Secretary of State Announces New Municipal Restructuring Fund to Increase Local Government Efficiency in Finger Lakes Region and Expansion of Services for Immigrants and Refugees
Announcements Part of Roundtable Discussions Led by New York Secretary of State as Part of Governor Cuomo’s “Capital for a Day” Initiative in Rochester
Rochester, NY – New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales today announced that applications will be made available for a new Municipal Restructuring Fund to increase local government efficiency in the Finger Lakes Region. Additionally, he also announced the expansion of legal services for immigrants and refugees to help them fully participate in New York State’s civic and economic life. The announcements were made after the Secretary hosted two roundtable discussions with local leaders and community members in Rochester as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s “Capital for a Day” initiative, which is bringing State leaders together to address issues of importance to the city, region and its residents and present solutions to reinvigorate the local economy.
One roundtable, hosted in conjunction with New York State’s Office of General Services, Environmental Facilities Corporation, and Department of Transportation, focused on local government efficiency projects in the area and developing new ideas to modernize public services to provide savings to the region’s taxpayers. Held in conjunction with the New York State Office for New Americans and the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the second round table focused on how the region can best address issues and leverage the economic potential of the immigrants and refugees living in the Finger Lakes region.
“The Department of State looks forward to working with local officials in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region to address these two very important issues and bring forward solutions that will benefit the area and New York State as a whole,” said Secretary of State Perales. “We believe that these discussions have been fruitful and commend Governor Cuomo for delivering results for the people in the Finger Lakes region.”
At the local government efficiency roundtable, the Secretary began discussions with the local officials in attendance about the design of a new $150 Million Municipal Restructuring Fund that was included by Governor Cuomo in the 2015-16 State Budget, and for which the Secretary of State is required to develop the application process.
This fund will assist local governments with capital and other expenses related to the implementation of local government and school district shared services, cooperation agreements, mergers and other actions that reduce operational costs and related property tax burdens on a permanent basis. The intent is to continue to leverage existing projects and ideas, to develop new approaches that span wider borders and bring new transformative opportunities for change to entire regions.
Additionally, the Secretary also discussed the establishment of a Local Government Innovation Summit to be held later this year. At the summit, local officials will be invited to share best practices, hear ideas about initiatives that have worked in other jurisdictions, and work together with state officials and planning experts to find ways to make local government more efficient. The local officials in attendance today were identified as leaders in the region in developing new opportunities for reducing local government expenses and will serve as an invaluable resource to the Department of State in the development of the Municipal Innovation Fund and Local Government Summit. ”
Further cost-saving measures were also on the agenda. As an applicant to the Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments, the City of Rochester received its comprehensive review from the Board in February of this year. The report recommended a series of actions for up to $5 million in potential state assistance, including the development of shared services in many functions, and implementation of internal efficiencies through consolidation of fleet maintenance services and changing street lighting to light emitting diodes (LED).
In recognition of actions and best practices being undertaken by the City of Rochester to reduce expenses, the state has awarded the City $3 million from the State and Municipal Facilities Capital appropriation to help offset the cost of retrofitting many of its municipally-owned street lights from High Pressure Sodium fixtures to LED lights. Since completing the purchase of street lights from Rochester Gas & Electric in November 2010, the City has been committed to maximizing the efficiency of the system. This upgrade in lighting infrastructure anticipates annual savings for this one time replacement of over $722,300, with a payback period of just over four and a half years.
In response to feedback received during the Immigration and Refugee roundtable, Secretary Perales announced that the New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) will be expanding its Legal Counsel program to provide additional immigrant legal services for refugee and immigrants in the Finger Lakes Region. This will mean an additional 125 immigrants annual in the Finger Lakes region will be provided the legal assistance they need to become U.S. citizens, and even more will have access to other legal services address the issues they face. ONA will also expedite a contract extension that will allow its ONA Opportunity Center in Rochester to teach English and provide naturalization assistance to an additional 50 immigrants and refugees on top of the 200 that the Office has served thus far this year.
Immigrants are vital contributors to New York State’s economy with their significant purchasing power and capacity to generate new jobs. Businesses owned by foreign-born residents in Monroe County have total sales approaching $600 million, with almost 5,000 workers and a total payroll of $120 million. According to the U.S. Census, there are 4.3 million immigrants living in New York State, and one in four New Yorkers of working age are foreign-born. According to the Immigration Policy Center, in 2010, 31.2 percent of all business owners in New York State were foreign-born. That number rises to 36 percent in the New York City metropolitan area. These businesses had a total net business income of $12.6 billion, representing 22.6 percent of all net business income in the state. New York immigrants are responsible for $229 billion in annual economic output annually.
Learn more about ONA by visiting the ONA website at www.newamericans.ny.gov , liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NYSNewAmericans, joining the conversation on Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans (Hashtag: #NYSNewAmericans), and viewing our photos on Instagram (www.instagram.com/NYSNewAmericans) . Information and referrals are also available through the toll- free, multi-lingual New York State New Americans Hotline at: 1-800-566-7636.