Called to Order
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m.
Changes to the Agenda
Ms. Thomas distributed an addendum to the Capital Program budget books.
It was MOVED by Mr. Penniman, seconded by Mr. Booth, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to add position request forms for the Personnel and Mental Health Departments, and a discussion on the upcoming public forum.
Approval of August 10, 2004 Minutes
It was MOVED by Mr. Booth, seconded by Mr. Penniman, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the minutes of the August 10, 2004 meeting as submitted. MINUTES APPROVED.
Expanded Budget Committee Calendar
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr announced that the 4th draft of the calendar for the Expanded Budget Committee meetings is now final and copies will be distributed to all legislators and department heads.
Report from the Finance Director
Mr. Squires distributed a Contingent Fund Report dated August 24, 2004 showing a total available balance of $524,059. Mr. Squires stated he has observed no dramatic trends but he is watching the highway budget closely as it has been strained because of unanticipated uses of materials during the year. He said the Highway budget gets distorted because a lot of materials are used for snow and ice removal and the winter season has not yet begun. Mr. Squires stated the Mental Health and Assigned Counsel budgets are other areas that will be monitored closely.
Included in information distributed to the Committee was a pension bulletin from the Governor’s Finance Officer’s Association on the pension budget for 2004. The document stated that pension payments received earlier than February 1st will neither receive an additional pre-payment discount nor save on interest costs. The bulletin urges counties not to make an early retirement payment and to get advice on how to handle the payment in the following year. When asked if there was a chance the County would be asked to make a payment prior to February, 2005, Mr. Squires responded he is absolutely sure the County will not have to make a payment in 2004.
Report from the County Administrator
Mr. Whicher reported the CHIPS and Family Health Plus funding made it through the Governor’s veto process. He distributed a General Revenue Summary and pointed out the following:
Mandated services – increase from $17,245,202 to
OTR requests – he commented he received $325,000 less than expected;
There are higher-than-expected Capital Program costs;
The 2005 budget will now recognize that the City Sales Tax portion as a pass-through;
The sales tax revenue projection has increased by $2 million; and
Mr. Whicher is recommending the Legislature not go below a surplus of $2 million, leaving $92,000 for allocation in Fall budget discussion;
The Health Department has located capital reserve funds in its budget, possibly $170,000.
When asked why the sales tax figure on the summary page did not represent the $2 million increase estimate fully, Mr. Whicher stated that some of that revenue is tied to departments or agencies that generate the sales tax so it is not showing up clearly. A request was made that an additional column be included to show this amount.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr stated he assumed the “Deferred Tax Increase” line would be zero and not 1.94% as presented. Ms. Thomas responded that the Legislature adopted target items as (TILORS) last year. In order to lower that line to zero she said those TILOR’s cannot be approved.
Ms. Fitzpatrick distributed a summary of personnel changes. She reported on the results of arbitration decisions for the Facilities Division which restored two employees to employment. She said due to two other employees who recently left employment she has not had to layoff a corresponding number of employees to accommodate that decision.
Position Request Form
Following a report on staffing changes in the Personnel Department, it was MOVED by Mr. Todd, seconded by Mr. Penniman, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the filling of vacancy of an Administrative Services Coordinator in the Personnel Department. REQUEST APPROVED.
Ms. Fitzpatrick distributed a 2nd Quarter Affirmative Action report dated August 24, 2004. She said some agencies have employees who are on the County’s payroll but they are not actually County employees. The report identified 6.01% of the County’s workforce as being minorities. Concern was raised that the Countywide percentage in the general population is 13.95%, which is significantly higher that the County’s percentage. Mr. Booth noted the County has a long way to go to achieve its minority goals.
Position Request - Mental Health Department
It was MOVED by Mr. Booth, seconded by Mr. Penniman,
and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the
filling of a Community Mental Health Nurse position in the Mental Health
Department. REQUEST APPROVED.
Health Department Deficit
Ms. Cole stated the Health Department has money left over from a capital account several years ago in the amount of $174,455 and asked that the Committee accept that as payment for the Department’s current debt of $248,000.
It was MOVED by Mr. Penniman, seconded by Mr. Todd, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to lift the following resolution from the Table:
RESOLUTION NO. – AUTHORIZATION TO ABSOLVE 2003 HEALTH DEPARTMENT DEFICIT
The resolution was MOVED by Mr. Penniman, seconded by Mr. Todd. Mr. Whicher stated the Health Department’s deficit in the amount of $573,000 was offset by other revenue sources or program changes and now amounts to $248,000. Mr. Squires spoke to the proposal to use capital project funds and stated those funds are in the Capital fund and suggested they remain there and be directed to a special fund. Mr. Penniman said he would like to see a policy that would state when funds are left over from a Capital project, that they be returned to the General Fund. Mr. Squires said it is uncommon that there is a significant amount leftover from a capital project.
Mr. Proto stated that because there is an absence of a policy on the transfer of remaining capital funds, he does not see any reason why these funds cannot be transferred to the General Fund and then used towards the Department’s deficit. He said the Health Department has had to step up to the plate and cover unanticipated needs. If the Department has to come back before the end of the year for Contingency Funds he wants to make sure this is not looked upon as unfavorable for the Department.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr recognized the Department’s diligence and being able to successfully obtain State Aid that wasn’t available when the capital project was put together during prior budget processes.
Ms. Kiefer felt it was important that the resolution
contain language that references the remaining capital project funds and
the offer by the Department.
The Committee agreed to remove the following language from the resolution: “RESOLVED, further, That in the event there is surplus rollover in this program in the next three years, that balance will be returned to the general fund”. The Committee did not wish to address the capital surplus at this time as it was felt that subject needs to be part of a larger discussion by the Legislature.
A voice vote on the resolution resulted as follows: Ayes 4, Noes – 0, Excused – 1 (McBean-Clairborne). MOTION CARRIED.
WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Health Department closed
out 2003 with a deficit of $248,852 according to the Finance Director’s
WHEREAS, the majority of the deficit was due to complex home care billing issues, lower referrals and a reduction in services rendered, and
WHEREAS, the program is currently on target and difficult billing issues are being resolved, and
WHEREAS, the Department has addressed the issue with its accountant, the Board of Health, County Administration and the Health and Human Services Committee and they have found this one year to be an anomaly, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Health and Human
Services Committee and Budget and Capital Committee, That the Health Department
is hereby absolved of the $248,852 deficit from 2003, and the amount will
not need to be taken from the Departmental budget,
SEQR ACTION: TYPE II-20
The Committee discussed the Capital Program document distributed by Ms. Thomas. Ms. Kiefer commented that she thought all prior capital projects would be included until a decision was made by the Legislature not to. Mr. Whicher stated he could not do that and meet the goal of having a three percent property tax increase. He said there are issues that still need to be addressed by the Legislature: Health Department building, downtown complex, and the Public Safety Building. He said he has included an appropriation of $50,000 for each of those projects to be placeholders until decisions are made. Mr. Whicher said in order to stabilize the tax rate over the immediate future the Legislature needs to address these large projects as quickly as possible.
Mr. Penniman said the overall premise is keeping all of the operating programs running rather than taking on capital projects. He sees it just as important to limit the levy increase next year as this year. He said if the Legislature is serious about doing these projects then maybe a more realistic goal would be a levy increase of six or seven percent. He stated the Legislature has been accused in the past of not setting funds aside when times are good. It appears to him that this year times are good and more could be done on the capital side of the budget.
Mr. Whicher cautioned against using one-time funding for long-term commitments. He said it would be dangerous to get over-committed in the Capital Program until the State gets out of its $11 Billion problem it is currently in (2004-2005 estimated gap).
Following a discussion of various capital projects, Mr. Whicher stated the way the County addresses capital projects is not adequate. He said the capital program needs to be looked at as part of a 20-year plan and not a five-year plan. He strongly encouraged the Committee to looking at the Capital Program as 20-year plan next year.
Mr. Todd said he has troubled projecting what the needs are going to be on over a 20-year period. Mr. Marx said department heads know what the needs are going to be more than five years out. He also stated the Facilities Division is working on estimating replacement dates of major systems.
Ms. Kiefer said she would like to see TCAT’s bus replacement plan.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr provided a brief overview of what he expects to be taken up by the Expanded Budget Committee during the first few meetings. He also outlined State Law that provides that the County Administrator’s Budget is the Tentative County Budget. If the Legislature does not vote on a budget with a package of amendments to send to the public hearing then Mr. Whicher’s budget remains the Tentative Budget. He said only when the full Legislature acts to accept the package of amendments does the budget with the amendments become a new Tentative Budget.
Ms. Thomas stated departments will be asked to submit in writing any changes to their budgets one week prior to the Expanded Budget Committees in order for member to have time to absorb updated information. Mr. Koplinka-Loehr stated a detailed schedule for meeting would be developed and distributed to all legislators and departments.
Guidelines for Budget Discussions
The following guidelines were developed for the Expanded Budget Committee meeting process:
Adequate information should be distributed to Legislators
well in advance of meetings;
Efforts will be made to reduce/eliminate last minute adjustments to the budget; Legislators should resist or minimize making decisions without consulting department heads;
Refrain from personal attacks being made on the floor; and
Avoid tying discussion to a particular person.
Ms. Skinner proposed that the September 13, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. public forum format be a group process so that those present have an opportunity to talk with legislators. She suggested that an open microphone be available at the end of the forum for anyone still wishing to have their comments heard. The Committee was agreeable to this format, retaining flexibility depending on numbers of attendees.
The meeting adjourned at 1:42 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Michelle Pottorff, TC Legislature
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