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NYSAC Weekly Wire for the Week Ending May 27, 2011

Handshake Deal on Property Tax Cap
While details still need to be worked out, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s introduction of a property tax cap bill and the Governor’s immediate endorsement all but sealed the deal on a property tax cap bill. However, some of the details that need to be worked out include the permanent linking of the property tax cap bill with rent control laws in New York City and the sunset thereof. This factor could be enough to send the leaders back to the negotiating table.

With the exception of the linkage to rental control, the Assembly 2 percent property tax cap proposal closely mirrors what the Senate has already passed, but does provide for slightly broader exemptions from the cap, including a partial exemption for rising pension costs, legal judgments in excess of certain thresholds, and an allowance for growth in the property tax base and increasing property valuation. The bill also removes the TANF and safety net exemptions included in the senate measure.

NYSAC is working with the Legislature and other State Agencies to interpret various sections of the bill so that we can ascertain the full county impact. For a brief analysis of the Assembly proposal, visit www.nysac.org. (Dave Lucas)

NYSAC Answers Property Tax Agreement With Medicaid Takeover Proposal
Calling on State Leaders to live up to their commitment to address mandate relief with a property tax cap, NYSAC this week delivered a proposal for a full State takeover of local Medicaid costs. Under the proposal, effective April 1, 2012, the State would begin to assume the $2 billion county share of Medicaid for the 57 counties outside New York City (NYC is exempt from the property tax cap). Over a multi-year period, the State will assume the full $7.5 billion local share of Medicaid (including NYC).

The proposal would leverage federal and state resources to significantly minimize State general fund risk. The entire cost would be offset with resources available through Federal funding, taking advantage of new flexibilities in the Health Care Reform Act, and savings from this year’s State Medicaid reform measures.

“County property taxes are driven by State spending on Medicaid and other mandated programs and services,” said NYSAC President William J. Ryan, a Westchester County Legislator. “This proposal removes Medicaid from the property tax base and provides a way for the State to deliver actual property tax cuts for overburdened homeowners and businesses.” (Mark LaVigne)

Home Rule Bills Move Through the Legislature
County home rule tax extender bills for sales tax, mortgage recording tax, 911 surcharges and hotel/motel taxes are moving through the State Legislature. The Senate passed 25 home bills this week and most of the rest are being prepared for Floor action in that Chamber. The Assembly has passed a couple of these measures and they are preparing the remaining bills for final passage in that chamber. However, no home rule bills that would increase local revenue are expected to be acted on.  (Dave Lucas)

OCFS Sends Juvenile Justice Allocation Letter to Counties
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) this week sent a letter to chief elected officials regarding “important changes in the [final adopted state] budget that affect juvenile justice services in this State.” The letter provides details on the newly created Supervision and Treatment Services for Juvenile Program (STSJP), including all counties’ allocations. For a copy of the letter and allocations list, please contact NYSAC. (Jessica Morelli)

Complete Streets Bill Moving through State Senate
The Senate Transportation Committee this week approved a “Complete Streets” measure (S.5411, Fuschillo) that would require municipal highway officials make roadways more accessible to non-motorized traffic, such as bike lanes and wider road shoulders, where necessary. The bill requires localities to employ “complete streets” features in the planning, design, construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of certain state and local roads.

The legislation that moved in the Senate this week included amendments that were collaboratively developed by the County and Town Highway Superintendent Associations, NYSAC and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). An earlier version of the bill was opposed by NYSAC and the County and Town Highway Superintendent Associations (NYSCHSA). The bill was reported to the Senate Finance committee for their consideration.  (Esteban Maccera)

State Requires County Health Departments to Help Implement “Bath Salts” Ban
NYS Commissioner of Health Nirav R. Shah, M.D. this week issued an order to ban the sale and distribution of a potentially dangerous product marketed as “bath salts.” A number of counties have already banned these “bath salts” through local law.

This order bans a product that, if ingested, “produces similar effects to cocaine and amphetamines, including hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, and violent behavior as well as chest pains, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rates,” according to the State Health Department.

Citing Public Health Law, the Commissioner’s ban requires County Health Department Officials to serve notice on entities or individuals within their county that are “known by your department to sell these products, or that you have reason to believe sell these products.” The Commissioner further requires that within two days, the county official who served this order must to send a copy of the affidavit of service to the State DOH.(Patrick Cummings)

Economic Development Council Holds Annual Conference
The Economic Development Council (EDC) held their annual conference this week in Cooperstown. Among the featured speakers and educational forums was a presentation by NYS Empire State Development Commissioner Kenneth Adams, who focused on the Cuomo administration’s changes to the State’s economic development strategy, including the status of regional councils and the changes to the Excelsior Jobs Program made in the 2011-12 State Budget.

While details on the regional councils were sparse, Commissioner Adams indicated that a formal plan would be released sometime next month. Regional councils will be charged with creating a long term plan in their region and advising the Governor’s office on the allocation of $200 million in funding to promote economic development across New York. They will also help ESD develop better information and data on the experiences of businesses in communities throughout the state. The Commissioner intends to the regional councils to help ESD identify and break down obstacles to growth, including needed regulatory and statutory reforms that would help create a more business friendly climate.  (Katy Vescio)

Farm Tour Heightens Awareness of Issues Facing Local Farms
This week Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino, State Senator Roy McDonald, and the Farm Bureau co-hosted a farm tour for State Legislators. The tour of three Rensselaer County Farms was designed to raise awareness of how statewide policies impact local farms. Representatives from NYSAC joined statewide elected officials for these tours, intended to give legislators from urban areas a firsthand experience of how upstate farms operate. In attendance were Senator McDonald (Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties), Senator Stavisky (Manhattan), Senator Parker (Brooklyn), Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (Queens), Assemblywoman Annette Robinson (Brooklyn), and Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (Rensselaer, Columbia, Albany and Greene Counties). In 2007, Rensselaer County had 506 farms and 85,034 acres in farmland. Dairy is the biggest type of farming practice in the county. (Katy Vescio)

State Department of Health To Host Emergency Preparedness Webinar
NYS DOH is holding a series of webinars for counties on the issue of Community Based Care Centers (CBCS). The planning for CBCS is the cornerstone for augmenting surge capacity in a community once hospital capacity is exceeded and is a complex issue for localities. While many pandemic influenza plans called for the establishment of CBCCs, planning guidance was lacking and in many cases fell short of expectations. In April, 2009 NYSDOH partnered with NY Medical College Center for Disaster Medicine to expand on the demonstration projects to create a toolkit that could be utilized by localities to plan for CBCCs. The toolkit consists of guidance documents, templates and medical protocols that will assist all local partners in meeting the needs of the healthcare surge environment to ensure adequate provisions of care during an emergency. This webinar will provide an overview of toolkit elements, principles and planning assumptions.

The training dates are as follows, by region: Capital District – July 11, 2011 @ 1-2:30pm; Central Region – July 13, 2011 @ 1-2:30pm; Western Region – July 18, 2011 @ 1-2:30pm; Mid-Hudson Region – July 29, 2011 @ 1-2:30pm; and Long Island Region – August 1, 2011 @ 1-2:30pm.  Registration by region is preferred. To register for webinar please go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7KNC35D. (Jessica Morelli)

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