Friday, February 23, 2007

Association of Towns Conference

David and I are just back from the Association of Towns of the State of New York Conference, held for three days in New York City. In addition to hearing speeches by Governor Spitzer, Attorney General Cuomo and Senator Schumer, we each had the opportunity to choose ten seminars from a long list of topics. Supervisor Steve Trumbull and Bookkeeper Dawn Bogdan were there, too. I only overlapped with David once, Steve once and Dawn once. So, among us we probably attended thirty or more seminars. Allowing that a couple of the seminars weren't very useful, we still probably came back with at least twenty good new ideas.

Here are two of mine.

In October 2006 the Office of Court Administration announced "Sweeping Reforms of New York’s Local Justice Courts." Plans include audit controls, training programs, enhanced security and funding for improved computer systems. Just a couple of weeks ago I asked Steve why we don't have a Board liaison to the Court. As a very active Board member, the only information I've seen from the Court in the past year is a notice in the late spring that records were available for review and their budget request in August. The Court received information last October that the Office of Court Administration would be providing technology upgrades at no cost to localities. Yet near the end of the year our court bought new computers from our own budget. In fairness, I don't know yet how the equipment purchased differs from equipment the OCA plans to provide.

In addition, the OCA is providing funding for enhanced Court security. I wonder how useful this may be for our new Town Hall. Training will be available, not only for security officers but for facilities managers. This sounds like something we should definitely take advantage of. We'll definitely be discussing the appointment of a Board liaison to the Court.

The New York Data Center is spearheading the effort to make the 2010 census as accurate as possible. It is predicted that following the 2010 census, New York will lose two Congressional seats. It's possible that the second will be lost by under counting just 50,000 people. The census is address driven. That is to say, census forms are mailed to every known address. That may sound simple, but there are many ways households can be missed. For example, new construction, multiple households at one address, households who received their mail at PO boxes. The census bureau estimates that each missed household may mean a loss of up to $2,000 in federal funding to the locality. So, Towns are asked to help confirm the accuracy of the census bureau's address master list. This responsibility falls primarily to the Code Enforcement Office. But I understand some Towns have enlisted the help of their volunteer Fire Departments. I wonder if this is something we could interest our Fire Departments in.

That's all I have time for now. It's clearer than ever that there's a lot of work to do.