The Erie County District Attorney's Office said it needs more than a dozen new support staff in order to comply with new trial discovery rules.
"We now as district attorneys have to get every piece of information on a case and get that to the defense within 15 days, every piece of paper from a police agency, every bodycam video, every 911 call recording," DA John Flynn, D, said. "I mean everything."
The state Legislature passed the law in April and it goes into effect in January. However, lawmakers allocated no money to counties to implement the rules.
"Get all that. Process that. Organize it and get it to the defense within 15 days. None of us have the manpower to do that and that's why I need more manpower and more money," Flynn said.
Last week, he asked the Erie County Legislature for $1.2 million to cover the cost.
"We've got a job to do," Flynn said. “We have to abide by the law and that's why I'm forced to go to my county."
The county legislature passed a resolution Thursday expressing disappointment about the unfunded mandate and urging emergency funding for local governments across the state.
"We're still assessing the impact of this but it is safe to say it will cost tens of millions of dollars across the state to implement this at the local level," NY Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen Acquario said.
He said governments could be forced to choose between cutting services or raising taxes. NYSAC said it is trying to make sure the governor's office includes additional funding in next year's budget but that won't solve all the problems.
"By then all the county budgets will be in place so it's putting the counties in a difficult place right now about how to fund these resource requests because the district attorney does need additional resources," Acquario said.
In addition, counties begin implementing new cashless bail rules in January. Leaders expect that to have less of a fiscal impact than the discovery reform but say it will require major changes to the way many offices operate — including DA's, sheriffs and probation.
"From a conceptual standpoint, from a policy-making standpoint, we have no problem with reforms. Implementation now is the key and that's the problem we have," Flynn said.
NYSAC said it will be testifying about the impact at the state Capitol later on this year.