Budget and Quality Planning Committee

March 4, 1999

9:15 a.m.

Scott B. Heyman Conference Room



Present: T. Joseph, P. Penniman, M. Koplinka-Loehr, S. Davis, F. Proto

Excused: N. Schuler, T. Todd

Board Members in Attendance: D. Winch, D. Kiefer

Staff: K. West, R. Erb, M. Pottorff, J. Yoder, I. Stein, A. Fitzpatrick, D. Squires, J. Jones, R. Fontana

Guests: J. Green, Cornell University; M. Dill, Human Services Coalition
 
 

Mr. Joseph called the meeting to order at 9:20 a.m.

Discussion - Program Evaluation

Jennifer Green, a Professor at Cornell University who specializes in program evaluation was in attendance and discussed ways she felt Tompkins County might do program evaluation and what types of problems might be encountered.

Ms. Green said she understands that the Committee is considering using program evaluation as a planning tool to think about services the County is responsible for and how to allocate its resources. She said it would be appropriate for a committee of the Board to establish priorities and provided the following outline of her opinions as they relate to program evaluation.

  1. The essence of an evaluation system has to do with questions of how valued or important a program or service is in a community. She said this is a question of priorities. An evaluator would also say that the process would benefit from broader community input and this is not something that data collection will provide. She said the process last year started with the mission of a given program. Although that is a good place to start the committee should not assume that as a given. Goals and objectives in an evaluation system should be open to critique.
  2. The question of need and demand; this is an area that a program evaluation system doesn’t necessarily answer. She gave the Weights and Measures Department as an example and said that since it appears that program is operating well, there doesn’t seem to be a real need in the community for this service.
  3. Assessment of the quality or effectiveness of a given program – "How good is it?" She said this could be a critique of the program’s mission, keeping in mind how important it is and what the needs for that service are.
Ms. Green said the next step is developing a criteria for finding out if it is a good program and what evidence will be available for making sure those criteria are met. There needs to be a collaborative process between all involved parties in developing the criteria.

Mr. Joseph said one of the biggest stumbling blocks he sees in doing program evaluation is he has a vision of a professional evaluator who puts together evaluation material and goes out to get answers to questions. This Committee will not be doing that; in this case, people will be presenting the information to the Committee. People are not going to come to the Committee and present "negatives" about their program. Ms. Green suggested that if there were a front-end process, that included professional evaluators for judging programs, this would not address all of the problem but it would answer some.

Ms. Davis said she does not view program evaluation as adversarial, but cooperative. She said once departments realize that this is a cooperative process, she feels department heads will not tend to guard poor programs.

Mr. Koplinka-Loehr asked what type of staff support Ms. Green feels the County would need to include this process in day-to-day County operations, noting there are 126 different programs in Tompkins County.

Ms. Green said there would be value in clustering programs. When asked about staff resources, she said although there may need to be some concentrated initial work, she said once program evaluation becomes institutionalized, she doesn’t know that it would need additional staff support. She suggested a third to half-time position over the course of two years seems like a possible estimate to being with.

Mr. Joseph said most of the times when the Board has done program evaluation in the past, it has been because someone is challenging the effectiveness of a program; therefore, an element is already there that the program is being challenged.

Mr. Proto said when he worked at the bank, the potential for confrontation was always there. It was for that reason that before a program is established, it is made clear what the program expectations and evaluation process is. He said they tried to instill in employees and department heads that program evaluation was a time to spotlight the program accomplishments. If they felt things were going well, they were to "sell" their program to the evaluators.

Mr. Winch said as long as he has been a Board member, there have always been (in the human services area) review boards who have evaluated programs. He expressed concerned that the Board needs to define the level of confrontation. He said County Administration has always evaluated the programs. In the last year Tompkins County has gone from having one Administrator to three and hopes that Administration will be evaluating the programs as well.

Irene Stein, Director of the Office for the Aging said although there may be some department heads who feel threatened by this process, she doesn’t not think that is the overall case. She said they are more concerned about the time it will take to implement a system.

Mr. Joseph said the Board needs to evaluate at he level of mission and need -- is it an appropriate mission, is there a need for it in the community, and is the need greater than others in the community. He said the Board should be relying on its staff to internally be evaluating the effectiveness of individual programs.

Ms. Green said by institutionalizing some evaluation process, time should be carved out of a meeting for evaluation discussion. Ms. Kiefer asked if the questions that were developed last year by the Governmental Operations Committee were shared with Ms. Green. Mr. Joseph said they were not; Ms. Green was invited to the meeting to present the Committee with an overview of program evaluation and describe what it is all about.

Mr. Proto clarified that this Committee has not said it will not do program evaluation in the future. He thinks there is a point that gets reached when evaluation is necessary. There may be a point where the Board would see efficiencies in combining programs or may see that a program is no longer needed.

Ms. Davis said if the County were to institutionalize an evaluation process, it should be done in a positive manner. She feels that by hi-lighting things that programs are doing well, it will produce better results.

Mr. Joseph said he, too, would like to have a positive approach to this process; however, he would not like to close the door on the Board performing an evaluation when a program is not operating as well as it should be.

Discussion - Fair Wage Proposal

Ms. Dill, Executive Director of the Human Services Coalition, said she was asked to present the Board with a proposal to bring employee salaries up to the level of $16,500 in County-funded Human Services agencies. She said the good news is that it will cost less to bring people up to the $16,500 level; the bad news is that there were some people who they were unable to reach. Mr. Koplinka-Loehr asked to receive information on agencies that were contacted who were inspired by the County’s efforts and said they plan to raise salaries.

Ms. Dill said they mailed information to 49 agencies; 26 of those receiving County-funding responded. She distribute copies of implementation statistics. Some of the statistics were as follows:

Agencies that accepted money - 3

Number of Employees - 19

Average wage - $13,777

Average percentage increase - 12 %

Agencies that did not accept money - 5

Number of employees - 12

Two agencies did not accepted the targeted position increase to $15,300 because they were so inspired by the fair wage discussion that they raised salaries on their own or they had already budgeted increases in their overall salary plan.

One agency did not accept the money due to an equity issue. This particular agency had eight positions at the same wage level, however only one of those positions were in a program that receives County funds.

Two agencies were found to have not received County grants but only funds through fees.

Appropriated in budget, year one of the plan - $56,146

Total expended - $28,939

Total remaining - $26,207

Ms. Davis said since it has been over a year since the $16,500 figure was approved, she asked if when this proposal is approved, if the County could use the updated dollar amount. Mr. Joseph said he has been trying to get the County adopt its own figure for a long time. He is not sure when the AFCU will revise that number; however, if a revised number is available, it can be used.

Mr. Proto has been concerned for several years over the salaries of home health aides and day care workers, and he would like to see the County look at this area. He said there are some home health agencies are sitting on huge endowments and encouraged Ms. Dill to continue looking at this.

Mr. Joseph said serious thought was given to what type of approach the Board was going to take with this issue. He said the Board could have tried to adopt a local law that says any agency receiving money from the County would have to pay a set livable wage. He said the one disadvantage to that type of approach is that some agencies who could not afford this would have to cut services and hours.

Mr. Koplinka-Loehr asked if it was appropriate for this Committee to ask the Human Services Coalition to resurvey these groups to make sure no one was missed. Ms. Dill said she will recheck agencies to make sure all were included that should have been. Irene Stein, Chair of the Human Services Coalition Board, said introducing additional work on this issue by the Human Services Coalition may require more time and budgetary assistance. Mr. Joseph said doing such things as rechecking agencies to make sure no one was missed would be included in phase one of the Plan; however, taking on the task of addressing home health aides and day care workers is a much bigger project and would need a different approach.

Mr. Proto suggested that Ms. Dill and Ms. Stein provide a report on this subject to the Health and Human Services Committee, and present a proposal to address the other groups. Ms. Dill said she would do this.

Changes to the Agenda

The following resolution(s) were added to the agenda:

Fiscal Target Adjustment - Sheriff's Department

Election of a 25-Year Retirement Plan for Corrections Officers Under Sections 89-P of the Retirement and Social Security Law

Report from the Committee Chair

Mr. Joseph had no report.

Report from the County Administrator

Mr. Erb thanked committee members for their participation in the joint meeting with department heads. He said he is taking suggestions that were made and putting them into a proposal. He said many of the suggestions could be implemented without making structural changes. Once this is completed he will distribute to staff and Board members. Another joint meeting with department heads will be held on March 24 at noon.

Report from the Finance Director

Mr. Squires distributed an updated Contingency Fund report. He said he is making some progress in closing out 1998. He said the Sheriff's Department is $130,000 still over budget for boarding of prisoners; however, 1998 was about half of what was overspent in 1997. Mr. Squires said at this time the Sheriff’s Department is able to balance its budget without any supplemental funding. He reported there will be a small deficit in the Buildings and Grounds Division.

It was MOVED by Ms. Davis, seconded by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present to approve the following resolution and submit to the full Board:

RESOLUTION NO. - FISCAL TARGET ADJUSTMENT – SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

WHEREAS, one position of Secretary has been re-assigned from Criminal Investigation to the Civil Division of the Sheriff’s Department, and

WHEREAS, Fiscal Targets for the Sheriff’s Department are assigned by program area, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Public Safety and Budget and Quality Planning Committees, That the 2000 Fiscal Target for the Civil Division be increased by $34,394 with a commensurate decrease in the Criminal Investigation Fiscal Target,

RESOLVED, further, That the 1999 Budget be adjusted to move $25,100 Payroll and $6,253 Fringe from Criminal Investigation to the Civil Division.

SEQR ACTION: TYPE II-20

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It was MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mr. Proto, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve and submit the following resolution to the full Board:

RESOLUTION NO. - ELECTION OF 25 YEAR RETIREMENT PLAN FOR CORRECTION OFFICERS UNDER SECTION 89-P AND 603(1) OF THE RETIREMENT AND SOCIAL SECURITY LAW

WHEREAS, the agreement between Tompkins County and Correction Officer Local 2062 stipulates the County will offer no later than June 30, 1999, a retirement plan which provides for a retirement benefit of one-half of final average salary at any age after completing 25 years of creditable service, and

WHEREAS, the New York State Retirement System has verified the estimated past service cost to be borne by Tompkins County at $160,000, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations and Budget and Quality Planning Committees, That the Board of Representatives of the County of Tompkins does hereby elect to assume the entire additional cost required to provide the twenty-five year retirement plan under Section 89-P and 603(1) of the Retirement and Social Security Law,

RESOLVED, further, That no new monies are needed to fund this plan,

RESOLVED, further, That the effective date of this plan shall be June 30, 1999.

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Approval of Minutes of February 18, 1999

It was MOVED by Mr. Proto, seconded by Mr. Koplika-Loehr, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the minutes of February 18, 1999 as submitted. MINUTES APPROVED.

RESOLUTION NO: - AUTHORIZATION TO INCREASE 2000 FISCAL TARGET - HUMAN RIGHTS

MOVED by Ms. Davis, seconded by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr. Mr. Proto expressed concern with this resolution because of the amount of funds that has been given to this Department over the last two years. Mr. Joseph said during the budget process they had asked for a paralegal and the Board said it would approve a half-time receptionist. The figure obtained for that person was incorrect and this is an attempt to correct that amount. Mr. Koplinka-Loehr said the Department will not hire for this position until the target gets increased. Mr. Proto asked if they have not hired yet, if that savings is available to them to spend as they wish. He was told yes, they may spend that money in the manner they chose.

Following a lengthy discussion, a voice vote on the resolution resulted as follows: Ayes - 5, Noes - 0, Excused - 2 (Representatives Schuler and Todd). MOTION CARRIED.

WHEREAS, target funding was approved in the 1999 Budget for a clerical position in the amount of $12,500 including fringe benefits, and

WHEREAS, the cost of a receptionist in a half-time position (20.0 hours per week) for 1999 is $14,085, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations and Budget and Quality Planning Committees, That the 2000 Fiscal Target for the Human Rights Department be increased by $1,585.

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RESOLUTION NO. - AUTHORIZING CHARGE STRUCTURE - SMOKING CESSATION CLASSES - HEALTH DEPARTMENT

MOVED by Mr. Proto, seconded by Ms. Davis. Following a brief discussion about the fees, staff said they would indicate on the enrollment form that the cost of materials is $25; however, no one will be refused. A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 5, Noes - 0, Excused - 2 (Representatives Schuler and Todd). MOTION CARRIED.

WHEREAS, currently there are no formal smoking cessation programs available to the general public within Tompkins County, and the department receives a steady trickle of calls from people seeking a program to help them quit smoking and there have been several requests to Employee Health, and

WHEREAS, the department intends to use the "Freedom from Smoking" program as developed by the American Lung Association for smokers living in Tompkins County on a trial basis with the intent to evaluate the level of interest from the general public and employees and to evaluate the quit rate after one month, six months and one year, and

WHEREAS, the department must purchase one handbook per participant at a cost of twenty-five dollars and will offset some of the costs associated with the eight-week program, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Health and Human Services and Budget and Quality Planning Committees, That the Tompkins County Health Department implement a sliding fee charge structure below to offset the costs associated with this program.

1999 Tompkins County Smoking Cessation Class Fee Schedule

<100% Federal Poverty level (FPL) No fee

<150% FPL $ 5.00

<185% FPL $20.00

<200% FPL $30.00

<250% FPL $40.00

<250% FPL $50.00 (full fee)

County Employees $25.00

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RESOLUTION NO. ___ - ENDORSING STATE LEGISLATION EXTENDING EXISTING SALES AND USE TAX AUTHORITY OF THE COUNTY OF TOMPKINS

It was MOVED by Ms. Davis, seconded by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr. A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 4, Noes - 1 (Representative Proto); Excused - 2 (Representatives Schuler and Todd). MOTION CARRIED.

WHEREAS, the County of Tompkins has had the authority to enact an additional one cent of sales and use taxation since December 1, 1992, and has enacted such taxation, and

WHEREAS, this authority has been exercised since that date and expires November 30, 1999, and

WHEREAS, this Board by Resolution No. 215 of 1998 requested the members of the New York State Senate and Assembly who represent Tompkins County to draft, sponsor, and support legislation extending this authority beyond November 30, 1999, and they have done so and have introduced S2068/A3556 "AN ACT to amend the tax law, in relation to extending the expiration of the provisions authorizing the County of Tompkins to impose an additional one-half or one percent of sales and compensating use taxes" that extends this authority to November 30, 2001, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Budget and Quality Planning Committee, That this Board endorses and requests State approval of legislation known as S2068/A3556, and urges its elected representatives in the Senate and the Assembly to support this legislation.

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It was MOVED by Ms. Davis, seconded by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve and submit the following resolution to the full Board:

RESOLUTION NO. - AMENDMENT TO RESOLUTION NO. 292 OF 1998 – EARLY RETIREMENT INCENTIVE PROGRAM – PLANNING DEPARTMENT

WHEREAS, Resolution No. 292 of 1998 authorized an employee of the Planning Department to retire under the terms of the 1998 Early Retirement Incentive Program, and

WHEREAS, due to an oversight, there was no adjustment made to the Fiscal Target as a result of this approval, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Planning, Intergovernmental Relations and Education and Budget and Quality Planning Committees, That the Fiscal Target for the Planning Department be reduced by $1,789.

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Mr. Joseph asked that all resolutions except the one dealing with the sales tax be placed on the Consent Agenda for the next Board meeting.

Discussion on Upcoming Meeting with Department Heads

Mr. Penniman said he felt there was a good exchange of ideas at the last meeting; however, he would like the next meeting to be more structured. Mr. Joseph said the Committee is not there to solve problems, but to hear each others' viewpoints. He said there needs to be more focus on which items are really worth hearing more about. Ms. West said by April 1, the committee should be able to review a proposed budget calendar for the 2000 budget.

Mr. Proto said he was disappointed with the discussion. He said he got the impression from some of the comments he heard that they were interested in having some of the parts of the budget process re-worked, but no one has time to do this. Mr. Joseph said that gets to the big part of the differences with departments. He said there are two conflicting desires on the parts of both department heads and Board members. The first is to have the Board as informed as possible before making decisions and the second is to spend as little time as possible on getting informed. He said these two ideas conflict with each other.

There was also discussion about the threat departments perceive target budgets to be. Mr. Joseph said departments see target budgets as a limit when they really are a freebie, and anything beyond this having to be put in the form of an over target request. There was also discussion about the smaller departments. It was felt that these departments provide little input to discussion on the budget process.

Discussion on with department heads will continue at noon on March 24.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.