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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.

Posted in NYSAC News Winter 2013 | Comments Off

NYSAC News Spring/Summer 2014 Table of Contents

Posted in NYSAC News Spring/Summer 2014 | Leave a comment

Counties in the News, July 23, 2014

THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1945-A B-25 bomber crashes into the Empire State Building killing 14 people

STATEWIDE
Empire State Development announces expansion of Praxair, retention of more than 1,100 jobs

LONG ISLAND
Workshop Highlights Tax Breaks

HUDSON VALLEY
State questions Ulster estimate

CAPITAL
McCoy to call for criminal, civil penalties if oil spills aren’t reported

NORTH COUNTRY
Airport offers come in low

MOHAWK VALLEY
Legislature to consider college resolutions

CENTRAL NEW YORK
One month after Unity Council speaks, opposing faction of Cayuga Nation shares its side of dispute with Legislature

CSX rail expansion leads to extra costs and long detours

FINGER LAKES
Hazy, hot and humid, a perfect day to hit the beach

WESTERN NEW YORK
Nearly 3,000 tons of patch has been applied to Erie County roads since June 1

Allegany eyesore to see new development

Legislator takes aim at Town of Niagara IDA

Upcoming County Jail Health Insurance Webinar

Is your County Correctional facility leaving money on the table? Your facility could significantly reduce its overall correctional health care costs by implementing a variety of cost-containment strategies. On July 24, POMCO will be hosting the free webinar “Correctional Health Care Cost Containment Strategies.”

To register, go to www.pomcogroup.com and click on the registration link.

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Counties in the News, July 22, 2014

HUDSON VALLEY
Casino bidders seek local property tax breaks

Hudson Valley sees growth in sales-tax revenue, while upstate lags

CAPITAL
GE leads in deal leading to more upstate jobs

Saratoga County Fair returns for 173rd year

NORTH COUNTRY
Governors tie in river rafting race

Governor Cuomo announces success of second summer Adirondack Challenge

SOUTHERN TIER
Broome County Legislature Seeks Community Input

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Seneca County supervisors to mull next step for canal trail

FINGER LAKES
Ontario County purchasing handheld ID scanners

Genesee Community College Trustees

WESTERN NEW YORK
Orleans County Fair opens for 6-day stand

Upcoming County Jail Health Insurance Webinar
Is your County Correctional facility leaving money on the table? Your facility could significantly reduce its overall correctional health care costs by implementing a variety of cost-containment strategies. On July 24, POMCO will be hosting the free webinar “Correctional Health Care Cost Containment Strategies.”

To register, go to www.pomcogroup.com and click on the registration link.

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Counties in the News, July 21, 2014

STATEWIDE
Renewables changing of the guard

NYSAC provides a renewable program with our energy partner MEGA

LONG ISLAND
KidPix Child ID Program

NEW YORK CITY
Wealthier New Yorkers Aren’t Fleeing the City for Tax Havens, a Study Says

HUDSON VALLEY
Orange Bureau Confidential: Neuhaus to spell out county layoff plans

Tappan Zee Bridge: Thruway chair hints tolls may double

Westchester loses 2014 community development grants; total lost tops $25 million

Redrawn Sullivan County district lines approved, but there’s a backlash

CAPITAL
EMS task force grapples with response time

NORTH COUNTRY
Cuomo: “North Country is coming back big time”

Economists cite public fear, winter blues for lag in sales tax returns in Jefferson, Lewis counties

County Mulls Adding Charge to Your Cell Phone Bill

FINGER LAKES
GCC offering food processing technology degree

WESTERN NEW YORK
Cattaraugus County to employ aerial spraying against mosquitoes in selected areas

Off the Grid Experience campground opens in Portland

Looking for more tax breaks

Upcoming County Jail Health Insurance Webinar

Is your County Correctional facility leaving money on the table? Your facility could significantly reduce its overall correctional health care costs by implementing a variety of cost-containment strategies. On July 24, POMCO will be hosting the free webinar “Correctional Health Care Cost Containment Strategies.”

To register, go to www.pomcogroup.com and click on the registration link.

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Counties in the News, July 18, 2014

LONG ISLAND
UPDATE: LIRR Strike Averted as MTA, Unions Make Deal

HUDSON VALLEY
Ulster county executive, corrections union reach labor agreement

Neuhaus proposes 50 layoffs, early retirements

Sullivan OKs $442K for jail design changes

Dutchess County group interested in using St. Cabrini Home in Esopus to house border orphans

SOUTHERN TIER
Vacant Deputy County Executive position will not be filled (Video)

Two Members of the Broome County Legislature Resign

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Tompkins County Achieves National Recognition as Top Digital County

Onondaga County to spray Cicero swamp after finding evidence of EEE virus

Legislators want more information before approving more money for Air 1

FINGER LAKES
Ontario County supervisors adopt FLCC budget

WESTERN NEW YORK
County to seek bids for new fuel depot at Allegany barn

ECIDA restarts venture capital fund

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Counties in the News, July 17, 2014

THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1996 – TWA Flight 800: Off the coast of Long Island, New York, a Paris-bound TWA Boeing 747 explodes, killing all 230 on board.

NATION
Obama Wants Localities to Prepare for Climate Change

STATEWIDE
State releases property tax freeze/rebate plan guidance

PEF: Cameras keeping tabs on N.Y. state workers’ time

HUDSON VALLEY
Rockland finalizes deal to sell Summit Park nursing home

$256 million loan from Clean Water Act funds approved for new Tappan Zee Bridge

CAPITAL
Albany County welcomes housing for homeless vets

County treasurer to examine verity of insurance claims

NORTH COUNTRY
State jurist halts mining tests

MOHAWK VALLEY
New aviation commissioner settling into role at Griffiss

SOUTHERN TIER
Counties unveil new carpooling program

Broome County Legislature Looking to Reduce Number of Deputy County Executives

Schuyler County Legislature still supports LPG plan storage

Broome County Experiences Sales Tax Shortfall Again

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Tompkins County Achieves National Recognition as Top Digital County

CCC enrollment down, labor contract approved

State offers disaster preparedness training in Oswego July 30

FINGER LAKES
Genesee lawmakers discuss Nursing Home sale in private

WESTERN NEW YORK
Shared services forum well attended

NYSAC Rep Explains Tax Plan For Shared Services

Chautauqua County public assistance programs change

Heritage chicken barbecue, novelty ice cream flavors highlight preview of Erie County Fair

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Counties in the News, July 16, 2014

NYSAC
Most Counties See Lackluster Sales Tax Collections

Tompkins County Achieves National Recognition as Top Digital County

STATEWIDE
State releases property tax freeze/rebate plan guidance

Cuomo not worried about gaming industry slide

Citi to pay $7B in fines for bad loans

LONG ISLAND
Nassau awards $20.7M contract to build new county crime lab to Syosset company

Commuters worry on the brink of rail strike

HUDSON VALLEY
Dutchess County Government ranked second in nation for use of information and communications technology

CAPITAL
Albany County to take second crack at cyber-bullying law

New-tech investment

NORTH COUNTRY
Up to 44 oil trains weekly upstate

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Neighbors returning keepsakes of Smithfield tornado victims found miles away

Upcoming County Jail Health Insurance Webinar

Is your County Correctional facility leaving money on the table? Your facility could significantly reduce its overall correctional health care costs by implementing a variety of cost-containment strategies. On July 24, POMCO will be hosting the free webinar “Correctional Health Care Cost Containment Strategies.”

To register, go to www.pomcogroup.com and click on the registration link.

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Tompkins County Achieves National Recognition as Top Digital County

Tompkins County has been recognized as one of the nation’s top digital counties by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo). The award identifies best technology practices among counties nationwide, recognizing leading examples of counties that use technology to improve services and boost efficiencies.

The top-ten ranking was based on the County’s digital achievements in the categories of civic engagement; policy; operations; and technology and data. These achievements include innovative use of digital records scanning technology through an enterprise documents management system, a digital approach that saved the County $5.5 million over a physical records facility.

Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties said, “Since the creation of our counties, the county clerk’s office has been instrumental in maintaining the important records and history of our communities. More than 300 years later, that role remains critical for counties, but the technologies for keeping those records have changed. We applaud Tompkins County for embracing the digital technologies of the 21st Century in ways that are making the county more effective, efficient and transparent. The recognition by the National Association of Counties is well deserved. Tompkins County is a model that will be followed by other counties in New York and across the nation.”

Managing records through the Laserfiche documents management system enabled the County to scan 9,000 boxes of records housed in its deteriorating Records Center, destroy the paper, and vacate the building, avoiding the planned cost of renovating or constructing a new building. The EDMS technology is now used to manage records and automate business processes in all 28 County departments, and the court system, as well as for 17 municipal partners through a shared services agreement-which includes the City of Ithaca and all of the county’s Towns and Villages.

“We’re thrilled to receive the national award, which in part recognizes the effort of Tompkins County to use 21st Century technology to provide better recordkeeping alternatives,” said Michael Lane, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature. “This initiative was spearheaded out of efforts in the Tompkins County Clerk’s Office, led by Deputy Clerk Maureen Reynolds, working in cooperation with County’s Information Technology department. We are particularly excited about how this program is being shared with other municipalities throughout the county in the spirit of true intermunicipal cooperation.”

The County employs digital technology to improve relationships and efficiencies among County departments, as well as to enable law enforcement agencies to share important data and information to increase efficiencies and improve public safety. Civic engagement is fostered and encouraged by digital technologies including the County’s online meeting portal, through which residents can access meeting schedules, agendas, minutes, and other materials, and view web-streams of live and past County Legislature meetings.

“It is an honor to be recognized as one of the national Digital Counties,” said County Information Technology Services Director Greg Potter, who accepted the award on the County’s behalf at the NACo annual conference this past weekend in New Orleans. “ITS and County Clerk’s staff deserve daily recognition for their diligent efforts and work. Receiving this award has meant a great deal to my staff and to Tompkins County.”

“This award is due to the collaborative efforts of our Information Technology Department, County Clerk’s Office, other county departments and our local municipalities,” noted Deputy County Clerk Reynolds.  “We have been fortunate to have municipal leaders who recognize that technology and collaboration through shared services agreements can save tax-payer money; and that by establishing relationships with our municipal partners, we will be able to cooperatively design other cost-saving technologies in the future.”

Tompkins County tied for sixth position in the up to 150,000 population category. More information on this year’s Digital Counties program may be found at http://www.digitalcommunities.com/survey/counties/?year=2014.

Contact:  Deputy County Clerk Maureen Reynolds, 607-274-5442; Director of Information Technology Services, Greg Potter, 607-274-5417; Michael Lane, Chair of the Legislature, 274-5434, 844-8313, or 844-8440.

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Most Counties See Lackluster Sales Tax Collections

New York State has released the most recent sales tax data, and for the most part there is little change to report.

The total collections for counties (outside of New York City) are basically flat for the first six months of 2014.  Excluding the four counties that increased their sales tax rate, the average percentage change in each county was .01 percent.

In the 2nd quarter, 10 counties had negative growth. In the 1st quart of 2014 and the last quarter of 2013, 27 counties had negative growth; the latest numbers show some improvement.

According to the data, New York City is up 5 percent in total dollars for the first six  months of 2014.

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) reports that counties continue to struggle as this important revenue stream sputters.

  • 6 counties (10% of all counties) have had negative growth year over year in all 3 quarters,
  • 15 counties (26%)  have had negative growth in 2 out of the last 3 quarters, and
  • 16 counties (28%) have had negative growth in 1 out of the last 3 quarters
  • Overall 37 counties (65%) have experienced negative sales tax growth in 1 of the last 3 quarters

The uneven growth reveals significant pockets of weakness across the state – only 35 percent of counties have seen positive growth in each of the last three quarters.

“Sales tax revenue is crucial to counties, as it is one of only a handful of revenue sources available,” said NYSAC President Mark Alger. “The state must make an ongoing commitment to targeted Mandate Relief in health and human programs and relieve the burden on local taxpayers.”

NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said, “Sales tax collection data provides a key indicator of our state and local economy. Clearly we are still in recovery mode, and while the numbers show improvement we have a long way to go. There is a need for continued focus on economic development, at both the local and state level.”

View the detailed data on NYSAC’s Policy & Research page.

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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.

Media contact:
Mark LaVigne, Deputy Director
mlavigne@nysac.org
518-465-1473

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Invasive Species Awareness Week Wraps Up

Last week, communities throughout New York State marked invasive species awareness week. Governor Cuomo signed a special proclamation, and many counties passed resolutions reaffirming their commitment to promoting invasive species awareness locally. Events were held around the state to promote awareness of invasive plant, animal insect and aquatic species and how the public can prevent the spread of these organisms. NYSAC sat on the steering committee that planned and promoted the week’s events.

Even though awareness week has ended, the fight against invasive species is ongoing. For more information about what state and local partners are doing to combat the spread of invasive species, visit www.nyis.info, the website of the New York Invasive Species Clearinghouse and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Invasive Species Education Program.

For a recap of invasive species awareness week efforts, click here for a news story:http://wamc.org/post/new-york-targets-public-knowledge-and-prevention-during-invasive-species-awareness-week

Posted in NYSAC Weekly Wire week ending July 11, 2014 | Leave a comment

Fall Seminar

NYSAC’s annual Fall Seminar is the only place to get educational sessions and legislative updates tailored to the needs of county leaders. Network with peers from across the state, learn how the latest state legislation will impact your county, add your voice to NYSAC’s advocacy priorities, and bring cutting-edge local government tools back to your county.

Save the date, and watch for registration materials:

September 22-24, 2014
Hyatt/Buffalo Niagara Convention Center
Buffalo (Erie County)

Posted in NYSAC Weekly Wire week ending July 11, 2014 | Leave a comment