Budget and Quality Planning Committee
April 1, 1999
9:15 a.m.
Scott Heyman Conference Room

Present: T. Joseph, N. Schuler, S. Davis, P. Penniman, M. Koplinka-Loehr,

Excused: F. Proto, T. Todd

Staff: R. Erb, K. West, D. Squires, W. Skinner, J. Tynyk, G. Potter, M. Pottorff

 

Mr. Joseph called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.

Changes to the Agenda

There were no changes to the agenda.

Approval of Minutes

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

Report from the Chair

Mr. Joseph said we are waiting for Mr. Squires to close out the 1998 books before this Committee takes up the issue of how to deal with the tobacco settlement monies.

Report from the County Administrator
 

Mr. Erb had no report.

Report from the Deputy County Administrator

Ms. West had no report.

RESOLUTION NO. – AMENDMENT TO FISCAL POLICY TO ELIMINATE COST SAVER STATUS – SECTION 3.06 MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mr. Penniman. Ms. West distributed responses to the proposed elimination of cost saver status from the Office for the Aging, Probation Department, and Offender Aid Restoration. Out of the three responses, two want to keep it and one does not. Ms. West noted that the one that does not want to keep it is the one who has the biggest burden in applying for cost saver status.

There was discussion about "grandfathering" cost savers for a specified period of time. Mr. Penniman suggested validating the cost saver status for a period of time if the information contained in the original application remains the same.

Ms. West said initially seven to eight departments applied for cost saver status. For several reasons, including the denial of previous applications and a feeling that this is a waste of time, few applications are still being submitted.

Ms. Stein said the cost savers have probably not benefited departments for the original purpose it was created for. It has provided a benefit to her department in the following ways:

She said she does not see how this hurts any department, and since there is some value she feels it should be continued. She also said departments to not have to apply for this. Mr. Joseph said he feels having them is a statement from the Board saying if departments have cost savers, they need to provide the Board with this information.

A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes – 0, Noes – 5, Excused – 2 (Proto and Todd). MOTION FAILED.

WHEREAS, Fiscal Policy 05-02, Section 03-06 states the criteria by which a program or budgeting unit may qualify for such status, and

WHEREAS, the intention of this status designation was to hold-harmless the program or budgeting unit from reductions made in an across-the-board manner, and

WHEREAS, the annual process by which applications must be made and reviewed is burdensome and has not been a valuable tool used in the budget-making process, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Budget & Personnel Committee That Section 3.06 Cost Savers be deleted from the Fiscal Policy, and

RESOLVED, further, That this does not prevent the Board of Representatives from taking whatever action it deems necessary for certain programs and/or budgeting units in an across-the-board action.

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RESOLUTION NO. – AMENDMENT TO FISCAL POLICY 05-02 REGARDING FISCAL LEVER STATUS

MOVED by Mrs. Schuler, seconded by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr. Mr. Joseph said he does not feel this is very much work for a department. A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes – 0, Noes – 5, Excused – 2 (Proto and Todd). MOTION FAILED.

WHEREAS, Fiscal Policy 05-02, Section 03-07 states the criteria by which a program or budgeting unit may qualify for such status, and

WHEREAS, the intention of this status designation was to hold-harmless the program or budgeting unit from reductions made in an across-the-board manner, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Budget & Personnel Committee That Section 3.07 Fiscal Levers be deleted from the Fiscal Policy, and

RESOLVED, further, That this does not prevent the Board of Representatives from taking whatever action it deems necessary for certain programs and/or budgeting units in an across-the-board action.

____________________

 

 
 
 

RESOLUTION NO. - YEAR 2000 CONSULTING SERVICES, SALARY FOR TEMPORARY POSITION, AND EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT – CONTINGENT FUND APPROPRIATION – INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SERVICES MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mr. Penniman. Mr. Erb said one proposal did come in near the end of the deadline; however, it was a high bid. He said there is a temporary employee working on the County’s computers. A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes – 5, Noes – 0, Excused – 2 (Proto and Todd). MOTION CARRIED.

WHEREAS, consulting services, staffing and equipment upgrades are needed to complete priority tasks within specific phases of the Y2K program as defined by Information Technology Services, and

WHEREAS, work assignments and equipment replacement(s) will be further specified as the project progresses, and

WHEREAS, funds necessary for these tasks, at this stage of the project, have been identified and shall not exceed $30,000 in total, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Information Management, Government Operations, and Budget and Quality Planning Committees, That $30,000 be appropriated from the Contingent Fund to the Information Technology Services budget,

RESOLVED, further, That a copy of the TOMPKINS COUNTY YEAR 2000 PROJECT – WORKING REPORT is on file in the Board Office,

RESOLVED, further, That the Governmental Operations Committee, will be updated on the progress of this project on a monthly basis with a full accounting of the appropriated funds and their use.

SEQR ACTION: TYPE II-20

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Discussion of Department Head and Budget and Quality Planning Committee Meeting

Ms. West said the budget calendar will come before the Committee as an informational item. The Committee had no comments on the joint meeting that was held with department heads.

Discussion on Public Participation in the Budget Process

Mr. Koplinka-Loehr suggested because the Committee is running ahead of schedule, that some time be given to discuss this important issue. He said the broad issue is how do we increase public input into the process. We could say we really want to fund a defined service and ask for the public to come out and support that service. Mr. Joseph said he does not want to steer the discussion. He would rather have a public forum that is designed to get public input rather than to shape that input.

Mrs. Schuler said given the response to the coffeeshop issue in the community, suggested the community be allowed to provide input to the Committee in the same way they did with that situation.

Mr. Joseph said it would be extremely difficult to come up with a question that would produce useful information. Most of the discussion in planning the previous forums was about what questions could be asked that would provide useful feedback to the Committee and where the participants would not need a great deal of prior education before they do give an opinion.

 

 

 

 

Mr. Koplinka-Loehr made the following proposals:

Mr. Joseph said he feels there is agreement that the Board would really like to have more input from the public; however, he is not confident that any of the suggestions will actually work. He thinks the best option is in the absence of a first question that the County had at the first public forum, it is best to say we are here to let the public tell us what they want. However, noted that those comments should not be added up, just taken into consideration. He felt there would be a lot of time invested in setting up meetings around the County and the response will not justify the time expended setting the meetings. Mr. Joseph felt the idea of a survey may not be a bad idea. He spoke to the suggested citizens panel and said if it is really a random selection of people, a great deal of time has to be spent educating them, and there is no particular reason to think their opinion would be more valuable than Board members. Mr. Penniman said he sees a citizens panel group as a group that would help the Committee facilitate public input and advising on provess rather than policy issues.

Mr. Koplinka-Loehr said increasing confidence in County government and getting public input is the desired outcome, and even if the meetings are held and no one shows, the County has reached out to show it is here to listen. He said there are more than one type of citizens panels to choose from.

Mr. Joseph said the Board holds one public hearing as mandated by Law; however, the public is not permitted to get responses to questions at this hearing. For this reason, he feels the public forum is valuable. He said he also sees value in continuing the "small group" format at the public forum.

Program Evaluation

Mr. Joseph provided a history of how the Governmental Operations Committee began program evaluation last year. He said the document included in the agenda packet was prepared by him and was an integration of work the Governmental Operations Committee did, discussion this Committee had with Jennifer Green at a previous meeting, and a discussion he had with department heads.

He said he feels there are two questions that need to be asked:

Mr. Penniman felt the way Mr. Joseph organized the information is very helpful and feels the program evaluation should strongly relate to the Mission. He referred to the document prepared by Mr. Joseph on the Weights and Measures Department, and suggested including serving businesses in the Mission.

There was discussion on whether or not the mission should include protection of the sellers. Mr. Joseph said he left it out intentionally because the County would never adopt any program to protect the seller. Ms. Davis had concern that this issue should be a separate Board discussion. She feels the Committee should gather all of the information and then the Board should critique it. There was a lengthy discussion on what the actual mission of the program is. Mr. Penniman felt businesses are being left out. He said these people are County residents who are taxpayers.

Mr. Joseph said the discussion that is taking place goes to the subject of how do you evaluate programs. He said the next question is if businesses are included and the mission says that it is to protect both the customers and business, this may lead us to whether there really is a need for the program. Ms. Davis said she feels the accuracy of devices is what the County should be looking for.

Mr. Joseph agreed with Ms. Davis’s comments but feels the County’s mission is still protection of consumers.

Mr. Joseph said he feels this Committee should be doing policy level evaluations and that most of

the questions that were unanswered were administration-level questions. He said this Committee should define and answer the things we need to make a policy-level evaluation.

Ms. Davis said she would like this Committee to continue asking the entire list of questions that was prepared last year. She felt the information prepared by Mr. Joseph does not provide the level of detail she would like it to.

Mr. Joseph said he became convinced with department head’s comments that if the Committee continues asking this level of information, it will never get done with all of the programs in the County. He said the information that would be retrieved from this is valuable; however, it is not possible to ask all of these questions of all of the programs.

It was stated that the Department is one of the few across the State that is meeting and exceeding State mandates, while others who are not meeting State mandates are not getting sanctioned by the State. This statement spurred discussion on what the impact would be on the public if the department were not providing annual inspections.

Ms. Davis suggested that instead of saying what we could get rid of, we should be focussing on areas we should be looking at also.

Mr. Joseph spoke of the comment: "Don’t punish us because we do are doing a good job", and said this is something that needs to be discussed at some point. The County also needs to get away from the idea that budgets represent rewards and punishments.

This discussion will continue at a future meeting.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:17 a.m.

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