Picente Presides Over Legislative Conference; Counties Unite In Support of Reforms

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., this week presided over the annual New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Legislative Conference, and noted that the conference resulted in a strong show of unity in favor of reforms that can help property taxpayers.

“For all that you hear about difference between regions of the state, when we meet as a group there are a tremendous number of issues that unite county governments from Long Island to the North Country to the Niagara Frontier,” Picente said. “In a time when social service and human service programs are only the major part of all counties but are also areas of tremendous cost as well as growing need, it is important for all of the property taxpayers across New York State that county governments have a solid, supportive, two-way partnership with the state that allows us to deliver the critical programs New York State requires us to operate and the equally important programs the people of our counties want and need.”

Picente, who is Vice President of NYSAC, presided over the Legislative Conference in the absence of NYSAC President Ed Diana, the County Executive of Orange County. Members deliberated and passed a series of resolutions regarding the NY SAFE Act, funding for county 9-1-1 communications, public health article 6 reforms, early voting, IDA reforms, Medicaid costs, and home rule authority.  

“I think that it is fair to say we are all encouraged by the approach Gov. Cuomo has taken to address the substantive issues that face county governments. Achieving state fiscal stability is an essential foundation for everything all of us hope to accomplish. Our message to the Governor, and to all of our state legislators, is that the steps taken so far cannot become the end of our work together to reform a system that piles costs on counties. The flow of mandates and costs from Albany to counties has gone one way for so long that we understand it cannot be reversed in a day. This conference is a valuable way we can continue our dialogue with our state leaders, so that we all can be justly proud of our service of the people of our counties.”

State leaders, including State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman spoke at the conference.

Dozens of workshops covered a range of issues, including the impact of the State budget on counties, pension funding, renewable energy, local Medicaid costs, public safety, budgeting, pre-school special education reforms, shared services, and local leadership.  

"County officials recognize that by joining together to examine the issues that impact all counties, more can be accomplished than by trying to work alone. There are several crucial issues that need to be addressed by our partners at the State level. Local officials attend this conference in great numbers to roll up their sleeves and examine the challenges we face, and to make a difference for their taxpayers," said Stephen Acquario, NYSAC Executive Director.

"By coming together, we have the opportunity to discuss ways to effectively address the common challenges that we all face in our counties," said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, president of the NYS County Executives Association. "Local leaders have a strong desire to continue providing vital local services to our residents. In order to do that, we must share best practices and unify our call for meaningful mandate relief from the State."