May 2003


From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Robert K. Sweeney, Chair, Local Governments Committee

Legislature’s Budget Cuts Costs, Streamlines Services for Local Governments

Cutting red tape and costs by:

  • Streamlining purchasing and accounting procedures
  • Utilizing 21st Century technology
  • Improving government cooperation and consolidation

New York faces tough fiscal choices this year, but we shouldn’t make wrong choices that threaten the future of our communities. That’s why, in the absence of any leadership from the governor, the Assembly and Senate put aside politics to craft a bipartisan budget accord that will help local governments by cutting operational costs and streamlining services. By becoming more efficient and removing bureaucratic obstacles, local governments across the state will be better able to serve their constituents.

Accord restores aid and funds wireless E911 improvements

The Legislature also restored $17 million in aid to local governments that the governor wanted to eliminate and provides $100 million to help local governments set up enhanced wireless 911 systems, allowing emergency operators to pinpoint a caller’s location in the event of an emergency.

The state has been collecting surcharges on cell phone bills for years with the goal of setting up enhanced wireless 911. So far, it hasn’t happened, and that’s inexcusable. This budget puts an end to the delays and the excuses by giving communities the resources to implement this life-saving technology.

In addition to the restored aid and 911 funding, local governments can expect to see improvements in three broad areas: streamlining purchasing and accounting procedures, utilizing new technology, and fostering local government cooperation.

Streamlining purchasing and accounting procedures

Too often, the bureaucracy and red tape imposed on local governments slow down services and cause unnecessary expense. Municipalities’ hands are tied, and they need more ways to efficiently run their operations.

The Legislature’s budget cuts red tape by:

  • Allowing municipalities to accept bids electronically, providing administrative savings and expedited processing;
  • Enabling local governments that don’t issue their own contracts for purchases to "piggyback" on contracts with other counties or municipalities; and
  • Eliminating the requirement that local governments keep different bank accounts for different funds, so long as those funds are accounted for separately from other municipal funds.

By getting rid of excessive paper and red tape, local governments will be able to make decisions much more quickly. As a result, they’ll be much more responsive and flexible when it comes to meeting the needs of the public.

Utilizing 21st Century technology

With the explosive growth in the Internet, local governments now have a new tool that enables them to collect revenue more efficiently, as well as get important information out much more quickly. The Legislature’s budget will:

  • Allow municipalities to reduce administrative costs by collecting a broad range of revenue over the Internet; and
  • Enable local governments to use their Web sites to fulfill part of the posting requirements for public notices.

Improving government cooperation and consolidation

Local governments can also realize significant savings when they work with other localities. To encourage such cooperation, the Legislature’s budget:

  • Allows local governments to share property tax revenue when they’ve jointly invested in projects;
  • Eliminates a disincentive to consolidation by maintaining revenue sharing aid at existing levels; and
  • Provides a legal framework to encourage towns and villages to work cooperatively in planning village dissolutions.

Given the magnitude of the economic problems facing state and local governments, it’s more important than ever to provide localities more flexibility and less paper work. The Legislature’s bipartisan budget accord helps them do this by streamlining and modernizing their services. Of course, the real winners are the taxpayers, who should see results in terms of better service and less government waste.

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