%) and improved cross-jurisdictional service coordination (35%). (See Table 3.) These three outcome indicators do not vary significantly across service categories. What surprises us is the administrative/support services category. In this category, 70 percent of municipalities report that they achieve cost savings by sharing services. This is far above the overall average (56%) and suggests that opportunities to gain economies of scale in administrative and support service are a fruitful area for expansion in service sharing. However, only 39 percent of municipalities report improved service quality and 25 percent report improved cross-jurisdictional service coordination in administrative and support services. Quality

Municipalities across New York State are experiencing significant fiscal stress. A majority of local governments report the tax cap is a moderate or significant contributor to their fiscal stress. This is particularly true in cities and counties. Local government officials are pragmatic when it comes to alleviating fiscal stress. When money gets tight, the most popular course of action for municipalities is to raise user fees on the services they provide (41%). Sharing services is the second most common approach to address fiscal stress – twice as popular as consolidation. Just over one-third of respondents have cut municipal staff to save money, while half that number has looked into consolidating departments. Reducing services (20%) and eliminating services (10%) are responses municipalities try to avoid. Although municipal bankruptcy is often talked about in the popular press, this approach is a very last resort that New York municipalities seek to avoid by employing other reforms.

Conclusion Local government officials adopt pragmatic approaches to the fiscal stress they encounter. Shared services is an old reform – one New York State municipalities have been using for decades. Today, local leaders are opening new areas of public service delivery to sharing, especially in administrative and support services as well as economic development and planning. Broadening this practice demonstrates the willingness of New York’s local leaders to pursue reform. Obstacles to shared service delivery are primarily regulatory and managerial. New York municipal leaders are keen to save costs while improving service quality and cross-jurisdictional service coordination. While there is pressure to consider consolidation, little has occurred to date and research does not support claims of cost savings. In contrast, service sharing is widespread and does lead to real cost savings and service quality improvements. Municipalities across New York are engaging in this quiet reform primarily through informal agreements and MOUs, to ensure their citizens receive quality services at lower costs. Shared services is a reform that works. Project Partners: Cornell University partnered with the following organizations on this survey: New York Conference of Mayors, New York State Association of Towns, and New York State Association of Counties. It was part of a larger project that also included surveys of school superintendents and planners.

Table 3 – Outcomes of inter-municipal service sharing by service area Service area All services Public Works & Transportation Administrative/Support Services Recreation & Social Services Public Safety Economic Develop. & Planning

Cost savings

Improved service quality

Improved cross-jurisdictional service coordination

56% 53% 70% 44% 48% 51%

50% 56% 39% 59% 54% 52%

35% 39% 25% 38% 38% 46%

Source: Cornell University, New York State Municipal Shared Services Survey, 2013, N=946 20


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BETTER TOGETHER: CROSS JURISDICTIONAL INITIATIVES IN PUBLIC HEALTH By Paul Pettit, Public Health Director Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments


ounties across New York State continue to face unprecedented fiscal pressures under the tax cap without significant mandate relief. These burdens are constantly pushing counties to cut services and be creative in how to deliver the remaining essential services in a cost effective manner. In response to the current environment, Genesee and Orleans counties began a strategic two-year collaborative Cross Jurisdictional Services (CJS) project in January 2013 to study and assess the merits of sharing Public Health Services. Both counties have a mutual desire to provide these services through a shared senior administration model that will allow both counties to experience financial savings while enhancing service delivery. This initiative is the first of its kind in New York State and marks slightly over 40 years since Genesee and Orleans counties went their separate ways and began providing Public Health Services independently. Lobbying by county officials and NYSAC resulted in newly-adopted changes in Public Health Law (PHL 351) allowing, with the approval of the New York State Commissioner of Health, up to three counties with a population of less than 150,000 to hire the same Public Health Director (PHD). The retirement of the Genesee County PHD in late 2011 provided the opportunity to reach across the county line and appoint a single director. In October 2012, I was working as the public health director in Orleans County (since 2008). Both county board legislatures, Boards of Health, and the NYSDOH gave their approval for me to being overseeing both county health departments. In addition to the director, both counties are currently sharing a Deputy/Environmental Health Director and a Director of Patient Services. These three administrative positions have already realized fiscal savings while driving programmatic efficiencies through identifying best practices between the counties. Timing is everything: coinciding with the two-year project, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in partnership with the Kansas Health Institute began a cross-jurisdictional services study on shared public health services. The counties collaborated with the Lake Plains Community Care Network, Inc. and gained support from the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions for inclusion in the study. As a result, the counties were included as one of 16 sites chosen across the country, and the only project from NYS, as part of the study. The purpose of the study is to assist the sites in their efforts to explore the impact of partial or full integration of their current public health services within their team through a learning environment with other sites across the country. To date, in addition to shared senior leadership, Genesee and Orleans have successfully achieved several fiscal and programmatic efficiencies that are driving the positive impacts of the project. In June 2013, the counties learned they would be receiving a Center for Disease Control (CDC) Public Health Associate Program (PHAP) Fellow. The PHAP program is a highly competitive, two-year, paid Centers for Disease NYSAC News

Control and Prevention (CDC) fellowship. Fellows are assigned to a state, tribal, local, or territorial public health agency to work alongside public health professionals. After completing the program, PHAP graduates will be qualified for future jobs with government public health agencies and will be uniquely prepared to pursue an advanced degree in public health. Over the past several years, the departments had unsuccessfully applied separately for this opportunity. This year, working together and leveraging the opportunities through this unique relationship, the counties were chosen as a host site for one of 130 fellows placed across the country. This fellow will assist the health departments over the next two years on several projects including helping to prepare a joint Community Health Assessment / Community Health Improvement Plan. Over the past year, the health departments have been conducting a deep dive into all aspects of the services they provide by working on identifying areas to explore further sharing or integration of the service. The counties are now sharing several common professional services including: medical consultant, environmental engineering consultant and preschool transportation services. Sharing these common services between both counties has developed synergy in both savings and a single provider for staff to work alongside. The workforce in both health departments are continually encouraged to look for CJS opportunities and to examine their current work flow and approaches to see if there is a better way to do it together. This has resulted in several alignments between the counties including standardizing the language of the environmental fee schedule, sharing of policy and procedures for various programs, and the Board of Health approval of identical draft local sanitary codes (set for January 2014 implementation). All of these changes are positioning the counties for further successful integration of services moving forward beyond the end of the project. Looking ahead, the counties are developing language for a crossjurisdictional agreement to share non-administrative staff between the counties. This agreement would allow departmental leadership to leverage scarce resources and human capital by having another tool available for assisting in delivering essential services, cross training and emergency preparedness response activities in both counties. The counties will also continue to participate in the RWJF project and begin to develop a blue print and strategic plan for future integration of services beyond the end of the project. This cross-jurisdictional project has deep complexities both regulatory and logistically and is the result of significant hard work, flexibility and forward thinking by the legislatures, Boards of Health, the NYSDOH, and the staff from both counties. This diverse group has proactively responded to the difficult fiscal environment by working through differences and understanding that by working together, even across county lines, we can maximize savings while enhancing services to our residents.

Fall 2013


USING ANALYTICS TO DRIVE YOUR COUNTY’S SOCIAL MEDIA By Matthew Fellows, New Media Manager National Association of Counties


our county has a website, and maybe the county has a Facebook page and is on Twitter- but do you have a handle on what’s happening across each of those pages? Which Facebook pages get the most attention? Which posts generate the most website traffic? What information should you be sharing on your social media pages? Free or low-cost analytics tools can compile endless amounts of data and information, providing in overwhelming detail nearly everything about your online presence. Translating that into practical knowledge and applying it to existing goals, strategies and tactics involves separating wheat from chaff, so to speak—selectively choosing and integrating the most revealing, meaningful data about social network engagement and interaction. The in-house analytics of many social networks, website analytics, and services that track how links are accessed across the Internet supply the data we want. Using these in concert and tracking specific metrics over time creates a benchmark of social activity and, based on userdefined goals, success. Here’s a brief look at how to use analytics to drive your county’s social media efforts.

Where to Start – Content Interaction and Analysis Interaction – What is the audience doing with my content? NACo’s primary goal with social media is to use it as a springboard for engagement between new and existing audiences through the programs, services and resources found on our website. Knowing how many people are interacting with the website from social networks can help with content marketing. Google Analytics can be used to learn a great deal about who is visiting your website and how they got there. To look at how many people visit the website from social networks, use Google Analytics’ Traffic Sources ➔ Social report. Comparing this by quarter and year shows growth or decline in interaction with the web-

site via social content, and how each network performs in relation to others. Click on a specific network for a more detailed view of activity. These reports are a great way to see how your social media engagement drives interaction with your website. If there is a decline, or one network’s interaction surges, consider your tactics—content type, medium, and posting frequency (among many others). What are you posting, when, and how are you doing it? (More on that in the next section.) Analysis – What content works best? Seeing the amount of interaction with website resources through social media is great, but tying that to actual social content illustrates what kinds of things work (or don’t) on each network. Facebook has recently updated their analytics, known as ‘Insights,’ and there are a several key metrics to observe. As an administrator of your county’s page, go to the dashboard and look at the Posts ➔ All Posts report. Sort to see what content had the greatest reach, shares and clicks. Different content types (videos, photos, links and status updates) all result in various levels of engagement. Sort the results by category to create a picture of your best-performing content. Seeing what works best over a period of time can help you determine what to post on the network, as sometimes an all-of-the-above approach is not the best one. Additionally, the results from this data can be matched up with details from the Google Analytics report mentioned earlier, to see how specific posts generated traffic to your site. You can see how many people were engaging with your website on the day that a post intended to direct users to the website was shared—were people engaged? Based on your data within Facebook, matched up with the Google report and tracked over time, you might realize that between social networks, certain types of content work much better than others as far as attracting engagement with your county’s site. Examining the specific data points offers a path to take with social media strategy if certain outreach isn’t matching engagement expectations. Similar insights can be found by looking at Twitter analytics. Continued on page 23



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Continued from page 22

Twitter does have analytics for verified accounts, but there are also many third-party solutions that provide a deeper view of the data around your outreach and engagement. Set a date range similar to your Google Analytics report and compare the number of links you included in your tweets to how many clicks were generated to your website. Experiment with different kinds of content, record the results and find out what works best for the network. Key metrics to examine here are tweets per day, retweets, links and user mentions. Often, the degree to which these statistics fluctuate determines how engaged your followers are with your content. Define goals and adjust what you post, when you post, and how you post it, depending on tracked data from these reports. Your data and goals will certainly be different, but following and comparing these kinds of data and reports will allow you to examine how analytics drive social engagement and focus on what works best.


Fall 2013




yoming County, the leading dairy-producing county in New York State, is responding to the Governor’s request to grow the state’s dairy industry by 15 percent. A growth opportunity has been created in this industry by the increasing demand for yogurt and new yogurt production facilities in upstate New York. Dairy farmers in Wyoming County produce one billion pounds of milk annually, which is just over eight percent of the total milk production in New York State. To continue and improve upon this long and successful tradition in dairy agriculture, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors is creating a unique public-private partnership called The Wyoming County Agriculture and Business Center of Excellence (The Center). This partnership between Wyoming County and local entrepreneur, Jim Rutowski, will begin with the rehabilitation of a vacated circa 1930’s textile mill located on Center Street in the county seat of Warsaw, New York. Once renovated, all agriculture and economic development agencies will be located in this building. The agriculture agencies that will become part of the new Center of Excellence include Cornell Cooperative Extension, United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources and Conservation services, Farm Service Agency, Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Quality Milk Production Services of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Diagnostic Laboratory and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County. The economic development agencies that will become part of The Center include the Wyoming County Business Center, Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Industrial Development Agency, Planning and Development, Business and Development Center, Business Education Council, Fire and Building Code Enforcement and the newly formed Wyoming County Water Resource Agency. The creation of The Center will accomplish the following four objectives: 1. Enhance inter-agency efficiencies and synergies to stimulate expansion of the dairy industry. 2. Create economic and administrative efficiencies while leveraging resources. 3. Provide one-stop shopping for the agriculture community. 4. Promote regional leadership within Wyoming County. The Center is a priority of the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors and is led by local dairyman, the Honorable Doug Berwanger, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. The growth and expansion of dairy and agri-business industries is of particular urgency because of opportunities available due to the recent expansion of yogurt plants in adjacent Genesee County. As a result of this strategic expansion into yogurt production, New York State now produces more yogurt than any other state in the United States. The expansion has prompted Governor Cuomo to call for a 15 percent increase in the dairy industry statewide 24


to meet the demand for milk. Wyoming County is well positioned to respond to this expansion, and the creation of The Center will facilitate seizing this opportunity for growth. The impact of a 15 percent expansion in the dairy industry to the state’s leading dairy producing county is impressive. Wyoming County currently has approximately 46,000 milking cows producing 1.2 billion pounds of milk. An increase of 15 percent would mean producing another 200 million more pounds or roughly 1.5 billion gallons (using 8.6 pounds/gal. of milk). This can be accomplished by (1) Adding more cows though direct purchase or internal herd growth by keeping more calves; (2) Pushing the herd harder to produce more milk (for example, by converting to milking three times per day versus milking two times per day); (3) A combination of the aforementioned. In terms of labor demands, there are two commonly accepted, industrybased formulas used to calculate the increase in labor demands. Both suggest that a 15 percent increase will require approximately 175 -180 additional people working on Wyoming County dairy farms. The first formula argues that every additional 40 cows require one additional person in the labor force. The second formula argues that for every additional 1 million pounds of milk (10,000 cwt.’s – hundred weights) produced requires one additional person in the labor force. Thus, adding 15 percent more cows or about 7,000 animals, equates to approximately 175 workers, using an additional 180 million pounds of milk as a guideline puts the extra workers needed at 180. Compared with other counties in New York, Wyoming County has a relatively small total land mass, but 57 percent of this land is in production agriculture compared to the state average of 25 percent. The high concentration of dairy farms in the Wyoming County has led to the development of a large and productive agri-business structure that supports the industry. Dairy agriculture is a prudent economic development strategy for Wyoming County because both “input” and “output” dollars go back into the local economy. Wyoming County’s herds will generate in the order of $240 million (using $20.00/cwt. of milk) direct farm gate sales back to the producers. In addition, using an industry standard multiplier of $.66 for every $1.00 generated on farm, this strategic and targeted focus on growing the dairy industry in Wyoming County 15 percent means a $158 million economic development impact just from the sale of milk. Dairy farms will also sell cows, crops and other services to generate income. Finally, the efficiencies created by the Center for Excellence and savings to the county will be seen by taxpayers when the county is no longer maintaining additional buildings, paying multiple rental fees, and supporting overhead costs at four building sites, some of which are extremely energy inefficient and severely need restoration. Administrative efficiencies will be maximized by consolidated information technology, printing, and telephone. Through the Center for Excellence, Wyoming County is seizing the opportunity for growth.

Fall 2013

VALER4VALOR SUPPORTS VETERANS IN ERIE COUNTY By Dorothy Furtney, Senior Policy Analyst Erie County Legislature


s Americans and New Yorkers, we want to do everything we can to support our citizens in military service, their families and our veterans. Through the work of the VALER4Valor ad hoc committee of the Erie County Legislature, we recently learned of the challenges faced by our men and women in uniform when custody disputes erupt during deployment. VALER4Valor is the acronym for Veterans’ Advocacy, Linkage and Empowerment Resource. The community resources come from the following four sectors: government, education, business, and nonprofit, all working together to assist those who have shown “valor” by serving in the U.S. military.

Trailblazing Efforts to Support Veterans The Chair of the Erie County Legislature, Betty Jean Grant, created VALER4Valor to provide a sounding board to veterans’ advocates who have encountered stumbling blocks while trying to assist our veterans, particularly those returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each month, veterans’ advocates assemble to hear a presentation, have a discussion and plan action steps to resolve a particular challenge to the smooth re-integration of veterans into the civilian community. We have discussed homelessness and emergency assistance, nutritional and heating assistance, PTSD and other mental health needs, the new “GI Bill,” career opportunities and legal issues. Buffalo, the largest city in Erie County, is home to the very first Veterans’ Court in the nation, founded by Judge Robert Russell. We are proud of our trailblazing efforts to help veterans, and gladly share our best practices with other communities in New York State and beyond.

Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act Legal issues are a recurring concern in the deployed military and veterans’ community. Long and/or repeated deployments often create stressors that lead to job losses, financial problems, divorces and custody disputes. The VALER4Valor Committee learned that men and women in uniform have been served with legal papers while deployed to combat duty. It is the custody issue that VALER has tackled first through legislative advocacy, and Erie County has a course of action to share with fellow county officials. Upon notice of deployment, the U.S. military requires custodial parents to prepare a family plan that designates an individual – whether it is the step-parent, or their own parents or other relatives – to care for their children during deployment. This is called the Family Care Plan. We have heard about instances when the non-custodial parent makes


a move to regain custody during the deployment of an estranged or ex-spouse. Unfortunately, in New York State under current law, the family caregiver chosen by the soldier, sailor, airman or marine does not have legal standing to take the place of the service member who is deployed overseas and cannot appear in court. Can you imagine how the prospect of losing custody of one’s children can impact combat readiness and troop morale? The situation cried out for justice for our troops. On July 11, 2013, the Erie County Legislature unanimously approved an advocacy resolution – sponsored by every member of our honorable body, regardless of affiliation. Every legislator rallied behind the adoption of a common sense approach to correct this legal challenge facing our deployed military. The Erie County Legislature’s Intro 13-4 (2013) endorses and requests that New York State adopt the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act. The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act was drafted during the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, a conference that took place in Nashville, Tennessee from July 13 – 19, 2012. It was the 121st annual conference of this respected organization (also known as the Uniform Law Commission) – composed of lawyers from across the United States. The Commission provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law. The Commission took on the issues of child custody and visitation since deployment in national service raises custody issues that are not adequately dealt with by the laws of most states. It makes sense that applying a uniform approach to these issues would ensure that the same standards apply no matter where the parents lived or where a family was posted prior to deployment.

Counties Lead the Way in Assisting Veterans Credit is due the Military Family Assistance Program of the Army National Guard, facilitated by Peter Pilc, U.S. Army MSG (Ret.) and based at the Connecticut Street Armory in Buffalo. This organization brought to VALER4Valor’s attention real-life cases that evidenced the need for New York State to address this “critical area of state statutory law.” The Military Family Assistance Program, and other veterans’ advocates, asked Erie County to illumine a path for remedial action. We, in turn, are inviting our fellow counties to illumine the path for state government to take action. Together, NYSAC’s advocacy can inspire our representatives in the New York State Legislature to sponsor and approve this legislation in the next legislative session, and deliver it to the Governor’s desk.

Fall 2013



Sullivan County Awarded DHSES Grant On August 26th, the County of Sullivan received notification of selection for a formula allocation grant award from the NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). The county has been awarded $32,792.00 under the FY13 Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) program. “This is federal funding that helps alleviate the cost to local county taxpayers and improves our ability to respond to emergencies. We are glad for every penny of tax relief we receive from the US Federal and New York State governments, especially when it comes to ensuring public safety,” said Cora Edwards, Legislative Chair of the Public Safety and Law Enforcement Committee. Funding for this initiative is provided by the US Department of Homeland Security/FEMA. The EMPG Program provides resources to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in preparing for all hazards, as authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.). Title VI of the Stafford Act authorizes FEMA to award grants for the purpose of providing a system of emergency preparedness for the protection of life and property in the United States from hazards and to vest responsibility for emergency preparedness jointly in the federal government, and the states and their political subdivisions.

The Monroe County Prescription Discount Program provides savings on the purchase of prescription drugs for the uninsured and underinsured. It is free and open to all Monroe County residents, regardless of age, income, or existing health coverage. Since its launch in August of 2010, local pharmacies have filled almost 200,000 prescriptions for participants who presented the card, yielding an average savings of 65% per script. The program is accepted by most pharmacies locally and over 55,000 participating pharmacies nationwide, and provides additional savings on vision, lasik, and hearing services. ProAct administers its Prescription Discount Card Program in 51 counties across New York State and is endorsed by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). Participating counties have collectively filled over 3.3 million scripts, amounting to over $135 million in savings.

The federal government, through the EMPG Program, provides necessary direction, coordination, and guidance, and provides necessary assistance, so that a comprehensive emergency preparedness system exists for all hazards.

Monroe County Prescription Discount Program reaches $10 Million in savings Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks announced last month that local residents have collectively saved over $10,000,000 through the Monroe County Prescription Discount Program, a county-sponsored initiative that helps individuals and families save money on the cost of prescription drugs. The program was launched in August of 2010 and costs nothing for participants or Monroe County taxpayers. “I’m extremely proud to announce that the Monroe County Prescription Discount Program has helped to save local families over $10 million. Those are real dollars that have stayed in the pockets of taxpayers across our community, simply because they signed-up for a free program that is available to everyone,” said Brooks. “Best of all, these savings come at no cost for Monroe County or local taxpayers, meaning our Discount Program has helped to save local families over $10 million without accounting for a single penny in the County Budget.” 26


Fall 2013

TAX REFORM TRAP: STATUS OF MUNICIPAL BONDS THREATENED By Mike Belarmino, Associate Legislative Director and Associate General Counsel, National Association of Counties


he fall generally marks the return of professional football and back-to-school season. But in the nation’s capital, September marks the return of Congress and what seems to be the recurring norm: a full plate of contentious issues to deal with before the end of the fiscal and calendar years including Syria, raising the national debt limit and the annual appropriations process. Joining that list this year is one of the more prominent issues for counties: comprehensive tax reform. While it’s uncertain whether Congress could successfully pass a comprehensive tax reform plan, counties need to remain diligent because one of the proposals involves changing the tax-exempt status of municipal bond interest. The impact on New York State counties, New York State taxpayers, and all American communities could be significant. But is comprehensive tax reform really happening? Well, the possibility was certainly kept alive over the summer months. The August Congressional recess found the chairmen of the two tax-writing committees campaigning publically to generate grassroots support for a major tax reform bill. At the most recent stop in Memphis, Tenn., Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) both touted tax reform as an opportunity to encourage economic growth in the U.S. Even though both chairmen say they are fairly optimistic of the chance to enact reform, many of their colleagues on Capitol Hill are not ready to share their enthusiasm. Even the Senate’s “blank slate” exercise in July where Chairman Baucus sent a letter to his colleagues seeking their suggestions and arguments for possible tax code revisions indicated interest was waning. Only a few Senators submitted comments with specific suggestions. And with the fall finding Congress grappling with issues such as the debt limit and federal spending levels still unresolved, there are indications of declining interest amongst lawmakers to add another controversial topic to their plates. Despite that, there are some indications that Chairman Camp intends to circulate a draft tax reform bill, even though support from GOP leadership seems unclear. Additionally, there clearly remains a divide between Republicans and Democrats on the question of whether changes to the tax code should generate revenue or not. Whether the two parties can come to an agreement on that primary point will gauge how quickly comprehensive tax reform can be accomplished.

Nonetheless, the battle to protect county interests within tax reform remains. A few things remain certain: • many key lawmakers are convinced at least tax reform is necessary • the actions of the two tax-writing committees have clearly demonstrated that the federal tax code is too complex and filled with provisions that could be eliminated • until the economy fully recovers and a clear path to address the federal deficit is agreed upon, hot topics like reforming the tax code which could include the exemption for municipal bond interest will remain front and center into the near future, and • counties MUST remain engaged, in particular, by helping to protect the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. According to NACo research, should the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds be capped at 28 percent – as proposed by the administration’s budget plan – or eliminated – as recommended by Simpson-Bowles Commission – New York State, counties and other localities would spend billions more on issuing bonds to finance much-needed infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads and bridges. Specifically, tax-exempt municipal bond issuances in New York State (2003-12) was $149.8 billion. The cost of a 28 percent cap in New York would have been an additional $15.7 billion in interest expense, while the cost of full repeal would have been an additional $44.9 billion in interest expense. In May, NACo prepared individualized profiles with these costs for each state and 45 counties. If your county was not among those initially surveyed and you would like your county-cost profile, please send your 2012 interest payment on your tax-exempt municipal bonds to

What You Can Do County officials in New York State can assist NACo in protecting the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds by urging your House members to co-sponsor House Resolution 112, introduced by former local elected officials Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.). Commemorating the 100-year precedent of the federal tax exemption of municipal bonds, the resolution reinforces the importance of these bonds to local governments across the country.

Continued on page 28 NYSAC News

Fall 2013


Continued from page 27 NACo is also interested in learning about specific projects your county financed using tax-free municipal bonds. We are interested in projects such as schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, park facilities and water and sewer systems. Please send details to The tax code provisions that benefit state and local governments were part of the first written income tax code, capturing the spirit of the partnership between the federal, state and local governments. Many federal lawmakers need to be reminded of that. But much like tax reform in 1986, the current efforts will resemble more a marathon rather than a sprint. Thus, a constant and even pace of engagement with congressional members will be necessary. The NACo report: “Municipal Bonds Build America: A County Perspective on Changing the Tax-Exempt Status of Municipal Bond Interest� is available



Fall 2013

ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE AT THE COUNTY LEVEL By Allison Morrill Chatrchyan, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, Cornell University


verage temperatures across the Northeastern United States have risen by more than 2°F since 1970, while winter temperatures are 4°F warmer than they were just 40 years ago, according to researchers at Cornell University. In New York, we have seen an increase in the number of extremely hot summer days (above 90°F). Since the 1950s, New York has seen a 67 percent increase in the number of 2-inch rainfall events occurring over a 48-hour period (www.climatechange. Change is occurring. Many New York municipalities, farms, businesses, and residents have felt the immediate and long-term effects of flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Hurricane Sandy, and intense rainfall events. While scientists can’t pinpoint whether or not climate change caused a specific event, they predict that the climate of the future will include more extreme weather events that will have significant economic impact. For example, damage estimates for the flooding of the Mohawk Valley and Niagara County alone were estimated to be at $80 million by the end of June 2013 and are predicted to climb higher.

tems and human infrastructure. Higher temperatures and longer growing seasons may provide opportunities for farmers to explore new varieties, crops, and markets. • An increase in average annual precipitation of up to 10% by the year 2050, and continued changes in precipitation patterns, with more precipitation falling in short, heavy events, with increased rainfall in the winter and decreased precipitation in late summer or fall (which may affect supplies of drinking water or irrigation). • Changing precipitation patterns will also lead to increased risks of flash floods in urban areas and hilly regions, higher pollutant levels in water supplies, and inundation of wastewater treatment plants and other vulnerable development in floodplains. • Continued sea level rise of between 7 to 12 inches by 2050, leading to dangerous coastal storm surges that will increase the risk of coastal flooding and erosion, and damage to infrastructure in low lying areas.

Oneida, NY - Photo by Julie Brustad-Hatch

Local officials are usually the first responders when an extreme weather event affects their community. However, local municipalities and counties also have a responsibility to plan and implement projects that will make their communities more resilient in the face of climate change. Many counties around the state and country are starting to do just that.

Local Effects of Climate Change In 2011, New York State commissioned the report Responding to Climate Change in New York State: The ClimAID Integrated Assessment for Effective Climate Change Adaptation. (To view the full report, visit The report identified predictions regarding the future of New York’s climate, some challenges, and some opportunities: • A further increase in average temperature of between 3°F to 5.5°F by the 2050s. Heat waves are projected to occur more frequently and last longer, leading to heat-related illness and stress on ecosys-

• All of these changes will continue to affect every facet of life, from our ecosystems, farms, energy, transportation, infrastructure, and telecommunications systems, to our public health.

Planning for Climate Change Resiliency Like any complicated issue, it makes sense to address the issue of a changing climate proactively. Climate change adaptation refers to the actions that municipalities can adopt to reduce the impacts of climate change. Resiliency refers to the capacity for communities to withstand stress and catastrophe, and to adapt in the face of threats or disaster. There are actions that communities can take that are “win-win solutions,” because they contribute to cost savings, green jobs, and local economic development while promoting climate change resiliency. Most local officials acknowledge that they are already experiencing an increase in extreme weather events in their communities. In a recent survey of local municipal officials throughout New York State, Continued on page 30


Fall 2013


Continued from page 29 researchers from Cornell University found that more than 67% of officials surveyed agree that the “science indicates our climate is changing.” A majority of local officials surveyed said that they already see evidence of climate change affecting New York’s natural resources. As one local official stated, “There definitely is a noticeable warming going on, even if it is only a couple of degrees. What we are seeing is that those couple of degrees have a tremendous impact. At a certain age, if you are paying attention, there are markers that you can say – ‘Wow, it wasn’t like this 30 years ago.’” While a majority of local officials agree that climate change is occurring, only 22% indicated that their municipality has already taken action(s) to address the issue. There are many actions that counties and other local governments can take to address climate change impacts, including: • Adopting a pledge to reduce their GHG emissions, and joining programs that provide planning tools, such as the voluntary New York State Climate Smart Communities Program (www.dec. As of September 2013, 13 counties (and 116 municipalities overall) have signed on to the Climate Smart Communities Program and are in various stages of planning and action.

• Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension are trusted local partners whose staff can provide climate change education and outreach to communities or help facilitate community planning processes: As the author Wayne Gerard Trotman notes: “Change. Adapt. Bend so as not to be broken. Let opportunity guide your actions.” This mind set can be seen in the Broome County Comprehensive Plan, which states, “Broome County communities remain strong and resilient in the wake of natural disasters and other challenges through our capacity for cooperation and by incorporating sound planning in all facets of public decision making…We can become a more resilient community by further incorporating hazard mitigation planning concepts into decision making, instituting policies that protect property and public safety, and encouraging natural, non-structural solutions to reducing flood damages.” Other counties would be wise to take the same prudent approach. Allison Chatrchyan ( is the Director of the new Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture at Cornell University, funded by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

• Completing an inventory of GHG emissions, and preparing a climate change plan. For example, Schenectady County completed a climate action plan in 2012. • Incorporating language in updated comprehensive plans about climate change mitigation and adaptation, and passing local laws or codes that uphold those values. For example, the recent Broome County Comprehensive Plan includes steps needed to become a more climate change resilient community. • Developing emergency management plans or FEMA “all hazard mitigation” plans that include climate change projections and adaptations, and participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, as well as FEMA’s Community Rating System. • Inventorying and mapping municipal infrastructure that may be vulnerable to climate change, and making plans and budgeting to replace or move infrastructure over time. • Educating residents about the changing climate, and involving and engaging local citizens and volunteers in the process. Local governments have the opportunity and responsibility to increase their communities’ resiliency in the face of a changing climate, and to lessen economic losses. Many organizations and tools exist to help with the process, including: • The New York State Climate Smart Communities Program: www.; • The New York Extension Disaster Education Network (NY EDEN), which helps link extension educators, emergency managers, and community officials to enhance resilience and reduce the impact of disasters in New York communities: emergencypreparedness.; 30


Fall 2013



ith over $1 billion in clean energy grants and incentives available to New York counties, businesses, not-for-profits, and residential building and vehicle owners, it is critical to provide up-to-date information to residents. Available incentives cover a broad array of energy efficiency, renewable energy, alternative fuel, and fuelswitching technologies that save money on energy bills and reduce harmful emissions.

• $4,000,000 of energy savings or clean energy production each and every year resulting from this investment.

Blue Springs Energy recently partnered with the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) to continue and expand an innovative approach to helping counties facilitate projects and maximize external funding for county assets, as well as for building and vehicle owners that live and work in your community. The program is called “Renew My Community.”

Energy Education and Funding

Clean Energy Resources for Your County The centerpiece of the program is a website portal branded with your county name, such as, that provides the county and your home and building owners with a one-stop shop of incentives, and an “Ask the Expert” feature to help them navigate the confusing and ever-changing array of grants, incentives, energy audits, tax credits and related programs. Each of these website examples receives thousands of web visitors per month, and provides the county a platform to promote and communicate their own initiatives as well. County personnel, home and building owners, and Industrial Development Agencies use the “Ask the Expert” resource for expertise to get clean energy projects done in their community. Energy experts at Blue Springs Energy handle dozens of calls and emails per week that facilitate local projects. The Renew My Community platform makes an impact in a number of ways. For a county with a population of 100,000, the pro rata portion of the $1 billion in available clean energy grants incentives would be $5 million. Assuming incentives and/or tax credits are 25% of project costs and that each $1 invested has a 5-year simple payback, this example county should see:

• In 10 years, a county of 100,000 should attract $200,000,000 federal, state, and utility investment, and energy bills or renewable generation offsetting $220,000,000 that otherwise would have been spent.

When your county collaborates with Renew My Community, the partnership includes outreach and energy education events for local businesses and county residents. Partner local governments have won over $12.5 million of NYSERDA and DOE funding for projects in their facilities. Oswego County won $682,149 of NYSERDA funding awards with project facilitation, support, and grant applications from Blue Springs Energy without any out-of-pocket cost to the county.

Building Your County’s Clean Energy Portal Through a new relationship with NYSAC, Blue Springs Energy will continue, improve, and expand the innovative Renew My Community program in New York. The program offers: • A community website portal, accessible from the local government home page and other community links with a one-stop shop of clean energy incentives and highlighting local clean energy projects; •“Ask the Expert” Q&A on clean energy incentives; • Local outreach, educational webinars, and community workshops. For more information, contact Katy Vescio at NYSAC (kvescio@ 

• $20,000,000 per year in building upgrades, renewable generation, and alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure to cleaner and often more efficient assets that improve your tax base and put local contractors to work.


Fall 2013


KEEPING YOUR COUNTY SAFE FROM CYBER ATTACKS By Jessica Williams, Trusted Purchasing Alliance Center for Internet Security


The SANS Institute The SANS Institute offers general cyber security awareness training for all employees, as well as specialized awareness training for programmers and technical training for IT professionals.

he volume, complexity and cost of cyber crime continue to increase at alarming rates. According to the 2013 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis, the average cost of all US data breaches is $5.4 million. Recent incidents of hacks into municipal websites, breaches of thousands of health records and hacktivist groups targeting local police departments highlight the increasing challenges of our interconnected world. Cyber security has emerged as one of the most significant issues governments face. One of the key ways to defend against cyber threats is to provide staff training on the importance of cyber security.

The next SANS buy window takes place from December 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014. Inspired eLearning Inspired eLearning has developed up to seven years of online cyber security awareness training for all employees with special courses covering HIPAA, PCI, and other compliance requirements.

How Important Is It To Train Your End-Users? Numerous breaches have shown that human error is one of the leading causes of cyber incidents, and failure to treat confidential information seriously can lead to data breaches. Each employee who accesses the Internet should be trained on safe practices. Training is the first step in developing a good cyber security program that can protect government from costly and damaging incidents. Training must help employees understand not just how to protect the information, but why they are protecting it. When implementing a training program, whether handled in-house or using an external system, it is imperative that leadership is involved and supportive. When an employee sees his or her supervisor taking an issue seriously, they are more likely to embrace the material. To assist counties in protecting themselves against cyber threats by implementing a strong cyber security training program, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) is pleased to partner with NYSAC and industry-recognized training partners on discounted training opportunities. CIS is a nonprofit organization focused on enhancing the cyber security readiness and response of public and private sector entities, with a commitment to excellence through collaboration. The US Department of Homeland Security has designated CIS as a key cyber security resource for state and local governments across the nation. CIS offers its training opportunities through its Trusted Purchasing Alliance.

(ISC)2 (ISC)2, which issues one of the most popular accreditations in Information Security (CISSP), is extending its federal pricing discount on preparatory courses to state and local government. Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) CERT STEPfwd Carnegie Mellon’s SEI is offering a library of online courses that can help IT professionals expand and enhance their cyber security skills in areas such as incident response and risk management. These training opportunities are available to all local governments to provide guidance and assistance with improving the process and means by which they train their end-users. The CIS Trusted Purchasing Alliance recognizes that the procurement process for our customers can be time intensive, costly, complex, and daunting. As a trusted advisor, the Trusted Purchasing Alliance provides unique assistance for our local government partners. The goal of the aggregate purchase opportunities is to provide our partners with the most cost-effective deal for the best cyber security products and services.

What Training Opportunities are Available for Your County?

We invite you to review the different training opportunities offered through the NYSAC and CIS partnership. Please contact the CIS Trusted Purchasing Alliance {} if you are in need of a price quote or if you have any inquiries regarding details of any of these opportunities.

Through the partnership that NYSAC and CIS have developed, multiple training opportunities for county IT staff and non-technical staff are available. Each training program is offered at a discount ranging from 15% to 92%. The offerings include:

In addition, we invite you to join CIS for a special webcast available to all interested counties on Wednesday, October 23rd at 1:00 pm. To learn more about this webcast, please visit: http://alliance.cisecurity. org/opportunity/nysac-webcast.cfm. To access more resources to assist your county in addressing cyber challenges, please visit CIS at



Fall 2013



hen it comes to providing health care coverage to its employees, many organizations struggle with providing high-quality plans at affordable prices, but municipalities have additional challenges. Union contracts and restrictive budgets are just two of the biggest factors facing municipalities. For those municipalities that have considered self-funding their health benefit plan to reduce the soaring health insurance premium increases each year, the fear of large-dollar claims may have caused many organizations to begrudgingly remain with their fully insured health plans.

• Reduced plan costs – self-funded plans eliminate costs associated with fully insured plans such as: carrier profits, retention fees, state taxes and the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Tax (effective in 2014).

NYSAC has a thorough understanding of the unique issues facing municipalities when it comes to health care coverage and has designed a program that provides access to affordable health care coverage options with the risk protection that is necessary to mitigate the fear of high-dollar claims. NYSAC has collaborated with POMCO Group, one of the nation’s largest benefits administrators, to offer members an innovative solution to the health care coverage issues municipalities face.

• Excellent customer service – no more unanswered phone calls, POMCO Group’s customer service team excels in client responsiveness and personal attention.

Established in 1978, POMCO Group has an extensive list of municipal clients in both its benefits administration and risk management divisions, and has a proven record of designing fully customized plans that produce high-quality benefits at affordable costs. For NYSAC members, POMCO Group has developed a program that will allow municipalities to join together to share in the financial benefits of a self-funded plan while reducing the risk associated with large-dollar claims. The NYSAC/POMCO Group New York Municipal Health Benefit Program (NYMHBP) provides members with the following: • Fully customized plan designs – self-funded health plans are fully customized to meet individual county needs - including union components - and budgets.

• Increased cash flow – any funds not used in a self-funded plan are retained by the county/municipality, not the insurance carrier. • Enhanced risk protection –NYMHBP’s larger size protects each individual group from the overall risk of large dollar claims.

• Educated decision-making – POMCO Group provides organizations with full access to their claims data so they can base plan decisions on historical performance. • Leverage partner relationships – members of the NYMHBP have access to additional discounts through NYSAC’s various partners. The initial response to the NYMHBP has been extremely positive with many organizations requesting quotes or exploring their plan options with other county/municipalities. No matter what issues your organization may face, both NYSAC and POMCO Group are prepared to assist in identifying the option that best fits the group or groups. For additional information on the NYMHBP, please contact NYSAC’s Mark LaVigne at 518.465.1473 or POMCO Group’s Stacey Hotaling at 315.432.9171. In addition, POMCO Group will be in attendance at the upcoming Fall Conference, so feel free to sit in on its session or stop by its booth. 

• Strength in numbers – members of the NYMHBP have the ability to join with other counties and/or municipalities to increase group size and thus lower health care costs.

Target Your Market! Advertise with NYSAC. Contact NYSAC Marketing Specialist Juanita Munguia at 518-465-1473 or NYSAC News

Fall 2013


COUNSEL’S CORNER: NEW COUNTY LAWS By Patrick Cummings NYSAC Assistant Counsel Albany County Passes Local Law Expanding Omnibus Human Rights Law In June 2013 a local law was passed that expanded the scope of the Albany County Omnibus Human Rights Law. The existing law was defined by the Legislature as “an exercise of the police power of the County of Albany for the protection of the public welfare, health and peace of the people of this County and in fulfillment of the provisions of the constitution and laws of this state concerning civil rights.” The expansion of this law grants the County Human Rights Commission jurisdiction and powers over matters to ensure that opportunity to obtain employment and occupancy of housing accommodation are done so within the county without discrimination because of race, sex, creed, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, genetic predisposition or carrier status, or marital status. The Commission is authorized to perform the following functions:

local law to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive specifies into the waters of Lake George. The Board found that invasive species, such as the Asian clam, have displaced native species within Lake George, causing negative environmental and impacts. This law: A) prohibits the launch of any watercraft into the lake that has visible plants or animals attached to such vessel, B) prohibits the introduction or dumping of any invasive species into the lake, C) requires that any watercraft using boat launch locations within the county must wash their vessel at designated wash and bilge emptying areas, and D) requires that any dock be inspected for invasive species prior to being installed.

1. To study any field of human relationship in the community that will aid in effectuating its general purposes and where desirable, and to make the results of such studies public.

The penalty for violating this local law is a fine of $500 for the first offense. Subsequent violations within a 24- month period of the first violation could result in imprisonment for no more than 15 days and/or up to a $1,000 fine.

2. To inquire into incidents of tension and conflict among or between various groups and individuals who are afforded protection against discrimination, and to take such action as may be designed to alleviate such tensions and conflict.

Orange County Introduces a Local Law to Allow for Best Value Purchasing

3. To conduct and recommend such educational programs that will increase goodwill among inhabitants of the community and open new opportunities into all phases of community life for all inhabitants. 4. To report complaints to the State Division of Human Rights alleging unlawful discriminatory practices under Article Fifteen of the Executive Law. 5. To receive, accept and expend, with the approval of the County Legislature, public grants and private gifts, donations or bequests and other payments, goods and services, notwithstanding any other provision of law.

Essex County Passes a Local Law to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species On July 1, 2013 the Essex County Board of Supervisors adopted a

In August 2013, the Orange County Executive approved a local law that would allow the county to procure items and services using the Best Value process. Under State General Municipal Law Section 103 and State Finance Law Section 163 a municipality may pass a local law to include Best Value as a procurement option to couple with the already existing Lowest Responsible Bidder method. Adding the Best Value method as an option for county purchase expands the ability for the county to utilize existing out-of-state government procured contracts. “Piggybacking” off of existing government contracts has the potential of proving savings for the county when purchasing equipment, materials and services.

Suffolk County Introduces Two Local Laws Regulating Pool and Spa Construction and Maintenance In July 2013, Suffolk County passed a local law requiring a license for entities seeking to install and service swimming pools and spas. Continued on page 35



Fall 2013

Continued from page 34 The Legislature found that the instillation and servicing of swimming pools and spas requires specialized knowledge and skill set. Additionally, the Legislature found that any business performing work on plumbing, heating and electrical work on pools and spas should have significant experience in such field. Due to the specialization and skill set needed in this field, it is required that entities seeking to perform this function to apply for and be granted a license through the county. To be granted such license the entity must provide the county with the Association of Pool and Spa Professional’s Certified Building Professionals Certificate and proof that the applying entity has a minimum of 2 years’ experience working in the field.

which includes the use of dangerous chemicals, requires adequate knowledge in the field. To ensure that entities providing pool maintained have an adequate knowledge skillset, the county is requiring such entity to obtain a certificate of registration from the local government. To obtain the certificate the entity must provide the county with an Association of Pool and Spa Professional’s Certified Maintenance Certificate. Any person operating a pool maintenance business without obtaining a registration certificate can face a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than one year. 

Suffolk County passed a separate but related local law regulating pool maintenance. The Legislature found that pool maintenance,


Fall 2013




teuben County spans areas of both the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions of New York State, making for a unique and beautiful landscape throughout the county. From the lakes to the vineyards, from farmland to small towns, Steuben County showcases some of New York State’s best features.

Many of Steuben County’s streets, towns, rivers, and lakes in the area, like Keuka Lake, have names that reflect the presence of the Seneca Indians who lived there long before it became Steuben County.

Steuben is a rural county with a population of nearly 100,000. Two of the largest industries in Steuben County are agriculture, with over 1,000 farms (mainly dairy) and tourism.

Before it was a county, Steuben was Iroquois territory. The county was created through an act of the Legislature from Ontario County on March 18, 1796. It was named after Frederic William Augustus “Baron Von Steuben,” a German drillmaster and an important figure in the Revolutionary War. At that time, Steuben County had a population of about 890 people and consisted of an area of about 50 square miles. Over the years, portions of the county have been annexed from Allegany, Yates, Livingston and Schuyler counties. Steuben County now covers 1,397 square miles. The county’s roots reach back to the mid1700s, a time when colonial land was being divided and named. In 1788, Phelps and Gorham obtained the Genesee Tract of 2,600,000 acres from Massachusetts by an act of the State Legislature. Two years later they conveyed to Robert Morris, the great colonial banker and merchant, the remaining unsold 1,200 acres. In 1792, Morris sold Colonel Charles Williamson (agent for the Association of British Capitalists) nearly 1,200,000 acres, which became the Pulteney Estate. The territory was surveyed into townships and lots for the Pulteney Estate. In 1793 Colonel Williamson commenced a settlement at Bath, now the county seat.

Art, Agriculture, and Industry

Glassmaking operations in Steuben County are world-famous. In Corning, the beautiful Steubenware is produced at the Corning Glass Center. The Corning factory, museum, and surrounding area are a popular tourist destination.

Pulteney Square Gazebo, Steuben County

With many attractions, much scenic beauty, and plentiful accommodations, Steuben County attracts thousands of visitors each year. There are several wineries in the region offering tours and tastings. The county is home to many museums, including the Corning Museum of Glass, the Glenn Curtiss Museum, and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. Steuben County offers natural beauty, serenity, and comfortable living throughout its hills and lakelands.

A summer morning in Steuben County.



Fall 2013

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR NYSAC MEMBERSHIP By Nicole Correia NYSAC Communication Coordinator


he New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) is your association. Your county pays NYSAC dues so that you can benefit from the range of programs, services, training, publications, and advocacy the association provides. The more you connect with NYSAC, the more you will grow in your role as a county official. With your NYSAC membership, you have access to: • A staff of experts in county government, including attorneys, policy analysts, Medicaid specialists, communication professionals, and others who possess a wealth of knowledge in county-related issues. • Cost- Saving programs and services created by NYSAC to serve the needs of counties, their employees, and their constituents, including insurance programs, purchasing cards, dental discount card, employee benefits, energy purchasing, and debt recovery. • Advocates for county interests. NYSAC’s legislative staff is always meeting with state and federal representatives, educating them on how legislation will impact counties, and proposing legislation that is in the best interests of counties and their taxpayers. Your NYSAC team is well respected by lawmakers, and effectively amplifies the voice of counties.

• Policy and research. Are you in need of information on an issue affecting your county? There’s a good chance NYSAC has compiled a report or briefing on the topic, recommended policies related to it, and/or has in-depth information available. All of our most recent reports are available on, and past reports are available by request. • Publications. In addition to the NYSAC News magazine that you’re holding in your hands, NYSAC sends the Weekly Wire email update during the state legislative session, the daily Counties in the News email with links to news from counties statewide, and publishes several policy briefs and reports each year. NYSAC publications provide the most upto-date information on current county topics and news. • Legal services. NYSAC’s counsel and assistant counsel take phone calls from county officers and outside counsel regarding legal issues affecting our members. These issues include, but are not limited to, procurement, ethics, indigent defense and Native American affairs. NYSAC counsel also drafts quarterly updates to counties regarding individual county local laws which have recently been adopted.

NYSAC members at the 2013 Fall Seminar.

• Education and training programs. To date in 2013, NYSAC has offered over 40 education and training programs. From webinars to workshops to conferences, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow in your county role through NYSAC. The Pelletier County Government Institute is the only program of its kind, and focuses exclusively on the training county officials need to be effective leaders.

The more you connect with NYSAC’s many resources, the more you and your county will benefit. NYSAC’s dedicated staff is here to serve NYSAC members, and they are always available by email or phone.

Stay in touch and make the most of your NYSAC membership!

• A network of experienced county leaders. NYSAC is a nonpartisan organization, and our members are always available to help those new to public service, or those who just need some new ideas and perspective. NYSAC events are a great place to meet county officials from across the state, and to learn from their experiences.


More information about all of the above programs, services, and resources is online at

Contact NYSAC: (518) 465-1473

Fall 2013




verseeing a county sheriff’s office and its comprehensive mission in these fiscal times has its challenges, so efficiencies must be constantly reviewed while always being mindful of the public’s and officers’ safety. The elected sheriff must exhibit progressive leadership in seeking new and innovative public safety programs, partnerships, and grants in order to be effective in county public safety operations. Sheriffs must “walk the talk,” and demonstrate a value and respect of the taxpayers funding. One emerging issue discussed among sheriffs is that many county boards are turning over, and newly elected officials come onboard. Often, the new leaders have no public entity experience, but will have extensive backgrounds in the private sector or corporate world. These leaders sometimes challenge public safety budget planning. It is important that new officials understand that unlike a corporation or a business with sales or manufacturing goals, the county sheriff provides a “service to the public.” Indeed, the focus of government is service, and in the sheriff’s case, a public safety service. There are many ways that operations, procedures, laws, and county fiscal mandates from state government affect the cost of operations. Maximization of efficiency by consistent review of mission, goals, values, policies, proposals, state bids, grants and budget expenditures is paramount to effective public safety services. Sheriffs’ and legislators must work together, and understanding these differences will lead to success. A positive private sector practice is benchmarking and its implementation is a rising trend. If the issue can be measured, than benchmarking should be considered. In a sheriff’s office, the top priority is readiness for and response to emergencies, crimes, death cases, searches, and general law enforcement. The cost of “readiness” and “preparedness” is also a public service that must be a cost factor in budgeting public safety-related services. In these fiscally restrained times, demands placed on sheriffs to cut costs while budget-planning continue to stress historical services, especially road patrol, county jail, communications, civil process, court security, and special services including, but not limited to crime prevention, youth programs, marine patrol, search and rescue, and others. Doing “more with less” is the statement being delivered by many legislative boards or county budget officers. But there is a real risk of “doing less with less.” What sheriffs need to consider in such cases is “doing different with less.” The budget focus needs to be “how to” cut, and not “how much to cut.” The focus must be on outcomes. Some categories should be untouchable and others reviewed, which

may include personnel costs and contractual benefits; technology and training; equipment, especially protective, operational, and fleet vehicles; delivery of services; structural changes; shared services; consolidation; contracts; and leadership-driven efficiencies affecting performance measures and budget outcomes for long-term savings. A sheriff’s goals will focus on managing resources and personnel to optimize effectiveness; seeking out grants to reduce local costs; increasing efficiency through training and the use of technology where possible; increasing revenues and reducing costs of materials, and collaborating with inter-, intra-, and regional agencies for improved efficiencies. Additionally, a sheriff should analyze the effects on budget reductions, especially on manpower and equipment. Having answers to budget reduction questions will be helpful for county boards to make informed decisions. A sheriff’s office facing budget reduction challenges must adapt to new and best practices or new methods of providing a service differently when such restraints or demands are implemented. Some examples of efficiencies resulting in long-term cost savings or increased revenues for sheriffs might be in changing from state bid gas costs to a fleet gas card system; implementation of the DOCS cook/chill program for jail food services; reevaluating uniform materials and dry cleaning; seeking new RFP’s for long-standing services, including training requirements i.e. CPR/AED; increasing the frequency of bid processes; reduce jail medical hospitalization costs through “bill scrubbing,” renegotiate inmate housing rates, solar power at jail facilities, inmate vegetable gardens, seek vest partnership revenues, provide web site access to electric reports, implement an agency app for crime tips and other community information, seek interoperability communication grants for equipment, and K-9 unit donations. Future trends may include, but are not limited to on-line reporting systems, use of civilians and volunteers for administrative tasks, consolidation of services or shared services, consolidation of agencies or local courts to reduce inmate transport costs, increase the use of inter-municipal agreements, tele-conferencing and video technologies, forty-hour positions to thirty-five, next generation 911 implementation, transition from jail to community initiatives, and implementing an efficiency advisory board. The elected sheriff of today must be a “professional public safety administrator.” His oath of office, his mission, values, and code of ethics, while adhering to professional accreditation standards are only a part of being a professional. The contemporary sheriff must Continued on page 39



Fall 2013

Continued from page 38

seek efficiencies in operational costs and strive for effectiveness for success. The sheriff answers ultimately to the voters in the county rather than to other governmental officials. Yet both the sheriff and county legislators and administrators must be ethical in decision making and efficient in the spending of taxpayer funds in order to uphold the oath of their offices. Peter Drucker said, “Efficiency is doing things right, and effectiveness is doing right things.” We must always remember that a public office is a public trust and with the elected sheriff comes an even higher expectation as the “people’s lawman.”  

Save the Date Learn. Advocate. Connect. 2014 Legislative Conference

February 3-5 Desmond Hotel and Conference Center

Albany, New York


Fall 2013


DUTCHESS COUNTY OFFICE BUILDING DEDICATION Remarks by Marcus J. Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive, on the occasion of dedicating the County Office Building in memory of Lucille Pattison.


istory is not just made by the individuals who live through the events of the past… history is made in part by those who gaze back at the individuals and events of our past. In some ways, historically significant events and individuals are, indeed, defined by the lens through which we examine them. This is, however, not to suggest for a moment, that the woman we recognize today isn’t deserving of acknowledgment and memorial.

ment the names of those who helped to make us who we are and how we now live. Today, during the 300th year of our democracy, we pause to acknowledge an outstanding woman who helped restore that democracy, return dignity to an office and hope to a people. Lucille Pattison served us with distinction and compassion; strength and grace. She led through challenges, expanded opportunity and responded to the trials of her time - for that, and by Executive Order #5-2013, this county government dedicates the Dutchess County Office Building to her and for the people of Dutchess County to always remember the life and service of a remarkable woman. In his final comment of the June 20th Poughkeepsie Journal article reporting of her death, Lucille’s husband Ross offered that she “always loved doing something she had not done before.”

The mere fact she was and remains the only Democrat to hold the office of County Executive is worthy of political mention. That she assumed the office in the aftermath of a scandal that rocked our county is reason enough to have earned our collective gratitude.

That voters in New York State had yet to elect a woman to lead a county would appropriately call for a footnote in published historical accounts. That she, a woman who cared about those less fortunate, those who struggled, those who felt overlooked would have to defend the civility, decency and fairness of a community of people may well have earned her the moniker of “champion.” Indeed, these reasons alone, would explain why we assemble here today.

Well, her very election was something no one had done before. Each day in this building and throughout these halls there was always something that had not been experienced before. The problems she solved, with the team she assembled, had not been confronted before. The respect and love she earned could not have been replicated before and, as her life has ended, cannot be extended again.

Molinaro and Ross Pattison

Thank you, Ross. Thank you Elise, Julie and Lesley for sharing her with us. On behalf of county government, the people of Dutchess County – as her predecessor once removed, I proudly dedicate the Dutchess County Office Building in honor and memory of Lucille Pattison. Thank you for allowing us to do that which had not been done before. 

But we come together for an additional reason; one that transcends any single individual. It is in many ways another answer to the questions, who are we as a people and how do we hope to live? We have an obligation to generations past and those that follow, to write in the firma-



Fall 2013

NYSAC Thanks the Exhibitors and Sponsors of the 2013 Fall Seminar EXHIBITORS

PFM Financial Services, LLC

Program for People Who Are Blind




ProAct, Inc.

New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal

BBL Construction Services, LLC

Propel Financial Services, LLC


Public Employer Risk Management Association (PERMA)

Blue Springs Energy BlueShield of Northeastern New York C&S Companies CanaRx Group Inc. Clark Patterson Lee CodeRED CSC Empire BlueCross Finger Lakes Technologies Group Inc. Grainger Health Economics Group, Inc. Hess Integrated Health, A Pfizer Solution International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM)

Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP Rose and Kiernan Salient HHS Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau SMRT Architects / Engineers The Team The Pike Company Towne, Ryan & Partners, P.C. Trinity Services Group, Inc. U.S. General Services Administration Visit Buffalo Niagara VMC Group, Inc. Wendel WMR Services, LLC

IPLogic LaBella Associates


Lamont Engineers

Bank of America Merrill Lynch



O’Connor Davies, LLP POMCO Group Public Employer Risk Management Association, Inc. (PERMA) Salient HHS Siemens Industry, Inc. U.S. Communities and NACo

GOLD SPONSORS Fiscal Advisors & Marketing, Inc. Grainger Jefferies KeyBank Nationwide Retirement Solutions SUNY Empire State College, MA in Community & Economic Development Program

SILVER SPONSORS Aetna Bette Cring Construction Group Bollam, Sheedy, Torani & Co. LLP (BST)

Motorola Solutions, Inc. MRB Group Engineering, Architecture, Surveying, P.C.


Bonadio Group - CPA’s Consultants & More

Municipal Electric & Gas Alliance, Inc.


EnergyNext, Inc.

National Association of Counties

Integrated Health, A Pfizer Solution

James McGuinness & Associates

Nationwide Retirement Solutions

Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP

Janney Montgomery Scott LLC

NCSPlus Incorporated

Towne, Ryan & Partners, P.C.

Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC

New York Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) New York Organ Donor Network New York Power Authority New York State Industries for the Disabled

Park Strategies, LLC

SPECIAL EVENT SPONSORS Altria Client Services Barton & Loguidice, P.C. Crown Benefits Group, Inc.

New York State Preferred Source Program for People Who Are Blind

Harris Corporation


Hess Corporation

NYS & Local Retirement System

LaBella Associates

NYS Public Service Commission

New York Organ Donor Network

Office of the State Comptroller

New York State Preferred Source


Health Economics Group, Inc.

Tetra Tech Architects and Engineers The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center Tyler Technologies Value Payment Services, LLC Workday

Fall 2013


NYSAC Thanks the Sponsors of the 47th Annual County Finance School SPECIAL EVENT SPONSORS Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC Fiscal Advisors & Marketing, Inc. Hiscock & Barclay, LLP Jefferies KeyBank Nationwide Retirement Solutions O’Connor Davies, LLP Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP PERMA POMCO Group Salient HHS Siemens Industry, Inc. The Team The PFM Group

GOLD SPONSORS Drescher & Malecki LLP Raymond James Roosevelt & Cross Incorporated Squire Sanders (US) LLP

SILVER SPONSORS Bollam, Sheedy, Torani & Co. LLP, (BST) Bonadio Group - CPA’s Consultants & More Ciaschi, Dietershagen, Little, Mickelson & Co. First Niagara Bank, N.A. Harris Beach PLLC Haylor, Freyer & Coon Inc. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Lumsden & McCormick, LLP M&T Bank Municipal Electric & Gas Alliance, Inc. NBT Bank Raymond F. Wager, CPA, P.C. State Advisers The Wilday Group at Morgan Stanley Tyler Technologies Venesky & Company



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Fall 2013



Nearly 600 county officials from across the state met in Saratoga County last month for the NYSAC Fall Seminar. Attendees discussed ways to balance their 2013 budgets, adopted a series of resolutions stating counties’ positions on key issues, shared innovative cost-saving solutions, and attended workshops on issues ranging from energy, Medicaid, and unfunded mandates, to public health, public safety, and economic development.

Fall 2013 graduates of the Dennis A. Pelletier County Government Institute received their certificates at the Fall Seminar.

Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties, addresses NYSAC members.

Fall Seminar workshops and presentations were full of information to support county officials in their roles as they continue to face financial challenges.

Standing committees met Wednesday morning to adopt a series of resolutions.



Fall 2013

Donate Life NY recognized Immediate Past-President Ed Diana (far right) for his efforts to promote organ donation.

Steuben County Administrator Mark Alger (right) is sworn in as NYSAC President by his son, Mitchell Alger, Allegany County Administrator, as his wife Pat Alger looks on.

Executive Director Stephen Acquario presented the Oswego County Legislature with a copy of the bill criminalizing the sale and posession of synthetic drugs, signed by Governor Cuomo. Oswego County and NYSAC advocated strongly for the passage of the state law.


Immediate Past President Ed Diana, Orange County Executive, speaks to members at the Inaugural Luncheon.

Mark Aesch, former CEO of the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and Author of Driving Excellence, gives the keynote presentation at the Opening General Assembly.

Essex County members pause at an event at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs.

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Spring/Summer Fall 2013




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Government Debt Recovery Program

For more information visit us at


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Ford Orange Press Ad COLOR



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540 Broadway, 5th Floor Albany, NY 12207



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NYSAC News - Fall 2013  

The latest issue of NYSAC News covers the issues impacting New York's counties: fiscal stress, New Environmental Bond Act, shared services,...

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