How New York's Governor Hopes to Make Local Governments More Efficient

by | January 11, 2017 AT 11:00 AM

By Matthew Hamilton

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed Tuesday a local-government efficiency program that would require county executives to bring together local officials to develop a cost-savings plan that would be put to the voters on this November's ballot.

The plan, presented during Cuomo's third of six regional State of the State speeches, is aimed at applying pressure via the ballot box on local officials to find a way to decrease the local tax burden.

County officials must meet with local officials and submit a draft plan for shared services and efficiencies to county legislatures by Aug. 1, under the governor's proposal. Legislatures would have 45 days to review the plan, and if they don't act, it automatically would be placed on the ballot.

If the plan is not approved by a majority of voters this November, the county government would have to prepare a new plan for consideration in November 2018.

Cuomo's office said the plan would require legislation to implement.

"I need you to call your senators and say, 'You work for me; get this done otherwise you can pay my property taxes next time,'" Cuomo said later in the day in a speech on Long Island, the fourth of the tour.

At Farmingdale State College, the governor proposed the creation of recovery high schools aimed at helping students recovering from addiction finish their education.

This is not the first time the state has weighed the creation of such high schools, which was discussed during the work of a task force the governor convened on addiction at the end of the last legislative session.

The schools are part of a six-point addiction plan Cuomo unveiled Tuesday afternoon. The governor wants to add fentanyl to the state's controlled substances schedule and eliminate prior authorization requirements to make substance use disorder treatment available to all.

Cuomo's latest proposals also included linking existing multi-use trails that run along the Erie Canal and Hudson Valley and building out extensions to cover central tourism areas of the state with a path for biking, walking and other activities. The 750-mile Empire State Trail would run from Buffalo to Albany and from New York City to the Canadian border and would include 350 miles of new trail.

The full cost for it is $200 million, and Cuomo plans to seek $53 million for the first of three phases of construction in the upcoming state budget with construction completed by 2020.

(c)2017 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)