Font Size

Regional Planning Council


What is a Regional Council?

A Regional Council is a public organization created to foster coordination among neighboring counties and to provide a regional approach to those concerns crossing local boundaries. It serves a grouping of counties whose residents are joined as a unit economically, socially and geographically. The local governments representing these counties have joined together voluntarily to address common economic and social concerns through the efforts of Regional Councils.

Programmatically, Regional Councils are multi-purpose organizations with legal status.  In New York State, Regional Councils are voluntary associations and do not have the power to regulate or tax. Articles 12-B and 5-G of the New York State General Municipal Law gave affiliated counties the legal authority to create regional planning boards and joint purpose municipal corporations.

Regional Councils are primarily funded with state and federal funds, along with dues paid by member counties and local funds for specific projects, and are responsible to the representatives of the counties in their regions. The governing bodies of Regional Councils are primarily composed of local government officials and/or appointed representatives of local and county government.

Nationwide, there are more than 670 of these Regional Councils, representing almost all 50 states. These councils are a vehicle for local governments to share their resources, and to make the most of funding, planning and human resources.  There are nine Regional Councils in New York State, although some are called Regional Boards or Regional Commissions.

Through communication, planning, policy making, coordination, advocacy, and technical assistance, Regional Councils serve the local governments and citizens in their region by dealing with issues and needs that often cross city, town, county, and in some instances, state boundaries.  This regional view encourages an impartial, non-partisan conduit for the exchange of information, and fosters objective recommendations for the resolution of problems, including the ability to interrelate many key areas of concern.  Regional Councils are also able to assist local governments with planning issues to augment and/or complement County Planning Departments.

New York’s Regional Councils play a unique role in the State. By presenting a regional perspective on issues, Regional Councils promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitate dialogue between state and federal governments and smaller municipalities. Accordingly, the New York State Association of Regional Councils (NYSARC) has developed an ongoing working relationship with a variety of state agencies to deliver state-funded programming on a regional basis.