Budget and Quality Planning Committee
September 16, 1999
9:15 a.m.
Scott B. Heyman Conference Room


Present: T. Joseph, N. Schuler, P. Penniman, T. Todd, S. Davis, M. Koplinka-Loehr, Mr. Proto (arrived at 9:25 a.m.)

Staff: K. West, R. Erb, D. Squires, W. Skinner, M. Pottorff, J. Kazda, J. Lampman, J. Kazda, W. Hungerfiord

Board Members in Attendance: B. Blanchard, M. Lane, B. Mink
 
 

Mr. Joseph called the meeting to order at 9:17 a.m.

Changes to the Agenda

A resolution entitled Appropriation from Contingent Fund for Y2K booklet was added to the agenda.

Report from the County Administrator

Mr. Erb had no report.

Report from the Finance Director

Mr. Squires distributed an updated salary report showing year-end projections.

Report from the Deputy County Administrator

Ms. West reported she and Mr. Penniman attended the NYSAC Conference. The was a great deal of discussion about the tobacco settlement. She said she questions whether the State will reduce aid in other areas. A lot of localities were indicating that their third quarter Medicaid reimbursement was lower than they had expected.

Mr. Proto arrived at 9:25 a.m.

Mr. Proto referred to discussion at a past meeting and a comment about an outfit that wants to buy counties' share of the settlement. Mr. Erb said when NYSAC contacted counties to see if there was any interest in this he indicated that Tompkins County would be interested in hearing more; however, he has heard nothing since that time.

Ms. Davis said she met yesterday with Assemblyman Luster and he indicated that the Assembly was clear that the only part of the tobacco money that they are dealing with was the money coming to the State and that they were not interested in figuring out anything about the County's money.

Sheriff's Department

The following resolution was MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mr. Todd.

RESOLUTION NO. - APPROPRIATION FROM CONTINGENT FUND FOR OUTSTANDING 1997 TELEPHONE BILLS AT THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

Mr. Meskill said he would be willing to pay this if it had been a 1998 expense by using rollover funds; however, he feels that since this is a result of a management or clerical error in 1997 the Department's current administration should not have to pay this bill. He stated the Department has already absorbed similar bills that have gone unpaid but could not provide the Committee with a dollar amount spent on these. He said he is trying to get all of these past bills taken care of prior to the first of the year.

Mr. Proto said he felt the Sheriff could find this amount in his current year's budget. Mr. Meskill said if he was directed to pay for this out of this year's budget the Department would have to give up something it had intended to purchase.

Ms. Davis said she does not think it is reasonable to ask the Sheriff to pay bills that are a result of past Department management.

Mr. Joseph said he feels that although this expense was incurred in 1997 prior to Mr. Meskill being Sheriff, it is a Department expense and should come out of the Department's budget.

A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 4 (Davis, Todd, Penniman, and Koplinka-Loehr); Noes - 3 (Joseph, Proto, and Schuler. MOTION CARRIED.

WHEREAS, the Sheriff's Department needs to request funding for outstanding 1997 Bell Atlantic phone bills due to a clerical error, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Public Safety and Budget and Quality Planning Committees, That the Director of Finance appropriate $1,240 from the Contingent Fund for 1997 outstanding telephone expenses,

RESOLVED, further, That the Director of Finance be authorized to make the following appropriations:

FROM: A1990.54400 $1,240

TO: A3110.54471 $1,240

SEQR ACTION: TYPE II-20

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Y2K

The following resolution was MOVED by Ms. Davis, seconded by Mr. Penniman. Ms. Skinner said this resolution is the culmination of this year's work of the Y2K Network. This booklet will contain a collection of information from various organizations and will be distributed to residents throughout all of Tompkins County. A voice vote on the resolution resulted as follows: Ayes - 7, Noes - 0. MOTION CARRIED.

RESOLUTION NO. - APPROPRIATION FROM CONTINGENT FUND FOR PRINTING AND DISTRIBUTION OF Y2K BOOKLET WHEREAS, the Chair of the Board of Representatives appointed a committee to gather and disseminate reliable, locally-relevant information about Year 2000 readiness in our community, and

WHEREAS, that Committee determined that a booklet containing Y2K compliance reports from major organizations and service providers in the County is an effective means of reaching the public, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Special Tompkins County Y2K Information Network and the Budget and Quality Planning Committees, That the Director of Finance appropriate a total of $5,300 from the Contingent Fund to the Public Information budget to pay for printing and distribution of 47,000 copies of the "Y2K Readiness Report."

Public Hearing

It was MOVED by Mrs. Schuler, seconded by M. Proto, and unanimously adopted by voice vote to approve the following resolution and submit to the full Board:

RESOLUTION NO. - SCHEDULING A PUBLIC HEARING ON THE 2000 TOMPKINS COUNTY BUDGET AND ON THE 2000-2004 TOMPKINS COUNTY CAPITAL PROGRAM

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Budget and Quality Planning Committee, That a public hearing be held before the Board of Representatives at Board Chambers (or other place to be determined); Board Chambers located at the Tompkins County Courthouse, 320 North Tioga Street, Ithaca, New York on November 9, 1999, at 7:00 o'clock in the evening thereof concerning the review of the 2000 Tompkins County Budget and on the 2000-2004 Tompkins County Capital Program. At such time and place all persons interested in the subject matter will be heard concerning the same,

RESOLVED, further, That the Clerk of the Board is hereby authorized and directed to place proper notice of such public hearing in the official newspaper of the County.

SEQR ACTION: TYPE II-20

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Discussion - Capital Program

Mr. Joseph said this year the Highway Department moved the bulk of the bridge program over to capital and has put in capital requests to cover the rebuilding of a lot of different bridges. He said he does not necessarily think this is a bad thing to do, but it is a major change from how this budgeting has been done in the past. He feels this should have been discussed with the program and budget committees before it was submitted this way. He said when a major change like this is made it is not perfectly clear what should shift and there needs to be discussion of this. Since that did not happen here, the result is that it is not clear what actually happened.

Mr. Erb said there are probably good reasons why this should be in capital. He feels it will be possible to reconstruct information to show the Board how last year's highway budget compares to this year's.

Mr. Kazda said the bridge program will stay as it is. There is a bridge program in the Highway Division's operating budget and it is staying about where it was last year and the year before. He said the Board is seeing a shift from having them leverage operating funds to get federal funds. A few years ago they began to apply for ISTEA funds because the two bridges a year that they were getting out of the bridge program was not adequate. He said more bridges needed to be replaced and more work done on roads; that is when the opportunity presented itself to get more State and Federal money. He said they started with a couple of small projects that they put into the operating account and as they got more projects it became clear that when they started pulling these items into the operating account these things became extremely difficult to manage because these were not single year, but multi-year projects. Mr. Kazda said they went to the Facilities and Operations Committee many times to tell them they had to borrow money out of the General Fund to put it into the operating fund to cover expenses. Many times money had to rollover to the following year because of delays in getting projects approved by the State. This resulted in a very complicated budget process. He said they have revenues posted, but do not get them in the year they are spent. He said they wanted to move these out of operating accounts and into capital accounts where they belong since capital accounts are not year sensitive. Only ISTEA projects were moved, not all of the bridge projects. The bridge program will remain as it is. By doing this the Board will be able to truly see what the operating expenses of the Highway Division really are from year to year. He said all of the sudden the Highway Division's operating budget went from $3 million to $9 million and didn't accurately represent what the ongoing maintenance of effort was for the Division.

Mr. Joseph said the piece that concerns his the statement Mr. Kazda made that the Department has been leveraging operating funds to get federal money. He understands this was going on and regards it as a good thing. It appears to him that when the shift was made to make ISTEA projects capital projects, the operating funds that were being used to leverage this money didn't go with them.

Mr. Kazda said this is correct because when they first started they were talking about taking $10,000 for example, to leverage funds, they felt they could do it. However, the magnitude of dollars they have now cannot be handled by the operating budgets. He said this disrupts the entire road and bridge program. He said the list of bridges that state funds can be leveraged for are not necessarily on the top of the Division's priority list; they are on the top of the priority list if bridges that are eligible for federal funding. He said there are still bridges that need to be replaced and they are trying to roll as many local bridges as they can into that fund. In addition, there are a lot of maintenance of effort things that need to happen that are not necessarily bridge replacements. Over the past few years they have only been able to replace one or two bridges, but in order to be able to replace these, the rest of the system needs to be maintained. Of the 110 bridges that exist the Division needs to continue to spend $200,000-$300,000 in maintenance per year in order to sustain the life of those bridges.

Ms. Blanchard said this has gone through the entire MPO process where the Transportation Council went through a very elaborate procedure of selecting projects and having them adopted by the Policy Committee.

Mr. Kazda said while it makes sense from a financial standpoint to leverage money and get all of the cash the County can, this can cause other pieces of the program are then compromised.

Mr. Erb said these are bridges that have been flagged as needing replacement but are not in the five-year plan and may not be our highest priority. The County could bond for these; however, if the federal money that is available now is not taken advantage of they will show up later as a bond issue that the County will then pay the full cost of. He feels the County should take advantage of the federal money that is here now to keep that from happening.

Mr. Joseph said he is concerned about moving money out of the operating budget to cover these expenses. He said that unless someone was to read the budget very carefully that Board members would not know they were making that decision. He said these projects are approved with the understanding that the local match is coming out of operating funds, and now they show up here and local money is no longer coming out of operating funds, but the fund balance. He said now the same operating budget can be submitted as last year; however, the expenses have been moved out of it. This would mean the Board would be approving a very large budget increase without really knowing it.

Mr. Penniman felt this issue is hard to pursue without having a discussion on the entire Highway Division budget. Mr. Joseph said the Board needs to know how much additional money it will cost the County to take on a project and what the cost benefit is.

The Committee reviewed a list of proposed capital projects for 2000-2009 and the tax increase that comes with each proposal. No action was taken on any capital project.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.
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