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A06524 Summary:

BILL NOA06524
 
SAME ASSAME AS UNI. S05867
 
SPONSORThiele
 
COSPNSR
 
MLTSPNSR
 
Add Art 1-A §§10 - 19, County L
 
Establishes a procedure for the creation of new counties; outlines population and area requirements; requires a feasibility study, petition and referendum; makes related provisions.
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A06524 Actions:

BILL NOA06524
 
03/19/2021referred to local governments
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A06524 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A6524
 
SPONSOR: Thiele
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the county law, in relation to establishing a procedure for the creation of new counties   PURPOSE: Establishes a procedure for the creation of new counties.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1. Legislative Findings Section 2. The county law is amended by adding a new article 1-a, "Creation of New Counties". Section 3. Severability Clause Section 4. Sets forth an effective immediately   JUSTIFICATION: State-government has an interest in ensuring 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 7379) 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 counties have been created by a haphazard, ad hoc process without any uniformity. Because of the lack of such uniformity, there exists a great deal of uncertainty regarding legal issues relating to the creation of new counties. This legislation would eliminate this uncer- tainty and meet the constitutional requirement of providing for the creation of counties by instituting a set of uniform procedures and substantive requirements that would have to be met before a new county could be created. This legislation is carefully crafted to provide a process to create a new county when it would result in more efficient and effective govern- ment. It is sensitive to the home rule interests of the residents who would be governed by the new county. In particular, the process set forth in this legislation would ensure that voters in the proposed coun- ty have the necessary information to make an informed and educated deci- sion on the issue of the creation of a new county. It provides for substantive minimum requirements for the creation of new counties that recognize the historical and particular role that counties play in the system of local government in New York State. This legislation meets these goals in several ways. It extensively mirrors the applicable provisions of existing state law relating to new villages, new towns and municipal annexation where they would be relevant to the creation of new counties. Further, this legislation also takes into consideration the fiscal impacts on taxpayers in both the current county and the proposed new county. The review of such information by the state comptroller will provide votes with objective information on the financial feasibility of a proposed new county by an independent professional with no interest in the outcome of a new county proceeding. Other miscellaneous provisions and a severability clause are also included in this legislation.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2020 S.4895/S.7001; 2018 S.3831/A.3139; 2016 S.4443/A.6346.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.   EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
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A06524 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
            S. 5867                                                  A. 6524
 
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
 
                SENATE - ASSEMBLY
 
                                     March 19, 2021
                                       ___________
 
        IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sen. PALUMBO -- read twice and ordered print-
          ed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Local Govern-
          ment
 
        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 government
     8  that is more cost effective, more efficient, and more responsive to  the
     9  needs and desires of those residents being served. Therefore, the legis-
    10  lature  finds  that it is in the best interests of the state of New York
    11  to establish a procedure for the creation of new counties  where  it  is
    12  feasible  and  in  the  best  interest of the governed. This legislation
    13  would create such a procedure.
    14    § 2. The county law is amended by adding a new article 1-A to read  as
    15  follows:
    16                                 ARTICLE 1-A
    17                          CREATION OF NEW COUNTIES
    18  Section 10. Population and area requirements.
    19          11. Feasibility study.
    20          12. Petition.
    21          13. Filing petition and objections; determination.
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD09777-01-1

        S. 5867                             2                            A. 6524
 
     1          14. Decision of the state comptroller.
     2          15. Referendum.
     3          16. Effective date; transition period.
     4          17. Disposition of property.
     5          18. Assumption of debt.
     6          19. Miscellaneous provisions.
     7    §  10.  Population  and area requirements. 1. A territory containing a
     8  population of at least one hundred thousand inhabitants,  as  determined
     9  by  the most recent federal census, may be established as a county under
    10  this article. Such territory shall also have an area  of  at  least  one
    11  hundred square miles.
    12    2.  Such  territory shall be contiguous and all counties affected by a
    13  petition pursuant to this article shall have contiguous boundaries.
    14    3. Such territory shall not  divide  the  territory  of  any  existing
    15  cities, towns or villages.
    16    §  11.  Feasibility study. Before a petition to become a county may be
    17  filed under section twelve of this article, a  feasibility  study  shall
    18  first be prepared. Such feasibility study shall include the following:
    19    1.  A  proposed  operating budget for the territory to be the proposed
    20  county;
    21    2. A proposed capital budget for the  territory  to  be  the  proposed
    22  county;
    23    3.  A  proposal for the division of assets and liabilities between the
    24  affected counties;
    25    4. The property tax impact on the proposed county  and  the  remaining
    26  county over at least a five year period; and
    27    5.  An executive summary of such financial impact statement, including
    28  the estimated real property tax impact  for  the  territory  to  be  the
    29  proposed county and the remaining area of the remaining county.
    30    §  12. Petition. 1. A proceeding to create a new county shall commence
    31  with a petition.
    32    2. A petition to create a new county shall be signed by a number equal
    33  to at least ten per centum of the total vote cast for  governor  in  the
    34  territory  proposed  to  become  a  county  in  the  last  gubernatorial
    35  election.
    36    3. Only qualified electors for a general election  in  such  territory
    37  shall be eligible to sign the petition.
    38    4.  The  petition  to  create a new county shall contain the following
    39  information:
    40    (a) The name of the proposed county;
    41    (b) The county seat of the proposed county;
    42    (c) A statement that the territory  proposed  to  be  the  new  county
    43  contains  at  least  one  hundred  thousand inhabitants and at least one
    44  hundred square miles;
    45    (d) A map showing the boundaries of the proposed county; and
    46    (e) A designation of at least one but not  more  than  three  persons,
    47  giving  full  names  and  addresses,  on whom and at which addresses all
    48  papers required to be served in connection with the proceeding to create
    49  the new county, shall be served.
    50    5. The signatures to the petition shall be subscribed  on  a  separate
    51  page  or pages following the information outlined in subdivision four of
    52  this section.
    53    6. Each signature page shall be prefaced by a statement of  the  peti-
    54  tioners'  familiarity with the contents and purpose of the petition, and
    55  the boundaries of the territory to be included in the new county.

        S. 5867                             3                            A. 6524
 
     1    7. Following each signature, there shall be set forth, not necessarily
     2  by the signer, the signer's address, including street name  and  number,
     3  if any, and town.
     4    8.  The  petition  must also be authenticated as to all the signatures
     5  upon each separate sheet by appending at the bottom of  each  sheet,  an
     6  affidavit  of a witness as to the subscription thereof, substantially as
     7  follows: STATE OF NEW YORK
     8    ss.: COUNTY OF ...................(name of witness) being duly  sworn,
     9  says:   I  reside  at  ..................,  in  the  .............    of
    10  ................ (fill in residence) in the state of New  York;  I  know
    11  each of the persons whose names are subscribed to the above sheet having
    12  ..............  (fill in number) signatures; and each of them subscribed
    13  the same in my presence.
    14    ........................
    15  (Signature  of  witness.)  Sworn  to  before  me,  this  .....  day   of
    16  ............, 20.... .................... (official title of officer)
    17    9. The state board of elections shall prepare a form of petition meet-
    18  ing  the requirements of this section and shall make said form available
    19  to the public. Any petition which is a copy of said form shall be deemed
    20  to meet the requirements of this section relating to form.
    21    § 13. Filing petition and objections;  determination.  1.  A  petition
    22  pursuant  to  this  article  shall  be  filed  with  the  state board of
    23  elections.
    24    2. Any petition filed with the  state  board  of  elections  shall  be
    25  presumptively  valid if it is in the proper form and appears to bear the
    26  requisite number of signatures authenticated in a manner  prescribed  by
    27  this article.
    28    3.  Written objections to a petition pursuant to this article shall be
    29  filed with the state board of elections  within  three  days  after  the
    30  filing  of  the  petition. When an objection is filed, specifications of
    31  the grounds of the objections shall be filed within six days  thereafter
    32  with  such  board  of  elections,  and  if specifications are not timely
    33  filed, the objection shall be null and void. An objector must be  quali-
    34  fied to sign the petition.
    35    4.  Within  twenty  days  of the filing of a petition pursuant to this
    36  article, the state board of elections shall render a determination as to
    37  the sufficiency of the petition. The state board of elections shall give
    38  notice of the determination forthwith by mail to the individuals  desig-
    39  nated pursuant to paragraph (e) of subdivision four of section twelve of
    40  this article, and if specified objections have been filed, the objectors
    41  shall be also notified.
    42    5. All provisions of the election law relating to the construal of the
    43  sufficiency  of  petitions,  not  inconsistent  with this article, shall
    44  apply to this section.
    45    6. A determination of the state board of elections shall be subject to
    46  judicial review, as provided for in article seventy-eight of  the  civil
    47  practice  law and rules, except that it must be instituted within thirty
    48  days after the filing of determination pursuant to this section. Such  a
    49  proceeding  may  only  be  instituted  by a person qualified to sign the
    50  petition. A proceeding under this section shall have preference over all
    51  other civil actions and proceedings.
    52    7. The successful party to the proceeding shall file a certified  copy
    53  of the decision and order with the state board of elections.
    54    §  14. Decision of the state comptroller. 1. Within ten days after the
    55  first occurring of either the expiration of thirty days from the  filing
    56  of  the  original decision sustaining the legal sufficiency of the peti-

        S. 5867                             4                            A. 6524

     1  tion and no proceeding having been instituted to  review  same,  or  the
     2  filing  of a final order sustaining the petition after such a proceeding
     3  to review, the state board of elections shall file a copy of  the  peti-
     4  tion  with  the  office  of  the  state  department of audit and control
     5  located in Albany for a review and decision by the state comptroller, as
     6  provided for by this section.
     7    2. The state comptroller shall examine the proposed  operating  budget
     8  for the territory to be the proposed county, the proposed capital budget
     9  for  the  area  to be the proposed county, a description of the services
    10  that would be provided by the proposed  county  and  how  such  services
    11  would be delivered and the estimated property tax impact for a five year
    12  period  on  the  territory to be the proposed county and the area of the
    13  remaining county.
    14    3. The state comptroller shall  issue  a  decision  on  the  financial
    15  feasibility of the proposed county.
    16    4. In order to make a favorable decision of financial feasibility, the
    17  state comptroller shall make the following findings:
    18    (a)  that  the overall public interest shall be served by the creation
    19  of the proposed county;
    20    (b) that the cost of the proposed county shall not be an undue  burden
    21  upon the proposed county or the remaining county;
    22    (c)  that  the  revenue  estimates and appropriations, as set forth in
    23  such financial impact statement, are adequate to  deliver  the  services
    24  proposed; and
    25    (d)  that  in all regards, such financial impact statement provides an
    26  accurate, valid and  transparent  presentation  of  information  to  the
    27  public.
    28    5.  Such  decision  shall be delivered to the state board of elections
    29  within sixty days of submission to the state comptroller. Such  decision
    30  shall  be available for public inspection. A copy of such decision shall
    31  also be mailed to the petitioners designated pursuant to  paragraph  (e)
    32  of  subdivision four of section twelve of this article and all objectors
    33  to the petition, pursuant to section thirteen of this article, by  regu-
    34  lar mail within five days of receipt.
    35    6.  A determination of the state comptroller shall be subject to judi-
    36  cial review, as provided for in article seventy-eight of the civil prac-
    37  tice law and rules, except that it must be instituted within thirty days
    38  after the filing of determination pursuant to this section. A proceeding
    39  under this section shall have preference over all  other  civil  actions
    40  and proceedings.
    41    7.  Where  the determination of the state comptroller is not favorable
    42  and no proceeding is instituted to review such  decision,  the  decision
    43  shall  be  final and conclusive. The state board of elections shall take
    44  no further action on such petition.  A  new  proceeding  to  create  the
    45  proposed county shall not be commenced for at least five years.
    46    §  15. Referendum. 1. A referendum to determine the question of creat-
    47  ing a new county shall be held at the next general election occurring no
    48  less than sixty days after the first occurring of either of the  follow-
    49  ing two events:
    50    (a)  The  expiration  of  thirty days from a favorable decision of the
    51  state comptroller and no proceeding having  been  instituted  to  review
    52  same; or
    53    (b)  The filing of a final order which sustains the favorable decision
    54  of the state comptroller.
    55    2. The procedure for the referendum shall be pursuant to the election
    56    law.

        S. 5867                             5                            A. 6524

     1    3. Each resident in the territory proposed to be the new county who is
     2  a qualified elector in a general election may vote in the referendum.
     3    4.  The form of the proposition shall be as follows: "Shall the terri-
     4  tory generally  described  as  ..............  (describe  territory)  be
     5  established  as  a  new  county to be called .................. (name of
     6  county)?"
     7    5. If the majority of the votes cast on  such  referendum  be  in  the
     8  affirmative,  the  referendum shall be adopted, and the new county shall
     9  be created.
    10    6. If the majority of votes cast at such referendum shall  be  adverse
    11  to  the  creation  of  the new county, no county shall be created and no
    12  petition for the creation of such county from the same territory may  be
    13  filed  for  a  period  of five years from the date such referendum shall
    14  have been defeated.
    15    § 16. Effective date; transition period. 1. When a referendum has been
    16  approved, pursuant to this article,  the  new  county  shall  be  deemed
    17  created  and effective upon the adoption of the referendum, certified by
    18  the state board of elections, and shall have the  authority  to  perform
    19  all  acts necessary to effect a transition of authority to the new coun-
    20  ty.
    21    2. For the purposes of exercising all governmental functions, the  new
    22  county  shall  be  deemed  effective  on  the  first day of January next
    23  succeeding the next general election at which county  elective  officers
    24  are elected.
    25    3.  All  county  elective  officers  pursuant to this article shall be
    26  elected at the next general election after the referendum is approved.
    27    4. As provided by this article, the board of supervisors shall be  the
    28  legislative  body  of  the  new  county.  Nothing  in this article shall
    29  preclude the establishment of a legislative body other than a  board  of
    30  supervisors, pursuant to law.
    31    5.  Nothing in this article shall preclude a new county from selecting
    32  a charter or other alternative form of government as permitted by law.
    33    6. During the transition period between  the  effective  date  of  the
    34  county  and the effective date for the purpose of exercising all govern-
    35  mental functions, the supervisors of each of the towns constituting  the
    36  new county shall be empowered to act as an interim board of supervisors.
    37  Said  board shall have all the rights, privileges, functions, and powers
    38  conferred on counties and municipal  corporations  and  shall  take  all
    39  actions  necessary  to effect a transition to the new county government,
    40  including but not limited to the transfer  of  real  property,  personal
    41  property,  books, records, employees, the authority to enter into agree-
    42  ments, including the apportionment of liabilities, to  adopt  a  budget,
    43  hire  employees, levy taxes, and borrow money. Any action by the interim
    44  board of supervisors shall be approved by a unanimous vote.
    45    7. Any taxes levied or collected and any other charges levied  by  the
    46  existing  county  for  the  transition period on the territory which has
    47  become a new county shall be utilized to continue services and functions
    48  for which the existing county is still responsible and to fund the tran-
    49  sition expenses of the new county, unless the affected  counties  other-
    50  wise agree.
    51    §  17.  Disposition  of  property.  1. Except as may be provided in an
    52  agreement between the affected counties, as  authorized  by  subdivision
    53  two  of  this  section,  all county owned real or personal property, and
    54  rights in real and personal  property,  including  but  not  limited  to
    55  streets, avenues, roads, highways, bridges, buildings, parks, open lands

        S. 5867                             6                            A. 6524
 
     1  located  in  the newly created county, shall become the property of said
     2  new county.
     3    2. At any time during the transition period defined in subdivision six
     4  of section sixteen of this article, the governing boards of the affected
     5  counties  shall  have  the power to agree on the retention, division, or
     6  other disposition, either with or without  consideration,  of  real  and
     7  personal  property  and  rights in real and personal property within the
     8  affected counties. Any such agreement shall be in writing and  shall  be
     9  approved  by  the  affected counties. Such agreement may provide for the
    10  execution of any deeds or instruments affecting retention, division,  or
    11  other  disposition  of  such  property, either with or without consider-
    12  ation.
    13    § 18. Assumption of debt. 1. Except as may be provided in an agreement
    14  between the affected counties, as authorized by subdivision two of  this
    15  section,  any  indebtedness,  or liabilities, or interest thereon attri-
    16  buted to the pre-existing county, shall be a charge upon  and  shall  be
    17  paid  by  each  county  as the same shall become due and payable, in the
    18  same proportion to the whole of any  such  indebtedness,  liability,  or
    19  interest  as  each  affected  county's  tax contribution. Nothing herein
    20  shall preclude the new county from paying  in  full  its  proportion  of
    21  indebtedness  and  liabilities.  In  the case of liabilities relating to
    22  employee collective bargaining agreements  and  retirement  obligations,
    23  the  new  county shall not be bound by said agreements and shall only be
    24  responsible for liabilities such as accumulated  vacation,  sick  leave,
    25  and retirement costs for those employees actually transferred to the new
    26  county. The new county shall not have responsibility for the liabilities
    27  and indebtedness for any existing special district or special fund where
    28  the  new  county  is  not part of said special district or benefitted by
    29  said special fund. A new county shall not have  any  other  contribution
    30  for indebtedness or liabilities except as provided by this section.
    31    2. At any time during the transition period defined in subdivision six
    32  of section fifteen of this article, the governing boards of the affected
    33  counties  shall  have  the power to agree to the proportions, if any, of
    34  the various types of indebtedness, contract, or other  liabilities,  and
    35  interest thereon, if any, the affected counties will assume and agree to
    36  pay. Such proportions may be based on any equitable basis.
    37    3.  (a)  The term "tax contribution" shall mean each county's contrib-
    38  ution to the general fund of the  pre-existing  county  based  upon  its
    39  contribution  of  sales tax, if any, and real property tax. Such propor-
    40  tion shall initially be based upon the findings of the feasibility study
    41  prepared  pursuant  to  section  eleven  of  this  article.  The   final
    42  proportions shall be adjusted after the new county's first complete year
    43  of  operation  utilizing  actual  sales tax revenue collections for said
    44  year, and the real property tax levy for the last full year of the undi-
    45  vided existing county.
    46    (b) The term "indebtedness" and "contract or other liabilities"  shall
    47  not  include liabilities under collective bargaining agreements, indebt-
    48  edness evidenced by (i) tax  anticipation  notes,  revenue  anticipation
    49  notes,  or  budget  notes,  or (ii) evidenced by serial bonds or capital
    50  notes having a maximum maturity of less  than  three  years  which  were
    51  issued  or are to be issued to finance an object or purpose other than a
    52  capital improvement, or other than  the  acquisition  of  equipment  for
    53  which  the  period  of probable usefulness is provided in paragraph a of
    54  section 11.00 of the local finance law.
    55    § 19. Miscellaneous provisions. 1.  All  provisions  of  this  chapter
    56  shall govern the operation of counties created pursuant to this article,

        S. 5867                             7                            A. 6524
 
     1  provided  however,  that  nothing therein shall preclude the election of
     2  alternative forms or the charter form of county government  as  provided
     3  by law.
     4    2.  All special acts and parts of special acts relating to the pre-ex-
     5  isting county and in force therein on the date the new county is created
     6  and not inconsistent with this article, shall continue in full force and
     7  effect in the affected counties, as though the new county  had  been  in
     8  existence  at the time of passage of said acts and as though the name of
     9  the new county had appeared in said acts and parts of acts, except  that
    10  any charter law adopted by the state legislature shall not be applicable
    11  to the new county.
    12    3.  Employees  transferred  when  a county is created pursuant to this
    13  article shall be transferred without further examination  or  qualifica-
    14  tion  and shall retain their respective civil service classification and
    15  status. Any employee who at the time of such transfer has a temporary or
    16  provisional appointment shall be transferred subject to the  same  right
    17  of  removal  examination, or termination as though such transfer had not
    18  been made.
    19    4. The creation of a new county shall not affect the boundaries of any
    20  congressional district, senate district, or assembly district.
    21    5. Nothing herein shall be deemed to limit the authority of the legis-
    22  lature to create counties or other local  governments  pursuant  to  the
    23  state constitution.
    24    6.  During  the  transition  period  provided for in this article, all
    25  local laws, ordinances, rules, or regulations of the pre-existing  undi-
    26  vided  county  shall  remain  in full force and effect. Said local laws,
    27  ordinances, rules, and regulations may be further extended by the inter-
    28  im board of supervisors for a period not to exceed one  year  after  the
    29  end of said transition period.
    30    7. During the transition period, the existing county shall continue to
    31  render to and perform all those functions and services which it rendered
    32  and performed upon the date of the filing of the petition with the state
    33  board of elections, unless otherwise agreed to by the affected counties.
    34    §  3.  Severability.  If  any clause, sentence, paragraph, section, or
    35  part of this act shall be adjudged by a court of competent  jurisdiction
    36  to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or invalidate the
    37  remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause,
    38  paragraph, section, or part thereof, directly involved in the controver-
    39  sy in which such judgment shall have been rendered.
    40    § 4. This act shall take effect immediately.
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