Tug Hill Commission receives Best Partner Award from Department of State

ALBANY, NY —  New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado today announced award winners of the Department of State’s fifth annual Local Government Innovation Conference, including the cities of Schenectady, Amsterdam and Gloversville; Essex County; Wyoming County and its
partner local governments; and the Tug Hill Commission.

The annual conference, held in Albany, recognizes the great work that is being done by local government leaders, as well as the creativity and resilience of local governments from around the state.

“The Department of State is proud to work with these local governments to implement new ideas and strategies that bring innovation and reorganization to best serve their constituents,” said Secretary of State Rosado. “The Local Government Innovation Conference demonstrates that when counties, cities, towns and villages work together to better the lives of their residents, results show growth and bright economic future for their communities.”

The Trail Blazer Award recognizes local government pioneers of innovative practices, leading the way and serving as models that implement innovative projects, perceived by some as too difficult, and can provide a blueprint for others to follow. The 2019 recipients are the cities of Schenectady, Amsterdam and Gloversville for their commitment to developing a new shared regional code enforcement information platform, now christened the Community Officials Data
Exchange (CODE).

In 2015, the NYS Department of State provided funding for the Cities of Schenectady, Amsterdam, Gloversville and Troy to develop a shared code enforcement information resource to address growing costs associated with blighted properties, estimated at over $100,000 per year, per property.

These forward-thinking local officials determined that managing the physical decline in properties meant that they needed a robust technical platform to enable the cross referencing and analysis of multiple levels of data, including code enforcement, building permits, public assembly, vacant property, demolition, foreclosure management, landlord registration and rental units, through a dynamic shared resource.

With the assistance from Local Government Efficiency programs, these local governments have deployed this shared platform and are moving forward in new efforts to enhance the technical and organizational capabilities of partner local governments and integrate the platform with additional governments across New York.

Gary McCarthy, Schenectady Mayor said “We are extremely proud to have received this award in recognition of our efforts to help local governments across the state effectively fight the pervasive issue of blight. Together with the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, the Community Officials Data Exchange (CODE) is a data sharing resource for local governments to better inform blight prevention, mitigation, and resolution strategies. I sincerely thank Secretary Rosado for this award and look forward to continuing our partnership to control and reduce the proliferation of blight in our community and around the

Michael Villa, Mayor of Amsterdam said, “Once again it’s an honor to have Amsterdam at the forefront with this award. I must acknowledge former Mayor Ann Thane who began the process of this collaborative effort back in 2015 and we have continued to embrace this and are now ready to move forward in a big way. Sharing the award with neighboring communities, Schenectady and Gloversville represents the progress that can be made when you work in a collaborative effort.”

Vincent Desantis, Mayor of Gloversville said “Over the past several years we have focused our attention on better enforcement of building maintenance standards. Having recognized early on the fact that sub-standard housing and vacant structures are at the root of so many of the problems the city faces we have made this a top priority .I am extremely proud of our fire department for their service in the past in connection with the Neighborhood Quality Patrol, and for the ramped up enforcement effected by our Neighborhood Quality Administrator over the past 2 years. But I am especially proud of our Fire Chief, Tom Groff, for his persistent leadership on these issues. The new vacant buildings ordinance enacted in 2016 and the Neighborhood Quality Administrator position established in 2017 were major steps forward. But none of it would have achieved positive results without Chief Groff’s constant attention to the day to day details of implementation.”

The Regional Impact Award recognizes local government partners that continually develop projects having significant regional impact within their region of the State. The 2019 recipient is Wyoming County and its partner local governments in recognition of the significant scope of work they have completed and are pursuing for shared and consolidated services.

The countywide impacts have been realized in:
 Highway maintenance,
 Code enforcement
 Operations and management of water infrastructure.

A.D Berwanger, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Wyoming County said, “On behalf of the hard working men and women within Wyoming County Government and the Towns and Villages within Wyoming County who have been partnering for decades on shared services, we are pleased to be recognized during the 5 th Annual Local Government Innovation Conference with the presentation of this year’s Regional Impact Award.  Local government officials work hard every day to provide Wyoming County communities with quality services at reasonable prices, this award recognizes those efforts!!  Congratulations everyone!!”

The Best Partner Award is presented to a local government or municipal support organization that provides significant support for training, technical assistance, local government re-design and innovation. The 2019 recipient is the Tug Hill Commission for providing direct assistance to local governments in their region with implementation of activities in support of local government reorganization, as well as their continued focus on accessing public resources to strengthen its community resources.

The Tug Hill Commission supports local governments in parts of Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and Oswego Counties to cooperatively shape the future of the Tug Hill region, and to demonstrate and communicate ways that this can be done by other rural areas. Their vision is to work toward a region where communities work together effectively and with a shared clear idea of the kind of natural environment and economy they want into the future.

This organization has historically been a partner with the Department of State through its direct assistance to local government and partnerships like the annual Tug Hill Local Government Day planning. However, as perhaps one of the first regional organizations to prioritize cooperation and shared services, the Tug Hill Commission has more recently become a direct partner with the State by assisting communities who are considering consolidation and shared services through
the Local Government Efficiency Program.

Katie Malinowski, Executive Director of the Tug Hill Commission said, “The Tug Hill Commission is honored to receive the Best Partner award from the NYS Department of State. The commission’s work on Tug Hill is founded on strong partnerships with the region’s councils of governments, towns and villages. The Department of State’s partnership with the commission helps us more effectively and innovatively achieve the shared vision of a thriving Tug Hill.”

The Secretary’s Choice Award recognizes the local government that has done the most to reimagine the structures of government and reinvent mechanisms for delivering services. The 2019 recipient is Essex County who from the perspective of the Division of Local Government is one of the most progressive counties in the state in terms of their commitment to re-thinking the delivery of public services.
Under the leadership of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, the county has developed an “entrepreneurial” approach to shared services and consolidation, leveraging county departments’ capacity to support the eighteen towns and two villages within its borders.

With the assistance from significant investments from Local Government Efficiency programs, the county is moving forward on projects addressing significant local government functions including: countywide management of emergency medical services, county-level planning and management of environmental infrastructure, and establishing a county-wide information technology function for the partner local governments. All told, the annual financial benefits from these restructuring activities will exceed $7 million annually. The Essex County team is clearly leveraging their limited resources for the most regional benefit.

Shaun Gillilland, Essex Chairman of the Board said, “Essex County is honored to have been awarded this prestigious designation. For a small population ,large geographic area, rural New York county – mutual and combined services are always the way of doing business for delivering optimum services to our citizens. We have to give full credit our county’s government departments who work day in and day out to streamline and improve how business done with constrained resources. We are proud to be a partner with New York State and the Department of State, and we truly appreciate this recognition.”

The fifth annual LGIC featured a plenary on data-driven government and two workshop tracks that included a host of compelling sessions: Emergency Services, Water and Wastewater Infrastructure, Best of the Rest, Utilizing the Geographic Information Gateway, Programs to Support Rural Economic Development and Resiliency – Part 1 will equip and energize officials to take advantage of best practices and move their municipalities to the next level.

The New York State’s Division of Local Government Services is NY’s premier source of training and technical assistance to local governments. The State of New York is committed to strengthening state and local partnerships and works fervently to foster collaborative solutions to local challenges through the Local Government Efficiency, Training, and Community Development and Sustainability program initiatives. Learn more about the Division’s work here.