Public Services

Local governments provide services essential to daily living. Some services fulfill basic human needs for food, shelter and medical care. Others provide an attractive environment and opportunities for recreational and cultural activities. Since many public services are shared responsibilities among units of government, local officials need to understand the organization, structure and interplay of various government units to achieve better delivery of services.

State Agency Operations

State agencies are the operating arm of state government. By virtue of their many functions and services, state agencies often are in close contact with local governments. State agencies vary widely in terms of purpose, authority and nature of services. Some agencies, such as the Office of the State Comptroller and the Office of Real Property Tax Services, have functions so extensively related to basic local government operations that they are treated in detail elsewhere in this Handbook. Others, like the Health Department, play highly significant roles in determining how local governments provide certain services. Programs of some agencies, such as the departments of Education, Environmental Conservation, Health, and Motor Vehicles, often touch upon citizens as they go about their daily affairs. Services of these agencies involve or affect many individuals, have an enormous fiscal impact and involve the exercise of authority over local governments which deliver these services. Other agencies, such as the Departments of Labor and Transportation, affect the public directly by channeling funds for local, as well as for state or federal purposes.

Many agencies serve the public directly through the exercise of regulatory authority. The Department of Public Service, through the Public Service Commission, regulates utility rates, and has a role which is almost exclusively regulatory. Many agencies provide services directly to the public and to local governments. Under Article 6-B of the Executive Law, the Department of State is authorized to provide assistance to local governments, and much of this assistance is in the areas of coastal management, community development, economic opportunity, intermunicipal cooperation, labor relations, legal assistance, organization and management improvement, and basic planning and zoning training. Other agencies and departments are primarily service-oriented, and neither regulate local activities nor administer major grant programs. Among these are the Office of General Services and the Department of Financial Services. Such agencies provide help to local governments largely in the form of technical assistance, informational materials, training, inspection services and/or legal advice.

Social Service and Public Health Programs

Children and Family Services

The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) integrates services for children, youth and families, and vulnerable adult populations. OCFS promotes the development of its client population and works to protect them from violence, neglect, abuse and abandonment. OCFS regulates and inspects child care providers and administers funds to child care programs. It supervises and regulates protective services for adults; inspects, supervises and monitors foster care agencies; administers the State Adoption Service; and operates the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR).

The New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB) within OCFS administers services to legally blind citizens and assists eligible individuals with job training and placement. The agency also operates a residential care system consisting of five limited-secure facilities, four secure centers, two non-secure centers and one reception center. There are also 15 Community Multi-Services Offices (CMSO) statewide that are responsible for services to youth and families from the first day of placement. OCFS works closely with municipalities, local social services districts and county youth bureaus so that adequate youth development services and programs are available. A plan for youth development services is prepared through the county comprehensive planning process. The county departments of social services and New York City’s Administration for Children Services (ACS) administer local foster care programs and child welfare services.

Programs for the Aged

The New York State Office for the Aging plans and coordinates programs and services for more than three million New Yorkers aged 60 and over. As a primary advocate for older New Yorkers, the Office is empowered to review and comment on state agencies’ program policies and legislative proposals which may have a significant impact on the elderly. The Office identifies issues and concerns through its two advisory committees --- the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Aging and the Aging Services Advisory Committee. In addition, the Office conducts public forums throughout the state.

The Office operates a statewide toll-free Senior Citizens Hot Line at 800-342-9871, which is staffed during normal business hours. Hot Line staff provides information, crisis intervention and problem solving assistance, and maintain current county-by-county resource files of services. Further information is made available through the Office’s websites, its quarterly newsletter, and television programs which air on cable-access stations across the state.

The Office for the Aging cooperates with and assists local governments in developing and implementing local programs. With the exception of grants-in-aid the Office’s programs are administered through the 59 local offices for the aging which serve the citizens of the state. Such programs include: the Community Services for the Elderly Program (CASE), which provides community-based, supportive services to frail, low-income elderly who need assistance to maintain their independence at home; the Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly Program (AESOP), managed by local offices for the aging, which is a uniform, statewide program of case management, non-medical in-home services, respite and ancillary services for the elderly who need long term care but are not eligible for Medicaid; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides home-delivered meals and other nutritional services to at-risk elderly; the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which recruits and places older adults and retirees in volunteer positions tailored to their talents, skills and interests; the Foster Grandparent Program, which provides an opportunity for low-income people aged 60 and over to provide companionship and guidance to children with special or exceptional needs; and the grants-in-aid, through which funds are appropriated by the Legislature to the Office for contracts to public and private not-for-profit agencies to provide a range of locally-determined services for older New Yorkers.

The Office for the Aging also administers statewide plans under the federal Older Americans Act, including: Title III-B, which provides for advocacy, planning and coordination of services including transportation, information and referral outreach, in-home and legal services to meet specific needs of the elderly; Title III-C-1, which provides for nutritious meals and other services to the elderly and their spouses of any age, in congregate settings; Title III-C-2, which provides for nutritious meals to the homebound elderly and their spouses of any age; and Title V, which provides for part-time employment, training and placement assistance for low-income individuals aged 55 and over.

Temporary and Disability Assistance

The State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) promote personal self-sufficiency through the delivery of temporary assistance, disability assistance, and the collection of child support. OTDA is responsible for providing policy, technical and systems support to the state’s 58 social services districts. OTDA provides economic assistance to aged and disabled persons who are unable to work and transitional support to public assistance recipients while they are working toward self-sufficiency. The Division for Disability Determinations evaluates the medical eligibility of disability claimants for the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance. The ODTA’s programs include Family Assistance, Safety Net Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, Food Stamps, Home Energy Assistance (HEAP), Child Support Services, Housing Services, and Refugee and Immigration Services. The State has been divided into 57 county and one city (New York City) social services districts for purposes of providing public assistance and care. A Commissioner heads each of the local social services districts. This official has responsibility for administration of public assistance, medical assistance and social services, and must implement the policies and programs which the OTDA, Department of Health (DOH), OCFS, Department of Labor (DOL) and the federal government formulate. The Commissioner also supervises the expenditure of public funds allocated to his or her district.

Community Services Block Grants

Created in 1981 by the federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, this program was reauthorized by the “Community Opportunities Accountability, and Training and Educational Services Act of 1998” for the purpose of reducing poverty, revitalizing low-income communities, and empowering low income families and individuals in rural and urban areas to become fully self-sufficient. Federal funds are allocated to provide direct services, mobilize resources and organize community activities to assist low-income and poor individuals. Grantees provide comprehensive services to solve problems that block the achievement of self-sufficiency, helping to secure employment, attain an adequate education, maintain a suitable living environment, and meet emergency needs.

Most of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds allocated to New York are awarded as a statutory allocation to designated eligible entities, which include community action agencies (CAAs) serving every county in the state and organizations serving migrant and seasonal farm workers. Also funded are four Indian tribes and tribal organizations. At the state level, funds are set aside to be used by grantees in the event of a disaster and to provide professional development opportunities to the staff and board members of grantee agencies. Under state and federal law, one-third of the members of CAA boards of directors must be elected local officials. The local government/CAA partnership is strengthened by the direct appropriation of non-federal funds to assist in the delivery of comprehensive human services by CSBG grantees.

Public Health Programs

Shared Responsibilities

The State and local governments share responsibility for public health. As of 2007, two cities and 33 counties maintain full-time health agencies. In the absence of a local health department, the district office of the State Department of Health (DOH) provides appropriate services.

Regulatory Functions

DOH oversees and regulates all of New York’s residential health facilities, adult homes, emergency medical services providers, managed-care organizations, hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers (clinics), and home-care providers. DOH’s Office of Health Systems Management ensures that providers render services in accordance with state and federal standards. The Office also reviews and certifies health-provider applications to construct, renovate, add or delete beds or services, and purchase major new equipment. Other regulatory activities relate to adequate water supply, the avoidance and/or elimination of environmental health problems and the control of sanitation in food establishments.

Direct Services

DOH works closely with local health and social services agencies to provide funding and assistance in a variety of direct services to families and individuals. These include communicable disease control, child health, nutrition, dental health and handicapped children’s programs.

Mental Hygiene Programs

Scope of Programs: The State’s mental hygiene programs are overseen by three autonomous agencies that together constitute the State Department of Mental Hygiene: the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). OMH provides special care and treatment to approximately 772,000 individuals per year through the direct provision of services in State-operated programs, and indirectly through the regulation and funding of voluntary-operated community-based services. OMH also performs research through two State-operated research institutes. OPWDD currently provides services to more than 136,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While some services are provided directly by the State, private not-for-profit agencies provide approximately eighty percent of the services for people with developmental disabilities. This service system has evolved from one which was institutionally-based to one which is now community-based with an emphasis on person-centered approaches. OPWDD also performs research through a State-operated research institute. All services are certified and regulated by OPWDD. OASAS oversees one of the largest chemical dependence service systems in the nation, which includes a full array of services to address prevention, treatment, and recovery. OASAS is also responsible for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. During 2015, the OASAS chemical dependence treatment system served approximately 234,000 individuals through crisis, inpatient, residential, outpatient, and opioid treatment programs. These individuals were served in 12 State-operated programs and over 900 OASAS-certified community-based programs. Approximately 336,000 youth received a direct prevention service during the 2015-16 school year.

The Local Role

The Mental Hygiene Law (Section 41.13) requires local governments - specifically, counties and the City of New York - "to direct and administer the development of a local comprehensive plan for all [mental hygiene] services," which must be submitted to the respective mental hygiene agencies on an annual basis. These local plans consequently inform the respective State mental hygiene agencies’ statewide comprehensive plans, pursuant to Section 5.07 of NYS Mental Hygiene Law.

Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Programs

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) is responsible for licensing and evaluating service providers, and for advocating and implementing policies and programs for the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of alcoholism and substance abuse. In cooperation with local governments, service providers and communities, OASAS works to ensure that a full range of necessary and cost-effective services are provided for addicted persons and those at risk of addiction.

The Federal Role

Federal funding is provided to the State under the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant. Block grant funds are made available to localities in accordance with OASAS funding policies and procedures.

The State Role

OASAS directly operates 13 Addiction Treatment Centers, which provide inpatient rehabilitation serves to approximately 7,000 patients annually. It also licenses, regulates and funds over 1, 200 private, non-profit, local government and school district prevention and treatment service providers.

The Local Role

Local Governmental Units (LGU) are responsible for assessing local needs and developing necessary resources. Service providers, counties, and the City of New York, develop Local Services Plans, which form the basis for the Office’s Comprehensive Five-Year Plan.

Community Development

Affordable Housing

Housing and Community Renewal====

The Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s (DHCR) mission is to make New York a better place to live by supporting community efforts to preserve and expand affordable housing, home ownership and economic opportunities, and by providing equal access to safe, decent and affordable housing. The DHCR is responsible for the supervision, maintenance and development of affordable low and moderate-income housing. The Division performs a number of activities in fulfillment of this mission, including: oversight regulation of the state’s public and publicly-assisted rental housing; administration of housing development and community preservation programs, including state and federal grants and loans to housing developers to partially finance construction or renovation of affordable housing; and administration of the rent regulation process for more than one million rent-regulated apartments in New York City and in those localities in the counties of Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rockland, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Westchester subject to rent laws.

Housing Finance Agency

The New York State Housing Finance Agency (HFA) was created as a public benefit corporation in 1960, under Article III of the Private Housing Finance Law, to finance low-income housing by raising funds through the issuance of municipal securities and the making of mortgage loans to eligible borrowers. In recent years, HFA has also financed federally subsidized low-income housing developments. The Agency’s employees are specialists in real estate finance and law, capital market financing, asset management, construction and program development. Together, they encourage and assist in the creation of affordable housing to meet the needs of the state’s residents.

Housing Trust Fund Chapter 67 of the Laws of 1985 created the Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC), a public benefit corporation which administers the Low-Income Housing Trust Fund Program (HTF). The Housing Trust Fund Program was established under Article XVIII of the Private Housing Finance Law to help meet the critical need for decent, opportunities for low-income people. HTF provides funding to eligible applicants to construct low-income housing, to rehabilitate vacant or underutilized residential property, or to convert vacant non-residential property to residential use for occupancy by low-income homesteaders, tenants, tenant-cooperators or condominium owners.

Affordable Mortgages

The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) is a public benefit corporation created by statute in 1970. The purpose of SONYMA is to make mortgages available to low and moderate income first-time buyers and to other qualifying home buyers. Under its various programs, SONYMA purchases new mortgages from participating lenders across the state. Funds for SONYMA’s low interest mortgages are derived primarily from the sale of tax-exempt bonds although some funding has come from the sale of taxable bonds. Since its inception through October 31, 1998, SONYMA has issued approximately $9.7 billion in mortgages.

Municipal Housing

Through a special act of the State Legislature, any city, village or town may create a housing authority. As of the end of the 1998 session, 186 municipal housing authorities had been created. A municipal housing authority has the power to investigate living conditions in the municipality and determine where unsanitary or substandard housing conditions exist. The authority may construct, improve or repair dwelling units for persons of low income. In addition, an authority can construct and revitalize stores, offices and recreational facilities in a depressed neighborhood. A municipal authority may undertake projects with funds obtained solely from the sale of its bonds to private individuals, firms or corporations, provided that the municipality approves the project. Authorities may also receive assistance from the state and federal government.

Appalachian Regional Development

The Appalachian Regional Development program, administered at the federal level by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and in New York by the New York State Department of State, is a joint federal/state/local program which seeks to improve the economy and quality of life in a region covering parts of 13 states. In New York, 14 counties are eligible for assistance: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins. The Department of State prepares an annual State Strategy Statement which guides the Appalachian Regional Investment package for submission by the Governor to ARC. This package includes local and regional projects in any of the five Strategic Goal areas: (1) skills and knowledge—​which includes projects for basic skills, educational excellence, child care programs and telecommunications; (2) physical infrastructure; (3) community capacity—​which includes leadership and local assistance demonstration projects; (4) dynamic local economies—​which includes business development and assistance projects focusing on local development, and recapitalization of existing regional revolving loan funds; and (5) health care projects—​which includes telemedicine and rural health projects.

The Arts

Established in 1960, the New York State Council on the Arts is a funding agency that provides support towards the activities of nonprofit organizations in the state and helps to bring artistic performances and high quality programs to the state’s residents. The Council invites nonprofit organizations that meet eligibility requirements to apply for local assistance funds to provide cultural services to the people through Cultural Services contracts. These services cover a broad range of activities. The State and Local Partnership Program (SLP) fosters the growth and development of the arts and culture at the local level. SLP primarily supports multi-arts organizations that are committed to the long-term cultural development of their communities or regions. Financial support is currently available in 16 program areas including architecture, planning and design, arts in education, capital projects, dance electronic media and film, folk arts, literature, museum, music, theater and visual arts, and state and local partnerships.

Business Development

The State Department of Economic Development/ Empire State Development (ESD) Corporation is dedicated to creating jobs and encouraging prosperity by strengthening and supporting businesses in New York. The agency maintains regional and international offices to provide one-stop access to the state’s products and services for business. It also provides direct services ranging from financial incentives for joint ventures to technical expertise in site selection and development. The agency works in partnership with local governments and regional organizations which desire to attract business.

ESD assists local governments in establishing industrial development agencies. As the State’s primary agency in the development of tourism, ESD works with counties and their designees to administer a tourism matching fund program. State funds appropriated for this program by the Legislature are apportioned to support local and regional tourism advertising according to guidelines set by state law.

State-local efforts to help distressed communities achieve economic growth have been intensified under the New York State Economic Development Zones Act, Chapter 686 of the Laws of 1986. Empire State Development administers this program in cooperation with other agencies and participating counties, cities, towns and villages. Nineteen such zones may be designated over the first three years of the program by the State Zone Designation Board, and provided with special incentives to spur economic growth. The incentives offered include assistance with financing and business permits, as well as various tax and local incentives.

Campus and Institutional Housing

The State Dormitory Authority is a public corporation established in 1944 to finance and construct dormitories for state teachers’ colleges. Its functions have since been expanded to include design, financing and construction project management services for a wide range of higher education, healthcare and public-purpose facilities. The authority serves the State University of New York; the City University of New York; independent colleges and universities; community colleges; special education schools; court facilities for cities and counties; facilities for the State Departments of Health and Education and for the Offices of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services; the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation; long-term health care facilities; independent hospitals, primary care facilities, diagnostic and treatment centers, medical research centers; and public-purpose institutions authorized by statute. The Authority is also authorized to provide tax-exempt equipment leasing.

Office of Planning and Development

Administered by the Department of State with federal and state funding, this program guides and coordinates local, state and federal development and preservation decisions for the state’s 3,200 miles of coastline. Specific guidance is provided by the program’s coastal policies addressing a variety of concerns and issues. Funding through the Environmental Protection Fund and technical assistance are offered to help coastal municipalities prepare and implement Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs (LWRP). Through local programs, municipalities may refine and supplement state coastal policies to reflect local conditions and needs. Chapter 366 of the Laws of 1986 extended the LWRP concept to inland waterways in the state, including the Barge Canal System and major lakes and rivers.

Community Development Block Grants

The Federal Community Development Act of 1974, as amended, established the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. The program provides annual grants on a formula basis to eligible metropolitan cities, towns with populations of at least 50, 000, and urban counties. Program funds may be used for housing activities, economic development, public facilities (such as day care centers or health centers), public improvements (such as street improvements), public services (such as social programs for the elderly, youth or abused persons), and planning and administration. Funds must primarily benefit low and moderate-income persons, although grantees may also fund activities which aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight or address an urgent community development need.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also awards annual grants to 48 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which in turn award and administer grants to small cities and counties not covered by the regular CDBG eligibility standards. The Department’s Buffalo office awards non-entitlement grants annually to small cities and counties in New York.

Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

New Yorkers enjoy a rich heritage of parks and historic and cultural resources that contribute to the quality of their communities. Responsibility for developing and carrying through statewide plans for the use of recreational and historical assets rests with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). OPRHP coordinates state and federal aid for parks, recreation and historic preservation programs. It serves as the state’s liaison with the federal government for matters relating to preservation provisions of the Federal Tax Reform Act of 1976 and the National Historic Preservation Act. OPRHP administers three major pass programs allowing discounts in the use of state park and recreational facilities. In cooperation with local education systems, OPRHP operates outdoor learning programs at parks in most regions. It also administers state planning efforts for the Urban Cultural Park Program and sponsors various athletic programs including: the Empire State Games, the Games for the Physically Challenged, and the Senior Games. In addition, OPRHP administers the State Navigation Law and conducts the Marine and Recreational Vehicles program. This effort includes the Law Enforcement Subsidy, the Safety and Education programs and the Marine Services Program. These provide local law enforcement agencies with assistance in the education and training of youths regarding boat and snowmobile safety, in public facilities inspection and in the placement of buoys in the state’s inland waterways.

Regional park, recreation and historic preservation commissions advise the OPRHP Commissioner on the promulgation of rules and regulations for park regions to ensure they are consistent with state policies and regulations. The State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation aids the Commissioner by reviewing and making recommendations on policy, budget and state aid plans. The Council serves as the central advisory board on all matters affecting parks, recreation and historic preservation. The State Board of Historic Preservation advises the Commissioner and the Council on policy matters affecting historic preservation and the historic sites system and on priorities among historic preservation opportunities. The Board also reviews and makes recommendations to the Commissioner on the nomination of properties to the National or State Registers. At the local level counties, cities, towns and villages have concurrent powers to establish and maintain parks. They may acquire and dedicate land for park and recreational purposes and can utilize zoning powers to plan and set aside land for park purposes to meet the needs of local residents.

Weatherization Assistance

This federally-funded program, administered in New York by DHCR, funds the installation of energy conservation measures to reduce the energy costs of low-income families and individuals. It has been credited with significantly reducing energy costs and increasing the health and comfort of low-income participants. Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Program, DHCR funds local sub-grantees under contract to perform the work. These local sub-grantees, which deliver services on a statewide basis, include community action agencies, community-based organizations, counties, and Indian tribal organizations. Since the program commenced in 1977, over 385,000 dwelling units in the state have been weatherized.

Public Safety

Protection of life and property is one of the oldest functions of local government. In New York State most of the early municipal incorporations were little more than efforts to provide fire and/or police services to built-up areas. Today, public safety represents the third largest expense of local government. Only education and social services command a larger share of the local dollar.

Correctional Programs

Four state entities share with local governments certain responsibilities for caring for offenders and restoring them to society.

The Department of Correctional Services (DOC) is primarily responsible for the institutional care and confinement of 72, 000 felons housed in 69 correctional facilities across New York State. Its 32, 500 employees provide for the safety and security of the system. DOC’s also interacts with communities, sending supervised work crews out into the community for nearly two million hours each to perform public service projects for governments and not-for-profit organizations. Staff is responsible for the operation of an array of academic, vocational, drug treatment and work programs designed to provide all offenders with the basic skills they will need to function as responsible and law-abiding citizens upon their release from custody. The Department also operates a 900-bed drug treatment campus that serves parole violators as well as felons newly-sentenced by the courts to a drug treatment program.

The State Commission of Correction is charged with general oversight responsibility for all prisons, jails and lockups throughout the state. This mandate is aimed at improving the administration of correctional facilities, and the conditions which affect the lives and safety of inmates and staff. The Commission consists of three members appointed by the Governor. One member serves as Chairperson, while each of the others serves, respectively, as Chairperson of the Medical Review Board and Chairperson of the Citizens’ Policy and Complaint Review Council. The Commission establishes minimum standards for care, custody, treatment, and supervision of all persons confined in State and local correctional facilities. It inspects facilities to ensure adherence to these standards and handles grievances filed with respect to those standards. The Commission’s Medical Review Board investigates and issues a report on all in-custody deaths.

The Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) exercises general supervision over the administration of local probation agencies and in the use of correctional alternative programs. The DPCA promotes and facilitates probation and other community corrections programs through funding and oversight. It administers a program of state aid funding for approved local probation services and for municipalities and private non-profit agencies which have approved alternative-to incarceration service plans that enable localities to maintain inmates in local correctional facilities more efficiently. It also funds designated demonstration and other specialized programs.

The State Director of Probation also adopts rules concerning methods and procedure used in the administration of local probation services, and develops standards for the operation of alternative-to incarceration programs. The State Director also serves as the Chair of the State Probation Commission. The Commission members, appointed by the Governor, provide advice and consultation to the State Director on all matters relating to probation. The State Board of Parole, an administrative body within the Division of Parole, is responsible for the release of certain prisoners in State correctional institutions. The Division is responsible for community protection and offender risk control through the administration of parole services.

Criminal Justice

The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) seeks to increase the effectiveness and vitality of the criminal justice system in New York State. It’s Identification and Criminal History Operation, a data bank of criminal records, gives even the smallest department’s access to a massive record system. Through DCJS, local police may also obtain criminal information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Division’s Bureau for Municipal Police advises all municipal police agencies in the state.

Emergency Medical Services

Both the public and private sectors provide pre-hospital emergency medical services. In some cities, a single commercial ambulance service provides paramedic-level services. In other cities, the fire department provides paramedic services while commercial ambulance service provides basic life support and transportation services. In small communities and suburban and rural areas, voluntary ambulance services predominate. These voluntary services are under the auspices of fire departments or districts, independent squads or (in a few cases) hospitals. Voluntary services are sometimes supported by fire or special improvement district taxes, but more often rely upon donations from the public and/or fees under contract from local governments. All commercial as well as volunteer ambulance services must now be certified by the State Health Department. To receive certification, ambulance services must meet specific training and equipment requirements and quality assurance mandates.

Fire Protection

Firefighting service in New York State is provided through a variety of municipal and intermunicipal arrangements. About 19,000 full-time career firefighters and over 110,000 volunteer firefighters work in more than 1,800 fire protection/prevention organizations (federal, state, and local) across the state.

In cities and villages, firefighting is commonly provided by a municipal fire department, composed either of career or volunteer firefighters or a combination of the two. In larger communities that utilize volunteers, the local department generally contains several independent fire companies. Each has its own officers, buildings and apparatus. The fire chief is usually appointed by the local chief executive upon nomination by members of the fire company. In instances where a village maintains no fire department, it contracts with a neighboring community or fire district for fire protection services.

Unlike villages and cities, towns are not legally empowered to provide direct firefighting services. Generally, town boards create one or more fire districts or fire protection districts to cover all or part of a town. A few areas have no fire service protection. These arrangements are more fully described in [town_government#town_government] and [special_purpose_units_of_government#special_purpose_units_of_government]. Although towns do not directly provide firefighting services, they do provide valuable fire protection services. Many larger towns have a fire prevention and inspection staff. Others, particularly those with a large number of fire districts or fire protection districts, provide central dispatching and training facilities.

County Role

Counties, guided by their Fire Advisory Boards, provide valuable services for fire protection, including the maintenance of specialized firefighting equipment for departments within their jurisdiction. Most counties have a fire coordinator, who is a key link between state and local activities. Appointed by the county’s legislative body under section 225-a, of the County Law, the coordinator has the responsibility of coordinating mutual aid responses by fire departments within the county and of administering education and training programs. To improve fire department response efficiency, many coordinators have developed countywide radio communication systems.

State Role

The State does not generally provide fire services directly to the public except at certain State-owned institutions and, in the case of forest fires, where the Division of Forest Protection and Fire Management in the Department of Environmental Conservation coordinates responsibility for fire protection. The State does, however, provide technical assistance to municipalities in arson investigation and hazardous materials control. Otherwise, the State provides direct support to local fire service units through its command function in activating the State Fire Mobilization and Mutual Aid Plan to cope with major disasters. The plan is administered through the Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) in the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Through OFPC, headed by the State Fire Administrator, the State provides training and specialized services to deal with arson and other fire protection issues at all levels of state and local government. The Office makes training available top aid and volunteer firefighters, other government officials, and emergency response personnel, on an in-residence basis at its State Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls and at the Academy’s Camp Smith Annex in Peekskill, as well as on a commuter basis at remote locations across the state.

Fire Boards and Commissions

The Fire Safety Advisory Board, a 12-member unpaid body appointed by the Governor, assists the Secretary of State and State Fire Administrator in all aspects of fire protection and legislation. A 15-member Arson Board has been established to advise and assist the Secretary of State and State Fire Administrator on arson problems. The New York State Emergency Services Revolving Loan Board reviews and makes recommendations to the Secretary of State for low-interest loans to municipalities and fire districts that meet specific criteria.

The Fire Fighting and Code Enforcement Personnel Standards and Education Commission recommend training standards to the Governor which establishes minimum qualifications for firefighters and code enforcement personnel. The Commission consists of the Secretary of State, State Fire Administrator, and five members appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate.

Building Code Administration and Enforcement

The New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (Uniform Code), which became effective January 1, 1984, superseded all existing local fire and building codes except in New York City, which has its own code in effect. Municipalities may, however, adopt and enforce more stringent local provisions with State approval.

Except in a minority of localities, administration and enforcement of the Uniform Code are carried out directly by local governments through local laws, and in accordance with minimum standards promulgated by the Secretary of State. Those municipalities must enforce the Code through locally-appointed officers, although support services may be (and often are) contracted out to private organizations. Some municipalities have entered into cooperative agreements under Article 5-G of the General Municipal Law. Such a pooling of resources has been attractive in rural areas. A municipality or a county may choose not to enforce the Uniform Code by enacting a local law providing that it will “opt out” of enforcement. Responsibility for enforcement is then automatically transferred to the county, or, where the county has “opted out”, to the State.

The Department of State’s Division of Code Enforcement and Administration is charged with administration of the Uniform Code to local governments, state agencies, and the public. Effective July 13, 1996, additional responsibilities were transferred to the Department of State from the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, including interpretation of the Uniform Code, providing staff to the Code Council, a HUD sponsored mobile home oversight and complaint program, approval of modular home construction plans and a third party plant inspection program, issuance of Certificates of Acceptability for construction materials, methods and devices, and other associated functions. Effective January 1, 1999, the Department assumed responsibility for the State Energy Conservation Construction Code.

The Department has eleven regional field service offices providing technical assistance and coordinating variance requests with local government officials. Through its regional field service offices, the Department of State conducts reviews of local code enforcement programs and administers a complaint resolution program. The regional field service offices employ State code enforcement officers in municipalities or counties where the State has code enforcement responsibility. Municipalities and counties may regain their local enforcement authority by repealing their opt-out enactment. The Secretary of State is also empowered to investigate local administration and enforcement of the code and take remedial actions as warranted.

Responsibility for formulating and amending the Uniform Code rests with the State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council, a 17-member body chaired by the Secretary of State, and composed of the State Fire Administrator, Commissioner of Health, Commissioner of Labor and 13 members appointed by the Governor (seven with the consent of the Senate).

The Department of State’s Educational Services Unit provides a statewide code enforcement training program, having as its priority the basic training and continuing education of code enforcement officers. The Department’s services are available to elected and appointed officials, the general public, contractors, architects, engineers, and manufacturers.

Emergency Management

An integrated emergency management system is the legal responsibility of the State and local governments, pursuant to Article 2-B of the Executive law and the New York State Defense Emergency Act.

The State Role The State Disaster Preparedness Commission, through the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO), is responsible for coordinating and implementing emergency management programs, financial assistance and work plans at the state and local levels of government. This includes provision for hazard identification and analysis, coordination and conduct of emergency and disaster management training programs, comprehensive emergency management planning, and statewide communications and warning systems.

The Local Role The responsibility for disaster preparedness rests with the chief executive of each county, city, town and village. Every county and city should develop comprehensive emergency management plans. In the event of a disaster or emergency, the local chief executive may declare a local state of emergency, which permits the use of wide-ranging emergency powers as long as the procedures governing their declaration are followed. A local chief executive may also request that the Governor declare a state disaster emergency, which would result in implementation of the State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan to support county response and recovery operations. Before such a request is made, all county resources must be fully involved with the disaster and considered insufficient to cope with it. Cities, towns and villages should first request aid from their counties before approaching the State.

Police Services

Over 400 separate county, city, town and village police agencies share responsibility for the enforcement of state and local laws in New York. These range in size from New York City’s Department, with over 37,000 sworn officers, to 11 agencies with only one or two part-time police officers. Communities in New York State employ over 55,000 full-time and over 1,800 part-time municipal police personnel at a cost of almost five billion dollars annually.

State Police The New York State Police was established by Executive Law on April 11, 1917. Its goal at that time was, and continues to be, to provide effective, cost-efficient police service to the people of New York State. Its members strive to preserve peace, enforce laws, protect life and property, detect and protect against crime and arrest violators.

For the purpose of administration, the state is divided into eleven geographical areas (Troops), each of which is further divided into zones, stations and satellite offices. Special detail offices are located in many cities. The Uniform Trooper is the field officer who most frequently comes into direct contact with the citizens. State Troopers work closely with the Division’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) as well as other state, county, local and federal law enforcement agencies. A number of specialized support groups also operate within the State Police. In many areas, State Police have the primary responsibility for law enforcement, as many municipalities have only small or no police forces. Even communities with a full-time police agency must frequently call upon the BCI to provide investigative and technical expertise which is lacking in many small departments. The State Police Laboratory often provides its services to larger departments.

Environmental Protection

Conservation Councils,Commissions and Boards

Volunteer environmental management councils (EMCs) support county governments through environmental analysis at the state level. Volunteer citizen advisory commissions (CACs) perform a similar function at the town, village and municipal level. The New York State Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB), makes recommendations to state agencies on state government plans, policies, and programs that specifically affect fish and wildlife.

Flood Control, Water Resources and Wastewater Programs

DEC assists localities with their efforts to mitigate flooding, helps obtain funds for flood-control measures, coordinates the National Flood Insurance Program, and works with SEMO to assist communities in preparing for flood emergencies. DEC also helps local governments develop small projects for watershed protection, and assists them in planning and implementing strategies for protecting, developing and using local water. DEC issues general wastewater and storm water permits and, with partners, identifies funding sources for sustainable wastewater infrastructure programs. DEC also enforces standards for sewage treatment, and tests and certifies operators for municipal wastewater treatment plants.

Environmental Facilities

The Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) is a public benefit corporation that promotes environmental quality by providing low-cost capital and expert technical assistance to municipalities, businesses and state agencies for environmental projects throughout New York State. Its purpose is to help public and private entities comply with federal and state environmental requirements.

EFC oversees several major programs designed to promote environmental quality at an affordable cost. The EFC currently has two Revolving Loan Funds. The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund is used to make low-interest loans to municipalities to help pay for water pollution control facilities, such as wastewater treatment plants, and for water quality remediation measures associated with landfill closures. The Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund is operated jointly by the EFC and the Department of Health to provide low-interest loans to public and private water systems to undertake needed drinking water infrastructure improvements. Grants are available for drinking water projects in communities facing financial hardship.

The Technical Advisory Services program helps business and government understand and comply with state environmental requirements, and provides services for protecting the New York City Watershed and helping small businesses comply with air pollution standards. The Industrial Finance Program provides low-cost loans to private entities seeking to borrow for capital facilities that deal with solid waste, sewage treatment, drinking water, limited hazardous waste disposal and site remediation. The Financial Assistance to Business program helps businesses comply with air and water quality environmental regulations and provides grants to small businesses for specific pollution control or prevention projects.

Forest Resources


DEC gathers, analyzes and reports on tree pest and disease information for private and public forest landowners and managers. It places the highest priority on early detection and rapid response to high-impact invasive species that threaten forests. For private forest management, DEC foresters provide expert advice and technical assistance on managing timber products, improving wildlife habitat, controlling erosion, planting trees, enhancing recreation and managing sugar bushes.

Air Resources Programs

DEC’s Division of Air Resources (DAR) works to improve and maintain air quality throughout New York. It collaborates with academic institutions on various air pollution research projects, and is actively involved with national and regional air pollution/air quality management associations.

Marine Resources Programs

Both salt and freshwater estuaries and ocean coastal waters, where marine species live, feed and reproduce, are managed by DEC’s Division of Marine Resources (DMR) and Hudson River Estuary Program (HREP). Other state, local and federal agencies, the scientific community, and private citizens work cooperatively with DEC in managing New York’s Marine District.

Plant and Animal Protection

Among DEC’s main responsibilities is to manage and protect New York State’s wild animal and plant populations. To do this, DEC conserves crucial habitats and establishes and enforces regulations and policies to support plants and animals.

Climate Smart Communities Program

DEC’s Office of Climate Change (OCC) was created to build a climate resilient future for the state by working to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) and developing market-based solutions to climate-change. OCC works with local governments through its Climate Smart Communities Program, a network of New York State communities engaged in reducing GHG emissions, improving climate resilience, and adapting to changing climate.

Oil and Chemical Spill Response Program

About 16,000 oil and chemical spills are reported to DEC annually and about 90 percent involve petroleum products. Before staff from DEC’s Spill Response Program take action, they assess spill content, potential environmental damage, and any threats to public safety.

SEQRA Assistance Services

New York’s Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requires all state and local government agencies to assess environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors during discretionary decision-making on proposed activities and projects. DEC is charged with issuing regulations regarding the SEQR process, and may provide technical assistance when needed.

Waste Management and Recycling Program

DEC provides technical and regulatory assistance to communities regarding waste management. In addition, the agency uses inspections to assess the operational compliance of solid waste management facilities (SWMF). DEC’s Hazardous Waste Management Program helps prevent and manage the generation of industrial hazardous wastes. DEC issues permits, conducts inspections, signs consent orders, and gathers and processes data. DEC administers state assistance grants for waste reduction, recycling and household hazardous waste (HHW) programs. Funding is provided on a 50% reimbursement rate for eligible costs.

Water and Wastewater Services

Water and sewerage services have long been available in urbanized areas and are also available in many suburban areas. The extension of these facilities has a major impact on the extent direction of development.

Localities utilize several kinds of organizational mechanisms to provide sewage and water services. The most prevalent are the municipal water or sewer departments in cities and villages and the water or sewer districts in towns. Most cities and many villages have developed their own sources of water supply and have constructed sewage treatment plants. While some town districts have developed these capital facilities, many purchase the services from adjoining localities. Town districts frequently purchase water or sewage treatment services as a part of a growing regionalization of water and sewage services. In the sewage area, state and federal grant requirements often dictate intermunicipal action. County sewer districts frequently provide major capital facilities for a multi-municipal sewage treatment project. These county districts and other intermunicipal arrangements allow the use of sophisticated techniques, often at considerably lower unit costs than a number of smaller, independent facilities could obtain.

In addition to county districts, local governments have occasionally established authorities to provide water or sewage service over a wide area. An example is the Monroe County Water Authority, which serves a large area around the city of Rochester.

In some areas the private sector plays a large role in the delivery of water and sewage service. Even in an urban area such as New York City, the Borough of Queens is served by a private water company. In a number of suburban developments, the developer often creates small water or sewage companies. Towns or villages control the rates private companies charge for sewage service. The State Public Service Commission regulates the price private water firms charge for their services.

The State plays a role in the regulation of municipal water and sewer agencies. The Department of Health enforces water supply standards and the Department of Environmental Conservation enforces sewage treatment standards. Both departments, through their use of aid programs, strongly encourage an intermunicipal approach to water and sewage services.



Many counties, cities, towns and villages in New York State own and operate airports that provide a variety of air services to their communities. The Department of Transportation (DOT) coordinates the state’s overall aviation improvement program with local communities. In addition to providing state funds for capital improvements for local airports and aviation facilities, DOT provides guidance and assistance to local communities in obtaining federal aid for airport improvements.

Mass Transit

DOT is concerned with the provision of local, regional and intercity public transportation at reasonable cost, while conserving energy and attending to the needs of such groups as commuters, the elderly, young people, the needy and the disabled. DOT’s role in local public mass transit activities encompasses short-range mass transit planning, as well as the provision of state aid for capital and operating costs to local governments and other entities operating local transit service.


DOT has general statutory authority over all railroads, except the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The DOT Commissioner is empowered to examine railroad facilities and operations and to order compliance with the Railroad Law. The Railroad Law allows municipalities which have jurisdiction over a highway to petition the DOT Commissioner for the replacement or reconstruction of an existing bridge that separates a non-state public highway and a railroad. If DOT determines that the bridge should be replaced or reconstructed, plans are developed and a contract prepared, with costs shared on a percentage basis. The Transportation Law permits the governing body of any municipality in which a highway-railroad at-grade crossing is located to petition the DOT Commissioner to institute procedures for the elimination of the crossing at grade. If DOT determines that the crossing should be eliminated, plans are prepared and a contract is let, with the State bearing all costs. Localities may apply to DOT for funding from the federal Active Grade Crossing Improvement Program. This program identifies projects for grade-crossing safety improvements, including the installation of flashing lights, protective gates and smoother, more reliable crossing surfaces. Since 1974 over 500 grade-crossing sites in need of improvement have been identified, and approximately half have been improved. DOT administers capital programs for rail improvements and oversees intercity passenger service provided by Amtrak.

State Programs

As of the printing of this publication, the state transportation network includes: a state and local highway system which annually handles over 100 billion vehicle miles, encompassing over 110,000 miles and 17,000 bridges; a 5,000-mile rail network over which 42 million tons of equipment, raw materials, manufactured goods and produce are shipped each year; a 524-mile canal system; 484 public and private aviation facilities through which more than 31 million people travel each year; five major ports, which annually handle 50 million tons of freight; and over 130 public transit operators, serving over 5.2 million passengers each day.

DOT focuses on the state’s growing transportation needs and is responsible for developing and coordinating statewide transportation policy. To carry out that responsibility, DOT develops strategic transportation plans to enhance the state’s economy, preserve the transportation infrastructure and ensure basic personal mobility for New Yorkers. It coordinates this planning activity with those of federal, state and local entities and other organizations.

DOT coordinates and helps develop and operate transportation facilities and services, and plans for the development of commuter and general transportation facilities. It also administers public safety and regulatory programs for rail and motor carriers in intrastate commerce, and oversees the safe operation of bus lines and commuter rail and subway systems which are subsidized with state funds.

DOT certifies municipal applications for the State funding of local highway improvements under the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), and coordinates with Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to administer the Federally-funded Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). There are currently 13 MPOs across the state. Each is responsible for developing, in cooperation with the State and affected transit operators, a long-range transportation plan and a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for its area.

Streets and Highways

The State has responsibility for the state and interstate highway systems. It does not, however, maintain those portions of state highways within cities. Within towns, state highways are a State responsibility, although counties and towns may provide snow and ice control under contract.

County governments maintain a county road system that is designated by the county’s legislative body. Like the State, counties do not maintain roadways within cities. The degree to which counties actually perform maintenance on the county road system varies. Some counties maintain large and well-equipped maintenance organizations and perform most of the needed work. Others maintain only a small work force and contract with towns for much of the maintenance.

State Canals

The New York State Canal System serves the people of the state in many ways: as a means for transportation, a water source for industry and agriculture, a source of hydroelectric power, an outdoor recreation resource and as a water control mechanism for much of New York. The New York State Canal Corporation within the State Thruway Authority operates and maintains the 524-mile system, which consists of the Champlain, Erie, Oswego and Cayuga/Seneca Canals. The Corporation is implementing a $32.3 million, five-year Canal Revitalization Program to help develop the recreational potential of the System. The Department of Transportation assists public ports, and works with the Council of Upstate Ports of New York to ensure adequate port facilities for shippers and consignees.

Consumer Protection Services

New York State and its local governments work together to protect consumers from questionable or illegal practices in certain business and occupations. Many state agencies which have regulatory responsibilities operate consumer protection programs to assist citizens and local officials. Coordination for consumer protection at the state level is provided by the Division of Consumer Protection. At the local level, many counties and some cities, towns and villages have established agencies for consumer protection. These local agencies look to the Division of Consumer Protection for support. The Division is empowered to conduct investigations, receive and refer consumer complaints, intervene in proceedings before the Public Service Commission and other agencies, and coordinate the consumer protection activities of state agencies. In addition, the Division recommends new legislation for consumer protection, initiates and encourages consumer protection programs, conducts outreach activities, surveys significant consumer issues and distributes publications on consumer matters including the New York State Consumer Law Help Manual.

Among state agencies’ consumer protection programs are the following: The Department of Agriculture and Markets, in cooperation with county and city officials, enforces the law relating to weights and measures. In 1995 the Public Service Commission (PSC) took over regulatory authority of cable television from the former Cable TV Commission. The PSC responds to complaints by cable television consumers, and provides information and technical assistance to local officials concerning cable television franchise questions. Cities, towns and villages have the responsibility of granting franchises to cable television companies and monitoring their operations, but PSC sets standards and provides assistance to local franchising authorities. PSC also regulates other modes of communications as well as electric, gas and water utilities. It operates a consumer outreach and education program, and responds to consumer complaints concerning the regulated entities.

The State Board of Regents and State Education Department license and/or regulate practitioners in a number of professions, including architecture, dentistry, engineering, land surveying, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychology, public accountancy, social work, speech pathology and veterinary medicine. Regulation is carried out through the Office of Professional Discipline and the respective licensing boards. Regulation of physicians and their assistants is carried out jointly with the State Health Department.

The Department of Health regulates the delivery of health care by institutions and individual providers, and responds to consumer complaints. Its Professional Medical Conduct Unit investigates complaints about physicians and their assistants. The Department of Financial Services licenses and regulates insurers, agents, brokers, bail bondsmen, adjusters and others. Its Consumer Services Bureau responds to consumer questions and complaints. The Office of the Attorney General offers, through its Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, help for consumers in the form of public education and mediation, as well as legal action in cases of repeated fraud. The Attorney General prosecutes criminal violations by licensed or registered professionals, fraudulent sales of stocks and securities, frauds against consumers, and monopolies in restraint of trade. Major charities which solicit in the state are registered by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.

The Department of State licenses and/or regulates certain nonprofessional businesses and occupations. Its Division of Licensing Services regulates armored car carriers and guards, barbers, estheticians, natural hair stylists, cosmetologists, waxing practitioners, nail specialists, bedding manufacturers, coin processors, hearing aid dispensers and dealers, notaries public, private investigators, watch, guard and patrol agencies, real estate brokers and salespersons, and apartment information vendors. Nonsectarian cemeteries as well as pet cemeteries are regulated by its Division of Cemeteries.

Labor and Working Conditions

The Department of Labor ensures the safety and health of all public and many private employees in the workplace, and administers unemployment assistance. The Department also serves as the principal source of labor market information in the state, including current and predicted economic trends affecting the state’s economy. The Department also enforces state labor laws and federal laws relating to working conditions and compensation.

The Division of Employment Services administers job placement assistance, skill assessment and career counseling services. Local and state agencies and not-for-profit organizations are encouraged by the Division to co-locate and coordinate services provided by on-site staff assistance to customers. The Unemployment Insurance Division provides unemployment insurance benefits funded by a tax paid by employers.

The Department administers the worker-protection provisions of the State Labor Law. The Labor Standards Division administers the provisions of the Labor Law concerning minimum wage, hours of work, child labor, payment of wages and wage supplements, industrial homework, farm labor and the apparel industry. The Division of Safety and Health enforces occupational safety and health standards for employees of the state and local governments. The Bureau of Public Work enforces the payment of prevailing wages and supplements on public construction projects and building service contracts. The Welfare-to-Work Division oversees state and local programs under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF), the Food Stamp Employment and Training Program (FEST), the Welfare-to-Work Block Grant program and the Safety Net program. Oversight includes policy development, technical assistance to local social services districts and provider agencies, contract reporting and monitoring, program oversight of state level programs and supervision of local social services districts. The Workforce Development and Training Division administer federal and state funds for programs that offer employment and training services to youth and adults.

Other Services

State-local partnerships are also involved in the following services and programs areas:

The Office of Advocate for the Disabled works with local governments to ensure that the state’s estimated 2.5 million disabled citizens have access to public services and equal opportunity. The Office, established by Executive Order and given a legislative base by Chapter 718 of the Laws of 1982, provides technical assistance and information to help local governments, service providers and others integrate disabled residents into all facets of community life. The Office also keeps the Governor, Legislature and agencies informed about the needs of the disabled; promotes cooperative efforts to develop employment opportunities; helps develop innovative strategies to meet special needs; and operates an information and referral service.

Local governments control dogs pursuant to a combination of state and local laws and in accordance with regulations of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, which maintains a master list of licensed dogs. The Department also promulgates and maintains a uniform code of weights and measures for use in commerce throughout the state. Counties, cities, towns and villages are authorized to establish commissions on human rights, and many have done so. They work closely with the State Division of Human Rights in eliminating and preventing discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, or arrest and/or conviction record; in credit transactions, employment, housing and public accommodations.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) develops innovative energy-efficient technologies to help enhance environmental quality. The Authority assists businesses, residents, municipalities and institutions to be more energy-efficient by investing funds into cost effective energy efficiency deployment strategies, renewable energy sources and clean-fuel technologies.

The State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) shares responsibility with county clerks for the issuance of drivers’ licenses and registration of motor vehicles. Under the Vehicle and Traffic Law, cities, towns and villages are required to issue handicapped parking permits to eligible individuals. The DMV also registers and regulates motor vehicle repair shops. Its Division of Vehicle Safety Services responds to consumer complaints.

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