Relief is in Sight...

The State Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, a bill containing several mandate relief initiatives that will generate savings at the local level and reduce the burden on New York’s taxpayers. 

The most significant provisions will finally allow local governments to be treated the same as private defendants when determining the impact of collateral source payments in tort claims for personal injury.  Specifically, the new law puts an end to the “windfall of double recoveries” to plaintiffs by allowing public employers to offset injury awards with payments from collateral sources, such as insurance.   

In addition, the new law (Chapter 494 of the Laws of 2009):
  • Increases the local competitive bidding threshold on public works contracts from $20,000 to $35,000.  (Note: the threshold for purchase contracts remains at $10,000);
  • Reduces the number of municipal entities, from 5 to 3, required to form cooperative health benefit plans, and requires insurers to provide claims data to municipal corporations;
  • Facilitates highway shared services agreements among municipalities and between municipalities and State agencies by eliminating certain restrictions regarding the types of services that may be shared as well as the term of such contracts; and
  • Authorizes the NYS Municipal Bond Bank Agency (MBBA) to purchase bonds issued by municipalities to provide for public improvements afforded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, thereby reducing local borrowing costs.
Enactment of this law is clearly a positive first step toward providing local governments with the flexibility they need to better control costs and operate more efficiently.