Budget and Capital Committee
May 8, 2006
Scott Heyman Conference Room
Present: R. Booth, P. Mackesey, M. Koplinka-Loehr, N. Shinagawa, M. Sigler
Staff: D. Squires, Finance; S. Whicher, N. Jayne, County Administration; E. Marx, Departments of Planning and Public Works; M. Pottorff, Legislature Office
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr called the meeting to order at 3:02 p.m.
It was MOVED by Mr. Booth, seconded by Ms. Mackesey, and unanimously adopted by voice vote, to approve the minutes of April 24, 2006 as submitted. MINUTES APPROVED.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr announced a Community Diversity Roundtable will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn on June 1st and encouraged others to attend.
Mr. Squires distributed a General Fund Analysis for years 2003-2005 and noted trends. He reported he attended a meeting where he learned of a retirement incentive bill that will allow anyone to retire at age 55 with 25 years of service with no penalty. At the present time all counties would be pooled together and the fiscal impact is 4/10 cent of a percentage of the local retirement bill. He will provide the Committee with additional information as it becomes available.
Mr. Whicher distributed copies of the 2006 NYSAC County Budget Survey comparing tax levy, sales tax, etc. across New York State.
Mr. Wood was not in attendance.
20-Year Capital Plan
Mr. Marx distributed a draft Capital Plan dated May 4, 2006 and provided the Committee with an overview of its contents.
The goal of the Capital Plan is to provide the infrastructure needed to support the operations and responsibilities of Tompkins County government with a consistent and manageable level of public investment. The Plan provides information from which the Legislature can determine the appropriate level of capital investment and make those investments in a manner that best utilizes and conserves prior investments of taxpayer dollars.
Mr. Marx highlighted the following areas of the Capital Plan:
· County Capital Assets: Because of GASB requirements, the County must account for the appreciation or depreciation of capital assets;
· Current debt service and Capital Program: Annual scheduled debt service budgeted for 2006 was $3.6 million, in addition to $960,000 in cash capital spending;
· There are identified needs that have not yet been incorporated into the Plan;
· In the context of putting everything in a five-year Plan and doing everything that is needed to be done, Tompkins County's capital expenses would double by 2010 (this is not being recommended);
· Some figures are extremely high because of a lack of resources and maintenance that has been deferred;
· Mr. LeMaro has performed a systems life expectancy review and has identified how long of a life systems in all County buildings are expected to last.
· Impact on Capital Program: Mr. Marx emphasized the estimates presented suggest a long-range annual cash capital investment from local revenues of about $1 million in addition to other previously identified capital projects in order to maintain the current capital assets of the County.
Mr. Marx explained the contents of a Table showing Annual Capital expenses for 2008-2016. Debt Service was added to the Table for the Health Department building in 2008; debt service was added for the Old Library and Old Jail repairs/renovations in 2010; debt service was added for the Public Safety Building in 2013; and debt service was added for the Center of Government Building in 2018. He stressed that even with the use of debt service reserves the projected percent tax levy change exceeds three percent in 2008 and reaches 2.3% in 2014. However, this is based upon the Legislature's policy of recognizing the full cost of long-term debt service in the year a project is initiated. Through prudent use of financial tools including short-term debt and interim financing it is projected that it will be possible to maintain an annual budgetary impact of no more than 1% through 2013 and an actual reduction in the tax levy thereafter. The Table shows a projected % tax levy and a stabilized % tax levy.
Mr. Marx stressed that issues have been identified that will need further discussion such as capital versus operational and that this document is subject to revisions. Mr. Whicher explained that the current policy is to begin paying for a capital project in the year it is adopted; this Plan proposed a process to level out the highs and lows in those expenses. He complimented Mr. Marx on the Plan being well thought-out. Mr. Squires also said the document is well done; however, he believes the estimate for the cost of a new jail is greatly below what the actual cost would be.
Mr. Booth asked Mr. Marx to prepare a table showing what the impact would be by delaying the Public Health Department building until 2010. Mr. Marx agreed to do so but pointed out that delaying that project would result in a cost of $7 million for maintenance.
Mr. Whicher said program issues also need to be presented, such as boardout costs for the Jail.
Mr. Marx said a resolution will be presented to this Committee in early June with a presentation at the first Legislature meeting in June. He expects a vote on the overall plan to take place by the Legislature at its second meeting.
Ms. Jayne reported the certification of Rollover monies has been pushed back one month.
Transfer Tax Update
Ms. Jayne read the following update from Cathy Covert, Clerk of the Legislature: "I just spoke with the staff of Assembly Lifton's office in Albany. Next week they will be working on the bills that need to begin moving out of committee. A letter will be prepared for the Chair of the Weighs and Means Committee requesting that this bill (Transfer Tax) be acted upon".
Mr. Squires provided the Committee with a brief update on the audit. He said the County ended 2005 in a good position and revenues have exceeded expenditures over last year, which resulted in an increased Fund Balance. He said it is remarkable that for three years in a row Tompkins County has experienced this. He attributed much of it to the Rollover Policy and departments being empowered to manage their budgets. He believes this works better than the way other counties manage their budgets in that many exercise very rigid budgetary control.
The audit will be presented at the next meeting on May 22nd.
Ms. Jayne distributed a timeline for adoption of revised Fiscal Policy sections and updated scenarios for the 2007 budget.
The Committee discussed the following resolution, which came out of the Legislature Budget Retreat. It was agreed to remove the following language from the first Resolved: "resulting in a projected decrease of $820,000 in locally controlled spending over 2007 projections,".
Mr. Sigler said he wants to see a zero percent increase in the Tax Rate. He said he will be considering whether or not to propose additional wording at the May 16 Legislature meeting as some of the language he originally supported in this resolution has been "watered down".
Mr. Booth said he feels it is very important that this Committee endorses a resolution to send to the full Legislature and it is important to direct the County Administrator to come out with a budget within a certain parameter.
It was MOVED Mr. Shinagawa to approve this resolution with the inclusion of three percent tax levy increase. MOTION FAILED DUE TO LACK OF A SECOND.
It was MOVED by Mr. Sigler, seconded by Mr. Booth, to amend the resolution, changing the tax levy increase from three to two percent, resulting in a slight decrease in the tax rate. Mr. Whicher cautioned the Committee that this action would have severe consequences to programs. He said if the Legislature feels it has programs that can no longer be afforded, a clear decision needs to be made to move in this direction. He stressed this is something that will need careful consideration and caution. A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 2 (Booth and Sigler); Noes - 3 (Koplinka-Loehr, Mackesey, and Shinagawa). MOTION FAILED.
Ms. Mackesey stressed the importance to her of conducting program reviews next year prior to the 2008 budget process.
It was MOVED by Mr. Booth, seconded by Ms. Mackesey, and unanimously adopted by voice vote, to approve the following resolution and submit to the full Legislature:
WHEREAS, Tompkins County, as part of its budget policy and process, wishes to develop financial parameters for the County, to establish the framework for the budget over the next year, and
WHEREAS, just to continue existing in 2007, a maintenance-of-effort tax levy increase of approximately 5.6 percent is necessary, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Budget and Capital Committee, That the Legislature, wishing to balance public needs with taxpayer concerns, establishes the goal of a maximum tax levy increase of three (3) percent for 2007 resulting in a .2 percent tax rate increase for 2007,
RESOLVED, further, That the County Administrator will work with staff to recommend modifications to employee health and prescription costs and further consolidations of departments and functions where opportunities exist for improved efficiencies.
SEQR ACTION: TYPE II-20
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The meeting adjourned at 4:50 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Michelle Pottorff, TC Legislature Office.