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COUNTIES COLLABORATE ON CONFLICT DEFENDER SERVICES

By Colleen Pillus, Dutchess County and Mark Longtoe, Ulster County

In 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 State-mandated 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.”

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.

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 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.”

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.”

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.

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NYSAC News Winter 2015

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Counties in the News, April 16, 2015

NYSAC
Association of Counties: Upstate sales tax receipts are down

STATEWIDE
Old ‘pork’ spending may live a long time

LONG ISLAND
Maragos: Over 250 Students From High Schools Across Nassau County Compete In Third Annual Business Development Challenge

HUDSON VALLEY
“Say No to the Bag” gains traction in Rockland

Officials meet with NY DOT to address pothole problems on state roads

As final PCB dredging season nears, an urgent call for more

NORTH COUNTRY
Distressed properties: impact of environmental programs on contaminated land uncertain

SOUTHERN TIER
Re-launch of prescription drug discount card program (Video)

Sheriff presents annual report to County Board

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Is Onondaga Lake finally clean enough to swim in? NY State, scientists think so

FINGER LAKES
Veterans Service Agency announces new collaborations in Monroe County

WESTERN NEW YORK
Erie County employees accept 1 million pound challenge

Former Allegany Co. church, museum demolished

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Counties in the News, April 15, 2015

NYSAC
Sales Tax Revenues Show Signs of Economic Weakness

STATEWIDE
New York State Erases Fees Seen as Nuisances to Business

Advocates Fight To Keep Sheltered Workshops For Workers With Disabilities

LONG ISLAND
Suffolk Foundation Gala Raises Scholarship Funds, Last Year More Than $550K Awarded

HUDSON VALLEY
Astorino Details $25M Deal With New Manager Of Rye Playland

Dutchess County Lawmakers To Vote On Resolution Asking DEC To Study Potential Hudson River Oil Spill

CAPITAL
Saratoga’s Oklahoma track opens for the season

NORTH COUNTRY
Jefferson County committee gets update on JCC learning center, jail dormitory

Jail dormitory at Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building going through “soft opening”

MOHAWK VALLEY
County IDA director to retire

SOUTHERN TIER
Bainbridge receives county funds for General Clinton Park renovations

Steuben County Unveils Farmland Protection Plan

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Onondaga County legislators weigh in on Mixed Martial Arts in NY

Cayuga County legislators uneasy about plan for city, county garage

WESTERN NEW YORK
Reports show Erie County is improving mental health care for inmates

DMV in Chautauqua County seeks new office space in Jamestown

Library launches campaign to spur reading aloud to children

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Sales Tax Revenues Show Signs of Economic Weakness

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

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

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

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

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

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Counties in the News, April 13, 2015

STATEWIDE
What the State Budget Means for Business

Business Council advocating to make Property Tax Cap permanant

LONG ISLAND
Millions facing higher premium rates for flood insurance

HUDSON VALLEY
Temporary Dutchess jail expansion almost ready

Rockland lawmakers support funding new Hi-Tor Animal Shelter upgrade

Second round of Dutchess agency partner grants awarded

NORTH COUNTRY
Warming up to sales tax: County’s tax plan should exempt most of the cost of clothing

St. Lawrence County exploring changes to public health department

SOUTHERN TIER
IDA launches new brand

Broome County Health Department to remain closed next week

FINGER LAKES
Ontario County nets $200K counterterrorism grant

WESTERN NEW YORK
Ross signs WNY Armed Forces Week proclamation

Food Connections grant aids farmers, underserved consumers

Niagara, Orleans counties plan joint e-waste effort

350 job openings at Niagara Falls hotels and restaurants

Legislators to review extra $3 million for roads

County employees promote Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Counties in the News, April 10, 2015

STATEWIDE
New York got (in 2013) more of its revenue from local funds (15 percent) than any other state.

Schumer: Rail bridges offer safety risk

State comptroller calls for more oversight for LDCs

NEW YORK CITY
De Blasio and Schumer Take the Subway. Many Fellow Riders Shrug.

HUDSON VALLEY
Owners Of The Westchester Pledge Millions To Renovate Shopping Center

Orange County lawmaker proposes an animal abuse registry and tougher sanctions

14 Westchester communities seek long-shot hotel tax

NORTH COUNTRY
Essex County supers get Westport history lesson

MOHAWK VALLEY
Hanna calls for new federal aviation bill

SOUTHERN TIER
Upgrades eyed at Steuben County Fairgrounds

CENTRAL NEW YORK
County accepts grant money for program helping seniors

IDA approves Cayuga PILOT, despite pushback

FINGER LAKES
Officials urge investments in infrastructure

WESTERN NEW YORK
Erie Co. plans $29 million in road and bridge projects (Video)

Erie County: Poloncarz, Glascott debut ‘text to 9-1-1′

Smoking down to record low in Erie, Niagara counties

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Counties in the News, April 9, 2015

STATEWIDE
New York Announces $160M for Large-Scale Clean Energy

NEW YORK CITY
Wall Street Fees Wipe Out $2.5 Billion in New York City Pension Gains

HUDSON VALLEY
Westchester lawmaker calls for new federal hearing on gas pipeline

CAPITAL
N.Y. capital to honor Abraham Lincoln 150 years after assassination

NORTH COUNTRY
Jefferson County sales tax hike faces uncertain future in state legislature

April 18 ‘World Amateur Radio Day,’ according to Jefferson County proclamation

SOUTHERN TIER
Steuben DPW chief outlines road, bridge projects

$1.4 million in funding for N.Y.’s agricultural economy

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Gail Stoughtenger Receives Certificate Of Appreciation

WESTERN NEW YORK
Snow Removal: So Who Maintains Which Roads?

Officials look beyond education in 2015-16 budget

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Counties in the News, April 7, 2015

STATEWIDE
New York ranks 41st on low tax burden list

NORTH COUNTRY
Lewis County board to vote on LCDC compensation deal for services by county economic development director

Louisville woman appointed to replace Putney on St. Lawrence County Legislature

SOUTHERN TIER
Broome County considers bus passes for veterans

Cornell Cooperative Extension takes on state taxing system

Broome Co. Legislature to Discuss Future Public Hearing Times

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Counties in the News, April 6, 2015

STATEWIDE
Seiler: A rising tide lifts all litters

Busy spring ahead for New York Legislature

HUDSON VALLEY
Ulster County to seek state aid for ‘shovel-ready’ marketing of former jail property

Forum on prescription drug, opiate abuse prevention on April 9 in Red Hook

CAPITAL
Proposed Albany County law would prohibit tobacco displays in drug stores, pharmacy

Busy times ahead for Washington County marijuana producer

NORTH COUNTRY
Lewis County IDA on the fence about renewing PILOT agreements with Genesee Valley Transportation

SOUTHERN TIER
County’s ‘efficiency plan’ seeks tax credit for homeowners

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Deputy saves man from apparent heroin overdose by using antidote naloxone

FINGER LAKES
State budget praised: FL administrators say it’s fair

WESTERN NEW YORK
Language Key To Passing Sales Tax At State Level

Head of Falls agency tapped for key WNY economic development post

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Counties in the News, April 3, 2015

NYSAC
Broadband Expansion Will Help Rural Counties, Businesses

Funding for Brownfields, Oil Spill Prevention Help Counties Protect the Environment

Counties Laud Economic Development Funds in NYS Budget

County Public Health Funding Remains Stable in Final State Budget

County Public Safety Programs Supported in State Budget

Funding for Roads, Bridges, Water Quality Praised by Counties

Counties Commend Record State Funding for Farmland Preservation

Counties Commend Community College Commitment

STATEWIDE
Broadband Expansion Will Help Rural Counties, Businesses

Gov. Andrew Cuomo picks Vincent Bradley to lead State Liquor Authority

LONG ISLAND
Mangano plan looks to get Nassau County roads out of a rut

HUDSON VALLEY
Flags on Orange County buildings flown at half-staff for county employee

CAPITAL
Albany Co. executive is expected to announce new ban on cigarette sales

Rensselaer County seeks tourists

Melting snow, rain lead to flood worries in Capital Region

NORTH COUNTRY
Jefferson Community College to share in $20 million state-aid boost

SOUTHERN TIER
Local Leaders Push State for Stronger Sex Offender Laws

WESTERN NEW YORK
William Ross won’t seek re-election to Niagara County Legislature

With medical marijuana regulations filed, Lewiston grow site expected to apply

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Counties Commend Community College Commitment

At a time when community colleges are more important than ever to providing quality affordable education and training, county leaders applaud the state’s fiscal commitment to these institutions.

“In February of 2015, I testified before the state legislature urging the state to continue to invest in our community colleges. I am pleased to see the final state budget included nearly $14 million in additional tuition aid, another in a series of steps toward the state providing funding at the level required in state law,” said Kathleen Jimino, Rensselaer County Executive.

“I commend the Governor and the State Legislature for this investment in our students and our communities. As college sponsors, county governments have a strong partnership and desire to see the colleges succeed. Towards this end, we look forward to continuing to work with the SUNY, the Governor and the State Legislature to support New York’s community colleges,” Jimino said.

The Budget provides a $13.75 million increase in Community College FTE (full time equivalency) aid above the Governor’s budget recommendation, which equates to about a $75 per FTE increase.

Collaborating for Success

In addition, the budget requires SUNY trustees to work with boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) to identify new or existing programs offered to students that would allow a student to pursue an associate of occupational studies (AOS) degree from a community college upon high school graduation. Once identified, BOCES in collaboration with the community college boards of trustees shall make such path, identified programs, and AOS degree options known to ensure that students are aware that such options exist.

Aligning Community Colleges within Regions

The state budget also establishes regional planning councils to ensure that community colleges outside New York City cooperate with other colleges within regions of the state and that the colleges, along with stakeholders from other state agencies, local government and business and industry in a region are working together. These councils will set program development, enrollment and transfer goals on a regional basis. This will limit competition by colleges for students within a region, better align education and training program offerings to regional economic development goals and activities, and improve student outcomes.

“County officials are uniquely situated to facilitate the dialogue between community colleges and other colleges within New York State. We are prepared to assist the state in this realignment of educational programs,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.

To view all of NYSAC’s budget-related press releases, click here.

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

For more information visit www.nysac.org.

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