Elmira - Eight members of the Chemung County Legislature joined delegates from all 57 counties and the City of New York at the Legislative Conference of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). More than 900 attendees attended meetings, educational forums, keynote addresses, and state budget presentations over the course of the three-day conference held in Albany, January 30 - February 1, 2017.
"The Legislative Conference sponsored by the New York State Association of Counties provides County Legislators with training on government accounting, ethics, and county operations ranging from pre-K funding to Next Generation 911. Nowhere else would county leaders be able to work together on the issues they face as they strive to plan for the future and provide the services the public needs with ever-shrinking resources. This educational experience is priceless and enables Chemung County to be a leader in innovation and shared services throughout the State." said Donna Draxler, Chair, Chemung County Legislature. Draxler serves as the Chair of NYSAC's Resolutions Committee.
Other Chemung County Legislators in attendance included Vice Chairman John Pastrick, who serves on the Public Safety Committee, Paul Collins, who serves on the Transportation and Public Works Committee, Marty Chalk who serves on the Economic Development, Environmental, and Rural Affairs Committee, Legislative Clerk Linda Palmer who serves on the Intergovernmental Relations and General Government Committee as well as Legislators Tom Sweet, Ken Miller and Rick Madl.
The county delegation received an insightful assessment of the state's economic conditions, a presentation on the sobering numbers of New Yorkers being lost to opioid addiction, and a stirring speech about the Governor's proposal to have county leaders convene local governments to develop a local referendum to share services.
"By unanimous consent, our county delegation has opposed the Governor's forced shared services referendum proposal as drafted, and we urge the State Legislature to reject it," said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, who addressed hundreds of county leaders at lunch on Tuesday.
"If Albany wants to explore alternative ways to reduce every property tax bill, then we can help them as respected partners and equals in public service,” Cherry said. “If Albany wants the help and advice of some of the best efficiency experts on the planet to help them lower property taxes, county leaders stand ready, willing, and able."
NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario presented testimony to a Joint Legislative Fiscal Committees on Monday afternoon.
"It's a challenge every year to present brief and concise testimony about the impact the proposed state budget could have on our county governments. This is because counties are often required to deliver and partly fund the programs that are in each state budget. This has been going on for the past 50 years, and this budget proposal budget is no different," said Acquario.
Over the three-day period, county delegates also discussed and adopted a series of 41 resolutions on timely state and federal issues that impact counties, including 9-1-1 emergency services, highway funding, heroin addiction, Medicaid administration, preschool special education, early voting, state cost shifts, economic development, and Internet sales taxes.
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving all 62 counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC's mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public. Visit www.NYSAC.org to learn more.