Call to Order
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m.
Changes to the Agenda
A discussion of a meeting of legislative committee chairs was added to the agenda, time permitting.
Approval of Minutes of March 9, 2004
It was MOVED by Mrs. McBean-Clairborne, seconded by Mr. Penniman, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the minutes of March 9, 2004 as submitted. MINUTES APPROVED.
Comments from the Public
No member of the public was present.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr announced the 38th Annual County Finance School meeting will be held on May 5-7 and one of the subjects being discussed is revenue options on May 6th, in Syracuse..
He distributed copies of the Community Advisory Panel's top ten recommendations that came out of their retreat held last week. He highlighted the top three recommendations which included: setting parameters and priorities and giving the County Administrator clear direction; establish legislative priorities across programs before budget season, and establish regular program evaluation.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr announced the Legislature retreat will be held on April 27th 6-9:30 pm. in the 4th floor Training room of the Human Services Building.
County Administrator's Report
Mr. Whicher reported he has been meeting with other County Administrators across the State to learn of ways they are addressing budget difficulties. He said at the present time it is extremely hard to obtain any information relating to the status of the New York State budget because members of the Senate and Assembly are not speaking about it. The only discussion that has been made public is the possibility of the State changing the date of budget adoption. Mr. Whicher said a meeting was held on Monday with a regional group of County Administrators to share ideas. He said Ontario County is very advanced in its approach to the budget. He stated the Legislature provides a charge to the County Administrator and then the County Administrator and the Finance Committee meet and establish a target. In order to meet the target, departments usually offload costs or services are discontinued. There are no over target requests submitted by departments; if a department is not able to meet the target that has been established, they meet with the department head and find a way to meet the target. Mr. Whicher noted Ontario has about one year left before they are at the point where they will be providing only mandated services.
Mr. Penniman reported he attended an Intercounty meeting last week and discussed reform of the budget process. Present at that meeting were State legislators George Winner and John Kuhl; they said there will not be any increased burden to counties as a result of Medicaid.
The Committee reviewed mandate classifications for the program committees below and made the following changes:
Government Operations Committee
1. Move County Attorney (1420) to Mandated Responsibilities
2. More information requested for Budget and Finance (1310)
3. Move Comptroller (1315) to Mandated Responsibilities
4. Move information requested for Purchasing (1345) and Tax Advertising Expense (1362)
5. Move 1/3 of Legislature (1010) to Mandated Responsibilities. Comment by Mr. Wood: Counties are required to have a governing body; however, no definition of what the minimum size of the that body needs to be.
6. Move 1/3 of Clerk of the Legislature to Mandated Responsibilities
Planning, Development and Environmental Quality Committee
1. Remove Room Tax from Locally Controlled Spending.
(Not to be classified)
2. Move Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board (8032) to Mandated Responsibilities
3. Incorporate Water Quality Committee into Mandated Responsibilities
Mr. Marx was asked to bring a proposal back to the Committee to identify percentages for the programs within the Planning Department which are mandated.
Consumer and Community Affairs Committee
1. Incorporate the following into the list of Locally Controlled Spending: Tompkins Community Action, SPCA, Dewitt Historical Society, and County Historian
Ms. Fitzpatrick distributed and reviewed updated copies of the monthly personnel changes. Mr. Koplinka-Loehr asked Committee members to review the information presented and to keep an eye out for trends.
Ms. Fitzpatrick distributed copies of a draft proposal to Administrative Manual Policy 02-01 - Creating New Positions and Reclassifying Existing Positions. She stated the changes reflect the practice of the last two years with appeals being reviewed by the County Administrator. Committee members were asked to submit comments to her prior to the next Committee meeting.
Mr. Whicher provided the Committee with an overview of the 1st Annual Leadership Development Program that will commence in April, 2004. He said last year the County conducted a series of supervisory training and it was quite well received. Mr. Koplinka-Loehr asked that affirmative action be more clearly identified in the content area of the list of topics to be addressed.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr spoke of the continuity of County programs and asked what department head succession transition plans are in place. Mr. Whicher said department heads generally have deputy positions and do a very good job at training staff to ensure continuity of programs. He said he is not aware of any department that would have a problem transitioning to new leadership.
There was a brief discussion of red-circled positions with a suggestion being made by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr to create additional categories and incorporate these positions into the salary schedule. It was the consensus of the Committee to direct the Personnel Commissioner to analyze the salary schedule to see if the red-circled positions could be incorporated with the rating system being applied.
Ms. Kiefer asked about testing the County's salary scale to the marketplace. Mr. Whicher said the underlying question about the salary schedule and point system are entirely different. He said it has been 12 years since the point factor system was reviewed and suggested it is time for a review.
Mr. Wood said the County has a rating factor system and it is not tied to what people make in the market. He said there is always going to be a discrepancy between any rating system and the market and does not feel there is ever going to be a rating system that accurately measures anyone's position.
Ms. Kiefer noted percentages increases of higher salary positions are much greater than of lower-salary positions.
At this time there the Committee did not wish to take action on the red-circled positions. Mr. Whicher said since they are working on the salary schedule to accommodate another position, if they come up with a way to modify the schedule in a way that would incorporate the County Attorney he will present it to the Committee.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr reiterated that the budget retreat is to be held on April 27th. In response to a question he received from Legislator Blanchard, Mr. Koplinka-Loehr proposed to incorporate "Guidelines to County Administrator related to budget recommendations" from August 10 to May 11. Ms. Blanchard felt it was duplicative of the wording already listed under May 11. The Committee agreed.
At this time the Committee discussed goals/outcomes (distributed by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr) of the budget retreat. Mr. Koplinka-Loehr said two clear goals he sees is whether the Legislature will give a clear charge/directive to the County Administrator in terms of tax levy total change, and if so, what are the priority areas for consideration for reductions/elimination.
Mr. Whicher stated it is very important that the everyone understands that we are now considering shifting to a clear charge to the County Administrator and then asking for a budget based on that charge. He said the political process would be changed from it taking eight votes to cut something to being eight votes to add something. Mr. Whicher said it will be much harder to obtain eight votes to add something than it will be to take something away and wanted to make sure the Legislature is aware of this.
Ms. Kiefer was assured by Mr. Wood that in the event the Legislature could not adopt a budget, the default would be that the County Administrator's budget would become law.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr said he has been in contact with an organization which assists groups with prioritization and asked if the Committee was okay with him continuing in this direction. The Committee felt he should continue to pursue this.
Mr. Todd spoke of the independent survey that was done over ten years ago in which responses from the public were compiled to identify priorities of the public. A copy of this survey is available. Ms. Kiefer requested a copy of the County's mission and vision statement.
Ms. Skinner stated in response to a recommendation from department
heads, County legislators, and various citizen advisors that the County
develop a stronger public relations effort, an information group was assembled,
met twice and developed a list of ways to employ good public relations
techniques and to effectively use the media and other resources.
She distributed a document to the Committee that outlined many ideas and
recommendations that have been shared with key staff in County departments
responsible for external communications.
Community Foundation/Quality of Life Fund
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr said he spoke to the Community Foundation of Tompkins County regarding the establishment of a fund for people who want to donate to certain projects in Tompkins County. At the present time, the fund is active and anyone can make a donation to the "Tompkins County Quality of Life Fund." Mr. Koplinka-Loehr said he is also considering having a fundraiser that would be used to infuse donations into that Fund, for the eventual purpose of allocating grants for special County projects not normally considered in the regular budget process
Mr. Wood said he was asked to research possible revenue streams. He said he contacted other counties and is awaiting responses. He said he would like to wait until Mr. Squires is present before presenting any information, although he has not discovered any new avenues allowing counties to raise revenues at this point.
Mr. Penniman spoke of the Intercounty meeting he attended and said he asked if there was any interest by other counties to pursue a local income tax. He stated no interest was expressed.
Better Choice Budget Campaign
The Committee felt it did not have the enough information or time to look into the Better Choice Budget Campaign. This item was referred to PushBack.
The meeting adjourned at 1:28 p.m.
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