CORONAVIRUS COVID-19: RESOURCES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

COVID-19 RESPONSE IN NY

NYS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COVID-19 TRACKER

Click here to view details statewide by county.

FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDING

CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, AND ECONOMIC SECURITY (CARES) ACT STIMULUS #3

View highlights of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Federal Stimulus #3.

LOCAL STATE OF EMERGENCY

DECLARING LOCAL STATE OF EMERGENCY

NYCOM’s Guide to Local Government Emergency Management provides an overview of the process for declaring a local state of emergency and for issuing emergency orders such as regulating and closing places of assembly and prohibiting and controlling people on public streets and places.

Whether the chief executive officer should declare a local state of emergency during the COVID-19 crisis depends on whether there are circumstances in their community that warrant such a declaration and the issuing of emergency orders. Local officials should consult with their county health departments to determine what emergency actions they recommend taking.

Note, however, that on March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.5, which provides in relevant part: 

Notwithstanding section 24 of the Executive Law, no locality or political subdivision shall issue any local emergency order or executive order with respect to response of COVID-19 without the approval of the State Department of Health.

While chief executive officers may still declare a local state of emergency, before a local government announces, publicizes, or posts a local emergency order issued pursuant to NYS Executive Law § 24, the Department of Health must approve such order. Local officials may submit written requests for approval to the Department of Health via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Click here for the Department of Health’s detailed guidance on the procedure for obtaining approval. 

Consequently, local officials should consult with the municipal attorney before declaring a local state of emergency regarding the COVID-19 pandemic or any emergency order. You can view EO 202.5 online at https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2025-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.

Finally, numerous local officials have inquired about the need to declare a local state of emergency in order for their community to be eligible for federal FEMA funding. Because Governor Cuomo has declared a statewide state of emergency, there is no need for local governments to declare their own local state of emergency. The State and federal government are still in the process of allocating funds to help address communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. NYCOM will be disseminating information for aid opportunities as that information becomes available.

VILLAGE ELECTIONS FAQS

MARCH AND OTHER POSTPONED ELECTIONS

View frequently asked questions-postponement of village elections by Executive Orders 202.4 and 202.13.

JUNE ELECTIONS

View frequently asked questions in regards to June Elections

FIRE DEPARTMENT ELECTIONS

View frequently asked questions regarding Fire Department Elections.

View advisory from FASNY regarding Village Fire Department Elections.

MEETINGS/PUBLIC HEARINGS

CONDUCTING MEETINGS AND PUBLIC HEARINGS

Please click here for NYCOM’s Guide to Conducting Meetings and Public Hearings During the COVID‐19 Pandemic

GUIDE TO REMOTE MEETINGS TECHNOLOGY

Please view this list of relevant remote meeting products that includes reviews and recommendations.

MUNICIPAL FINANCE

THE 2020 VILLAGE BUDGET PROCESS

Despite the many changes happening as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including the postponement of the March 18 village elections, for those villages whose fiscal year begins on June 1, you should proceed with the process of adopting your village budget. We would recommend you do your best to comply with the dates outlined in Village Law which end with adoption on or before May 1. As you may know, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.1 which suspends the Open Meetings Law to the extent necessary to permit any public body to meet and take such actions authorized by law without allowing the public to be physically present at the meeting. The order also authorizes public bodies to meet remotely by conference call or similar service. We hope this will make it easier for you to comply with and complete this process.

Although State law does not expressly define what a public hearing is, it is clear that the common meaning of a public hearing is to allow for in-person public comment, although written comments should always be accepted and even encouraged. Some local officials have inquired whether an online video portal or teleconference that offers the opportunity for the public to comment could be employed in place of an in-person public hearing. In normal times, under normal circumstances, NYCOM is of the opinion that State mandated public hearings must always have a reasonable opportunity for the public to comment in person before the public body.

These, however, are not normal times or normal conditions. Public bodies must balance the need to take action with the right of the public to attend a public hearing in person. Moreover, on March 23, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.10, which prohibits “non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events).”

While there is no case law to support this position, if a public body gives the public a reasonable opportunity to submit meaningful comment via online videoconferencing technology and in writing via email, local officials are likely to have a strong case should their actions be challenged.

Moreover, although Executive Order 202.1 does not specifically address public hearings, the spirit and intent of Executive Order 202.1 is that public bodies should be empowered to conduct all business, including public hearings, via videoconference, teleconference, or similar service. Consequently, local officials should feel comfortable holding public hearings via videoconference or teleconference if they are capable of doing it in a way that gives the public a reasonable, meaningful opportunity to comment on the subject matter of the public hearing.

If local officials decide to allow for in-person public participating at a public hearing, they could impose a limit on the maximum number of individuals allowed at a hearing based upon the capacity of the meeting room. If local officials consider implementing such a limit, they should establish a policy whereby individuals interested in speaking in person can sign-up and then be selected randomly. Individuals who are not selected to participate in-person should be given the opportunity to participate via video or teleconference and to submit written comments.

Local officials are strongly encouraged to consult with their municipal attorney before undertaking any course of action that is not expressly set forth in State law or one of the Governor’s Executive Orders. 

EXTENSION OF PAYMENT DEADLINES FOR PROPERTY TAXES AND OTHER LOCAL FEES/CHARGES

Local governments do not have unilateral authority to extend the interest-free period with respect to the payment of property taxes. This may only be done pursuant to subdivision 2 of section 925-a of the Real Property Tax Law which provides that “during a state disaster emergency, the Governor may, by executive order issued upon the request of the chief executive officer of a county, city, town, village or school district in the affected area, extend by up to twenty-one days the final date for paying taxes without interest or penalty in such county, city, town, village or school district. If such an extension is granted, and any taxes are not paid by the final date so provided, those taxes shall be subject to the same interest and penalties that would have applied if no extension had been granted.” Additionally, the Governor has the authority, under his emergency powers, to unilaterally provide for such an extension of the interest-free period on a statewide basis. To date, he has taken no such action. If you are a city and your tax payment deadline(s) is dictated by local law or your charter, you may have the ability to suspend such local law by issuing an emergency order after declaring a local state of emergency. Please refer to NYCOM's Guide to Local State Government Emergency Management and the Department of Health’s detailed guidance on the procedure for obtaining approval.

With respect to other types of fees or late payments that are established via local law (e.g., water, sewer, garbage), local governments do have the ability to extend or modify late penalties and payments dates by promulgating an emergency order that suspends the relevant local law. Such action may only be taken after a municipality declares a local state of emergency. Again, you should refer to NYCOM's Guide to Local State Government Emergency Management and the Department of Health’s detailed guidance on the procedure for obtaining approval.

GATHERINGS, PUBLIC SPACES AND ESSENTIAL SERVICES/FUNCTIONS

NYS EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT GUIDANCE

View Guidance for Determining Whether a Business Enterprise is Subject to a Workforce Reduction Under Recent Executive Orders. 

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH GUIDANCE

View Interim Guidance on Executive Orders Issued for Gatherings, Public Spaces, and Public and Private Sector Entities During the COVID-19 Outbreak.

ENFORCEMENT OF GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS

Read Governor's Guidance on Local Enforcement of PAUSE.

Read the Guidance for Code Enforcement Personnel Relating to the Governor’s Executive Orders During the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency.

LOCAL ENFORCEMENT OF FACILITY OPERATION VIOLATIONS AND OCCUPANCY VIOLATIONS

A major concern during the COVID pandemic has been controlling gatherings of individuals in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. To that end, Governor Cuomo has issued multiple Executive Orders limiting gatherings. Specifically, Executive Order 202.3 prohibited various businesses from operating (e.g., restaurants and bars serving patrons on premises, casinos, fitness centers, and movie theaters) and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 individuals. Executive Order 202.10 subsequently prohibited non-essential gatherings of individuals of ANY SIZE FOR ANY REASON (e.g., parties, celebrations or other social events).

Additionally, Executive Order 202.1 (effective for 30 days from March 13, 2020) limited the number of individuals who may occupy a place of business, public accommodation, or gathering or event to 50% of the locations allowed occupancy.

On March 27, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.11 which deems any facility operating in violation an Executive Order or occupancy limit violation to be a violation of the Uniform Code or other local building code in effect in the jurisdiction in which the facility or space is located. EO 202.11 authorizes any police officer to remove individuals from spaces and facilities where there is such an occupancy limit violation. Additionally, local code enforcement officials or fire marshals are authorized to issue appearance tickets, Notices of Violation, Orders to Remedy which shall require immediate compliance, and/or Do Not Occupy Orders to any owner, operator, or occupant of any such facility or space.

MANAGING THE WORKFORCE

LOCAL GOVERNMENT WORKPLACE POPULATION REDUCTION

As you may know, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.4 yesterday directing all local governments, effective March 17, 2020, to allow all non-essential personnel, as determined by the local government, to work from home or take leave without charging accruals. The Executive Order goes on to say that such non-essential personnel should total no less than 50% of the total number of such local government’s employees (i.e., it should reduce your workforce by no less than 50%).

It is important to note that the Executive Order does not distinguish between essential and non-essential employees. However, the Governor’s office has advised that “any person whose job function is essential to the effective operation of their agency or authority, or who must be physically present to perform their job, or who is involved in the emergency response to COVID-19” should be considered as an “essential” employee for purposes of the Executive Order.

Several of our members have reached out expressing concern about reaching the 50% reduction in workforce threshold. NYCOM recommends that you do everything you can to comply with the Governor’s directive without jeopardizing the health and safety of your residents. Local officials must also consider the potential impacts their actions could have on collective bargaining agreements. NYCOM recommends that you engage with your unions now to plan for what new policies may be needed in order to protect the welfare and safety of all employees and residents.

Mandatory Paid Leave
Several news outlets are reporting that Governor Cuomo and lawmakers have reached an agreement on legislation (Governor’s Program Bill No. 9) to provide at least fourteen days of paid sick leave for municipal officers and employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. This would apply to all full and part-time employees. Such employees would be compensated at their regular rate of pay and would not have to use their accruals during this period. It is expected that the Governor and Legislature will act on this in the upcoming days. NYCOM will continue to monitor this issue and provide updated information as it becomes available.

Read full memo from the Governor's Office

HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT AND COVID

Please view the following Tech Tip for guidance.

NEW YORK PAID FAMILY LEAVE COVID-19: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

View the following frequently asked questions.

FEDERAL FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA)

View Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

MISCELLANEOUS

CIVIL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCEEDINGS

On March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.8 which suspends any specific time limit for commencing, filing, or servicing legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding. This suspension applies to the criminal procedure law, the family court act, the civil practice law and rules, the court of claims act, the surrogate’s court procedure act, the uniform court acts, and any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or part thereof which imposes a time limitation or deadline. This tolling is effective until April 19, 2020.

EVICTIONS

On March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.8 which postponed evictions and foreclosure of residential and commercial property for 90 days.

PUBLIC BID OPENINGS

Under Executive Order 202.11, the Governor has waived the public bid opening requirements of General Municipal Law 103(2). The Executive Order states that where practicable, public entities must record or live stream bid openings so that the public has the opportunity to view the bid openings.

General Municipal Law 103(2), requires that all bids received by a local government for a competitively bid contract must be publicly opened and read, and the identity of all bidders must be publicly disclosed. Executive Order 202.11 requires local officials must take steps to ensure that the public has a meaningful opportunity to observe the opening of bids, while balancing the need to restrict the presence of members of the public during the pandemic. Cities and villages must now provide alternative methods of participation to ensure the public nature of the bid opening while access to municipal buildings is restricted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps include recording or live streaming the bid openings whenever practicable when the public is prevented from attending the bid opening in person.

Additionally, NYCOM recommends that cities and villages create a record of the bid opening and document each action taken to safeguard the fairness of the bidding process. Finally, cities and villages are always encouraged to have more than one municipal official or employee present to witness bid openings.

GOVERNOR CUOMO'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS

EXECUTIVE ORDERS

View All Executive Orders

ENFORCEMENT

Read Governor's Guidance on Local Enforcement of PAUSE.

Read the Guidance for Code Enforcement Personnel Relating to the Governor’s Executive Orders During the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

RESOURCES

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, local officials should keep abreast of the latest reports and advisories from the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC webpage “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S.” will be regularly updated at noon Monday through Friday

In addition, local officials are strongly encouraged to coordinate their public health response with their own county health department. Local officials should take care to provide information that comes directly from either the CDC, the New York State Department of Health, or their local county health department.

Per the New York State Department of Health, while there is currently no vaccine to prevent this virus, the following steps can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.