Municipalities and Local Agencies
Industry Team

Harris Beach attorneys’ significant government experience, ranging from municipal corporation counsel to commissioners and executives at state regulatory agencies and authorities, provides us with a unique perspective for assisting New York state municipalities and local agencies. Through our statewide representation of municipalities and agencies of all sizes, our attorneys and consulting professionals have earned a strong reputation for providing creative solutions to their fiscal, operational and economic challenges.

Ensuring responsible and efficient governance, implementing effective policies, addressing financial goals and adhering to local, state and federal regulations are some of the challenges shared by all municipalities and local agencies. Harris Beach represents agencies, authorities, municipal corporations, municipal boards, industrial development agencies (IDAs), and local development corporations (LDCs) in a diverse array of legal, policy, regulatory and programmatic matters.

Our services include:

 

Non-legal professional services through our subsidiaries:

Compliance and Oversight

The Public Authority Accountability Act (2005), Procurement Lobbying Act (2005), Public Employees Ethics Reform Act (2007), Public Authorities Reform Act (2009), Public Integrity Reform Act (2011) and the New York State Attorney General Code of Conduct are just some of the reform measures that have been put into place in recent years which have changed the landscape of ethics, lobbying and compliance. Public sector compliance systems should be aware of these reforms so that they remain compliant. Harris Beach counsels municipal, agency and authority clients on compliance and public oversight with specific guidance on organizational and operational issues, including governance, ethics, freedom of information law, open meetings law, procurements, property dispositions and compliance reporting requirements. Our attorneys assist with legislative formation, board configuration, policy development, program planning and implementation, financing matters, real property management and disposition, contracting, fiscal matters, bidding and procurement procedures, audit control and audit implementation.

Economic Development/Public Finance

Harris Beach attorneys are highly experienced in the administration and capture of business tax incentives. On a daily basis, we work on complex projects at the state and federal levels involving taxable and tax-exempt bond financing, Payment-in-Lieu-of-Tax (PILOT) Increment Financing, Tax Increment Financing, Brownfield Redevelopment Tax Credits, New Markets Tax Credit, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Empowerment Zone Incentives, Renewal Community Incentives and Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits.

We represent municipalities throughout New York state on a full range of issues. The attorneys engaged in the firm’s public finance practice have served as general obligation bond counsel to municipalities, school districts, special improvement districts and fire districts throughout New York state. We also counsel local and state financing authorities and IDAs on their economic development initiatives. In addition, the firm’s public finance attorneys have served as counsel to underwriters in relation to bond and note issues of municipalities, school districts and authorities. Harris Beach is listed as a recognized bond counsel firm in the “Municipal Bond Attorneys” section of The Bond Buyer’s Municipal Marketplace. Harris Beach has rendered opinions in thousands of transactions, involving in excess of $100 billion aggregate principal amount of tax-exempt obligations.

Our attorneys provide counsel on debt limitation, reserve requirements, issuance authority, disclosure requirements, rating agency concerns, qualifying investment candidates and other bond-related issues. Harris Beach also offers expertise in special district formation and financing for expanding municipal infrastructure needs.

Energy Law

Our Energy Industry Team has significant experience securing project funding, maximizing renewable and alternative energy incentive programs, and ensuring compliance with evolving state and federal energy regulations. We work with those who own, develop, purchase or sell energy, and we represent a diverse group of clients including municipalities, Fortune 100 corporations, privately-held businesses, public benefit corporations and not-for-profit organizations.

We also provide strategic advice related to public affairs, federal and state regulatory matters, general compliance, competitive energy markets and trading, securing regulatory approvals, negotiating contracts, and environmental permitting. Representative clients in the public sector include local governments, public benefit corporations, municipal distribution agencies, and LDCs and IDAs involved in the generation, transmission, purchase and sale of conventional and alternative energy. This work includes development, permitting, and financing matters involving both conventional and alternative energy production facilities throughout New York state, such as solar, ethanol, biodiesel, biogas and wind facilities.

Environmental Law

Harris Beach provides legal counsel to municipalities and public benefit corporations on a broad range of environmental law issues. Our attorneys advise clients on the responsibilities, exposures and liabilities that result from federal, state and local environmental legislation and regulations. We guide clients through environmental impact review processes such as the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), the New York City Environmental Quality Review Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. We also handle regulatory issues relating to land use, hazardous substances and asbestos.

Harris Beach has a proven track record of helping New York state municipalities maximize Brownfield redevelopment opportunities and navigate their way through New York’s Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) Program and evolving Brownfield Cleanup Program. We work with municipalities to complete BOA planning work as part of a multi-disciplinary team to identify specific development opportunities. Regarding specific projects, we provide counsel with respect to the acquisition, disposition, remediation and financing of brownfield remediation and redevelopment projects. Our comprehensive approach to municipal brownfield planning and project implementation blends federal, state and local economic incentive programs and coordinates efforts for remediation and redevelopment to achieve community and stakeholder objectives in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Grant Writing and Administration

Harris Beach provides comprehensive grant writing services that include planning, data and resource research, and proposal writing, packaging, submission and follow-up. Harris Beach offers these services to assist municipalities, local agencies and other applicants with grant proposals for a variety of funding purposes.

Harris Beach attorneys and professionals have wide-ranging experience with intergovernmental affairs, municipal privatization and grant administration on the federal, state and local levels. We administer grant and loan programs through the federal Economic Development Administration, the Empire State Development Corporation and its Restore New York Communities Initiative, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Governor’s Office for Small Cities and the Community Development Block Grant program. We also coordinate and administer grants through New York state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program and the Environmental Quality Bond Act.

Labor and Employment Law

With one of the largest and most active labor law practices in New York state, Harris Beach handles all aspects of labor and employment law and litigation for management, including collective bargaining, negotiations, union organizing, labor contract administration, employment discrimination, employee benefits, occupational health and safety, and personnel policies. Our attorneys have extensive trial experience with all types of discrimination, including age, gender, sexual harassment, national origin, race, religion and disability matters.

Our Labor and Employment Law Practice Group assisted one of the largest counties in New York state by negotiating nine labor agreements covering approximately 4,500 employees in various divisions of county government. The prior contracts had expired and the county was facing a projected budget deficit over the next two years of more than $100 million. Through an intensive negotiations process, our attorneys were able to assist the client in reducing health insurance costs and keeping wage increases at a modest rate to achieve a projected cumulative savings for the county of over $87 million over the life of the new contracts.

Land Use, Zoning and Development

Our attorneys have vast experience in the areas of land use, zoning and development, real property acquisition and financing, architectural and construction contracting, municipal law and leasing.

As zoning and development counsel, the firm is available to assist, as needed, in all phases of a project, including all aspects of site acquisitions (which can be done by negotiated purchase or government assisted condemnation), financing for the project (which may include conventional construction and permanent mortgage loans or lease financing), negotiation of agreements with architects, general contractors and/or construction managers, negotiation of leases and assistance in the local government approval processes, including zoning, subdivision and environmental approvals.

Municipal Law

Harris Beach provides a full range of legal services to municipalities and local agencies throughout New York state. Our attorneys assist these entities with legislative formation, board configuration, policy development, program planning and implementation, transactions, financing matters, real property management and disposition, fiscal matters, bidding and procurement procedures, audit control, audit implementation, labor and employment issues, as well as general litigation.

Harris Beach attorneys and professionals offer insight based on diverse backgrounds and years of experience working for and on behalf of municipalities and local agencies. Our team includes professionals who serve as or have served in the public sector as policy makers. This unique collection of experience provides Harris Beach clients with an unmatched perspective and counsel on the challenging matters facing municipal and local agency clients.

Municipal Litigation

Harris Beach attorneys have extensive litigation experience in federal and New York state courts and handle virtually any type of dispute.  Our attorneys have represented municipalities and agencies in countless claims, including tort liability, municipal liability, administrative proceedings, SEQRA proceedings, Article 78 proceedings, §1983 civil rights matters and contractual matters.

Real Estate and Project Management

Harris Beach represents clients in the acquisition, disposition, development, leasing and financing of property. This includes purchase and sale agreements, zoning and development approvals, architectural and construction contracting, joint ventures, financing packages, equity and syndications, and the formation of the appropriate entity structures to implement transactions. Our attorneys counsel clients on all aspects of a project, including commercial real estate, construction and surety law, and environmental law. We work to maximize the financial savings available to our clients through a blending of the New York State Environmental Restoration Program, Brownfield Opportunity Area Program, Brownfield Cleanup Program and other financial incentive programs.

We assist municipalities with exercising their condemnation powers governed by New York’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law. Harris Beach has broad experience in condemnation proceedings and coordinating public hearings, arbitrating disputes, building coalitions, providing real property valuation and serving as litigation counsel when needed.

In the area of construction and surety law, we negotiate agreements with architects, construction managers and contractors. We also provide services related to contract administration, assisting with claims, litigation and arbitration, bid process and contests, mechanic’s liens, surety claims, payment and performance bond claims, insurance, labor disputes and contract rights analyses.

Strategic and Operational Efficiencies Counseling

Harris Beach attorneys and professional staff provide municipal clients with strategic and analytical advice aimed at achieving greater operational efficiencies. This includes formulating and implementing such measures as inter-municipal agreements, shared services and staff arrangements, early retirement programs, functional consolidations and the privatization of municipal services. Our attorneys and consulting professionals help municipalities improve organizational structure, communication and overall management with the goal of eliminating redundancies and cutting operational costs to deliver better government service to the public.

 

Non-Legal Professional Services through our Subsidiaries

Harris Beach recognizes that client solutions often involve more than just legal needs. Consequently, we offer a unique, comprehensive approach to meeting our clients’ pressing non-legal challenges through our affiliated consulting subsidiaries, HB Cornerstone LLC and HB Solutions LLC.

HB Cornerstone

HB Cornerstone is a full-service owner representation consulting firm that helps organizations with real property development and management. The professionals in this group have considerable experience in owner representation, planning and design, facilities consulting and move management, which provides a complete solution for clients seeking to build, expand or move. HB Cornerstone takes responsibility for project communications, coordination, scheduling, budgets and overall management. By exclusively representing the owner, they are not restricted or conflicted by other construction roles, tasks or responsibilities. This helps to ensure that the clients’ best interests and the best interests of their projects are represented.

HB Solutions

HB Solutions provides consulting services to public and private organizations in a number of disciplines. Their consultants have considerable experience helping municipalities and local agencies facilitate economic development projects. HB Solutions’ comprehensive approach helps clients efficiently conduct the strategic planning, economic analysis and community outreach necessary to ensure the successful execution of projects and multi-year economic development plans. Their consulting experience includes working on efficiency programs for planning and development offices, updating comprehensive plans, advising on staff assignments and reorganization for streamlining workload and holding down costs, and providing project management services related to development. Their consultants also advise on downtown revitalization projects, waterfront projects, and projects undertaken by LDCs and IDAs.     

In the area of communications, HB Solutions can help municipalities and local agencies implement proactive and response plans to preserve their public image and instill community confidence. These services include strategic communications planning; crisis communications management, audit and planning; media training; and public forum training and preparation.

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  • Acquisitions and Dispositions of Property
  • Construction and Surety
  • Communications and Crisis Management Services
  • Community Planning
  • Energy
  • Environmental Law
  • General Municipal Law
  • Government Consolidation
  • Grant Writing and Administration
  • Labor and Employment including Collective Bargaining Negotiations
  • Public Finance and Economic Development
  • Real Estate and Property Management
  • Real Estate Transactions
  • Real Property Valuation and Tax Assessment Litigation
  • Regulatory Compliance and Oversight
  • Zoning and SEQRA Compliance