BILL NO A06346
SAME AS UNI. S04443
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.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A6346
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-
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
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
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
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2015: New Legislation
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
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
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
22 (b) A proposed capital budget for the territory to be the proposed
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
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
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
11 STATE OF NEW YORK
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.
20 (Signature of witness.)
21 Sworn to before me, this .....
22 day of ............., 20....
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
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
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
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
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-
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-
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.