N E W
Y O R K
S T A T E
A S S O C I A T I O N
C O U N T I E S
Volume 34, Issue 1
The State of the NYSAC News Counties
PreSchool Special www.nysac.org Education
Innovative County Collaboration
Ways to Save1
Hon. Ed Diana, Orange County President Mark R. Alger, Steuben County President-Elect Hon. Anthony J. Picente, Oneida County First Vice-President Hon. Randall Douglas, Essex County Second Vice-President Hon. Mary Pat Hancock, Genesee County Immediate Past President
From the NYSAC President, Hon. Ed Diana First, I want to wish you all a
locally is daunting. We are making the neces-
Happy and Healthy New Year from
sary sacrifices but much of what needs to be
your Board of Directors and staff at
done is outside our control and under the
your Association of Counties.
control of State lawmakers. We have made some progress on the mandate relief front.
Members Hon. Maggie Brooks, Monroe County www.monroecounty.gov
Hon. William Cherry, Schoharie County www.schohariecounty-ny.gov
As we embark on this new year, our chal-
Governor Cuomo and the Legislature have
lenges are indeed many, but so too are our
not shifted costs to counties and have been
opportunities, and I look forward to meet-
sensitive to our budgets since the tax cap.
ing both head on.
When fully implemented, the Medicaid cap and the new pension tier will help level out-
Over the past two years, we have had many
Hon. Randall Douglas, Essex County
year cost increases. But much more needs to
counties declare States of Emergencies as
be done at the State level to assure that local
a result of Super Storm Sandy, Huricane
services can continue.
Hon. Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga County
Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. These catastrophic events take time, energy, and
Finally, I wish to welcome our newest
resources from our communities. I wish
members-those elected in November or
to thank all of our public servants, the
appointed recently to serve the residents and
members of our community of counties,
businesses of our counties. We are grateful to
Hon. Lynn M. Marinelli, Erie County
who helped in the response and recovery
you for your service.
Hon. Edward Mangano, Nassau County
Hon. Christopher Moss, Chemung County www.chemungcounty.com
Hon. William Ross, Niagara County www.niagaracounty.com
Hon. C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County
from these storms. Your work is greatly appreciated by your residents and honored
Best wishes for a productive and healthy New
by your peers.
Regarding our local budgets, the challenge we face on an annual basis to keep our taxes down and continue public services
Steve Williams, New York County www.nyc.gov
Parliamentarians Hon. Herman Geist, Esq., Westchester County www.westchestergov.com
Hon. A. Douglas Berwanger, Wyoming County www.wyomingco.net/Index
2013 Editorial Calendar Spring/Summer 2013 Deadline Date â€˘ April 26, 2013 Article submissions of 750 words may be sent to email@example.com. To advertise, contact Juanita Munguia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert F. Currier, Albany County www.albanycounty.com
Stephen J. Acquario, Esq. Executive Director Karen Catalfamo Office/Financial Manager Nicole Correia
From the Executive Director, Stephen J. Acquario
Communication Coordinator Patrick Cummings, Esq.
BENDING THE MANDATED COST CURVE
Assistant Counsel Jackie Dederick Records Manager Mark LaVigne Deputy Director Dave Lucas Director of Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Patricia Milkiewicz Executive Assistant Juanita Munguia
When Governor Andrew Cuomo assumed office, he rightly addressed many areas of spending, namely Medicaid and Education. These programs were growing at unsustainable rates. Working with the Legislature, the Governor was able to institute a four percent cap on the growth of State spending on those programs. One of the direct results of this move was an immediate multi-billion dollar reduction in the Stateâ€™s long-term budget deficit. This type of budgeting makes for good fiscal policy.
While the counties are autonomous forms of government delineated in our State Constitution, our autonomy and ability to serve our local residents is threatened by State government and its centralization of services, its mandates from Albany. Our democracy enables all of us to participate in our government. And sometimes, we need to remind those in power that the little issues matter too. The community-based programs and services provided through counties are the lifeblood of a community.
At the county level, we project a looming $4 billion out year county budget deficit. The aggregate county budget deficit stems directly from budget allocations that are completely out of our control. These fixed costs are set in State law and have automatic built in increases in spending each year.
Our local governments must thrive, must have the authority to make decisions, to have the ability to address local concerns in order for democracy to work at its finest level.
Marketing Specialist Jeanette Stanziano Director of Education & Training Melissa Tiberio Associate Counsel Tammy Thomas Communication Assistant/ Receptionist Katy Vescio
We must leverage this democracy to bring the changes we need to bend the cost curve for the mandates that consume so much of the county property tax levy. New York is worth saving!
Deputy Director of Governmental Relations Shawn Voland Legislative / Office Clerk
PUBLISHED 3 TIMES A YEAR President • Hon. Edward Diana Publisher • Stephen J. Acquario Managing Editor • Mark F. LaVigne Staff Writers • Nicole Correia, Patrick Cummings, Jacquie Donaldson, Mark LaVigne, Dave Lucas,
NYSAC Endorses MEGA... Created to serve local governments and school districts
MelissaTiberio and Katy Vescio
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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’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties at the federal and state levels.
NYSAC News Magazine 540 Broadway, 5th Floor Albany, New York 12207 Phone • (518) 465-1473 Fax • (518) 465-0506
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2013© New York State Association of Counties
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WINTER 2013 • VOLUME 34, ISSUE 1 COVER IMAGE • REVOLUTIONARY WAR MAJOR GENERAL HENRY KNOX’S HEADQUARTERS, ORANGE COUNTY
TABLE OF CONTENTS The State of the Counties: Getting Better But Still Facing Real Challenges.............. 12
NYSAC Informs ... with our e-news publications.
NYSAC Weekly Wire
A publication sent every Friday during the Legislative Session to highlight county-related issues and activities that take place in Albany each week. Counties in the News
Controlling the Cost of Mandates Falls to State Lawmakers................................... 14 PreSchool Special Ed: Important Program Mired by Costly Problems ................................................ 15 A Tale of Two Governments: Managing Deficits During the Great Recession.......... 16 Regional Economic Development Councils Build a Better New York....................... 18
Comptroller: Local Governments Must Address Cracks in Public Infrastructure....... 19 Counties Collaborate on Conflict Defender Services.............................................. 20 Counties Helping Counties: NY-TERT Responds to Hurricane Sandy....................... 21
Power Gestures: Friend or Foe?............................................................................23 New York’s Historical Counties: Orange County................................................... 24
Consolidating Emergency Response Services at the County Level .......................... 25 Study: No Wrong Door in New York State............................................................. 27
NYSAC provides daily news updates from counties across the state, delivered to your e-mail inbox every day.
To sign up visit www.nysac.org
Cornell Cooperative Extension Embraces Regional Collaboration ......................... 29 County Community Rx Discount Card Exceeds $110 Million in Savings.................. 31 Something to Smile About: Dental Card Helps County Residents........................... 32 Secure Online Credit Card Processing................................................................... 33 Five Ways to Bolster Cybersecurity ....................................................................... 35 Collecting Debt: A Civic Duty and a Revenue Raiser.............................................. 36
Target Your Market!
Access is the Key to Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning.......................... 37 New County Laws: BPA, Bath Salts, and Taxicabs................................................... 39 Affiliate Focus: Local Roads and Bridges Face Funding Crisis................................. 40
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THE STATE OF THE COUNTIES: GETTING BETTER BUT STILL FACING REAL CHALLENGES By Nicole Correia NYSAC Communication Coordinator
his past fall, NYSAC surveyed county leaders regarding the most important challenges and issues facing counties across New York State as we enter 2013. This survey was compared to the 2010 State of the Counties survey, which was conducted during a time of change in State leadership.
Top Issues Facing County Leaders: 2012 What do you consider the most important challenge facing county governments in New York State today?
According to respondents, the overall outlook for New York State has improved in the past two years. Yet, we still face many challenges. How have things changed over the past two years? A new governor, a property tax cap, ongoing economic challenges, and natural disasters have all impacted the political climate in New York State. In 2010, property taxes were named time and again as a major challenge for county governments. Since then, Governor Cuomo has enacted a cap on property tax growth. Survey respondents were very clear that counties now need mandate relief, since most of the capped county property tax levy is going to fund State mandates. This year, county leaders identified property taxes and the two largest cost drivers impacting property taxes—Medicaid and pension costs—as the most critical challenges facing county governments. Medicaid was named by many county leaders as the most crushing mandate. One respondent said, “The single biggest assistance to counties from New York State would be to take over the cost of Medicaid completely, and not require any portion of those costs to be borne by counties.”
Top Issues Facing County Leaders: 2010 What do you consider the most important challenge facing county governments in New York State today?
Continued on page 13 • 12
Continued from page 12
2010 Right or Wrong Track? Biggest Challenge: 2010 Property Taxes 2012 Unfunded Mandates Is New York State headed in the right direction? In 2012, as in 2010, county leaders responded that New York State is on the wrong track, but not to the same extent. In 2010, 80 percent of the survey’s respondents said the State was on the wrong track. Two years later, our outlook has improved: only 48 percent of respondents say we are on the wrong track and 24 percent say the State is on the right track.
2012 Right or Wrong Track?
The economy tops concerns More than 60 percent of survey respondents said that “improving the economy and attracting jobs” is the most important challenge facing Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature. The economy came through loud and clear as the biggest concern facing the county and the State. • Nearly 50 percent of respondents rate the current economic conditions in their county as ‘fair’ • 27 percent believe economic conditions in their county are ‘good’ • 25 percent of respondents believe current economic conditions in their county are poor, and • Less than 1 percent feel conditions are “excellent”
The survey asked county leaders to provide one suggestion that they would give Governor Cuomo for improving the relationship between their county and New York State. The following themes emerged in the responses: • Fewer mandates (Medicaid was named most often as a mandate that is crushing counties) • Reduce entitlement spending
County leaders are having a tough time being optimistic: Nearly 50 percent of respondents believe economic conditions in their county are getting worse, while less than 20 percent see conditions improving. On another note, it appears that the State’s challenges have had a positive impact on the way local governments are working together. Most county leaders responding characterized their county’s relationship with local governments (cities, towns, and villages) as generally cooperative. NYSAC News
County Leaders want fewer mandates, less spending, increased flexibility and a better business environment
• Increase county flexibility to control program costs • Improve the business climate If embraced by State lawmakers, these suggestions would go a long way to strengthen the partnership between counties and the State. Without these changes, the issues we care about collectively—including reducing unfunded mandates, reforming government and strengthening New York’s economy—will be much more difficult to accomplish.
CONTROLLING THE COST OF MANDATES FALLS TO STATE LAWMAKERS By Dave Lucas NYSAC Director of Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs
A roadmap to mandate relief
hat is a Mandate?
Unfunded mandates come in many forms, and occur when the State or federal government directs a county to: • Implement a program or provide a service created and defined by the State or the federal government, • Meet an environmental or labor standard, • Maintain a certain level of financial effort for a particular service, or • Construct/retrofit/expand a facility (under required State prevailing wage and contracting standards). A mandate usually requires a county to strictly adhere to rules set by the State, which define the scope, eligibility, frequency of service, amount of benefits, etc. Counties have virtually no ability to control the cost of these State mandates.
With the Roadmap to Mandate Relief report, published in November 2012, NYSAC’s objective was to narrow down the scores of mandate relief ideas put forth by NYSAC’s member counties into rational, actionable proposals that State lawmakers and the Mandate Relief Council can embrace and implement. This report identifies major mandates under several key program areas, and offers legislative or regulatory solutions to each mandate in order to lighten the burden on the homeowners and businesses that pay county property taxes. The report and supporting materials are available for download at www.NYSAC.org. As always, our county leaders stand ready to work with our State governmental partners to maintain and bolster the quality of life for all of New York State’s residents.
State mandates impact county property taxes Mandates are usually born from good intentions, but once it is realized that a “good intention” may be more expensive than the State can afford on its own, there is often a quick legislative pivot and counties are ordered to help pay for the new or expanded State program. County leaders believe local revenues should be raised to help finance local services, like programs for the poor and elderly, parks and recreational facilities, public safety, public health services, maintaining local roads and bridges, providing clean drinking water, and promoting economic development and local tourism. Unfortunately, over many decades, State leaders have required counties in New York to finance and often administer statewide programs. Counties refer to these edicts as “state unfunded mandates.” Today, counties in New York are required under State law to pay for more than 40 State mandated programs using local tax dollars. In turn, these legislative mandates can be accompanied by dozens or even hundreds of pages of regulations and rules—all of which can drive local costs higher.
Annual Growth in Many of These State Mandates Has Exceeded Inflation 2012 Local Cost
Annual Growth Trends
$7.5 Billion.................. Medicaid.................................. 2.5% (0% in 2015 & beyond) $850 Million**............ Pension Costs........................... 31.0% (from 2009-13) $1 Billion..................... TANF/ Safety Net* ................. 5.6% $825 Million................ Child Welfare........................... 2.0% $640 Million................ Special Ed. Pre-K...................... 8.0% $330 Million................ Early Intervention.................... 7.7% $300 Million................ Indigent Defense...................... 5.5% $390 Million................ Probation................................. 6.2% $90 Million.................. Youth Detention...................... 6.9% Eventually the math overwhelms any budget. *State Budget Shifted 71% of SN cost to counties vs. 50%, while fully federalizing the cost of TANF which reduced costs to the State and counties. ** Excludes New York City pension costs of nearly $9 billion.
PRESCHOOL SPECIAL ED: IMPORTANT PROGRAM MIRED BY COSTLY PROBLEMS By Melissa Tiberio, NYSAC Associate Counsel
ounties have been mandated to fund Preschool Special Education since 1989, when section 4410 of the New York State Education Law was adopted. The Preschool Special Education Program represents sound public policy. It provides children ages 3 to 5 with essential services including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, assistive technology, parent education, and counseling. These services are available to all special needs children at no expense to their family, regardless of income. While the Preschool Special Education Program provides necessary services to New York’s most vulnerable population, questions of program integrity prompted the New York State Office of the Comptroller (OSC) to audit private preschool special education providers and the State Education Department. Fourteen State Comptroller audit reports of private special education providers have identified widespread fraud and abuse resulting in millions of dollars of inappropriate tax dollar spending. Upon audit of several private providers, the Comptroller’s Office identified inappropriate costs that amounted to approximately $13.2 million out of $139.8 million in examined costs. This means that approximately 10 percent of expenditures were found as inappropriate. Because only the highest risk providers were identified in the audit, OSC believes that 10 percent is an inflated number. They speculate that if every one of the 300-plus private and not-for-profit providers were to be audited by OSC, inappropriate expenditures would more likely amount to 3 to 5 percent of the total cost. Three to five percent may not seem like a lot on its face, however the Preschool Special Education Program is a $2 billion program, with $1.3 billion being spent on services. If 3 to 5 percent of expenditures are disallowed, $35 to $65 million are wasted each year. Over a five-year period, that could amount to $325 million in wasted tax dollars.
are troubling. There has been no fiscal audit oversight of individual providers since 2007. There is also no system to ensure regular programmatic review of providers. In the past four years, only one-third of providers have been reviewed. Instead, SED largely relies on the Certified Public Accountants’ (CPA) role in certifying the Consolidated Fiscal Report (CFR). The role of the CPA is to certify that the CFR data is reported consistently and can be relied upon by SED’s Rate Setting Unit for the rate-setting process. Unfortunately, audits have determined that the CPAs, usually employed by the private providers, are not fulfilling their duties, and as a result the CFR cannot be relied upon for accurate data. This lack of oversight and accountability has created a program wrought with systemic fraud, waste, and abuse. While there are honest providers, there are also many providers who are lining their pockets under the guise of providing services to children with special needs. Audits released over the past several months have revealed tax dollars intended for children in preschool special education programs instead used for purchasing vacation residences, improper vehicle costs, absentee executives, personal effects such as furniture, cosmetics and cellphones, and improper employment of family members. No further evidence is necessary to confirm that the Preschool Special Education Program is broken. Despite numerous reform efforts in recent years, change to the program has been outright rejected. This $2 billion program must be reined in to ensure that providers cannot abuse the system, and that all eligible children receive the services they are entitled to. The time is now to call upon the New York State Legislature and the State Education Department to regain control of this very costly, yet very important program.
The Comptroller himself has asserted that “children with disabilities are being ripped off and it has to stop. The State Education Department has much work to do to straighten out the special education program. A new and more effective system of oversight is urgently needed, including the regular review and independent audit of these entities on a routine basis.” How are these providers managing to exploit our children and abuse taxpayer dollars? The answer is a flawed financial reimbursement system and a lack of oversight by New York State’s Education Department (SED). The State Comptroller performed an audit on SED to determine whether SED provides adequate onsite fiscal and program monitoring of special education providers. The findings of this audit
REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCILS BUILD A BETTER NEW YORK By Katy Vescio NYSAC Deputy Director for Governmental Relations
n December 19, 2012 Governor Cuomo announced the second annual grant awards for Regional Economic Development projects. The 2012/13 State Budget authorized this second round of funding for the Regional Councils, including $220 million to implement regional strategic plans comprised of $150 million in new capital funding and $70 million in tax credits from the Excelsior Jobs Program. Resources from a wide range of existing agency programs were available to businesses and sponsors for economic development purposes that are consistent with Regional Council plans through the new Consolidated Funding Application process. During the award ceremony, $738 million in funding was announced, to be allocated for projects in 10 geographic regions. Three regions received “Best Plan” designations and earned bonus awards: Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Mid-Hudson Regions. The Central New York and North Country Regions also received bonus award amounts, earning “Top Performer” status, as they were previously “best plan” awardees in 2011. The ten Regional Economic Development Councils were created in July 2011 and followed an ambitious meeting and planning schedule. Within six months, regional councils organized, met, considered local projects, and created regional plans to coordinate and guide strategic investment. As part of the process, a Strategic Plan Review Committee analyzed and ranked the plans submitted by each region. Regions competed for economic development funding that was previously distributed through grant programs run by various State agencies. The new Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process combined disparate funding streams and streamlined the application and distribution process for these funds. The first round of the Regional Economic Development awards in 2011 awarded $785.5 million to the ten regions. In 2011, plans were awarded funding based on recommendations of the review committee and each region’s adherence to the following criteria: vision, process, strategies, implementation, leveraging, and performance measures. Of the ten regional plans, the council awarded “Best Plan” to four proposals. Best Plan regions received more than $100 million for their plans. The six other regions were awarded $49.4 - $68.8 million. Of the $1 billion earmarked for the Regional Councils, the State awarded $785.5 million during the inaugural year of the program. Governor Cuomo received much praise for the success of this initiative following the 2011/12 award announcements. Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Skelos pledged their support for the program and promised to continue funding for the competitive grants in the 2012/13 State Budget. The second annual award announcements provided much of the same excitement, as new regions achieved 18
the much sought after “Best Plan” designation. Video presentations highlighted the work each region had completed in the past year, and framed the vision for growth moving forward. In the months leading up to the December 2012 awards announcements, Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Duffy toured the State, meeting with council members in each region and receiving Region
2011/12 Funding Award
2012/13 Funding Award
Western New York
$91.1 million †
$96.2 million †
$93.8 million ¥
$90.2 million ¥
$92.8 million †
Central New York
Mid-Hudson New York City Long Island
*2011/12 Best Plan Award Winner † 2012/13 Best Plan Award Winner ¥ 2012/13 Top Performer briefings on regional progress to implement their strategic plans. The Governor is expected to include more funding for this initiative in his 2013/14 State Budget, in order to continue investment in all regions of New York State into 2013 and beyond. The first two years of this regional investment strategy have been markedly successful, engaging business and private sector experts with local leaders, higher learning institutions, and other key individuals within each region. These groups have come together to invest in economic development as part of a comprehensive strategy. By ensuring that each region focuses on its specific economic sectors and capitalizes on its strengths, the program is achieving its overarching goal: building a better New York.
COMPTROLLER: LOCAL GOVERNMENTS MUST ADDRESS CRACKS IN PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE By Thomas P. DiNapoli New York State Comptroller
tate and local governments provide a number of vital services to New York’s residents: public safety, education, public health, economic development and much more.
ing water systems; and $36 billion for municipal wastewater systems.
What’s become increasingly difficult, however, is the ability to fund both operations and public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and water and sewer systems. During periods of fiscal stress when tough choices need to be made, critical infrastructure needs are often deferred in order to fund daily services.
This price tag does not include the costs associated with Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. These three natural disasters had a devastating impact on New York’s infrastructure in the span of 15 months.
My office recently issued a report explaining how the competing needs for operations and infrastructure represent significant challenges to our state and local governments. Over the past decade, local governments have tried to maintain their infrastructure assets by taking advantage of historically low interest rates for bonding and from the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In 2010, for example, New York’s local governments spent about $1.3 billion combined on highway, water and sewer capital needs. This includes $974 million on roads and bridges, $224 million on sewer systems and $136 million on water systems. But construction and energy-related costs have increased much faster than the rate of capital spending and the purchasing power of capital project dollars has quickly eroded. Local government officials are reporting that they have deferred road and bridge maintenance because of inadequate funding and rising costs. Officials in Madison County, for example, said they should rehabilitate or reconstruct about 25 miles of highway annually, but have only been able to rehabilitate about 12 to 15 miles per year for the last five years. Additionally, Orange County officials said that they need to repair five or six of the county’s 152 bridges each year, but only are repairing about two annually. Similar decisions are being made around the state in communities big and small. Eight of the 12 local governments interviewed for the report indicated they have recently deferred capital projects due to limited funding. Many spoke of having to prioritize projects and using limited funding for emergencies instead of regular maintenance. If this trend continues, future repair and replacement costs are likely to be much greater.
These storms will divert resources and force many communities to undertake emergency repairs at the expense of renovating unsafe bridges, crumbling roads and failing water and sewer systems. Infrastructure funding was estimated to only reach $161 billion over the next 20 years, creating a likely $89 billion shortfall. Recent estimates for Sandy alone peg storm-related damages at $32.8 billion, and New York will require an additional $9.1 billion for preventive measures to reduce the potential impact of future weather disasters. Infrastructure is vital to a community’s livability, future economic prospects and competitiveness. But without additional aid, creative new funding sources, or a significantly improved economy, state and local governments will struggle to maintain their critical infrastructure for the foreseeable future. Recently, I proposed legislation to help local governments deal with the financial impact of Hurricane Sandy. The proposals would amend current laws to help local governments use more of their reserve funds to pay the up-front costs for Hurricane Sandy; allow local governments to issue storm bonds to be repaid over five years; and extend the time for repaying inter-fund loans. This will not be enough. It is clear that we need to enact real and meaningful reform of how we prioritize and fund public infrastructure projects. State and local policymakers should promote efforts to strengthen capital planning, increase access to funding and coordinate local infrastructure investment. It won’t be easy, but now more than ever we must do this right. There are growing cracks in New York’s public infrastructure. We have billions in unmet infrastructure needs and the effects of Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene have only compounded the problem. The longer we delay, the worse our bridges, roads and sewer systems become.
Recent estimates project New York will need to spend $250 billion in its water, sewer and highway systems over the next 20 years. This includes $175 billion for transportation needs; $39 billion for the state’s drinkNYSAC News
COUNTIES COLLABORATE ON CONFLICT DEFENDER SERVICES By Colleen Pillus, Dutchess County and Mark Longtoe, Ulster County
n December, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro jointly announced a shared services agreement between the two counties to address the soaring Statemandated costs of providing legal defense counsel to indigent clients. The county executives have forged a cooperative agreement to garner a level of cost containment over a State mandated expense that has now reached a combined total of nearly $3.9 million annually in Ulster and Dutchess counties, while maintaining high quality representation. To date, when a Public Defender’s Office is disqualified from representing an eligible indigent client due to a legal conflict, a private attorney is assigned. The attorney then bills the county according to rates established by New York State in a process referred to as “assigned counsel.”
our residents’ needs, while reducing costs. We were very pleased to bring this plan to Ulster County and appreciate the support and cooperation of County Executive Hein to make this partnership a reality.” Ulster County Public Defender Andrew Kossover added, “I want to thank both County Executive Hein and County Executive Molinaro for this innovative, cooperative approach to a fiscal problem that is plaguing counties throughout the State. I am excited to take part in this shared service arrangement, and look forward to working with Dutchess County’s Public Defender Thomas Angell.”
nty u o C e Th rner: Co
Dutchess County Public Defender Thomas Angell noted, “This new arrangement will permit each of our Public Defender Offices to create cost efficiencies while at the same time increasing the quality of legal services provided. I look forward to this new partnership with Ulster County Public Defender’s Office. Our clients will better served by having access to full time defenders as well as the investigators, social workers and outside resources that our respective Public Defender Offices can provide.”
ative Innov Work ies at Count
The skyrocketing cost, coupled with decreased program aid from New York State, has placed a significant additional burden on counties to cover the cost of this mandated service. In 2011, this system of providing representation cost Ulster County taxpayers $1,345,653 while Dutchess County taxpayers spent $2,540,000. “Governments at every level must learn to work past political differences and municipal boundaries to focus on delivering results for the people. I am confident that the citizens of Ulster and Dutchess will benefit from this innovative collaboration,” said Ulster County Executive Hein.
The one year agreement unveiled today will be a pilot program in County Court, City of Kingston Court and Town of Ulster Court in Ulster County; and County Court and City of Poughkeepsie Court in Dutchess County.
County Executive Hein continued, “Not only does this pilot program represent a $175,000 savings for Ulster County’s taxpayers, it represents a $300,000 total savings for our region’s taxpayers, all while those in need continue to receive high quality legal representation. This is truly a win/win collaboration, and we both look forward to working with our respective legislatures to make it a reality.” Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “This agreement is the first of its kind in New York State for county Public Defender’s Offices and represents exactly the type of cooperative partnerships we need to embrace if we are to be successful in our efforts to deliver smaller, smarter government to our taxpayers. I am grateful to Public Defender Tom Angell for seeking out new and better ways to meet 20
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro announce the new collaboration between their counties.
COUNTIES HELPING COUNTIES: NY-TERT RESPONDS TO HURRICANE SANDY By: D. Jeremy DeMar, 911 Shift Supervisor Emergency Communications Department, Rochester
n an emergency, counties often must rely on each other for help. The size of New York State means that many times one part of the state is hit with severe weather or a natural disaster while other areas remain unharmed, and thus able to provide assistance. Counties throughout New York have a host of resources available to send to other jurisdictions in the event of an emergency. These resources include not only equipment like radios and generators, but also personnel trained to deal with emergency response and telecommunications needs in other areas. In October 2012, Monroe County officials responded to the needs of counties affected by Hurricane Sandy by utilizing the Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT).
shortly after the storm made landfall. There were no advance requests for assistance prior to the storm’s arrival. On October 28th, ECD Director John Merklinger and I sent an e-mail to everyone on the New York State 9-1-1 Coordinators e-mail group as well as the brand new TERT contact list compiled for the State. As no official request for TERT assistance had come in from counties, this e-mail, like the one sent to the team a few days earlier, was also preparatory in nature. It advised that New York State had activated the Emergency Operations Center in Albany, and that we were looking to compile a list of available TERT resources on a statewide basis. Within a matter of hours, we received notifications of TERT personnel available for deployment across New York.
New Yorkers first became concerned about Hurricane Sandy on October 24th, 2012, when meteorologists began alerting the east coast that the storm was likely headed their way. One early forecast model for the storm (which later proved to be extremely accurate) showed the system moving north over the Atlantic along the eastern seaboard, and then abruptly swinging in a westerly direction into the New Jersey & New York coastlines. Since I had personally participated in a “last minute” Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT) deployment following Hurricane Irene, we felt the best course of action was to plan ahead and send an e-mail to the Emergency Communications Department’s Communications Response Team (CRT), to be certain all team members were aware of the storm’s potential to impact our area. On the evening of October 25th, I sent the first of many storm related e-mails out to the team. The e-mail recapped much of what the media had been reporting about the storm, but more importantly, it addressed the need to prepare for deployment in the event the storm followed the track forecasters predicted. Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency the next day for all of New York State, in preparation for Sandy’s potential impact.
By Monday, October 29th, six New York counties (Monroe, Seneca, Allegany, Lewis, Niagara, and Yates) had made TERT personnel from their agencies available for deployment. The number of personnel available increased over the course of the next two days, as resources from Onondaga, Broome, and Saratoga counties signed on to help. In our local area, Rochester (Monroe County) saw its share of wind related damage and power outages due to the storm, but our damage paled in comparison to the widespread disaster and devastation experienced downstate. Surprisingly, the official request for TERT assistance from downstate (Suffolk County) arrived at week’s end.
With Hurricane Irene in 2011, spur of the moment decisions were made regarding who would deploy and when. By contacting the team in advance, we were ready before the storm hit. By determining the availability of those willing and able to deploy we avoided last minute schedule changes and spur of the moment decision-making. We asked all of the team members to provide personal availability from Sunday October 28th through Saturday November 10th. With the storm on track to arrive in the New York/New Jersey area on October 28th, we felt requests for TERT assistance would more than likely start arriving
Shortly after the first deployment left for Suffolk County, plans were in the works for a second wave of TERT relief. The second deployment consisted of four dispatchers and one dispatch supervisor from Broome County, two dispatchers from Lewis County, and two dispatchers from Yates County. All were advised early on that they were officially on standby for the next deployment, and that they should plan to depart for Suffolk County on or about November 8th.
y t n u o The Crner: Co
The first deployment to Suffolk County consisted of four dispatchers from Monroe County and four dispatchers from Onondaga County. Two of the four dispatchers from Monroe County had just completed Deployment Awareness training when the request for assistance came in. The teams arrived in Suffolk County on November 3rd. All deployed team members were asked to log their daily activities and report back periodically to their respective agencies with updates on the deployment.
tive a v o n In ork W t a ies Count
Continued on page 22 • NYSAC News
Continued from page 21 Complicating matters, not only from a relief standpoint but for those living and working downstate, was the arrival of a post Hurricane Sandy Nor’easter, which brought wet snow, sleet, rain and wind gusts that reached up to 54 mph on Long Island. While there had initially been some discussion about pulling the Monroe and Onondaga teams out prior to the snow storm’s arrival, both remained in Suffolk County during the storm, as the Broome, Lewis, and Yates teams traveled to relieve them. The result was continuous TERT support for Suffolk County for the duration of the deployment. As the Broome, Lewis, and Yates teams settled in, and Monroe and Onondaga returned, preparations were being made to send a third wave of TERT relief to Suffolk County. Teams from Niagara, Oneida, and Allegany counties were placed on standby, with an anticipated deployment date of November 16th. Those placed on standby understood that this portion of the deployment would more than likely extend beyond the Thanksgiving holiday. On November 13th, after speaking with Suffolk County’s Commissioner and Director of Emergency Management, Suffolk County
Department of Fire Rescue Acting Chief of Communications Gregory C. Miniutti reported that additional deployments of TERT personnel would not be necessary beyond November 15th. Following that notification, Niagara, Oneida, and Allegany counties were advised to stand down. Suffolk County was grateful for the willing and able support from TERT team members who traveled to Long Island from all corners of New York State. By joining forces and sharing resources, we were able to support the storm response and get help to those in need quicker than if the county had only their own stretched resources during this challenging time. We don’t know what counties will be impacted by the next storm. When we help each other, we ensure that we will all be better prepared to face whatever challenges hit our area of New York. The more we can come together, the better off we all are in the face of an emergency. For more information on TERT, contact D. Jeremy DeMar at email@example.com
POWER GESTURES: FRIEND OR FOE? By Chris Ulrich, Senior Instructor, Body Language Institute O n Fe b r u a r y 5 , C h r i s U l r i ch w i l l b e s p e a k i n g o n t h e topic of body language at the NYSAC Legislative Conference.
re your hand gestures undermining your ability to connect with the person sitting across from you or hurting the message you seek to convey? The reality is that you say more than you think with your body language. If we are not aware of how we are coming across, we risk the possibility of hurting our ability to build rapport or trust. At the Body Language Institute (BLI), we often start with this question: how are you being perceived? Are you coming across as confident and powerful and is your body language supporting how you want to come across? And rather than it being about the right or wrong use of gestures, it is about the timing of the gesture and how it is serving you in that moment. One set of hand power gestures in particular to focus on is the hand steeple. The steepling of ones hands fingertip to fingertip is a great way for a person to subconsciously convey a sense of confidence and be seen as knowledgeable. This hand gesture, when paired with other confident body language and words is perceived as absolute belief and assuredness. You may not have noticed it when it has been used on you before, but now you recognize it quickly when it appears in meetings, negotiations or other high-stakes power plays. Yet one of the concerns we have at BLI is that some believe by using the steeple you will always have the upper hand during negotiations or a meeting. We disagree. Our concern is, while the steeple does portray power, authority, and confidence, overusing the gesture or using it at the wrong time may result in a person being seen as a know-it-all or an egoist. Rather than let that happen, here are several variations of the steeple that can be used to keep your steepling gestures aligned and congruent with your position.
You can never go wrong with this likable feeling-based power gesture which is the most powerful steeple to get others to begin to agree with you and to believe in you. The message conveyed is power, confidence and compassion with the added benefit of seeming hopeful, likable, dedicated, and firm in your convictions. This power move is usable for all occasions including confrontations, speeches and negotiations. President Obama uses the basketball steeple quite often, and we saw both he and Mitt Romney use it often during the 2012 presidential debates. Fourth: The handgun steeple. This gesture is highly aggressive. It literally looks like a gun with the index fingers ready to shot. The handgun steeple can be seen all over Capitol Hill during hearings or the political season. While the hand gun steeple can be like an exclamation point, putting emphasis on what you are saying or pointing out something with force, it can be used to shoot down someone’s ideas. Use the handgun steeple with extreme caution. Overusing this loaded steeple can make you seem overbearing or too controlling. At BLI, we suggest you use it to show you mean business, but never use it if you are in the process of establishing a team environment. This gesture can be perceived as the nonverbal equivalent of saying, “screw you.” Now you have a choice of powerful hand steeples and when to use them in your effort to confidently and powerfully portray your position without undermining your effort. Paying attention or being conscious about how you use the power steeple can work in your favor, but mindlessly using it will undermine your perceived value. Remember, when used correctly, this powerful hand gesture can have a great impact not only on the audience, but also on how you feel about yourself. (Adapted from You Say More Than You Think)
First: the traditional power steeple mentioned above conveys power, authority and confidence and is best used to support your speech or pitch when making a critical point. Holding this power gesture too long may undermine rapport in the early part of an exchange with a person or group. Many leaders use the traditional steeple. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair uses this steeple a lot during talks and this is Donald Trump’s go to gesture when he is firing someone on The Apprentice. Second: A-OK Two Fingered Steeple: Making the “A-OK” gesture with one’s hand can relate a perceived agreement or feeling of confirmation, but when turned into a two fingered steeple, it usually indicates a precise thought. The two fingered steeple is best used when making an important point. The iconic Steve Jobs used the two fingered steeple during his Apple presentations.
Clockwise from top left: The traditional power steeple, the a-ok steeple, and the basketball steeple.
Third: The Basketball Steeple. This gesture is basically expanding the power steeple as if you were holding an imaginary basketball. NYSAC News
NEW YORK’S HISTORICAL COUNTIES: ORANGE COUNTY
range County’s first overnight visitor from Europe was the explorer Henry Hudson, who dropped anchor in Newburgh Bay in 1609. European settlement did not follow immediately, however. The Orange County created on November 1, 1683 included half of today’s Orange County, but also all of present day Rockland County, where there were a small number of settlers. Orange’s first European settler was Patrick Macgregorie whose arrival is recorded only as “before 1685.” His Scottish colony on the Hudson River was followed by a settlement of French Huguenots near the Delaware, of German Palatines at Newburgh on the Hudson, and of other nationalities as the interior parts of the county were opened up. Growth was slow but gradual until the Revolutionary War, when Orange County became a significant military objective. Capture of the narrow twisting river passage through the Hudson Highlands would probably have enabled the British forces to isolate New England from the Middle Atlantic and the South. On the other hand, the Americans needed a safe route so that the important New England patriot leaders could reach the provisional capital of the new nation, usually in the Philadelphia area. It was imperative that the area be held and protected by American troops.
through the county in the 1840’s. Orange County played a significant role in the establishment of the principle of freedom of the press, as one of the articles for which John Peter Zanger was tried (and acquitted) was a letter to the editor prepared by the voters of Orange County’s Goshen Precinct thanking their assemblyman for his services in the most recent session of the Legislature – services that Governor Cosby did not appreciate, since Assemblyman Matthews had spent the previous session attacking Cosby for land-jobbing. In the Colonial era, wheat was the county’s primary product. The county’s chief industrial production involved iron and iron products. The ore from southeastern Orange (and neighboring parts of Rockland and New Jersey) was used continuously from 1737 until 1923, when richer western ores put the mines out of business. The first commercial butter factory and the first commercial oatmeal factory were located in Orange County.
During the closing years of the war, Washington’s entire Northern Army was based around winter headquarters at New Winsor. Some of the fortifications at West Point have also been preserved and can be visited. In 1850, Washington’s headquarters (the Jonathan Hasbrouck House) in Newburgh became the first American building to be preserved specifically as an historical house museum. Orange County is also the site of the first sports site listed as a Registered National Historic Landmark – harness horses raced since 1838 at Goshen’s half mile Historic Track. Although the county was created in 1683, it did not immediately acquire officials of its own, with New York County’s (Manhattan) officials acting in the same capacity for Orange. A temporary method of local government was established in 1701, followed by a permanent form in 1703. While modifications were of course made, this form of government lasted until 1969, when it was replaced by a county executive form of government under a locally-drafted county charter. From the earliest European settlement, Orange County has pioneered new modes of transportation. The Old Mine Road, running through the western part of Orange County, was the first European-built road of more than 100 miles on the American continents. Turnpikes were built annually. Newburgh capitalists followed up Robert Fulton’s success by establishing regular steamboat runs to the growing metropolis. In the western part of the county, the Delaware and Hudson Canal was built to carry coal from the Pennsylvania coalfields to market, establishing communities like Bolton’s Basin, Port Jervis, and Port Orange – sixty-five miles from the ocean. The Erie Railroad was built 24
CONSOLIDATING EMERGENCY RESPONSE SERVICES AT THE COUNTY LEVEL By: Sean Maguire, Chris Grant and Carl Ublacker New York State Department of State Division of Local Government Services
n recent years, more counties have expanded their role in providing emergency communications. A number of studies have suggested that counties are better suited to provide centralized emergency service communications, taking advantage of current technology that may be unaffordable at a local level. The New York Department of State’s Division of Local Government Services has received increased interest in examining, and more importantly, implementing countywide measures like consolidation of 911 operations.
The City of North Tonawanda could not process 911 calls that originated from wireless phones. Instead, these calls were processed through the county dispatch service and then rerouted to the city of North Tonawanda. This inefficiency added to delays in response times and added costs. Moving to the county PSAP also allows North Tonawanda to avoid costs associated with the new FCC-mandated narrow banding requirements for radio equipment. To implement this transition, Niagara County has contracted with Motorola to erect five radio towers which will support a new emergency radio and data system with countywide coverage, closing gaps that currently exist in the city of North Tonawanda.
In 1993, Oneida County completed a study and took a series of steps to consolidate all city, town and village emergency communications into a single county-run service. In 1995, 911 services were implemented in accordance to the study’s findings with four Public Service Answering Points (PSAP’s); the cities of Rome and Utica, and the town of New Hartford and Oneida County, which handled all other towns and villages in the county. In 1997, the City of Rome consolidated into the county’s service. The county then completed the construction of a new County Emergency Communications building in 2000. During this time, the county continued funding the maintenance and upgrades of the communication equipment in the independent Utica and New Hartford facilities.
The transition has not been without its challenges. In July 2012, North Tonawanda’s six police dispatchers were transferred to the county and filed a lawsuit claiming that Civil Service Law was broken by not transferring all of the dispatchers’ seniority to the county. Notwithstanding this issue, the dispatchers have been trained to meet county standards and are now fully integrated into the Niagara County PSAP. The consolidation is expected to save the City of North Tonawanda $547,000 in annual costs, not including the expenditures that would have been needed to meet the narrow banding requirements.
In 2008, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente proposed consolidating the remaining PSAP’s in his State of the County by stating, “One of the major issues facing our region is to develop ways to change the way we deliver services to reduce costs and increase efficiency.” As the idea gained momentum, the Division of Local Government Services reached out to the County to determine if its Local Government Efficiency program could provide an incentive that would lead to such consolidation. Oneida County received $600,000 in State funding to help absorb the initial cost of the transitional personnel the county hired from the Town and City to implement the measure. In October 2010, New Hartford completed its consolidation;Utica completed consolidation in 2011.
In 2009, Albany County applied for a grant from the LGE grant program to fund a study to quantify the benefits of PSAP consolidation, and to recommend an implementation plan. As a result of the PSAP consolidation study, the county and the cities of Cohoes and Watervliet determined that they would best be served by consolidating dispatching into the county’s service.
As a result of the consolidation, the communities have projected a total savings of more than $2 million dollars in annual operating costs. If you consider the avoided cost of replacing and upgrading equipment, the savings is even greater.
Niagara County The City of North Tonawanda consolidated its PSAP into the Niagara County facility. The goal was to reduce local taxes by eliminating redundant services while at the same time improving the quality of emergency services throughout the County. NYSAC News
While the County Communications Center has increased the number of positions in its facility, the total number of positions countywide has seen a net reduction. Beyond personnel, additional cost savings will be realized through the reduction in required software and hardware licensing, along with the costs associated with service and maintenance. This consolidation of dispatch functions eliminates the transfer of 911 calls between municipalities and has improved response times. Additionally, there has been increased coordination between dispatchers and use of interoperable channels which helps incident coordination. According to Mayor Mike Manning of Watervliet, the $100,000 that his city will save annually equals a three percent tax increase. Cohoes Mayor John T. McDonald stated the $300,000 annual cut for his city amounts to a five percent tax savings. Continued on page 26 •
Continued from page 25 The benefits of this project have also extended into added efficiency. According to public safety officials, shortly after the transition, a fire in Watervliet saw faster response times and fire suppression by crews from the City and its mutual aid companies. It was reported this was the first time the departments were able to utilize the countyâ€™s unified communication system for a confirmed fire where assistance from other companies was necessary. Under the previous configuration, a mobile phone dialing 911 would be answered by the County, who would then notify Watervliet, who in turn would call Cohoes for mutual aid. Now, when the county receives a 911 emergency call, they can immediately dispatch necessary firefighters and police officers within the county.
resulting in reduced taxes for taxpayers and improved delivery of services. In the case of emergency services, current technology has allowed counties to provide a service that is at the very least equal to those provided locally and individually. The growth of technology in the public sector will allow for continued service improvement well into the future.
There remain countless opportunities for counties to take the lead in intermunicipal and efficiency efforts around New York State,
STUDY: NO WRONG DOOR TO COUNTY SERVICES By Jacquie Donaldson NYSAC Legislative Consultant
ew York State, like most states throughout the country, is facing the challenges of tough economic conditions including large budget shortfalls due to dwindling resources, high unemployment and increased demand for social service programs. In addition, NYS local governments who are primarily responsible for administering social services programs are faced with clients that tend to have multiple and costly service needs. It is not uncommon for these individuals to require both long term financial assistance as well as other services such as mental health treatments or life skills education. In addition, census data indicates that New York State will have an increased aging population that require more costly services, and when coupled with a decline in earnings potential of the general population would further exacerbate State and local governments’ already shaky financial situation. This fiscal reality means that local governments can no longer provide services through traditional means and must seek and develop new opportunities to deliver services in an effective, efficient and coordinated manner while resulting in more positive outcomes for their residents. Recognizing that New York State’s human service delivery system results in less than desired outcomes for the clients, one community partner, the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York (Health Foundation) is hoping to support positive and workable solutions to the challenges local governments face when attempting to provide quality services to the most vulnerable populations. With that in mind, the Health Foundation commissioned NYSAC to conduct a study on the feasibility of supporting counties in western and central New York who are interested in developing an integrated type of human service delivery system with the goal of coordinating programs and improving client outcomes. The focus of the feasibility study was “No Wrong Door” and Integrated Service Delivery. While both of these service delivery systems are similar in theory, “No Wrong Door” programs seek to attain a seamless social service system targeted to a specific segment of the population. No Wrong Door programs often include case management services as a key element in which services are coordinated for individuals and their families. The No Wrong Door concept is based on the premise that people should receive the full spectrum of services no matter which county department they enter. Integrated Service Delivery programs, on the other hand, are consumer-driven business models with a system of care approach to service delivery. The goal of integrated service systems is a coordinated system that works for the consumer, produces positive outcomes, and reduces cost to governments while maintaining or enhancing service delivery. The NYSAC study consisted of several components, including a survey
of all of New York State counties outside of New York City. This survey served as the vehicle to obtain information about the counties’ various efforts to change human services delivery to their residents by providing services in a more coordinated, effective and efficient manner while improving client outcomes. In addition, the survey sought to gauge the level of interest of New York’s counties in participating in future projects that would continue to reform and improve the delivery of services to the county residents.
Survey findings The survey was distributed in July 2012 to county executives and county managers. NYSAC received responses from approximately 25 percent of the counties, with the response rate increasing to 37.5 percent when just factoring those responding counties from the catchment area of the Health Foundation. While the response rate to the survey was less than ideal, it was sufficient to make a reasonable assessment of the outcomes. A significant portion of the responding counties indicated that they had previously redesigned their human services delivery system in an attempt to achieve operational efficiencies and more client-centered approaches to care. When asked to describe some of the counties’ efforts to redesign their human services delivery system, the responses ranged from single point of entry projects for specific populations or services, No Wrong Door models which integrated several departments under one agency, or an integrated delivery system which created a one-stop referral and intake approach through collaborative efforts of various departments and agencies. The survey also sought information on some of the barriers encountered during development and implementation of the redesigned human service systems. One of the barriers encountered by many counties was lack of sufficient funding or resources to acquire new information technology system updates, facility updates, or to provide innovative and non-traditional type of services to the clients. Another common barrier cited by the responding counties was lack of support from New York State. New York State’s human service delivery system is State authorized and county administered. New York State’s human service system has strict eligibility criteria for the different programs and services which oftentimes result in clients being eligible for one type of service while not being eligible for others. This type of delivery system has created a bureaucratic environment that does not encourage counties to change the way that services are delivered in favor of a more comprehensive and coordinated approach. Finally, resistance on the part of local players was another barrier that the counties encountered during the development and implementation Continued on page 28 •
Continued from page 27 phases of these projects. Many agency officials and staff engaging in “turf issues” seemed concerned that a new coordinated delivery system would result in the elimination of staff positions or control over the original system. Despite the numerous barriers to change that were encountered, the survey responses revealed that most counties persevered and redesigned at least some portion of their human services delivery system. These system redesigns produced positive outcomes for the local governments through cost savings and increased efficiencies, while also producing positive outcome for the clients, most notably increased satisfaction in the services provided. The final series of questions in the NYSAC survey regarded the interest of the counties in developing and implementing redesigned human service delivery systems. The responses from the counties throughout New York State revealed strong support for redesigning delivery of human services. Those counties that had previously changed some or all aspects of their human service delivery were eager to either expand their previous projects to include more program areas or increase the number of clients served. Even those counties that had not redesigned their human services delivery system expressed a desire to change service delivery to a more comprehensive, coordinated, and client-centered approach of assisting the residents. The counties also indicated mental health services, aging and long-term care services, public assistance, and various services and programs for troubled youths and their families were among the more common human services areas that they were interested in incorporating into their redesign projects.
The future of county human services delivery It became evident upon the completion of NYSAC’s research there existed among the responding counties both the desire and opportunity to implement changes to the delivery of human services. The current and future fiscal conditions for State and local governments are bleak. New York State counties recognize that they cannot continue to manage government operations and service delivery as they have in the past. Counties must address the challenges of reduced resources coupled with increased demand for services and this requires new service delivery efforts. The counties must take every opportunity to streamline service delivery to realize greater efficiencies, while developing a comprehensive and coordinated service system for the residents. Finally, the study revealed that with some level of support, New York’s counties are very interested in pursuing greater opportunities to combine agency resources and shift the focus of service delivery to a holistic, coordinated and integrated approach that treats the whole person rather than on costly care that only treats the most pressing concern.
CORNELL COOPERATIVE EXTENSION EMBRACES REGIONAL COLLABORATION By Andrew S. Turner, Assistant Director Cornell Cooperative Extension
ow can we do more for our constituencies with fewer resources? Local government agencies and nonprofit organizations that receive local government funding have pondered this question frequently in recent years. Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) is discovering that part of the answer is a cautious but determined transition to regional collaboration. CCE is responding proactively to a challenging funding environment, rapidly shifting demographics, and the changing educational needs of New Yorkers. We are seeking to maximize the financial support from our partners in county government by developing efficient regional business systems in collaboration with local extension offices. These efforts will support programs that bring the resources of Cornell University to programs that address issues like nutrition and health, agriculture and food system economic development, and energy and climate change. In March 1911, John Barron was hired by the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroad, Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as New York’s first county-based agriculture extension “agent”. Today there are approximately 300 extension educators and 52,000 volunteers working to deliver diverse educational programs in every county of the state and in four of the five boroughs of New York City. Over 200 faculty and staff from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Human Ecology partner with these educators to deliver and support programs and activities that reached nearly two million people in 2012. Key to the strength of extension programming in New York was the development of a unique statutory partnership outlined within NYS County Law 224 (CL 224). CL 224 provides a mechanism for the creation of single or multi-county Extension “associations” with financial support from participating counties and New York State, with the overall system “under the direction of Cornell University acting as the agent for the state”. This partnership is still intact but as the fiscal challenges confronting county government have accelerated in many parts of the State, county-based non-mandated organizations like CCE have been feeling the pinch. In 2012 CCE engaged in a statewide strategic planning process that resulted in a plan to address these challenges through regional program and administrative networks that support high quality program delivery and efficient business system support across the state.
agricultural activity as measured by the latest NYS Ag census data. There are currently twelve regional agriculture teams with over 50 staff positions in operation across the State providing “boots on the ground” research-based support to an industry that is critical to New York’s economic future. The vast majority of the 56 county extension offices participate in at least one of the teams which operate in commodity areas ranging from dairy and livestock, fruits and vegetables, to grapes and commercial horticulture. In 2012 the State recognized CCE efforts in agriculture-based economic development with an additional $300,000 in direct support to develop a new team of educators in Western New York State. This new effort, Harvest NY, is working to grow New York’s food and agriculture economy by deploying staff to regions of the state where a timely opportunity has emerged. In this case it is the explosion of economic activity in dairy-based products such as Greek yogurt and artisanal cheese that are being supported and propelled forward through a combination of Cornell research-based initiatives, private industry investment, and highly skilled extension staff who serve as catalysts in bringing these elements together. On the business side, CCE has formed eight regional networks that, in addition to geographic proximity, reflect a similar scale of total budget, staff and related transactional costs. During the next few months Cornell staff will be identifying a lead CCE association from each region. The eight lead associations will provide the platform for sharing the expertise of a key administrative staff position across that group of county offices in finance, information technology and human resources. These shared business networks will be supported by resources from Cornell and from each of the participating county offices, very similar to the approach that has worked with the regional agriculture teams. The continuation of Cornell’s long-standing partnership with county governments is critical to our future success. The move to increasing regionalism and collaboration is designed to maximize the impact of local investment in CCE, very much in line with efforts supported by NYSAC and the State to reduce the layers of government and focus on the efficient delivery of programs to residents. We are eager to work with and learn from NYSAC and its member counties as this project moves forward. Connect with us at www.cce.cornell.edu or on Facebook (CornellCooperativeExtension) and Twitter (CCECornell).
The increased collaboration among multiple counties is modeled after successful regional agricultural “teams” that have been in place for many years. The teams are supported by federal extension dollars from Cornell combined with county “shares” based on local NYSAC News
COUNTY COMMUNITY RX DISCOUNT CARD EXCEEDS $110 MILLION IN SAVINGS By Mark LaVigne NYSAC Deputy Director
t’s always exciting to deliver good news, but this is especially true during challenging times. Have you been sharing the great news about the Prescription Drug Discount Card Program sponsored by your county? In 2012, the county-endorsed ProAct Prescription Drug Discount Card Program surpassed $110 million in savings for participants, who have filled more than 3.3 million prescriptions.
Additional cards are available for distribution through NYSAC by calling (518) 465-1473. For more information about ways you can help your constituents save on prescription drug purchases, please call Erison Rodriguez, Program Manager at (315) 413-7780, ext 3212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are currently 48 participating counties across New York State that have partnered with ProAct to make this program available to their constituents. “This program provides an effective way for counties to provide immediate and sizeable financial relief for their residents at the pharmacy counter,” said Dave Warner, president of ProAct. “For many New Yorkers, it can mean the difference in being able to afford their medications or not.” The ProAct Prescription Drug Discount Card Program is the only New York State-based discount card program and is endorsed by the New York State Association of Counties. Despite these savings, we have recently found that many county residents aren’t aware of the cost-saving benefits afforded to them by the Prescription Discount Card Program. These savings are too valuable to go unused. Access to affordable healthcare remains a top priority for county government leaders at a time when the cost of healthcare is a challenge for many people. The Discount Rx program offers access to affordable care and it provides consumer savings during this economic recession, when there are more demands on each dollar New Yorkers have to spend. The county Discount Card is a no-cost program to counties, taxpayers, or to the participants. There is no income verification, eligibility requirements, or need to sign-up for the program. Residents receive discounts on brandname prescriptions, generic drugs and pet medications at 55,000 pharmacies across the country. Discount cards are available online at proactrx.com/ ny_discount_card.php. Residents simply need to select their county, and their card will be generated for them to print out.
SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT: DENTAL CARD HELPS COUNTY RESIDENTS By Steve Hooper Health Economics Group, Inc.
ven though dental health is an integral part of a person’s overall health, not nearly as much emphasis is placed on dentistry as on other aspects of health care. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mentions dental care, but only briefly, with respect to yet-to-be-defined pediatric services. Public health professionals know that during the past decade there has been increasing evidence of the relationship between oral health and system diseases. Signs and symptoms of diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and many oral cancers may be first detected through oral examination. Almost all of us should visit a dentist regularly, but many don’t. A major reason for this is the cost of dental care. Delta Dental, one of the country’s largest dental insurance organizations, has said that the most commonly reported individual health-related service not received because of cost is dental care. Further, according to Delta Dental, the most commonly reported reasons for children not receiving needed dental care were financial: the child had no insurance to cover the services, or the dental services cost too much. Dental benefit plans go a long way toward offsetting the cost of dental care, but this coverage is far from universal. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 59% of low-income adults and 36% of higherincome adults do not have dental coverage. Overall, in the United States more than 132 million children and adults lack dental benefits. If they visit a dentist at all, they have to pay 100% of what they are billed by their dentists, without any reimbursement by a dental benefit plan. To make a bad situation even worse, dentists, like other healthcare providers, typically charge people without a dental plan more than they charge insurance companies when patients are insured. The New York State Association of Counties, as well as many county officials, have taken steps to improve the dental health of New Yorkers. The NYSAC-endorsed “Dental Network Card Program” has already benefitted thousands of New York residents. Health Economics Group, Inc., a third party administration company based in Rochester, handles the administrative aspects of the program, while NYSAC provides valuable guidance and oversight. Health Economics Group has been designing and managing self-insured dental benefit plans, primarily for public32
sector employers in New York State, since 1978. While it is not insurance, the Dental Network Card program provides a way for patients to obtain the dental services they need at reduced fees. The program utilizes the DenteMax network that consists of more than 8,000 dentists and dental practices in New York, more than 100,000 throughout the United States. Dentists in the network have agreed to charge specific fees, fees that are among the most affordable in each area of the country. The cost of NYSAC’s Dental Network Card Program is only $36.50 per year for an individual and only $52.00 annually for an entire family. Savings are several hundred dollars for crowns and for root canals, and $30.00 to $50.00 or more for dental examinations and cleanings, fillings, and extractions when compared with area average dental fees. This NYSAC-endorsed program is for people who do not have dental coverage: particularly people who have been laid off from their jobs, employees who work for small businesses and other organizations that do not offer dental benefit plans, and those who are retired and no longer have dental insurance. While the Dental Network Card Program is intended primarily for those without dental coverage, the network itself can serve to benefit employers who sponsor and fund dental benefit plans for employees and, perhaps, retirees. If a dental plan covering about 100 or more employees/retirees changes from being fully insured to self-insuring, the plan sponsor can expect to save in the range of 20 to 30% – while maintaining the same level of benefits. Even greater savings may result from a combination of self-insuring along with creative use of the NYSAC Dental Benefits Card program. There are also cost-saving alternatives for groups with fewer than 100 employees to make use of the network. If a group’s dental benefits plan already is self-insured, it may well be worth investigating whether utilizing Health Economics Group’s long experience combined with use of the NYSAC-endorsed nationwide network makes good economic sense. For general information about NYSAC’s Dental Network Card Program, go to www.heginc.com/nysac. To learn how to implement NYSAC’s Dental Network Card program in your county, contact Mark LaVigne at email@example.com or 518-465-1473.
SECURE ONLINE CREDIT CARD PROCESSING By: Thomas D. Smith, Director Office of Cyber Security NYS Office of Information Technology Services
he use of credit cards as a method of payment allows organizations to receive payments from customers quickly and easily. However, the acceptance of credit cards comes with risks. Hundreds of millions of U.S. records have been involved in data loss incidents and that number keeps growing. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (ww.privacyrights.org/data-breach/), in 2011, 592 data breaches resulted in over 31.1 million stolen records. As of early November, 602 data breaches have resulted in over 23.5 million stolen records in 2012. Could a breach happen at your organization? If your county receives credit card payments either in person or online -- and your systems are not secure -- you could have a breach of data that is stored on a server, on paper, or on a computer. It could take many months for this breach to be discovered. In the meantime, the stolen information could have been sold and residents’ credit cards used to commit fraud by purchasing items and opening new credit card accounts. In an effort to counter the risks, the world’s major credit card companies (payment brands) have taken steps to protect their customers’ personal information and protect the credit card payment process. In 2004, Visa and MasterCard collaborated to create the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS), common industry security requirements. In 2006, the five major payment brands -- American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard and Visa -- formed the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI-SSC) to manage the PCI-DSS.
vital statistics documents, recreation programs, community center facility use, planning board review, court, civil service exams, and business application fees (just to name a few). If your organization is required by law to handle payments directly and not through a third party, compliance may require more work. However, be aware that using a third party for your credit card processing does not absolve you of your responsibility for compliance. Even if you contracted out for these services, the PCI-DSS still applies to your organization. You must have a written agreement from your service provider verifying that they will be compliant with the requirements of PCI-DSS. Your county may be using multiple methods to accept payments in various departments. You must address each of these payment methods appropriately. Not only is electronic credit card information covered by the PCI-DSS, but so are paper copies and files. To ensure compliance, you need to follow the workflow of the payment process from the time it is initiated (submitted in person to an organization employee or online or by other means, such as by fax or by telephone) to the final storage of the transaction information, whether in a file cabinet or on a server or computer. Why take action? If your system is compromised, your county could: • lose the ability to process credit cards; • be required to scan your system more frequently than otherwise required;
PCI-DSS governs any business, or organization, that accepts payment cards and stores, processes, and/or transmits cardholder data. The standard:
• cause a negative impact on other stakeholders; and
• focuses on protecting cardholder payment data and increasing consumer confidence;
The cost of a credit card breach can include fines and fees for which you are accountable.
• mirrors best security practices for the protection of sensitive information;
How can you secure the credit card data your county processes? Talk with the person responsible for your information security and your IT Manager (if you have one) to determine how your organization needs to address compliance. The PCI-DSS Prioritized Approach is a great tool available from the PCI-SSC to expedite your efforts towards payment security. Like other business programs, security begins with managing risk. Implementing the following six strategies can help an organization efficiently mitigate the highest risk to cardholder data:
• requires twelve basic steps for protecting credit card information; and • applies to internally developed or “homegrown” applications that are not sold to a third party. Do these standards apply to your county? If your county accepts, stores, processes and/or transmits credit card payments, including debit cards or pre-payments, you are considered a merchant and these standards apply to your organization. Credit cards may be used to pay for taxes and fees, such as those for building permits, NYSAC News
• suffer loss of public confidence.
1. If you don’t need it, don’t store it (in particular, credit card numbers and other sensitive data items at highest risk). Continued on page 34 •
Continued from page 33 2. Secure the perimeter (use a network diagram to determine all access points—external, internal, and wireless networks — and segment the network to limit what you need to secure). 3. Secure payment cards applications (including application processes and servers). 4. Control access to your systems (know the who, what, when and how for people accessing your network). 5. Protect stored cardholder data (if your organization must store sensitive card information). 6. Finalize remaining compliance efforts, and ensure all controls are in place (complete the remaining PCI-DSS requirements, implement policy, procedures and processes).
Where can you find help? There are several websites to assist you in securing your organization’s credit card process. The first site below contains extensive information including forms and is updated frequently. • PCI Security Standards Council https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/ has several worksheets for assisting with the Self-Assessment Questionnaire, storage, offers compensating controls guidance and other related materials. • NYS Office of Cyber Security “Cyber Security: Secure Credit Card Payment Process Non-Technical Guide” http://www. dhses.ny.gov/ocs/.
FIVE WAYS TO BOLSTER CYBERSECURITY By Paul Christman Executive Director, Quest Software
he Government Accountability Office recently published a report (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d12137.pdf) on cyber breaches, such as infections from malicious code, policy violations and network intrusions. According to the findings, reported security incidents among federal agencies have increased by about 650 percent over the past five years. The frequency and intensity of breaches in state and local governments is also alarming. To protect citizens’ personal information, federal agencies are collaborating with local governments through efforts including Criminal Justice Information Services, a division within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. One of the challenges of
securing IT systems at the state and local levels is providing secure access for individuals both inside and outside the organization. Here are several best practices for making the most of identity and access management (IAM) programs and limiting the likelihood — and potential impact — of breaches: 1. Set dual controls and provide employees with the lowest privilege level necessary to properly perform their roles. This not only limits potential internal breaches, but also reduces the number of accounts through which a cyber-criminal can access information. Highly sensitive information should be protected by dual controls to reduce the likelihood of accidental data breaches. 2. Establish regular security reviews to help managers remain aware of information access. As employees change roles within an organization, their levels of access must be adjusted accordingly. Regular reviews of system, process and personnel changes can help prevent unnecessary privileges from going unnoticed. 3. Automate security access. It can be difficult to manually track who is accessing different sets of data, especially as departments work together. Automating some of these tedious tasks is costefficient and eliminates the possibilities for manual error. 4. Educate employees on cybersecurity attacks and security basics. Employees who do not understand why security regulations are important may become susceptible to data leaks. Having regular educational sessions on cyber protection best practices can prevent avoidable breaches. 5. Continue to learn from federal government and industry best practices. While state and local governments deal with their own unique challenges, many security issues are the same for any organization. Federal government mandates and new technologies adopted by industry can help state and local departments find new methods for keeping sensitive data safe. Cybersecurity is not just about technology; it’s also about leadership, people, processes and organizational agility. As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, public sector organizations need to look for inventive and flexible solutions that will help them secure information wherever it travels. Paul Christman is executive director at Quest Software — now a part of Dell — and leads the public sector subsidiary, covering the federal government, state and local governments, and higher education in the U.S. He can be reached at Paul.Christman@Quest.com.
COLLECTING DEBT: A CIVIC DUTY AND A REVENUE RAISER By Harve Platig National Director of Government Accounts, NCS Plus
he use of debt collection for past due receivables is standard operating procedure in many businesses, hospitals, and medical practices. The need to collect debts is age old. Yet the collection of past due fines, fees, and taxes is in a surprising state of confusion and disrepair among government agencies. While awareness is growing that collection of government debt is a clear duty requiring serious action, the reputation associated with debt collection can be repellent. And while many may acknowledge the need, there can be fear that the wrong kind of debt collection activity could do more harm than good. Part of the difference between collection of private and government debts is that the pain of past due accounts is felt differently. Light emphasis on collection of government debt can be traced back to the fact that those deploying the process may be far removed from the pain of unpaid claims. The disconnect between financial “pain” and the urgency to remedy it can spawn a discharged environment of going through the motions. This is hardly a recipe for innovation and high performance. Changes in today’s economy have brought home the realities of the need to maximize government revenues. Layoffs and spending reductions underscore the point that if a dollar is rightfully due to a government agency, someone should take effective action to get it collected. So is collecting debt a civic duty? Truly it is. One ambulance billing director of a county ambulance service recently shared that $150 of every ambulance ride in his county was merely to pay for bad debt. This does not include charity cases, but was instead calculated from those who are able but unwilling to pay. If the average citizen does address their responsibility to pay for that ambulance ride (as the elected officials have determined he or she should), then who is footing the bill for those who dodge? You’ve got it, the average citizen who does pay his/her bill. If that’s not enough, then the county must underwrite the shortfall of the entire process, charging it all back to every taxpayer whether using ambulance service or not. Similar calculations could be made in the underpayment of court fines and fees, water and sewer utilities, government funded hospitals, and many other types of taxes, code violations and more. While the debt collection industry is highly regulated and in many cases filled with clear headed professionals, it has an unsavory side that is not mere fiction. The typical business model used in debt collection has inherent potential for abusive practice. While many if not most play by the rules, the potential is real. What is this potential? It is simply that by using a contingency model for compensating debt collectors, methods, results, accountability, and rewards become disjointed. When a collection agency is paid a percentage of what they collect, they technically work for themselves, not the client. They merely accept an assignment to collect. What they do and how they do it may be the subject of much scrutiny, but ultimately it falls in the wheelhouse of the debt collection agency to decide which debts to pursue and how to go about it. Technology 36
in debt collection is largely used to maximize revenues not for the client, but for the debt collection agency. Having absolved themselves of much scrutiny by charging nothing up front, collectors are free to go about the business of making money as they see fit. Today there is renewed interest in and modernized use of a couple of well worn axioms:
Axiom: You get what you pay for.
By an updated use of fixed fee collections, more and more government agencies are choosing a debt collection business model they can consistently measure and control. Branded by one agency as “restorative recoveries” this new use of fixed fee collections in which the client pays up front can shift the burden of performance onto the debt collector who must produce a minimum return of 400% on fees received, or work for free until that amount is recovered. This unlocks new levels of accountability and performance.
Axiom: Faithfulness works.
Much of the unseen alchemy of debt collection is in skimming and cherry picking accounts for collections. This means the debt collection agency can enrich itself with less effort by ignoring low yield claims. Fixed fee debt collection operates differently. A fixed fee process works every account in exactly the same way, thus meeting the equitable process requirement so needed in the public arena. After all, cherry picking is favoritism on steroids. Faithfulness is a better long-term strategy and it produces credible outcomes that decision makers can rightfully point to as clean public practice.
How well does it work?
As much as the case for fair and balanced treatment of all debts is its own argument, it also must be economically sustainable, especially now. For those who use the newer approach, results are soaring. The rewards of a fixed fee system are designed to favor the client over the debt collector. Net returns of the process are typically two to ten times that of the previous approach. Even better is the fact that due to the essentially complaint free and transparent methods of fixed fee collections, many government agencies are engaging in this duty with confidence for the first time, unlocking a revenue source that has been sorely needed. Add to these recent innovations in the audits of both auto and healthcare insurance companies who often underpay rightful claims, and you have the makings of an optimized receivables management process. Neglecting debt collection is not a form of charity. Once government officials own an effective process, they are truly in a position to act charitably on behalf of constituents. We Americans are generous and forgiving people. By treating this area with a citizen friendly process that favors the client instead of the debt collector, debt collection can take its rightful place—as a civic duty. For more information on accessing NCSPlus, contact Mark LaVigne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACCESS IS THE KEY TO COMPUTERSUPPORTED COLLABORATIVE LEARNING By Tom Gdula Practice Manager, Annese & Associates
hether we call it VDI, End User Computing, Ubiquitous Computing, Thin Client Computing, or a remote desktop, we are referring to a user selected access model that is enabled by virtual computing technologies. When appropriately implemented, this technology allows for secure, but flexible access to a consistently reliable user experience via PCs, laptops, thin clients, tablets and smart phones. This includes older machines that would otherwise be retired for lack of sufficient power to run a current version of a directly installed OS and application suite. The result of virtualization is a lower total cost of ownership, a concept which matters to administrators trying to meet the needs of all students in this new economy. Back in 2001, Marc Prensky coined the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant” while aiming to describe the differences between those of us raised through high school with little or no computer exposure and those who are raised with technology being a common everyday staple. Of course, today we recognize that collaboration with their digital peers is important to all students and access to eLearning experiences must be uniform regardless of the device or brand of device used. The digital trailblazers that brought us to desktop virtualization have helped to usher in an era of affordable computing. This era promises greater flexibility than any of the models we have experienced in the past. Key attributes of the VDI model include: • Shared standardized images and on demand application publishing which provide a more manageable and reliable configuration resulting in a more consistent user experience a critical consideration in the classroom where teachers have limited time and attention to expend on troubleshooting. • A very high degree of scalability that results in a much lower cost per user as the number of users increases. • The consistent application of security policies while controlling the destination of wired or wireless network traffic, paramount to online safety. A centralized and consolidated network of virtualized servers and desktops permits a much higher degree of security and control even when users bring their own wireless devices to school, because the network can now be configured to allow those devices to access only the virtual desktops and provisioned apps appropriate for that user. • AppStores that promote on demand use of productive, effective, reliable, accepted, and licensed applications.
• A highly consolidated footprint versus a distributed server and physical desktop infrastructure. Leveraging the efficiencies of shared storage, the virtualized model greatly improves data archiving and deduplication potential, both of which enable affordable replication for disaster avoidance. • Utilization of lower cost end points and extending the useful life of lower power PCs, while measurably reducing power consumption, repairs, and outages.
Case study Washingtonville Central School District, part of Orange Ulster BOCES, was ready to replace over 700 campus workstations as part of their regular equipment refresh program. This antiquated method of ensuring that students and faculty maintain access to modern technology came with a heavy price-tag.The district began to explore different ways to allocate those funds in exchange for a long-term return on investment. Washingtonville made the decision to adopt a virtualization strategy across three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. By making this kind of investment in the infrastructure, as opposed to merely replacing the desktop hardware, Washingtonville was positioning itself wisely for significant cost savings down the road by extending the lifespan of their existing workstations, as well as set the foundation for a more efficient use of their IT department’s time and resources. Annese implemented Cisco USC Servers, EMC2 storage area networks, Cisco core switching infrastructure, and VMware View 5 software. Now, their virtual desktops and virtual servers are all managed by the same VMware View software. The District is realizing cost savings from a reduction in PC replacements and an increase in network efficiency. The implementation will scale to virtualize 1100 workstations and the design will allow for additional machines in the future. Likewise, Washingtonville is now positioned to support a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment in conjunction with their wireless infrastructure which means that remote users will be able to access their applications and data from anywhere. VDI is a highly flexible and cost effective model that can allow for broader accessibility by a greater number of students for a lower total cost of ownership. Proven as a viable platform in the K-12 arena, the virtualized desktop and application delivery model is rapidly becoming a standard for both traditional IT shops and hosted desktop service providers. Annese has been virtualizing unified communications servers by Continued on page 38 •
Continued from page 37 the dozens. We help small organizations and state agencies save money and improve their business operations in areas like secure remote access and BYOD situations. We continue to staff and train for the large and growing need for virtualization, and we see it as an enormous growth engine for our business over the coming years. With offerings in server, desktop, storage, and UC virtualization, we present a comprehensive and cohesive set of solutions to our customers. Our business is fundamentally about one thing: helping our customers with their business challenges. Virtualization is a core piece of our practice for the simple reason that itâ€™s a compelling way to address those challenges.
Save These Dates! 47th Annual County Finance School May 1-3, 2013 The Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel
NEW COUNTY LAWS: BPA, BATH SALTS, AND TAXICABS By Patrick Cummings NYSAC Assistant Counsel
Suffolk County bans BPA in paper receipts
This law is intended to inform taxicab customers of their rights as a passenger as well as inform them of what the cab driver may request from the passenger.
In December 2012, Suffolk County became the first county in the nation to pass a law banning paper receipts that contain Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a chemical that can be found in plastic-based materials and thermal paper products. The county legislature stated that exposure to BPA “…disrupts healthy development and can lead to an altered immune system, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, reproductive health problems, increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, obesity and diabetes.”
The Bill of Rights for the passenger includes, but is not limited to, the rights to: be taken on the most direct route; have a noise free trip; smoke and scent free; workable seatbelts; request that no other passengers be allowed to ride with you. This Bill of Rights for the driver includes, but is not limited to, the rights to: an additional fee if the driver leaves additional passengers due to passengers request to ride alone; request the passenger refrain from smoking; and pay the fare as requested, either when entering the cab or exiting.
The county legislature determined that BPA in receipts can be transferred to skin when touched and can then either be absorbed into the body or transferred from the hands to the mouth. The legislature further stated that employees in the retail and food service industries commonly handle receipts with BPA, and that those employees “have an average of 30% more BPA in their bodies than adults employed in other professions.”
Enforcement ensuring that this Bill of Rights is displayed in taxicabs within Albany County will be administered by the county Consumer Affairs Department. Failure to comply with the requirements of this local law could result in a fine of no more than $100.00.
The law prohibits anyone or any entity within the county to use thermal paper containing BPA as a receipt of purchase or sale. Any individual violating this local law the will be subject to a fine up to $500.00 for the first violation and $1,000.00 for each subsequent violation. SEL’S COUN
Nassau County adopts local law requiring a license to operate storage warehouse property
Nassau County has adopted a local law requiring a license to operate a storage warehouse business. The law defines a storage warehouse as a building or structure in which a consumer’s household goods are received for storage in return for compensation. The county found it necessary to regulate the operation of storage warehouses through the license process due to “the interest of protecting county residents who have entrusted their belongings to third parties, and to help safeguard the health and wellness of those residents.” The application for license serves in part as a background check and requires the applicant to state multiple facts about the applicant/ business including if the operator has been convicted of a crime or violation of any municipal ordinance in the past 10 years. The law requires that the county-issued operation license must be openly displayed within the business structure Failure to comply with the provisions of this law could result in a fine up to $5,000.00 and/or up to 15 days imprisonment.
Albany County establishes the taxicab passenger’s and driver’s bill of rights In November 2012, Albany County adopted a local law that requires all taxicabs which load or discharge passengers within the county to display within the cab a Passenger’s and Driver’s Bill of Rights. NYSAC News
Rensselaer County joins the growing list of counties prohibiting the sale of “nath salts” and synthetic marijuana
In November 2012, Rensselaer County adopted a local law prohibiting the sale of Synthetic Phenethylamines (otherwise known as “bath salts”) as well as banning the sale of Synthetic Cannabinoids (otherwise known as Synthetic Marijuana). The county legislature found that “bath salts” are commonly available online, in convenience stores, gas station and smoke shops. The legislature determined that this product causes similar effects to cocaine including “increased heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, violent behavior, nausea and vomiting” and “from January 2011 to April 2012, poison control centers throughout the United States have received over 7,000 calls regarding instances of poisoning from products containing synthetic phenethylamines, including instances resulting in accidental death and suicide.” The legislature also found that teens have a prevalent use of synthetic cannabinoids as a “legal alternative” to marijuana. This local law states that synthetic marijuana was the cause of over 10,000 calls from January 2011 to June 2012 to nationwide poison control centers. This Rensselaer County Law bans the possession, manufacturing, sale, or offer to sell, of both “bath salts” and Synthetic Marijuana within the county. Any person found in violation of this local law shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and/or a $1,000.00 fine.
LOCAL ROADS AND BRIDGES FACE FUNDING CRISIS By David M. Hartman Yates County Highway Superintendent and President of the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association
he condition of our local roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure continues to deteriorate despite the extraordinary efforts of county highway superintendents to do more work with less money. While our elected officials certainly understand this need, the public is perceived as being reluctant to pay more for repairing an aging transportation infrastructure making it difficult for politicians to vote to raise revenues or reallocate funding for these purposes. In the past 5 years, while State and federal investment in our system has been flat, and buying power eroded by inflation, more roads are crumbling and more bridges are rated structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. This is taking its toll on motorists. National studies have demonstrated rough roads add an average of $335 to the annual cost of owning a car—in some cities $740 more—due to damaged tires, suspensions and reduced fuel efficiency. For the last few decades, county highway superintendents have practiced well-established pavement preservation strategies and concentrated investments in cost-effective preventive maintenance hoping to extend the life of our roads, bridges and culverts. According to the AASHTO, every $1 spent in maintaining a good road avoids spending $6-$14 to rehabilitate or rebuild one. Rising costs and dwindling funding means we are losing the preservation battle. Today only a fraction of the road mileage is able to be treated compared to just a few years ago. As a result, more of our system condition has fallen below the threshold for preservation and now needs costly rehabilitation or replacement. In too many cases, municipalities will not have the resources necessary to undertake these expensive projects. Motorists; truckers; transit and school buses; law enforcement; emergency vehicles; farmers; utility companies; local merchants and local delivery vehicles all travel on local roads and bridges. It’s easy to see the social and economic impacts from the loss of these transportation paths and forced detours. A growing number of communities are finding out what it means not to have access to a river crossing or highway overpass that had been part of their daily commutes for years. Because when a bridge fails structurally, it must be closed completely or weight-limit posted. The normal wear and tear on roads and bridges requires tremendous maintenance and rehabilitation just to keep it in good condition. This takes money. When funding is not forthcoming, maintenance is deferred; damage increases and the costs for remediation and treatment go up exponentially. Also, federal and State gasoline 40
taxes, a primary source of revenue for highway and bridge work, now generate insufficient dollars due to more fuel-efficient vehicles and motorists driving fewer miles. So taxpayers today are paying far less into the federal and State highway trust funds than they have in the past. To compound the funding problem, only a small portion of the State gasoline taxes collected from motorists goes toward maintaining our highways and bridges. Less than 25% of the State’s Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund (DHBTF) is actually available for transportation capital, the balance going to State operations and debt service. The condition of the local transportation system is as bad as the State system. Yet the State’s system (only 15% of road mileage and 50% of the bridges) benefited this year from a $1 billion New York Works accelerated bridge and pavement program. Unfortunately, the local system had no such accelerated program and the bulk of federal funds now go to the National Highway System which means even less for local roads. As a vital component of the economy, an efficient local transportation system provides economic opportunities resulting in positive effects like enhanced accessibility to markets, increased employment and private sector investments. When the system is deficient, unreliable or congested, it increases economic costs and reduces economic opportunities. The repair, rehabilitation, efficient operations and strategic replacement of existing transportation infrastructure are required for safety, mobility and for our State to remain economically competitive. NYSCHSA members and affiliates continue to provide their legislative leaders and the traveling public with vital information as to the true conditions of their local transportation systems and about the critical need to support investment in the roads and bridges they rely on. We can no longer take our roads and bridges for granted. The New York State County Highway Superintendents Association is a non-profit organization that promotes the construction and maintenance of a safe and modern system of county roads and other allied transportation infrastructure maintained by county government. Counties are responsible for more than 20,400 miles of highways and over 9,000 bridges in New York State.
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