2015: A Year in Review
Dec 29, 2015
This year, NYMuniblog has provided cutting edge commentary on a wide range of topics affecting New York agencies, New York municipalities, and even municipalities and agencies nationwide. We decided to compile a “top-five list” of issues that we covered this year, which, we predict, local municipalities and agencies will most likely encounter (or re-encounter) in 2016.
- Upstate New York Revitalization Initiative
With awards of $500 million dollars being allocated by New York state to the Finger Lakes Region, the Central New York Region and the Southern Tier Region respectively, numerous projects will receive financial jump starts. However, many questions remain unanswered. For instance, it is not entirely clear what strings will be attached to the state awards, whether the projects which are set to receive funding (many of which are innovative to upstate New York – i.e., an indoor farm proposed for a Syracuse suburb) will be successful, and, if proposed projects are not successful, how leftover funds will be allocated.
Uber, the internet ride sharing service, will be expanding its services from major metropolitan areas like Boston, Chicago and New York City into other less populated municipalities. The expansion of Uber could lead to lost revenues for municipalities (i.e., due to decreasing medallion prices) and increased safety concerns), but Uber also has the potential to be a major job creation mechanism. The overall effect of Uber on local municipalities remains to be seen. A local municipality interested in bringing Uber to its streets must analyze its local laws to determine what steps are necessary to accomplish this result (i.e., an amendment to the local law section dealing with “Taxi Services”).
Much like Uber serves as an internet ride sharing service, Airbnb serves as an internet home sharing service. Airbnb is a non-hotel rental service platform which provides the same services as websites like “Expedia,” but rather than advertising hotel rooms, advertises spaces in private homes for short-term stays. Municipalities have been and will continue to deal with issues surrounding Airbnb and the consequences of its increasing popularity including zoning changes, licensing regimes, safety and enforcement regulations, and amendments to local tax laws to prevent lost revenues.
With an ever increasing reliance on technology comes an ever increasing threat of cybercrime and hacking. Municipalities and local agencies will continue to search for novel ways to keep private, privileged and confidential information safe. One such way a municipality or local agency may choose to do so is by utilizing the educational programs being offered by the National Computer Forensics Institute.
Drones have grown exponentially in popularity over the past few years. While municipalities are somewhat limited in regulating drones, as air rights fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration, municipalities will still encounter issues relating to increased private and public uses of drones. Indeed, one such issue may involve a local municipality’s use of drones in police surveillance.
In sum, we hope that NYMuniblog has been helpful in 2015 as municipalities and local agencies have wrestled with difficult issues. We also hope to be a source of bold ideas for municipalities and local agencies as we embark upon this new year.