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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 Spring/Summer 2014 Table of Contents

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NYSAC News Fall 2014 Table of Contents

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NYSAC News Winter 2015

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Counties in the News, May 11, 2015

HUDSON VALLEY
Orange County General Services, IT departments to merge

Oil spewing into the Hudson

Dutchess considers construction apprenticeship program for large bridge projects

NORTH COUNTRY
Eight St. Lawrence County residents honored for preventing rabies outbreak after Amish community members exposed to rabid horse

MOHAWK VALLEY
MVCC lays off 10, closes child center

VVS, NYS Police promote prom safety

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Madison County supervisors aiming for state tax freeze credit

Mahoney selects Durr as new Onondaga County Attorney

WESTERN NEW YORK
As enrollment drops and tuition rises, ECC must take the steps necessary to secure its future

Niagara County renews bed tax, OKs road work

Chautauqua Lake Groups Rally to Keep Waterway Clean and Safe (Video)

Niagara County Legislature hands out community grants

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Counties in the News, May 5, 2015

STATEWIDE
Schumer urges tougher oil train safety rules

Who pays if a crude oil train crashes? No mandates for rail insurance

Critics: Rail oil rules lax

LONG ISLAND
Mangano Announces Navy And Marine Helicopter Landing At Eisenhower Park

NEW YORK CITY
New York City police officer dies after shooting

HUDSON VALLEY
Dutchess County Exec Molinaro seeks to keep peace between police and public

Dutchess Tourism set to release three new publications

Veterans In Rockland County Team Up To Provide Housing For Their Brethren

CAPITAL
Clifton Park weighs medical pot site

NORTH COUNTRY
St. Lawrence County legislators vote to preserve funding for Bassmasters

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Cayuga County Office for the Aging: Local seniors to be honored May 26

WESTERN NEW YORK
Erie County: Poloncarz, officials promote motorcycle safety, awareness

Editorial: Improving lives for half a century

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Counties in the News, May 1, 2015

STATEWIDE
NY lawmakers look to put the lid on license plate cover sales

Bill would create crime of stolen valor

LONG ISLAND
Mangano And Montesano Offer Free Photo ID’s For Children In May

Employee of the month

HUDSON VALLEY
Rockland codes initiative launched

NORTH COUNTRY
St. Lawrence County board to hold public hearing on local law governing concealed carry permits

MOHAWK VALLEY
TV show talks with county executive

Local law enforcement agencies receive $105G worth of body armor

SOUTHERN TIER
Broome County dissolves Office of Energy Development

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Eye toward stopping potato blight in state

Regional council eyes $500M prize

WESTERN NEW YORK
Chautauqua County focuses on tourism

Inmate reintegration program is revived in Erie County

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Counties in the News, April 24, 2015

STATEWIDE
Canal system slated to be open May 8

NEW YORK CITY
Huge tax break in play for builders

HUDSON VALLEY
Astorino Praises Mount Kisco Contract With Hawthorne-Based County Police

CAPITAL
State opens new forest in New Lebanon

Schodack farmer says buffalo loose in Bethlehem might have swam Hudson River

NORTH COUNTRY
State buys more of former Finch land

MOHAWK VALLEY
Ban on powdered alcohol should be a state law at the least (Opinion)

FINGER LAKES
United Way hiring for anti-poverty program

Area code problems in Ontario County

Arbor, Earth days observed in Livingston County with plantings and presentations

WESTERN NEW YORK
Legislature approves funding for road repair

Horrigan Kicks Off Growing Food Connections Program

STATEWIDE

Canal system slated to be open May 8

New York officials say the 524-mile state canal system is scheduled to open May 8 for the 2015 navigation season.

NEW YORK CITY

Huge tax break in play for builders

New York City subsidy for new housing debated

HUDSON VALLEY

Astorino Praises Mount Kisco Contract With Hawthorne-Based County Police

“Mayor Cindrich’s goals were to improve police services, while lowering costs. I said it sounded like a good idea. My only caveat was that it had to be cost neutral to county taxpayers.” Astorino said he directed Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth to see if a deal was possible.

CAPITAL

State opens new forest in New Lebanon

“The Hand Hollow State Forest, with more than 500 acres of beautiful wooded land and a secluded lake, is a magnificent addition to the growing inventory of publicly accessible open lands in Columbia County,” said Columbia Land Conservancy Executive Director Peter R. Paden.

Schodack farmer says buffalo loose in Bethlehem might have swam Hudson River

George Mesick says he suspects the animals swam across the Hudson River – they were last spotted Thursday on Schodack Island – or they climbed onto the nearby Interstate 90 bridge that links Rensselaer and Albany counties.

NORTH COUNTRY

State buys more of former Finch land

The state completed its $4.24 million purchase of more land formerly owned by Finch in Essex County.


MOHAWK VALLEY

Ban on powdered alcohol should be a state law at the least (Opinion)

Hopefully the Oneida County Board of Legislators won’t need to enact a local law banning the sale of powdered alcohol. That law should be statewide.

FINGER LAKES

United Way hiring for anti-poverty program

The United Way of Greater Rochester has hung out the “help wanted” sign, posting job descriptions for a director and deputy director for the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

Area code problems in Ontario County

The Board of Supervisors is pushing for a single area code.

Arbor, Earth days observed in Livingston County with plantings and presentations

Several tree planting projects will be the focus today of Arbor Day across Livingston County.

WESTERN NEW YORK

Legislature approves funding for road repair

Erie County legislators have unanimously approved an expanded budget for repairing the county’s tattered roads and bridges, dented further by the winter which never seems to end.

Horrigan Kicks Off Growing Food Connections Program

Chautauqua County is one of eight communities across the nation receiving designation as a “Community of Opportunity” in the Growing Food Connections initiative, and the program took a step forward Thursday.

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Counties in the News, April 23, 2015

STATEWIDE
Assembly tablets will reduce bill stacks

LONG ISLAND
Nassau County & Suffolk County Executives Join Forces to Call for Volunteer Firefighters

NEW YORK CITY
Huge tax break in play for builders

HUDSON VALLEY
Westchester To Open Economic Development Office In NYC

Orange County to hire consultant for EIS on proposed KJ land annexation

SUNY Sullivan turns on Solar Garden

Rocky’s Law approved in Orange County Legislature committee

CAPITAL
Oil train inspections turn up defects

DEC Commissioner Martens Officially Opens Hand Hollow State Forest

Catskill OKs paramedics for ambulance

NORTH COUNTRY
High school students test their environmental knowledge at 22nd Jefferson County Envirothon

MOHAWK VALLEY
Oneida County sales tax revenues post 5 percent dip in first quarter Madison County bucks trend with slight increase in receipts

Picente announces 2015 Teen Safety Education Week events

SOUTHERN TIER
Broome County IDA rebrands as The Agency

Delaware board aims to impose bed tax

FINGER LAKES
Genesee Legislature OKs refinancing of water project debt

WESTERN NEW YORK
County legislature approves union deal

Orleans Legislature thanks shootout first-responders

T-Mobile joins ‘text to 9-1-1′ in Erie County

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Counties in the News, April 21, 2015

STATEWIDE
Would cable users be better off without Comcast?

A look at other issues facing the Legislature

Forestry tax breaks may be cut

LONG ISLAND
Nassau County Reopens Fifth Police Precinct In Elmont 2 Years After Controversial Plan

HUDSON VALLEY
Dutchess contributes $550,000 toward preserving Beacon’s Hiddenbrooke

CAPITAL
Albany legislators to state: Pass bill opening NY to ridesharing

MOHAWK VALLEY
Requests for county grants far exceed pool money

Legislators threaten Palcohol ban if state doesn’t act

FINGER LAKES
Seneca County IDA Board Seeks Members

#EatINLivingston offers passport to fine local dining

WESTERN NEW YORK
Farmers laud property rights proposal

Erie County joins statewide call for volunteer firefighter recruitment

Legislators hold hearing on plan to increase road and bridge repair budget

County planners give nod to Pendleton windmill regulations

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Counties in the News, April 20, 2015

STATEWIDE
Letter: New York state mandate relief would ease property taxes

Seeking Business, Cuomo Heads to Cuba With a New York Trade Delegation

As water main breaks rise, cities to get NY state help

CAPITAL
Heroin addiction in older adults on the rise

NORTH COUNTRY
Minimum salaries set for elected Lewis County officials

Lewis County Fairgrounds to ‘light up’ for crime victim awareness

MOHAWK VALLEY
Several road projects continue with more starting

CENTRAL NEW YORK
Child Advocacy Center wants people to Be The End

WESTERN NEW YORK
State to fund half of $25 million NCCC project

Legislature To Vote On Complete Streets Plan

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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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