New York State Assembly, Albany, New York 12248

A Special Report
from the New York State Assembly

Committee on
Local Government

Robert K. Sweeney, Chair square Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Summer 2002

photo Message from the Chair...

Dear Friend,

Earlier this year Speaker Silver appointed me as Chairman of the Assembly Standing Committee on Local Governments. I am extremely honored to have the Speaker’s confidence, and look forward to the challenges of this committee.

Prior to my election to the Assembly in 1988, I served for 14 ˝ years as the Lindenhurst Village Clerk. During my tenure as clerk I also served as President of the New York State Association of City and Village Clerks. Prior to my current appointment I served as Chairman of the Assembly Standing Committee on Small Business and Chairman of the Legislative Commission on Science and Technology.

As Chairman I will work to provide local governments with additional flexibility and keep in mind that one size does not fit all. I will also work to implement policies that help to improve the efficiency of and provide elasticity for our local governments.

The current legislative session has presented a host of new challenges for New York’s local governments. Please know that my door is always open to you; do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

Sincerely,
signature
Robert K. Sweeney, Chairman
Assembly Standing Committee on Local Governments

2002-03
Budget Summary

Revenue Sharing
The enacted budget will maintain Revenue Sharing funding at last year’s funding level of $781,322,000. This program funds the general needs of municipalities, except for counties.

Supplemental Municipal Aid
This aid program targets funding to specific municipalities with demonstrated need. For fiscal year 2002-2003 the enacted budget contains funding of $182,874,000, which represents a decrease of $6,160,000 in funding from last year’s enacted budget. This decrease represents the elimination of aid to those counties, towns and villages which had previously received funding through this category.

Emergency Financial Aid To Certain Cities
In 1975, the Legislature authorized the Emergency Financial Aid to Certain Cities Act (Overburden Aid) to provide special assistance to cities with populations of at least 100,000 but less than one million that had to finance a school system as well as general city government, and were at, or near their constitutional tax limits (Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers). These municipalities have a State constitutional real property tax limit of two percent, which restricts the amount of revenue they can raise to support both municipal services and city school districts. The enacted budget contains funding of $26,474,000, which maintains funding at the same level as the previous fiscal year.

Emergency Financial Assistance To Eligible Municipalities
The Emergency Financial Assistance to Eligible Municipalities Program was initiated to provide additional aid to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Yonkers and Erie County. The cities of Syracuse and Rochester were subsequently added to the list of municipalities receiving aid. Since 1980, this program has assisted localities demonstrating financial need and facing fiscal difficulties due to constitutional tax limitations. The enacted budget contains $20,814,000 in funding, which maintains funding at the same level as the previous fiscal year.


Aid To Counties
This unrestricted aid program, called Aid to Counties, was enacted in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2000-2001, to provide counties outside New York City with additional financial aid. Aid distribution is outlined in Section 54-k of the State Finance Law and specifies distribution based on population. For SFY 2002-2003, the enacted budget contained $22 million in funding, an increase of $5 million above the appropriation of $17 million for SFY 2001-2002.

Chips Funding
The enacted budget transfers $23,888,000 from the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) operating aid for towns and villages to the CHIPS Capital program and maintains overall funding at last year’s level.

Volunteer Recruitment Service Scholarship Program
The enacted budget includes $2 million in funding for the Volunteer Recruitment Service Scholarship Program to boost the ranks of firefighter and ambulance volunteers. Each Volunteer Organization may submit one volunteer’s name for the program, and volunteers must continue to be active in the fire or ambulance company while attending college.


Budget Boosts 911 Cell Phone
Service Effectiveness

photo Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (center), Chairman of the Assembly Local Governments Committee, announces the filing of legislation to address the lack of wireless enhanced 911 emergency service in New York, with (l to r) Assemblywoman RoAnn M. Destito, Assemblymen David Sidikman, William Magee and David Koon.
The 2002-2003 budget contained a $20 million Local Enhanced Wireless Program to increase public safety by improving the ability of emergency personnel to locate where a 911 cellular call originates.

Since 1991, New York State has imposed a monthly $.70 surcharge on wireless telephone bills to finance the implementation of an enhanced emergency telephone system for wireless telephone users. A recent audit found that surcharge revenue collections have totaled $162 million since collections first began. Despite the revenue collections, New York State had not implemented a wireless enhanced 911 system.

In 1996, with the percentage of wireless 911 calls rising steadily, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order requiring 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.

The new funding will expedite the roll out of an enhanced wireless 911 emergency system. This program ensures that some of the funds from the surcharge will be available to municipalities to facilitate the development of enhanced wireless services.

Funding

  • $20 million will be set aside from the existing cellular surcharge to create a local assistance program; $10 million will be recurring, and $10 million would be "one-time" funding.
  • Localities will receive a funding allocation based on a per capita distribution and will be able to receive grants or participate in a bonding program administered by the Dormitory Authority to reimburse eligible 911 expenses.
  • Fifteen percent of the funding in the first year will be available to finance prior year costs for counties currently providing wireless service.
  • Funding will be available to reimburse "eligible wireless 911 service costs" which include installation and maintenance of equipment, hardware and software designed to help identify the location and identity of wireless callers.

Board composition and powers

  • The program will be administered by a 13-member board, with applicants chosen from a pool including: municipal officials, ambulance, police and fire personnel and wireless service providers. Board members will develop standards governing the provision of wireless 911 service and function as an appeals board.

Eligibility

  • Counties and municipalities currently operating wireless public safety answering points will be eligible to receive funding. Counties which do not currently provide wireless service and subsequently decide to participate would have to file a service plan and comply with certain minimum standards prior to receiving funding.


For additional information, contact:

Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney
Chair, Assembly Committee on
Local Governments

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Room 837 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
518.455.5787

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sweeney@assembly.state.ny.us


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