Honorable Sheldon Silver
Dear Speaker Silver:
I am pleased to submit to you the 2006 Annual Report of the Assembly Standing Committee on Local Governments.
The Committee addressed several important issues this year, updating provisions governing the volunteer fire service, encouraging municipal consolidation and cooperation, and extending the Private Activity Bond Allocation Act. This report describes the legislative actions and major issues considered by the Committee, and sets forth our goals for continued legislative support of municipalities and their residents throughout the State.
I share with you an appreciation of the role municipalities play in providing essential services to the residents of this State and acknowledge your continuing support and leadership in ensuring that the Local Governments Committee continues to address issues facing New York's municipalities. With your assistance, the Committee will continue to focus on the needs of local governments.
2006 ANNUAL REPORT
Robert K. Sweeney, Chairman
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Assembly Standing Committee on Local Governments considers the legislative needs of New York State's local governments, which includes counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, fire districts, and various other special districts. The Committee's goal is to monitor the problems of local governments, to develop legislative remedies to these problems, and to research new proposals that will enable local governments to serve the needs of New York State better. The Committee is concerned with the enactment of laws that will further improve local governments' ability to address their unique problems, as well as prohibiting the enactment of laws that would impede local governments in their delivery of local services.
New York State statutes affected by proposed legislation before the Committee include: the General Municipal, Municipal Home Rule, Local Finance, County, Town, Village, Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit and Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Laws. Since the powers of local governments are so broad, the Committee's concerns range widely - from the general area of municipal finance, to the creation of a special district. Home rule, or "special legislation," is also addressed by the Committee. These measures concern problems of specific local governments and apply to a particular jurisdiction. For example, a home rule bill might permit the establishment of a special district for a town to remedy a local problem. Through the use of special legislation to solve individual local needs, the Committee has helped to resolve hundreds of unique problems and enabled local governments to better serve their citizens.
This year the Legislature again enacted an on-time Budget. The Legislature added $77.4 million in local assistance grants over the Executive's proposed $50 million increase, resulting in a $127.3 million increase over State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2005-06. This translates into an additional 25 percent increase for cities. Towns and villages received an increase of 20 percent, with every village and town receiving at least a $100 increase.
In 2005, the Legislature consolidated all existing revenue sharing programs into the Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) program. As a result, Revenue Sharing, Supplemental Municipal Aid, Emergency Financial Aid to Certain Cities, and Emergency Financial Aid to Eligible Municipalities no longer appear as separate funding streams.
Shared Municipal Services Initiative (SMSI)
The State Budget contains $25 million in funding for the Shared Municipal Services Incentive (SMSI) grant program. The SMSI program was created in 2005 to encourage municipal consolidation and cooperation.
The program is administered by the Department of State and provides grants to local governments, fire, special improvement or school districts that merge or share services. This year the program was divided into four separate grant pools: Local Highway Services Grants (up to $300,000 per municipality); Local Employee Health Insurance Incentive grants (up to $500,000 per municipality); Countywide Shared Service Plans grants (up to $300,000 per municipality); and Municipal Consolidation Incentive Funding grants (up to $200,000 per municipality).
Grants are intended to cover costs associated with mergers, consolidations, cooperative agreements, dissolutions and shared services, including legal and consultant services, feasibility studies and capital investments. Recurring expenses such as salaries, utilities or fuel are not eligible. For some grant categories, grant recipients have to provide a match for up to ten percent of the project cost.
The Assembly has held a series of hearings across the State to examine local readiness for natural and man-made disasters. The State Budget includes $5.6 million in new funding for a local government disaster planning and preparedness program. The funding will be used to help counties develop plans for a coordinated, efficient response to a disaster.
Local Government Medicaid Relief
Effective January 1, 2006, local Medicaid spending was capped at the calendar year 2005 spending level for each county, plus an annual growth factor. The growth rate is 3.5 percent for 2006; 3.25 percent for 2007; and 3 percent for 2008 and each year thereafter. Beginning in January 2008, counties will have the option of continuing under a cap or electing to have the State assume the full local cost of Medicaid in exchange for remitting to the State a calculated percentage of local sales tax revenue. This proposal was expected to provide $121 million in local relief for State Fiscal Year 2005-06.
Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) have been created by the State Legislature to promote the economic welfare and prosperity of the State's inhabitants and to actively promote, attract, encourage and develop economically sound commerce and industry for the purpose of preventing unemployment and economic deterioration. In order to encourage increased economic activity and job growth, IDAs provide exemptions from municipal and school taxes. IDAs also issue low-interest bonds that allow companies to borrow money at low cost. Currently, there are over 100 county and municipal-level IDAs.
Industrial Development Agency Authorization
Several provisions of the IDA statute were set to expire on July 1st of this year including: the authorization for IDAs to finance civic facility and continuing care retirement projects; certain tax policies; and, restrictions on the use of agency funds. This legislation extends, until July 1, 2007, the existing provisions of the IDA statute without modification.
Industrial Development Agency Reform
The over 100 IDAs throughout the State provide an estimated $400 million in net tax exemptions each year. IDAs are an important economic development tool intended to promote job creation and business retention. Assembly hearings, State Comptroller audits and newspaper articles have highlighted problems with IDA accountability.
This legislation is intended to increase the accountability of IDAs to the taxpayers and municipalities they serve. In addition, the legislation will ensure a greater degree of uniformity in the application process for IDA assistance, allow for more careful analysis and deliberation in the decision-making process and ensure enhanced monitoring once IDA benefits are conferred. A summary of the legislation's provisions follows:
IDA Financing of Continuing Care Retirement Communities
In June 2005, the Legislature extended certain expiring Industrial Development Agency provisions until July 1, 2006. This extender did not include the provisions related to continuing care retirement communities. This legislation remedies that omission. The legislation has passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Hamilton County IDA Authorization
Under current law, IDAs without outstanding debt are terminated after ten years. In 1996, the Hamilton County IDA was facing such elimination when the Legislature authorized an extension until 2006. This legislation extends the existence of the Hamilton County Industrial Development Agency until 2016.
Private Activity Bond Allocation Formula
The Federal Tax Reform Act of 1986 imposed a ceiling on the volume of private activity and certain other bonds that can be issued in a state in any given year. The Reform Act also established an allocation formula that provided 50 percent of the Statewide Industrial Development Bond (IDB) cap to State agencies and the remaining 50 percent to local governments. Federal law permitted temporary modification of this allocation formula by gubernatorial executive order until December 31, 1987. Following this sunset, the Federal Act permitted the State Legislature to establish an alternative formula for allocation legislatively. The system proposed in this bill, implemented in 2000, has worked well and operates smoothly and efficiently. Issuers around the State are familiar with the process, meaning that the statutory continuation of this approach will provide the least disruptive, most flexible and least costly alternative for the allocation of the State's bond volume.
The legislation passed this year strongly resembles the legislation passed in 2000, which originally established a distribution of 1/3 of the statewide allocation to Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs); 1/3 to State agencies; and 1/3 to a statewide bond reserve, for use by both State and local agencies. However, this year's legislation includes the modifications made in 2001 to take into account the increased per person dollar allocation of bonding authority. The federal government provides an allocation of tax free bonding authority based on a certain dollar value per person - in 2000 that value was $50 per person, and in 2001 that value increased to $62.50.
The available allocation for 2006 is $1.54 billion. Additional details of the allocation formula follow.
The statewide bond volume ceiling established under the Federal Tax Reform Acts of 1984 and 1986 will be allocated as follows:
Distribution of Statewide Bond Reserve:
If the allocation to a local IDA is insufficient for a specific project, the IDA may apply at any time to the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development (DED) for an allocation from the bond reserve. The Commissioner will ensure equitable distribution of the reserve to local IDAs. The Director of the Division of the Budget (DOB) will make an allocation of the reserve to State agencies if an agency's allocation is insufficient for a specific issue.
Year-End Allocation Recapture:
Each State and local agency must report, by October 1st of each year, the amount of the agency's unused allocation. The unused allocations will be recaptured by October 15th and added to the reserve.
Allocation Carry Forward:
On or before November 15th of each year, State agencies may apply to the Director of DOB, and IDAs may apply to the Commissioner of DED, seeking unused statewide bond allocation for use in future years.
New York State Bond Allocation Advisory Panel:
The Bond Allocation Advisory Panel provides policy advice on distribution of the statewide ceiling. The five-member panel consists of designees from the Governor, the Temporary President of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, the Minority Leader of the Senate and the Minority Leader of the Assembly.
Future Year Allocations:
This legislation provides an allocation of up to $300 million per year out of future federal bond allocations for the years 2007 and 2008.
Many people purchase cellular telephones for use in an emergency, not realizing that 911 calls made from a cellular telephone are not received in the same manner as calls made from a landline phone. Dispatchers receiving a 911 landline call are able to identify automatically the phone number and location of callers. Due to technological issues, dispatchers do not receive the same information from wireless callers. This is true despite a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order issued in 1996, which required wireless carriers to deploy wireless enhanced 911 service; wireless enhanced 911 service refers to the ability of a call center to determine the location and identity of wireless callers.
Expedited Deployment Funding
In the 2003-04 State Budget, the Legislature provided additional funding for localities with the development of Expedited Deployment Funding. This program dedicated a portion of the revenue from the existing surcharge on wireless phones to support $100 million in grants to help localities upgrade their wireless 911 systems. Funding for the grants continues to flow, helping local public safety answering points meet the FCC requirements for determining wireless caller identification and location, requirements commonly referred to as Phase I and Phase II. The existing Local Enhanced Wireless 911 reimbursement program, which received $20 million in funding in the SFY 02-03 budget and $10 million in funding in the SFY 06-07 Budget, co-exists with the expedited deployment program and continues to provide reimbursements to localities for eligible wireless 911 costs. Details of the Expedited Deployment Program follow.
Local Surcharge Bills
Erie and Schenectady counties requested and received authorization to levy a monthly $.30 local surcharge on wireless telephone bills to supplement the support and development of E-911 systems.
Wireless Service Provider Accountability
Numerous counties have received authorization to levy local surcharges on wireless phone bills. The surcharges are collected by wireless service providers who determine eligibility for the surcharge based on the customer's designated place of primary use. Customers across the State have complained that wireless service providers have failed to remove surcharges when the customer's place of primary use changes to a county that does not levy a surcharge.
This legislation would require wireless service providers to update customers' records within 45 days of notification that a customer's billing address has changed. In instances where the customer's place of primary use changes to a county without a surcharge, wireless service providers who continued to levy the surcharge after receiving notification would be responsible for refunding any surcharges. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Surcharge Collection Accountability
In 2002, the Legislature shifted oversight of the statewide wireless surcharge from the Division of the State Police to the Department of Taxation and Finance. This change was made in order to provide greater accountability in surcharge collections. A subsequent report from the Office of the State Comptroller found that the lack of explicit audit authorization for the Department of Taxation and Finance has left the Department unable to verify surcharge collections.
This legislation would require the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to enforce the payment and collection of the State wireless communications service surcharge and would authorize the Commissioner to audit and examine the books and records of wireless communications service suppliers. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
This legislation would require Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone providers to disclose fully the limitations of 911 emergency call services. Notice would be required to be provided to all new and existing customers, and indicate what type of 911 services are provided, and whether or not the consumer must activate such services. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Long Island Workforce Housing Incentive Program
More than one out of four households in the country, almost 24 million, are confronting housing cost burdens. This problem is particularly acute on Long Island, with more than 25 percent of households paying over 35 percent of their gross monthly income for their rent or mortgage. In many cases on Long Island, the ratio of gross rent to income was over 50 percent. The Nassau-Suffolk Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, has been ranked the seventh least affordable area in the nation for middle-income housing, according to a Washington D.C.-based affordable housing organization.
This legislation would amend the General Municipal Law to establish the Long Island Workforce Housing Incentive Program. Local governments on Long Island that approve the construction of five or more residential housing units in one site plan would require developers to provide one of the following items: affordable housing; a fee to support the construction of affordable housing; or land for the development of affordable housing. In exchange, the developer would become eligible to receive density bonuses and other incentives. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Westchester County Workforce Housing Incentive Program
Housing prices in Westchester County have risen dramatically in recent years, with the median price of a single family home reaching $655,000 in January of this year.
This legislation amends the General Municipal Law to establish the Westchester County Workforce Housing Incentive Program. Local governments in Westchester County that approve the construction of five or more residential housing units in one site plan would require developers to provide one of the following items: affordable housing; a fee to support the construction of affordable housing; or land for the development of affordable housing. In exchange, the developer would become eligible to receive density bonuses and other incentives. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Village Court Clerks
Currently the village mayor, with board approval, may discharge a village court clerk who holds a non-civil service position. This authority exists even if the clerk performs only court-related village functions. The provisions governing town court clerks are different; Town Law requires the advice and consent of the town justice prior to the removal of a town court clerk.
This legislation amends the Village Law to mirror the Town Law and requires the advice and consent of the village justice prior to the removal of a village court clerk, provided that the clerk performs only court-related activities.
Despite the complex nature of their work, State Law does not establish training requirements for coroners/medical examiners, resulting in varying degrees of training across the State. This legislation would authorize the Division of Criminal Justice, in consultation with the Department of Health, the State Police, the State Education Department and the New York State Association of County Coroners to establish medical/legal investigation training requirements for coroners, coroner's deputies, medical examiners and deputy medical examiners. Such training would be required to be completed on or before January 1, 2008, by persons currently holding such offices, and, prior to taking office by persons taking office after the effective date of the legislation. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Under the current County Law, only the coroner or medical examiner of the county where a death has occurred has jurisdiction to investigate that death. In certain areas of the State, crime victims found near death in one county will be rushed by police or ambulance to a hospital in an adjoining county because that hospital is the nearest with adequate trauma facilities. If death results the homicide will be prosecuted in the original county. This legislation would provide coroners, in whose district the crime occurred, with concurrent jurisdiction during autopsies. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Deputy Town Clerks
Although other town officials like highway superintendents and tax receivers are accorded full authority to specify the duties of their deputies, current law specifies that deputy town clerks are subject to the authority of the town board. The involvement of the town board creates the potential for a dual chain of command in towns - with the authority granted by the town board potentially conflicting with the responsibilities delegated by the town clerk.
This legislation would authorize a town clerk to appoint and specify the duties of a deputy town clerk. In addition, the town clerk would be authorized to appoint up to two additional deputy town clerks whose duties and responsibilities would be established by the town board. The legislation passed the Legislature but was vetoed by the Governor.
Both the Public Officers and the Town Law currently require elected officials to maintain residency in the towns they are elected to serve; however, some localities have requested special State legislation. A summary of those bills follows:
Residency Requirements for the Town of Wellsville
This legislation authorizes the town justice of Wellsville to reside outside the Town.
Residency Requirements for the Purchase Fire District
This legislation exempts the Purchase Fire District from certain residency requirements.
All municipalities are currently required to file their financial reports with the State Comptroller within 60 days of the close of their fiscal year; however, they may request one sixty-day extension. This legislation, drafted in consultation with the Office of the State Comptroller, makes the filing date dependent upon the municipality's population. The Comptroller's office has indicated that the proposed timeframes are based on existing practice and will help eliminate the need for extension requests. Towns and villages with populations between 5,000 and 19,999 will be required to file their reports in 90 days, but can request an additional thirty-day extension. Towns and villages with populations of 20,000 or more will have 120 days but will be ineligible to file for an extension. Cities and counties will continue to be subject to the sixty-day requirement with the ability to request a sixty-day extension.
The legislation also eliminates the requirement that the Comptroller's Office mail each municipality a copy of the form used for report filing, but still allows municipalities to request copies. With 83 percent of municipalities currently filing electronically, it is believed that eliminating the mailing requirement will help streamline the filing process and cut down expenses and waste.
Extension of Mandate Relief Provisions
This legislation extends, for an additional three years, current provisions of law related to installment bonds, certificates of participation, variable rate bonds and notes, and suspension of down payment requirements. The provisions contained within this legislation were enacted originally to provide municipalities with expanded debt issuance and management options. The extension of these provisions will ensure that municipalities continue to realize financial flexibility, while at the same time reserving the Legislature's opportunity to review the implementation in light of changing fiscal conditions.
Flood Relief Expenses
Many municipalities in the State have incurred extraordinary expenses as a result of severe flooding from a series of violent storms in 2005. A total of 19 counties were declared disaster areas by the Governor including: Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Erie, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga, Ulster, Warren, Washington and Wyoming. This legislation authorizes municipalities to issue serial bonds to finance extraordinary expenses of flood relief, thereby ensuring that rather than an unmanageably large one-time fiscal hit, costs can be phased in over time.
Post Employment Benefits
In addition to pensions, many local governments provide retirees with health care benefits. Though post-employment health care benefits are provided after an employee retires, they constitute compensation for employee services. Currently, municipal financial statements do not include the financial effect of post-employment health care benefits until those benefits are paid. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) establishes standards of financial accounting and reporting for state and local governments. In June 2004, GASB issued Statement No. 45 that requires municipal financial statements to include an estimate of the projected cost of post-employment health care benefits for each current employee.
Currently, municipalities and school districts pay for post-employment benefit items on a "pay as you go" basis and there is no method by which they can accrue money or account for such expenses. This legislation would permit municipalities and school districts to meet the new GASB 45 requirement by authorizing post-employment benefits to be accounted for in Employee Benefit Accrued Liability Reserve Funds. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Municipalities and school districts are not authorized to end their fiscal year with a deficit and therefore must receive State authorization prior to issuing deficit-financing bonds. This legislation would create much-needed uniformity in municipal deficit financing authorizations. While the enactment of a special authorizing act would still be necessary to authorize deficit financing, this bill would ensure that whenever it becomes necessary for the Legislature to grant deficit financing authorization, such financing will follow previously established standards that will be consistent and provide for comprehensive reporting requirements. Municipalities and school districts that are compelled to seek authorization for deficit financing will know in advance what to expect. An awareness of the stringent deficit-financing requirements will help deter municipalities and school districts from incurring operating deficits. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Funding for Patriotic Organizations
Many municipalities do not have facilities for meetings conducted by patriotic organizations such as the American Legion or VFW Post. Instead, meetings are held in the post of an adjoining town. Current State law allows a town to appropriate up to $125 annually to assist a neighboring town to fund costs incurred by a patriotic organization. The current sum has not been increased since 1984, and is inadequate to defray room rental or maintenance. This legislation would increase the amount of money that towns may appropriate from $125 to $300. The legislation would also increase, from $500 to $1,000, the amount of money available to help the town's patriotic organizations defray meeting costs. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Audit reports and management letters are important tools in the efficient management of local governments. They are utilized most effectively, however, when local officials promptly focus on audit findings and recommendations and address any deficiencies in an effective manner. Written, public responses also help foster greater accountability to the taxpayers of the local governments.
This legislation would require municipalities, industrial development agencies, and special districts to respond in writing to audits performed by the Office of the State Comptroller, or external audits performed by independent public accountants. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Municipal purchases above a certain dollar threshold are subject to competitive bidding, meaning purchases must be made from the lowest-priced bidder. Section 104-A of the General Municipal Law permits items made of recycled products to be purchased even if they are not the lowest price.
This legislation would establish a provision similar to 104-A of the General Municipal Law for the purchase of renewable energy resources provided that they are within 15 percent of the cost of a comparable non-renewable energy product. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Identification of Procurement Officers
Local governments typically operate under either a centralized or de-centralized purchasing model. In the centralized model, one person makes the purchasing decisions, but in a de-centralized model, several individuals may be responsible for purchasing decisions.
This legislation would amend the General Municipal Law to require municipal procurement policies to include the name and title of the individuals responsible for purchasing. Such information would be required to be updated every two years. Requiring individuals to be identified will not only increase awareness of purchasing practices, it will also help increase accountability. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Disability Coverage for Bridge and Tunnel Officers
This legislation would allow a bridge and tunnel officer, who becomes disabled due to heart disease or a disease of the lungs, to collect a pension equal to ¾ of his or her final salary. This provision would only apply in cases where the officer meets the following criteria: completion of at least five years of service; civil service selection; and successful completion of a pre-employment physical. The legislation passed the Legislature but was vetoed by the Governor.
Disability Coverage for Bi-State Commission or Authority Police
This legislation would add bi-state commission and authority police officers to the list of law enforcement personnel eligible to receive additional disability coverage for injuries received in the line of duty, ensuring police officers employed by these agencies would receive the same disability benefits as other law enforcement officers. The legislation passed the Legislature but was vetoed by the Governor.
Disability Coverage for Police Officers
This legislation would add diseases of the lung, cancer affecting the lymphatic, digestive, hematological, urinary, neurological, breast, reproductive or prostate systems, and melanoma to the list of work-related illnesses for New York City police officers, unless proved to the contrary by competent evidence. The legislation passed the Legislature but was vetoed by the Governor.
Strokes in Police Officers and Firefighters
Current law includes a presumption that any uniformed paid police officer or firefighter, who successfully passes an entry level physical examination and subsequently develops a heart condition, incurred such condition during the performance and discharge of their duty, unless proved to the contrary by competent evidence.
Medical research indicates that hypertension is often job-related for most first responders and is a significant cause of heart attacks and stroke. This legislation adds stroke to the list of diseases presumed to be job related for police officers and firefighters.
Special Accidental Death Benefits for Certain Municipal Employees
This legislation would amend the General Municipal Law to provide special accidental death benefits to the surviving spouses and children of the following municipal employees: sanitation members; special officers; parking control specialists; school safety agents; taxi and limousine inspectors, and CUNY campus peace officers. Pension benefits would be available in cases where municipal employees died as the result of an accident incurred in the performance of their duties before the effective date of their retirement. The legislation passed the Legislature but was vetoed by the Governor.
Disability Coverage for Niagara Frontier Transit Police
This legislation would add the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's (NFTA) police officers to the list of law enforcement personnel eligible to receive additional disability coverage for injuries received in the line of duty, ensuring that NFTA police officers would receive the same disability benefits as other law enforcement officers. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Disability Coverage for County Probation Officers
This legislation would authorize counties to add probation officers to the list of law enforcement personnel eligible to receive additional disability coverage for injuries received in the line of duty, ensuring that county probation officers would receive the same disability benefits as other law enforcement officers. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Erie County Private Bond Sales
This chapter extends, until June 30, 2007, the authority for the underwriting or sale of Erie County bonds or notes at private sale. This legislation provides Erie County with additional fiscal flexibility by permitting the County to determine the timing of bond sales.
Ward System Elections
Historically, the phrase "ward system" has been very closely associated with cities. Since towns are governed by town boards made up of elected council members, it would be more consistent to call the system a council district system instead of a ward s ystem.
This legislation would amend the Town Law to replace the phrase "ward system" with the phrase "council district system." The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Training for Municipal Officials
Land use decisions have become increasingly complex, resulting in increased challenges for zoning board members. This legislation requires members of municipal zoning boards and zoning boards of appeals to undergo at least four hours of training per year. Courses will be approved by the applicable legislative body of each municipality and training can be obtained from a variety of sources including municipalities, State agencies, associations or colleges. Municipalities will also determine the format of training which can include: electronic media; video; distance learning; and traditional classroom training.
Referrals to County Planning Boards
General Municipal Law section 239-m requires cities, towns and villages to refer certain proposed land use actions, including "adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance or local law" to county planning agencies for review; however, there has been some confusion as to what actions should be referred. This legislation would clarify that enactment and amendment of land use laws and ordinances, including subdivision regulations, site plan review laws and communication tower ordinances, are required to be referred to county planning boards. The legislation passed the Assembly but the Senate did not take action.
Urban Development Action Area Waivers
Currently, the sale of New York City-owned land is subject to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which can take up to 11 months to complete. Delays of this length often have serious consequences for federally-funded low income, elderly and disabled housing projects. The United States Department of housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a lower cost alternative to traditional projects. Once allocated, the HUD funding timeframes are not negotiable. The length of the ULURP process jeopardizes HUD funding by adding time to the development process - causing costs to rise and leaving the City in the position of having to fill the gap with other funding sources.
This legislation will permit the review process to be conducted pursuant to the streamlined Urban Development Action Area Procedure (UDAAP) which will take a maximum of 150 days, reducing the approval timeframe by six to nine months, while still retaining the City Council's full land use review authority. The ability to accelerate the land use approval process will apply only to developments of 90 units or less and will sunset on June 30, 2009. No more than six such developments annually will be eligible for the expedited review process.
Community Preservation Funds
Undeveloped and agricultural lands in New York are disappearing at a rapid rate. In an effort to conserve these lands, communities across the State are exploring a range of options from land use planning activities to the outright purchase of property. In conserving land, communities are pursuing different objectives such as providing parkland, safeguarding drinking water, preserving farmland, protecting habitat and preserving spectacular scenic views; however, all of these activities require financial resources.
This legislation would permit towns and cities, following a voter-approved referendum, to impose a tax on real estate transfers with the resulting money used to create community preservation funds. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Town of Red Hook Preservation Funds
This legislation authorizes the Town of Red Hook to establish a two percent town-wide tax on real estate transfers with the resulting monies used to establish a community preservation fund. The fund will be used to acquire property listed on the Town's Community Preservation Plan.
School District Confirmation
School district location is often an important factor in determining whether or not to purchase a home. For newly-constructed homes, that consideration can pose a challenge with developers in effect "guessing" the likely school district. This legislation would authorize municipal planning boards to require the developer(s) of a proposed subdivision to apply for and receive notification from a school district as to whether such parcel is located within the school district's boundaries. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Village of Bronxville Parking Facility Transfer
Various opinions issued by the Office of the State Comptroller, as well as court dicta, have indicated that public parking facilities, like parkland, are held in trust and any alienation requires a special act of the State Legislature.
This legislation permits the Village of Bronxville to discontinue the use of a public parking facility, provided that the Village retains the amount of parking currently needed and only discontinues the excess.
Saratoga County Reforestation Land
County Law section 219 prohibits counties from using reforestation lands for non-reforestation purposes. This legislation authorizes Saratoga County to use certain reforestation land, located in the Town of Moreau, for the development of a water treatment facility. The authorization is contingent on the dedication of other land for reforestation purposes.
Increases in Special Accidental Death Benefits for Police and Fire Personnel
In 1978, the Legislature passed into law a cost of living increase and a one-year escalation for all New York State widows and children of municipal police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. The intent of that law was to increase benefits to reflect actual costs of living and prevent loss of income due to inflation; however, the law did not provide any cost of living increase after July 1, 1979. Since that date, the cost of living has increased over three percent each year.
This legislation increases, by three percent, certain special accidental death benefits for surviving spouses and children of municipal police and fire personnel.
Mutual Aid Provisions for Volunteer Ambulance Companies
Some insurers have refused to offer mutual aid coverage to certain volunteer ambulance services because the existing statute does not explicitly refer to ambulance squads organized pursuant to section 122-B of the General Municipal Law. This legislation clarifies provisions regarding mutual aid for volunteer ambulance companies, providing the same mutual aid liability provisions to volunteer ambulance companies as are currently provided to volunteer fire companies.
Increased Death Benefits for Volunteers
Volunteer ambulance workers and firefighters provide an important service to the people of New York State, and unfortunately, the provision of that service brings with it inherent dangers.
This legislation provides a cost of living adjustment, based on the increase in the consumer price index since benefits were last increased in 1998, to certain volunteer firefighter and ambulance worker death benefits.
Volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers run the risk of HIV exposure in the line of duty. Given the great advances in testing and treatment for HIV, it is of the utmost importance that when a significant exposure has occurred volunteers are able to quickly undergo proper testing and care. Chapter 390 of the Laws of 2005 established a procedure for law enforcement and career firefighters. This legislation is modeled after that law and establishes a procedure for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers who may have been exposed to HIV in the line of duty.
Funds for Fire Company Records Management
Under current law, volunteer ambulance and fire companies are ineligible for funding from the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund. The Fund was created as a grant program for local governments and since volunteer ambulance and fire organizations are not departments within a local government but are instead typically organized as separate not-for-profits, they are not eligible for funding through this particular program.
Since records kept by volunteer emergency service entities are deemed to be public records that are important to and necessary for the administration of the municipalities they serve, this legislation would authorize fire and ambulance companies to be eligible for funding from the Local Government Records Management Fund. The bill passed the Assembly but the Senate did not take action.
The following legislation was drafted with the involvement and support of the Firemen's Association of the State of New York (FASNY), the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York and the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs.
Current law authorizes the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) to examine the records of fire companies regarding foreign fire insurance monies (also known as two percent monies). This legislation expands the existing authorization to provide the Comptroller with the same audit authority over fire companies as that provided previously with regard to fire and other special districts.
Fire District Capital Reserve Funds
Currently, fire district reserve funds are subject to voter approval only for specific expenditures. Although the vast majority of fire districts are financially responsible, some fire districts have been able to amass large sums of taxpayers' money in reserve funds. According to a recent series of articles in Newsday, fire districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties have reserve funds totaling $182 million. The dollar amount alone does not mean that the reserves are not justified; however, it does help indicate the financial significance of the issue. In addition, some districts have turned to reserve funds in order to avoid the referendum required for bonding, or, in some cases, in the event of a failed bond referendum.
This legislation requires additional public oversight of the money that fire districts can place in capital improvement reserve accounts by making the creation of reserve funds subject to voter approval. This bill avoids establishing limits on reserve funds, in order to ensure that fire districts have access to the monies that they need, but does impose a check, in the form of voter approval, prior to the establishment of a capital reserve fund. The requirement for voter approval will help ensure that taxpayers have input in district finances.
Fire District Special Elections
Fire district special elections are most often required in cases where taxpayer money is to be expended. With fire district costs to taxpayers more than doubling between 1980 and 2000, it is increasingly important that taxpayers are aware of the opportunities for input in district financial decisions.
Currently, there are no requirements as to when fire district special elections can be held. As recipients of taxpayer money, fire districts have an obligation to ensure that taxpayers have input into financial decisions. Most fire districts take that obligation very seriously and conduct their special elections accordingly; however, there have been instances where elections have been conducted with very little notice to the public. In at least one instance, a fire district attempted to hold an election on the Friday night before Labor Day. There are other instances where elections were scheduled on religious holidays. The purpose of this legislation is to require districts to maximize voter participation by prohibiting them from scheduling and conducting elections in a manner that would limit the ability of large numbers of taxpayers to participate. This legislation requires fire districts to hold special elections on Tuesdays, provided that such days are not holidays. In addition, districts would be required to conduct and schedule elections in a way that maximizes voter participation.
Installation Dinner Expenses
An annual firefighter's inspection dinner, as provided for in Town and Village Law, is intended to acknowledge the invaluable public service of volunteer firefighters. While that acknowledgement is important, it must be balanced with the need to be prudent with taxpayer monies. Recent reports have noted that some fire districts are spending large sums on banquets.
This legislation would clarify that the expenses of annual installation dinners would be required to be reasonable and aimed at minimizing taxpayer impact. The bill passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Proper training is essential to protect the lives of firefighters and the individuals they have sworn to protect, and taxpayers have a responsibility to fund those costs. At the same time, it is unfair to force taxpayers to pay for unnecessary training trips. New York's taxpayers have paid for volunteer firefighters to attend training courses in resorts in the Bahamas and in Disney World. The decision to attend those trips was made locally and was funded by local taxpayers, but even if these trips provided necessary training, their locations added the appearance of impropriety.
This legislation requires out-of-State training to be subject to a finding from the governing board (fire district or municipality) that such training is necessary, in the public interest and is not available within a reasonable distance and time period in the State. Following attendance, notification would be provided to the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control for inclusion in an annual report. The information will be used to improve in-state training programs.
Audits of Fire Districts and Companies
Fire districts and fire companies are funded with taxpayer money. The volunteers who run these organizations, much deserving of our praise and thanks, are not necessarily trained in financial matters. This legislation requires annual audits of fire districts and companies with revenues above certain financial thresholds and will help to ensure additional financial oversight of taxpayer monies without imposing additional burdens on volunteers. Similar provisions, including the requirement that auditors be selected following a competitive bidding process and a limitation on the length of contracts with auditors, have been adopted previously for school districts.
Codes of Ethics
Villages, towns, counties and school districts are all required to develop and follow a code of ethics. Fire district budgets total in the hundreds of millions of dollars and district buildings and equipment are valued at over a billion dollars, putting them on par with many municipalities and districts, but they are not required to develop a code of ethics.
This legislation adds fire districts to the list of entities required to develop codes of ethics. The State Comptroller will be required to develop a model code. The creation of a code of ethics will ensure that all members of fire districts are held to the same high standard of accountability.
Attending conferences is often a necessary part of a government official's duties. At the same time, government officials must be sensitive to the financial burden their travel places on local taxpayers and should utilize cost-effective and reasonable methods of travel and accommodations. This legislation authorizes reimbursement for conference travel of municipal officers to include only costs incurred for official business and requires that such travel must be cost-effective and reasonable.
In addition, the legislation also requires the mileage reimbursement rate for fire district officers to be no higher than the federal mileage reimbursement rate. Using the federal reimbursement rate is already the established procedure for other municipal officials, but had not been required for fire district officers. A recent audit by the State Comptroller found that while attending conferences, certain fire officials reserved expensive hotel suites, instead of more reasonably priced rooms.
Statewide Public Hearing Day
Fire district budgets have a direct impact on the taxpayers they serve, yet unlike towns, fire districts have no budget hearing requirement. This legislation provides greater opportunity for public involvement by designating the third Tuesday in October as a statewide budget hearing day. By establishing a single day statewide, taxpayers will know when they can comment on the fire district's proposed budget. In addition, this legislation makes budget information more widely available by requiring budget hearing notices to be posted on the fire and municipal websites, if available.
Availability of Fire District Hearing and Election Information
Because fire districts provide a specific service and not the general services provided by municipalities, districts tend to have less visibility. Public hearings and elections provide taxpayers with the opportunity to have input in how fire districts spend their money.
This legislation maximizes the opportunities for public involvement by increasing the amount and quality of the information available to taxpayers. In addition to newspaper publication, this legislation requires hearing and election notices to be posted on district and municipal websites, if available. Notices will also be required to contain detailed information about the subject of the hearing as well as information about polling hours.
Fire District Commissioner Dereliction of Duty
Fire district commissioners perform many essential roles in the governing of the district. In most cases, if a quorum of commissioners is not present, business cannot be conducted. It is for this reason that fire commissioner attendance is so important; however, there has been some confusion as to whether or not commissioners can be removed for excessive unexcused absences. The current provision in the Public Officers Law refers to "malversation" and "malfeasance." This legislation would authorize the removal of fire commissioners for dereliction of duty. Dereliction would include, but not be limited to, excessive unexcused absences from regularly scheduled meetings and would follow the existing removal process for commissioners. The bill passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Training for Fire District Commissioners
Fire commissioners oversee the operations of a fire district - controlling the finances and regulations of the district and, in many cases, the finances and regulation of the fire companies within the district. In this role, fire commissioners are responsible for the payment of contracts, control of special elections, and performance of many other specialized tasks essential to district operation.
This legislation establishes training requirements for fire district commissioners. The State Comptroller will approve the creation of a training program involving legal, fiduciary, financial, procurement and ethical responsibilities for fire district commissioners. The training course required by this legislation will help ensure that commissioners are equipped with the tools they need to perform their jobs.
Codes of Ethics
Villages, towns, counties and school districts are all required to develop and follow a code of ethics. This legislation adds fire companies to that list. With fire budgets totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and buildings and equipment worth over a billion dollars, all funded with taxpayer money, it is essential that the public confidence be maintained.
The creation of a code of ethics will ensure that all members of fire companies are held to the same high standard of accountability. This accountability also includes the disclosure of interest in contracts. Although the vast majority of fire officers avoid participating in contracts in which they have an interest, the absence of a formalized process has led to a haphazard application of disclosure. The disclosure standard required in this bill is currently applied to municipal officials and certain fire officers. In addition, public disclosure provides a clear manifestation of the integrity of fire officers and helps avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Volunteer firefighter Length of Service Award Programs (LOSAP) are locally-administered programs intended to serve as recruitment and retention incentive tools by providing volunteers with pension-like benefits. The programs are established and administered by municipalities or fire districts.
A 2001 audit by the Office of the State Comptroller estimated there were approximately 500 programs with assets of over a quarter of a billion dollars. The audit also found problems associated with administration of service award programs, including "vendors performing many of the functions required for implementing and administering programs." A recent series of articles in Newsday also highlighted problems associated with LOSAP, including under funding. The bills listed below are intended to address those problems.
Increased Availability of Vendor Information
LOSAP plans are complex in nature and program sponsors (municipalities or fire districts) frequently opt to contract for program administration. This legislation authorizes the Comptroller to post information about LOSAP vendors on a single website in order to make it easier for sponsors to select the appropriate vendor.
In addition, this legislation will provide information to plan sponsors and the public regarding the performance of LOSAP vendors. Having a single source of information will make it easier for sponsors to select the appropriate vendor. While past performance is no guarantee of future performance, the information will provide mileposts regarding a vendor's risk level and investment philosophy.
This legislation requires LOSAP sponsors or administrators to obtain an annual audit by a certified public accountant or an independent public accountant. In addition, plan information would be required to be provided to sponsors and participants annually. Providing annual LOSAP information to volunteers will help ensure that they are fully informed about their benefits. Annual audits will help ensure that programs are adequately funded, allow program sponsors to adjust contributions and increase transparency.
This legislation would create a 13-member Temporary Volunteer Firefighter Service Award Program Task Force to examine LOSAP funding and accountability issues. The Task Force, composed of representatives with expertise in municipal and fire-service issues, would conduct an in-depth investigation of the complexities associated with LOSAP and make recommendations to the Legislature and Governor on how the programs could be improved. The bill passed the Assembly but the Senate did not take action.
Optional Statewide Service Award Program
Currently LOSAP programs are administered locally. In contrast, the service award program for volunteer ambulance workers is administered centrally by the Comptroller, with a single plan administrator. This legislation establishes an optional State-administered service award program for volunteer firefighters in order to encourage competition and provide program sponsors with an alternative to local-administration.
SIGNIFICANT EMERGENCY SERVICES LEGISLATION
Defense and Indemnification
Volunteer firefighters generously perform an essential function without compensation; however, the fear of personal financial liability discourages some people from becoming and continuing to serve as volunteer firefighters. The firefighters' status as volunteers, not municipal employees, has led to questions about the ability of public entities to pay for legal costs and any resulting judgments, a process known as defense and indemnification.
This legislation requires municipalities and fire districts to provide defense and indemnification for actions taken by the volunteer firefighter, provided that the firefighter meets the municipality's training standards and the actions did not involve willful negligence or malfeasance.
Cost of Living Adjustment for Disabled Volunteer Firefighters
This legislation, which passed the Legislature but was vetoed by the Governor, would have provided a permanent cost of living adjustment to permanent total disability benefits provided to volunteer firefighters.
Lung Disease Presumption
Medical evidence indicates that firefighters experience a higher incidence of lung disease than that of the average adult population. It is thought that this higher incidence results from exposure to the combustion and off gassing of plastic and other synthetic materials at fires. The linkage between f irefighters and lung disease has been established already for career firefighters. This legislation establishes a presumption that death or disability from lung disease in volunteer firefighters results from actions taken in the line of duty.
Fire District Tax Assessments
The existing Town Law provisions regarding the apportionment of taxes for fire districts located in more than one town include a reference to section 54-a of the Tax Law that was repealed in 1959. This legislation removes the outdated reference and inserts a reference to section 806 of the Real Property Tax Law. This correction is technical in nature and will maintain the existing apportionment practices for fire districts that include taxable property located in more than one town.
Reimbursement for Hazardous Material Remediation
Currently, municipal corporations or fire districts that contract with or control fire companies do not have the authority to bill hazardous materials transporters for their spill response costs; however, many small municipal and volunteer fire companies accumulate significant costs in responding to hazardous materials spills. This legislation would establish a procedure to provide reimbursement to fire companies for costs associated with responding to spills of hazardous materials. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not take action.
Long Distance Learning Availability
Since September 11, 2001, the increased responsibilities of firefighters have forced them to perform a growing number of tasks in a limited amount of time. At an Assembly hearing held in 2004, firefighters frequently cited concerns regarding the availability and proximity of required training and indicated certain training demands are actually a deterrent to recruitment and retention. Technology provides new opportunities for training that can reduce the time burden placed upon firefighters.
This legislation would require the State Office of Fire Prevention to make firefighting training available by video or computer to the maximum extent practical. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Free Thruway Access for Emergency Vehicles
When responding to an emergency, time is of the essence. In some areas of the State, the Thruway provides the fastest and most direct access to the scene of an emergency. This legislation would require the Thruway Authority to develop a permit process or provide refunds for ambulances and fire trucks responding to an emergency. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Equipping First Aid Squads
There is some uncertainty in current law as to whether or not fire districts may purchase uniforms for emergency rescue and first aid squads formed as part of a fire district.
This legislation is intended to rectify any discrepancy and authorize explicitly the purchase of uniforms. Fire companies formed pursuant to other provisions of the Town Law have a clearly stated authorization to make such uniform purchases. The proposed legislation mirrors those provisions. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
Fire Hydrant Inspection
Non-working hydrants pose a major hazard to firefighters. In urban areas, the problem of non-working hydrants also exacerbates parking problems. This legislation would require municipalities to inspect fire hydrants to ensure that they are in working order and remove or replace non-working hydrants. In cases where fire districts are responsible for hydrant maintenance, they would be required to conduct the inspections and notify the municipality. The legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate has not taken action.
The issue of parkland alienation, or the conversion of parkland for other purposes, has been a great concern to the Committee for some time. Case and statutory law have established that any use of public parkland for non-parkland purposes must be authorized by the New York State Legislature.
As part of the Committee's on-going effort to protect the public trust as it relates to parkland, and in keeping with the Assembly's policy of preserving open space, every attempt is made to ensure that each proposed alienation of parkland complies with alienation guidelines and adheres to the long standing policy, prior to passage out of Committee.
Committee guidelines for authorizing parkland alienation include the verification of the number of acres proposed for alienation and a requirement that such lands be sold at fair market value, with the proceeds from the sale dedicated for the purchase of replacement parkland of equal or greater fair market value or for capital improvement of existing parkland. The legislation must also include a legal description of the park land being alienated, as well as language detailing the number of acres of land being alienated or dedicated (if replacement parkland is proposed for parkland). Finally, the Committee requires a home rule message from the municipality requesting alienation prior to acting on any parkland legislation.
The following parkland alienation bills have been signed into law.
Town of Chili Parkland
This chapter authorizes the Town of Chili, Monroe County, to discontinue the use of certain municipal parkland. In exchange, the Town must dedicate the fair market value of the property being alienated for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities.
Westchester County Parkland
In 2003, Westchester County received authorization to alienate certain municipal parkland; however, the metes and bounds contained within the authorization were incorrect. This legislation revises the metes and bounds to reflect accurately the parkland to be discontinued.
Town of Wappinger Parkland
This chapter authorizes the Town of Wappinger, Orange County, to convey a sanitary sewer and water line easement under certain municipal parkland. In exchange, the Town must dedicate the fair market value of the easement for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities. Following the completion of the installation, the Town is required to restore the surface of the parkland so that it may continue to be used for park purposes.
Town of Babylon Parkland
This chapter authorizes the Town of Babylon, Suffolk County, to discontinue the use of certain municipal parkland. In exchange, the Town must dedicate the fair market value of the property being alienated for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities.
Town of Smithtown Parkland
This chapter authorizes the Town of Smithtown, Suffolk County, to discontinue the use of certain municipal parkland and convey the land to the Smithtown Special Library District. In exchange, the Town must dedicate the fair market value of the property being alienated for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities.
Village of Westfield Parkland
This chapter authorizes the Village of Westfield, Chautauqua County, to discontinue the use of certain municipal parkland and convey such land to the First Presbyterian Church of Westfield in exchange for the acquisition of specified additional park land. If the fair market value of the parkland to be acquired is less than the fair market value of the park land to be alienated, the Village must dedicate the difference in the fair market value for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities.
Village of Sydney Parkland
This chapter authorizes the Village of Sydney, Delaware County, to discontinue the use of certain municipal parkland. The Village is required to dedicate the fair market value of the property being alienated for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities.
Broome County Parkland
This chapter authorizes Broome County to discontinue the use of certain municipal parkland in exchange for the acquisition of additional specified park land. The transfer is intended to improve public safety along Scouten Hill Road. If the fair market value of the parkland to be acquired is less than the fair market value of the park land to be alienated, the County must dedicate the difference in the fair market value for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities.
Niagara County Parkland
This chapter authorizes Niagara County to transfer certain parkland to the Town of Lockport, provided that the land continues to be used for park purposes and that Lockport may not establish any fees that are higher for non-Town residents than for town residents.
Town of Mount Hope Parkland
This chapter authorizes the Town of Mount Hope, Orange County, to discontinue the use of certain municipal parkland for the construction of a new school. The Town is required to dedicate the fair market value of the property being alienated for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities.
Town of Johnsburg Parkland
This chapter authorizes the Town of Johnsburg, Warren County, to discontinue the use of certain municipal parkland and convey such land to the Front Street Mountain Development, LLC. In exchange for the acquisition of additional specified park land. If the fair market value of the parkland to be acquired is less than the fair market value of the park land to be alienated, the Town must dedicate the difference in the fair market value for the acquisition of new parkland or the improvement of existing park facilities.
The Committee held two public hearings in 2006. A summary of those hearings follows.
On March 9, 2006, the Committee, in conjunction with the Assembly Standing Committee on Governmental Operations, held a hearing in Utica to examine issues related to the readiness of local governments to respond to disasters.
Recent events have led many municipalities to re-examine their readiness for natural and man-made disasters. This review is taking place at every level of government as it becomes increasingly clear that plans are essential to ensure a well-coordinated, efficient response. This hearing, the latest in a series of hearings held by the Assembly on emergency preparedness, was held to examine issues related to the disaster planning efforts of local governments, including intermunicipal and State cooperation.
On August 22, 2006, the Committee, in conjunction with the Assembly Standing Committee on Governmental Operations, held a hearing in Albany to examine the impact of the 2006-2007 State Budget on Department of State programs, including implementation and administration. The Committees examined the Shared Municipal Services Incentive program and Office of Fire Prevention and Control programs.
Representatives from the Department of State, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs and the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York testified.
The Assembly Local Governments Committee will continue its in-depth review of how New York State provides emergency services to all of its residents. While both professional and volunteer emergency service providers as a whole provide an exceptional level of service across the State, the level of support, both financial and technical, varies widely across New York State.
The expiration of certain provisions related to Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), including the authorization of IDAs to finance civic facility and continuing care retirement projects, as well as certain tax policies and restrictions on the use of agency funds, will provide the Committee with the opportunity to explore issues related to the role of IDAs, including potential reforms.
The Committee will also continue its review of 911-related issues at both the State and local level. The Committee remains committed to ensuring that any recommendations and proposed legislation reflect the rapidly changing technical means of providing emergency services in both rural and urban New York, as well as the financial realities of both residents and emergency service providers.
The Committee will continue to advocate for the equitable distribution of local government aid. In particular, it will continue to support the adoption of equitable local government aid programs to provide both a stable and predictable revenue stream for local governments.
2006 SUMMARY OF ACTION ON ALL BILLS REFERRED TO
CHAPTER LAWS OF 2006
VETOES OF 2006
New York State Assembly
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