A06346 Summary:

Add Art 1-A SS10 - 18, County L
Relates to establishing a procedure for the creation of new counties; requires a population as large as an assembly district and at least 250 square miles to create; requires a feasibility study to be prepared before a petition may be filed; establishes a petition process to become a county and requires a referendum be held; establishes process for disposition of property and assumption of debt.
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A06346 Actions:

03/20/2015referred to local governments
01/06/2016referred to local governments
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A06346 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the county law, in relation to estab- lishing a procedure for the creation of new counties   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To amend the county law to provide a uniform procedure for the creation of counties, similar to existing procedures for the creation of new towns and villages.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1. Legislative findings that support the establishment of a procedure for the creation of new coun- ties. Section 2. Adopts a new Article 1-A to the County Law relating to estab- lishing a procedure for the creation of new counties Section 3. Severability Clause Section 4. Immediate Effective Date   JUSTIFICATION: State government has an interest in insuring that local government is as effective, efficient, and responsive as it can be for its citizens. This includes providing a government structure that can best accomplish these goals. Article 9, Section 2(a) of the State Constitution provides that the State Legislature "shall provide for the creation and organization of local governments..." In the case of towns (Town Law, Article 5, Sections 73-79) the State Legislature has provided for the creation of new towns. In the case of villages, the State Legislature has provided for the creation of new villages (Village law, Article 2). However, in the case of counties, there is no uniform set of procedures in place relating to the creation of new counties. Rather in the past, new coun- ties have been created by a haphazard, ad hoc process without any uniformity. Because of the lack of such uniform there exists a great deal of uncertainty regarding legal issues relating to the creation of new counties. This legislation would eliminate this uncertainty and meet the constitutional requirement of providing for the creation of coun- ties, by instituting a set of uniform procedures and substantive requirements that would have to be met before a new county could be created. Such legislation must be carefully drafted to permit the creation of new counties when it would result in more efficient and effective govern- ment. It must also be sensitive to the home rule interests of the resi- dents who would be governed by the new county. In particular, the proc- ess should insure that voters in the proposed county have the necessary information to make an informed and educated decision on the issue of the creation of a new county. Finally, the legislation must provide for substantive minimum requirements for the creation of new counties that recognize the historical and particular role that counties play in the system of local government in New York State. This legislation meets these goals in several ways. It extensively mirrors the applicable provisions of existing state law relating to new villages, new towns, and municipal annexation where they would be relevant to the creation of new counties. The legislation also provides for the assumption of debt and liabilities in a manner similar to annexation under the General Municipal Law. Specifically, unless otherwise agreed to, each county would assume a proportion of debt equal to its tax contribution to the pre-existing county. This would include both sales and property tax. The legislation also includes related miscellaneous provisions and a severability clause.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2015: New Legislation   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
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A06346 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
            S. 4443                                                  A. 6346
                               2015-2016 Regular Sessions
                SENATE - ASSEMBLY
                                     March 20, 2015
        IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sen. LAVALLE -- read twice and ordered print-
          ed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Local Govern-
        IN  ASSEMBLY  -- Introduced by M. of A. THIELE -- read once and referred
          to the Committee on Local Governments
        AN ACT to amend the county law, in relation to establishing a  procedure
          for the creation of new counties
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. Legislative findings. It is hereby found by the legislature
     2  that section 2 of article 9, of the state constitution provides that the
     3  legislature shall provide for the creation  and  organization  of  local
     4  governments  in  the state of New York. The state has established proce-
     5  dures for the creation of villages, towns, and for municipal annexation.
     6  However, it has not established procedures for the creation of counties.
     7    The legislature is committed to the  establishment  of  local  govern-
     8  ments,  such  as  counties,  where it could result in government that is
     9  more cost effective, more efficient, and more responsive  to  the  needs
    10  and desires of those residents being served.
    11    Therefore,  the  legislature finds that it is in the best interests of
    12  the state of New York to establish a procedure for the creation  of  new
    13  counties  where it is feasible and in the best interest of the governed.
    14  This legislation would create such a procedure and fulfill  the  state's
    15  constitutional mandate to provide for the creation of counties.
    16    §  2. The county law is amended by adding a new article 1-A to read as
    17  follows:
    18                                  ARTICLE 1-A
    19                          CREATION OF NEW COUNTIES
    20  Section 10. Population and area requirements.
    21          11. Feasibility study.
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 4443                             2                            A. 6346
     1          12. Petition.
     2          13. Filing petition and objections; determination.
     3          14. Referendum.
     4          15. Effective date; transition period.
     5          16. Disposition of property.
     6          17. Assumption of debt.
     7          18. Miscellaneous provisions.
     8    §  10.  Population  and area requirements. 1. A territory containing a
     9  population that entitles it to a member of the assembly,  as  determined
    10  by  the most recent federal census, may be established as a county under
    11  this article. Said territory shall also have an area  of  at  least  two
    12  hundred fifty square miles.
    13    2.  Said  territory shall be contiguous and all counties affected by a
    14  petition pursuant to this article shall have contiguous boundaries.
    15    3. Said territory shall not  divide  the  territory  of  any  existing
    16  cities, towns or villages.
    17    §  11.  Feasibility study. 1. Before a petition to become a county may
    18  be filed under section twelve of this article, a feasibility study shall
    19  first be prepared. Such feasibility study shall include the following:
    20    (a) A proposed operating budget for the territory to be  the  proposed
    21  county;
    22    (b)  A  proposed  capital  budget for the territory to be the proposed
    23  county;
    24    (c) A proposal for the division of assets and liabilities between  the
    25  affected counties; and
    26    (d)  The  property  tax  impact on the proposed county over at least a
    27  five year period.
    28    2. Such feasibility study shall be authorized or  at  least  partially
    29  funded by the state of New York.
    30    3.  A  feasibility  study  completed before the effective date of this
    31  article may be utilized to satisfy the  requirements  of  this  section,
    32  provided  that  any  petition  based  on such a study shall be initiated
    33  within five years of the date of the feasibility study.
    34    § 12. Petition. 1. A proceeding to create a new county shall  commence
    35  with a petition.
    36    2. A petition to create a new county shall be signed by a number equal
    37  to  at  least  ten per centum of the total vote cast for governor in the
    38  territory  proposed  to  become  a  county  in  the  last  gubernatorial
    39  election.
    40    3.  Only  qualified  electors for a general election in such territory
    41  shall be eligible to sign the petition.
    42    4. The petition to create a new county  shall  contain  the  following
    43  information:
    44    (a) The name of the proposed county;
    45    (b) The county seat of the proposed county;
    46    (c)  A  statement  that  the  territory  proposed to be the new county
    47  contains at least a population that entitles  it  to  a  member  of  the
    48  assembly and at least two hundred fifty square miles;
    49    (d) A map showing the boundaries of the proposed county; and
    50    (e)  A  designation  of  at least one but not more than three persons,
    51  giving full names and addresses, on whom  and  at  which  addresses  all
    52  papers required to be served in connection with the proceeding to create
    53  the new county, shall be served.
    54    5.  The  signatures  to the petition shall be subscribed on a separate
    55  page or pages following the information outlined in subdivision four  of
    56  this section.

        S. 4443                             3                            A. 6346
     1    6.  Each  signature page shall be prefaced by a statement of the peti-
     2  tioners' familiarity with the contents and purpose of the petition,  and
     3  the boundaries of the territory to be included in the new county.
     4    7. Following each signature, there shall be set forth, not necessarily
     5  by  the  signer, the signer's address, including street name and number,
     6  if any, and town.
     7    8. The petition must also be authenticated as to  all  the  signatures
     8  upon  each  separate  sheet by appending at the bottom of each sheet, an
     9  affidavit of a witness as to the subscription thereof, substantially  as
    10  follows:
    12                       ss.:
    13  COUNTY OF
    14  ...................(name of witness) being duly sworn, says: I reside at
    15  ..................,  in  the  ............. of ................ (fill in
    16  residence) in the state of New York; I know each of  the  persons  whose
    17  names  are  subscribed to the above sheet having .............. (fill in
    18  number) signatures; and each of them subscribed the same in my presence.
    19                            .....................
    20                            (Signature of witness.)
    21  Sworn to before me, this .....
    22  day of ............., 20....
    23  ......................
    24  (official title of officer)
    25    9. The state board of elections shall prepare a form of petition meet-
    26  ing the requirements of this section and shall make said form  available
    27  to the public. Any petition which is a copy of said form shall be deemed
    28  to meet the requirements of this section relating to form.
    29    §  13.  Filing  petition and objections; determination.  1. A petition
    30  pursuant to this  article  shall  be  filed  with  the  state  board  of
    31  elections.
    32    2.  Any  petition  filed with the board of elections shall be presump-
    33  tively valid if it is in the proper form and appears to bear the  requi-
    34  site  number  of signatures authenticated in a manner prescribed by this
    35  article.
    36    3. Written objections to a petition pursuant to this article shall  be
    37  filed  with the board of elections within three days after the filing of
    38  the petition. When an objection is filed, specifications of the  grounds
    39  of  the  objections  shall be filed within six days thereafter with such
    40  board of elections, and if specifications  are  not  timely  filed,  the
    41  objection  shall be null and void. An objector must be qualified to sign
    42  the petition.
    43    4. Within twenty days of the filing of a  petition  pursuant  to  this
    44  article,  the  board of elections shall render a determination as to the
    45  sufficiency of the petition. The board of elections shall give notice of
    46  the determination forthwith by mail to the individuals designated pursu-
    47  ant to paragraph (e) of subdivision four of section twelve of this arti-
    48  cle, and if specified objections have been filed, the objector shall  be
    49  also notified.
    50    5. All provisions of the election law relating to the construal of the
    51  sufficiency  of  petitions,  not  inconsistent  with this article, shall
    52  apply to this section.
    53    6. A determination of the board of elections shall be subject to judi-
    54  cial review, as provided for in article seventy-eight of the civil prac-
    55  tice law and rules,  except  that  it  must  be  instituted  as  therein
    56  provided  within  thirty days after the filing of determination pursuant

        S. 4443                             4                            A. 6346
     1  to this section. Such a proceeding may only be instituted  by  a  person
     2  qualified  to  sign  the petition. A proceeding under this section shall
     3  have preference over all other civil actions and proceedings.
     4    7.  The successful party to the proceeding shall file a certified copy
     5  of the decision and order with the state board of elections.
     6    § 14. Referendum. 1. A referendum to determine the question of  creat-
     7  ing a new county shall be held at the next general election occurring no
     8  less  than sixty days after the first occurring of either of the follow-
     9  ing two events:
    10    (a) The expiration of thirty days from the determination of the county
    11  board of elections sustaining the legal sufficiency of the petition  and
    12  no proceeding having been instituted to review same; or
    13    (b)  The  filing  of  a final order with the county board of elections
    14  which sustains the petition after a court proceeding to review.
    15    2. The procedure for the referendum shall be pursuant to the  election
    16  law.
    17    3. Each resident in the territory proposed to be the new county who is
    18  a qualified elector in a general election may vote in the referendum.
    19    4.  The form of the proposition shall be as follows: "Shall the terri-
    20  tory generally described as  ..............    (describe  territory)  be
    21  established  as  a  new  county to be called .................. (name of
    22  county) ?
    23    5. If the majority of the votes cast on  such  referendum  be  in  the
    24  affirmative, the referendum shall be adopted and the new county shall be
    25  created.
    26    6.  If  the majority of votes cast at such referendum shall be adverse
    27  to the creation of the new county, no county shall  be  created  and  no
    28  petition  for the creation of such county from the same territory may be
    29  filed for a period of five years from the  date  such  referendum  shall
    30  have been defeated.
    31    § 15. Effective date; transition period. 1. When a referendum has been
    32  approved,  pursuant  to  this  article,  the  new county shall be deemed
    33  created and effective upon the adoption of the referendum, certified  by
    34  the  state  board  of elections, and shall have the authority to perform
    35  all acts necessary to effect a transition of authority to the new  coun-
    36  ty.
    37    2.  For the purposes of exercising all governmental functions, the new
    38  county shall be deemed effective  on  the  first  day  of  January  next
    39  succeeding  the  next general election at which county elective officers
    40  are elected.
    41    3. All county elective officers pursuant  to  this  article  shall  be
    42  elected at the next general election after the referendum is approved.
    43    4.  As provided by this article, the board of supervisors shall be the
    44  legislative body of the new county. Nothing herein  shall  preclude  the
    45  establishment  of  a legislative body other than a board of supervisors,
    46  pursuant to law.
    47    5. Nothing herein shall preclude a new county from selecting a charter
    48  or other alternative form of government as permitted by law.
    49    6. During the transition period between  the  effective  date  of  the
    50  county  and the effective date for the purpose of exercising all govern-
    51  mental functions, the supervisors of each of the towns constituting  the
    52  new county shall be empowered to act as an interim board of supervisors.
    53  Said  board shall have all the rights, privileges, functions, and powers
    54  conferred on counties and municipal  corporations  and  shall  take  all
    55  actions  necessary  to effect a transition to the new county government,
    56  including but not limited to the transfer  of  real  property,  personal

        S. 4443                             5                            A. 6346
     1  property,  books, records, employees, the authority to enter into agree-
     2  ments, including the apportionment of liabilities, to  adopt  a  budget,
     3  hire  employees, levy taxes, and borrow money. Any action by the interim
     4  board of supervisors shall be approved by a unanimous vote.
     5    7.  Any  taxes levied or collected and any other charges levied by the
     6  existing county for the transition period on  the  territory  which  has
     7  become a new county shall be utilized to continue services and functions
     8  for which the existing county is still responsible and to fund the tran-
     9  sition  expenses  of the new county, unless the affected counties other-
    10  wise agree.
    11    § 16. Disposition of property. 1. Except as  may  be  provided  in  an
    12  agreement  between  the  affected counties, as authorized by subdivision
    13  two of this section, all county owned real  or  personal  property,  and
    14  rights  in  real  and  personal  property,  including but not limited to
    15  streets, avenues, roads, highways, bridges, buildings, parks, open lands
    16  located in the newly created county, shall become the property  of  said
    17  new county.
    18    2. At any time during the transition period defined in subdivision six
    19  of section fifteen of this article, the governing boards of the affected
    20  counties  shall  have  the power to agree on the retention, division, or
    21  other disposition, either with or without  consideration,  of  real  and
    22  personal  property  and  rights in real and personal property within the
    23  affected counties. Any such agreement shall be in writing and  shall  be
    24  approved  by  the  affected counties. Such agreement may provide for the
    25  execution of any deeds or instruments affecting retention, division,  or
    26  other  disposition  of  such  property, either with or without consider-
    27  ation.
    28    § 17. Assumption of debt. 1. Except as may be provided in an agreement
    29  between the affected counties, as authorized by subdivision two of  this
    30  section,  any  indebtedness,  or liabilities, or interest thereon attri-
    31  buted to the pre-existing county, shall be a charge upon  and  shall  be
    32  paid  by  each  county  as the same shall become due and payable, in the
    33  same proportion to the whole of any  such  indebtedness,  liability,  or
    34  interest  as  each  affected county's tax contribution.   Nothing herein
    35  shall preclude the new county from paying  in  full  its  proportion  of
    36  indebtedness  and  liabilities.  In  the case of liabilities relating to
    37  employee collective bargaining agreements  and  retirement  obligations,
    38  the  new  county shall not be bound by said agreements and shall only be
    39  responsible for liabilities such as accumulated  vacation,  sick  leave,
    40  and retirement costs for those employees actually transferred to the new
    41  county. The new county shall not have responsibility for the liabilities
    42  and indebtedness for any existing special district or special fund where
    43  the  new  county  is  not part of said special district or benefitted by
    44  said special fund. A new county shall not have  any  other  contribution
    45  for indebtedness or liabilities except as provided by this section.
    46    2. At any time during the transition period defined in subdivision six
    47  of section fifteen of this article, the governing boards of the affected
    48  counties  shall  have  the power to agree to the proportions, if any, of
    49  the various types of indebtedness, contract, or other  liabilities,  and
    50  interest thereon, if any, the affected counties will assume and agree to
    51  pay. Such proportions may be based on any equitable basis.
    52    3.  (a)  The term "tax contribution" shall mean each county's contrib-
    53  ution to the general fund of the  pre-existing  county  based  upon  its
    54  contribution  of  sales tax, if any, and real property tax. Said propor-
    55  tion shall initially be based upon the findings of the feasibility study
    56  prepared  pursuant  to  section  eleven  of  this  article.  The   final

        S. 4443                             6                            A. 6346
     1  proportions shall be adjusted after the new county's first complete year
     2  of  operation  utilizing  actual  sales tax revenue collections for said
     3  year, and the real property tax levy for the last full year of the undi-
     4  vided existing county.
     5    (b)  The term "indebtedness" and "contract or other liabilities" shall
     6  not include liabilities under collective bargaining agreements,  indebt-
     7  edness  evidenced  by  (i)  tax anticipation notes, revenue anticipation
     8  notes, or budget notes, or (ii) evidenced by  serial  bonds  or  capital
     9  notes  having  a  maximum  maturity  of less than three years which were
    10  issued or are to be issued to finance an object or purpose other than  a
    11  capital  improvement,  or  other  than  the acquisition of equipment for
    12  which the period of probable usefulness is provided in  paragraph  a  of
    13  section 11.00 of the local finance law.
    14    §  18.  Miscellaneous  provisions.  1.  All provisions of this chapter
    15  shall govern the operation of counties created pursuant to this article,
    16  provided however, that nothing therein shall preclude  the  election  of
    17  alternative  forms  or the charter form of county government as provided
    18  by law.
    19    2. All special acts and parts of special acts relating to the  pre-ex-
    20  isting county and in force therein on the date the new county is created
    21  and not inconsistent with this article, shall continue in full force and
    22  effect  in  the  affected counties, as though the new county had been in
    23  existence at the time of passage of said acts and as though the name  of
    24  the  new county had appeared in said acts and parts of acts, except that
    25  any charter law adopted by the state legislature shall not be applicable
    26  to the new county.
    27    3. Employees transferred when a county is  created  pursuant  to  this
    28  article  shall  be transferred without further examination or qualifica-
    29  tion and shall retain their respective civil service classification  and
    30  status. Any employee who at the time of such transfer has a temporary or
    31  provisional  appointment  shall be transferred subject to the same right
    32  of removal examination, or termination as though such transfer  had  not
    33  been made.
    34    4. The creation of a new county shall not affect the boundaries of any
    35  congressional district, senate district, or assembly district.
    36    5. Nothing herein shall be deemed to limit the authority of the legis-
    37  lature  to  create  counties  or other local governments pursuant to the
    38  state constitution.
    39    6. During the transition period provided  for  in  this  article,  all
    40  local  laws, ordinances, rules, or regulations of the pre-existing undi-
    41  vided county shall remain in full force and  effect.  Said  local  laws,
    42  ordinances, rules, and regulations may be further extended by the inter-
    43  im  board  of  supervisors for a period not to exceed one year after the
    44  end of said transition period.
    45    7. During the transition period, the existing county shall continue to
    46  render to and perform all those functions and services which it rendered
    47  and performed upon the date of the filing of the petition with the state
    48  board of elections, unless otherwise agreed to by the affected counties.
    49    § 3. Severability. If any clause,  sentence,  paragraph,  section,  or
    50  part  of this act shall be adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction
    51  to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or invalidate the
    52  remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause,
    53  paragraph, section, or part thereof, directly involved in the controver-
    54  sy in which such judgment shall have been rendered.
    55    § 4. This act shall take effect immediately.
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