Public Hearing – Proposed Local Law No. e of 2005 – A Local Law in Relation to the Alternate Veterans Exemption for Real Property Taxes
Mr. Joseph called the public hearing to order at 5:35 p.m. concerning proposed Local Law No. e of 2005 – A Local Law in Relation to the Alternate Veterans Exemption for Real Property Taxes and asked if anyone wished to speak. No one wished to speak and the public hearing was closed at 5:35 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and Roll Call of Members
Members and guests participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Present: 13 Legislators. Excused – 2 (Legislators Schuler and Todd). Mrs. McBean-Clairborne was excused at 6:42 p.m.
Privilege of the Floor by the Public
No member of the public wished to speak.
Permission was granted during discussion of Resolution No. 117 for the Healthcare Task Force to address the Legislature as they were not present at this time.
Presentation of the Distinguished Youth Award
Mr. Joseph, District No. 12 Legislator, presented the June, 2005 Distinguished Youth Award to Lauren (Chibo) Shinagawa, student at the Lehman Alternatives Community School (LACS). Mr. Joseph said Ms. Shinagawa is being presented with this award for her leadership in organizing the LACS Students of Color Support Group.
Privilege of the Floor by Legislators
Ms. Blanchard, District No. 1 Legislator, said on Sunday she attended the "Fly-In" breakfast held at the Airport where she oversaw the table representing the Air Service Committee table and distributed bumper stickers for flyithaca.com. She called attention to a flyer distributed to all Legislators that provided tips to finding air fares from Ithaca to destinations around the world. Ms. Blanchard congratulated the Town of Ithaca and Cornell University for the announcement that was made today about the joint project in preparing a transportation-focused generic environmental impact statement for all of the potential growth scenarios, Cornell’s planned development projects, and all of the things that are expected to happen over the next decade that will impact the entire County.
Mrs. McBean-Clairborne, District No. 3 Legislator, congratulated Ms. Shinagawa on receiving the Distinguished Youth Award. She announced the Juneteenth celebration, which is the oldest known celebration of the emancipation of slaves, will take place this weekend and will be hosted by the Southside Community Center. She informed the Legislature that her son is graduating from Belle Sherman Elementary School this evening and she will need to be excused later in the meeting to attend that event.
Ms. Robertson, District No. 13 Legislator, displayed a button she was wearing that read "I vote Healthcare Now" which she received today in Dryden from members of a Task Force who walked there as part of efforts to draw public awareness to the issue of health care. The Task Foce has walked from Kingston, New York, and will walk all the way to Jamestown, with public rallies and meetings along the way. Ms. Robertson said a rally will take place this evening on the Commons and congratulated members of the Task Force for doing a terrific job in their efforts in bringing awareness to a critically important issue.
Mr. Winch, District No. 8 Legislator, said he is working with Better Housing for Tompkins County to make plans for Workcamp 2005, a Christian Missions trip for teenagers from around the country who will travel to this community July 1 thru 15 to do home repairs for senior citizens and low-income persons on a volunteer basis. He said Workcamp 2003 was very successful and there are more sites this year with a total of 60 sites and an additional 21 backup sites and there will be 400 teenagers and 50 adults coming to this community. Mr. Winch said he has a list of sites and noted all work is scheduled to be completed in each of the municipalities in Tompkins County.
Mr. Proto, District No. 7 Legislator, spoke in regard to the Universal Service Fund and said there was an article in the Wallstreet on June 14 which was entitled "The FCC launches a broad inquiry into the management and oversight of the Universal Service Fund". He said a memo has been drafted that will go to all local libraries and school districts, Cayuga Medical Center, and Health Planning Council because of the review that will be taking place. Mr. Proto said $30.6 billion has been distributed from this fund nationwide; he wants to make sure that all entities in Tompkins County have an adequate amount of time and access to the funds.
Mr. Proto also announced Elizabeth Cree, Republican Election Commissioner for Tompkins County, was recently nominated by Senator Mike Nozzolio and awarded the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award in the 54th Senatorial District. Her nomination was based on many factors, including: she has worked within the community and was Chair of the Community Service Committee for the Rotary Club from 1999-2003, served as President of the New York State Elections Commissioners Association from 2004-2005, served as Election Commissioner to Tompkins County since 1997, has courageously fought a battle with breast cancer this past year, and is a wonderful parent to two adopted children.
Ms. Kiefer, District No. 10 Legislator, said she had planned to ask for reconsideration this evening of the resolution appropriating Contingent Funds for the Library; however, she will now wait until the next meeting because not all members are in attendance this evening.
Mr. Lane, District No. 14 Legislator, said he is hearing more comments than usual from his constituents about increased property taxes and assessments. He said as this Legislature enters the budget process, members need to be aware of this and listen to taxpayers, not only because it is an election year, but because people are hurting financially.
Addition of Resolution(s) to the Agenda
There were no resolution(s) added to the agenda.
Withdrawal of Resolution(s) from the Agenda
Chair Joseph gave the appropriate committee chair permission to
withdraw the following resolution(s) from the agenda:
Increase in Petty Cash Fund – Solid Waste Division
Authorizing a Public Hearing on Proposed Local Law No. f of 2005 – A Local Law Amending the Tompkins County Charter and Code - Article 10 - Department of Planning and Article 11 - Department of Public Works
Approval of Resolution(s) Under the Consent Agenda
The following resolution(s) and appointment(s) were approved under the Consent Agenda:
RESOLUTION NO. 110 - AUTHORIZING ACCEPTANCE OF A STATEWIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR AIRPORT REVITALIZATION (SOARs) GRANT FROM THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (NYSDOT) – TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO RETAIN A CONSULTANT FOR MARKETING THE ITHACA TOMPKINS REGIONAL AIRPORT (PIN 3902.53.001)
MOVED by Mr. Proto, seconded by Ms. Kiefer, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present under the Consent Agenda.
WHEREAS, the airport has applied
for a grant under the 2005 Federal Small Community Air Service Development
WHEREAS, said Federal grant would form part of an extensive marketing and business development program designed by the Air Service Committee (ASC), and
WHEREAS, New York State Department of Transportion (NYSDOT) has offered a supporting grant under the state SOARs program to help with the costs of said marketing and business development program, and
WHEREAS, in the event that said Federal grant is not forthcoming, a marketing and business development program will continue but in an amended form, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, That the NYSDOT grant of $50,000 be and hereby is accepted and that the County Administrator is authorized to execute the required documents.
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RESOLUTION NO. 111 – AUTHORIZATION TO EXECUTE QUITCLAIM DEEDS – SALE OF FORECLOSURE PROPERTIES AT PUBLIC AUCTION
MOVED by Mr. Proto, seconded by Ms. Kiefer, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present under the Consent Agenda.
WHEREAS, by tax foreclosure proceedings, the County acquired certain
parcels in the County, and
WHEREAS, said properties were sold, contingent upon Legislature approval, at public auction on June 9, 2005, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations Committee, That upon payment in full of the bid price, plus current taxes and filing fees, that the County Administrator be and hereby is authorized to execute quitclaim deeds for all parcels sold at the public auction.
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RESOLUTION NO. 112 - ESTABLISHING A PUBLIC ART TASK FORCE TO OVERSEE THE DISPLAY AND INVENTORY OF COUNTY'S PUBLIC ARTWORK
MOVED by Mr. Proto, seconded by Ms. Kiefer, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present under the Consent Agenda.
WHEREAS, the County established a policy to purchase artwork by local
artists to be displayed in public areas of county buildings, and
WHEREAS, this artwork was placed in the Mental Health Building, the Transit Center, the Human Services Building, the Old Jail, and the Old Courthouse, and
WHEREAS, this initiative dates back to the early 1990s, and
WHEREAS, over time, spaces have changed and some areas that used to be public are no longer functioning that way, some of the art has been moved or is blocked from view or is otherwise not visible to the public, and
WHEREAS, in April 2005, an inventory of all the public art owned by the County was undertaken with the result that approximately six pieces are not appropriately displayed for public viewing, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations Committee, That the public art purchased and currently owned by the County is intended to be displayed in appropriate public spaces in said County buildings,
RESOLVED, further, That the artwork may be rotated among the buildings,
RESOLVED, further, That the Chair of the Legislature shall appoint a Public Art Task Force to oversee the display and inventory of the County's public artwork.
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RESOLUTION NO. 113 - REVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY 02-01 - CREATING
NEW POSITIONS AND RECLASSIFYING EXISTING POSITIONS
WHEREAS, there is a need to revise the procedure for creating
new positions and reclassifying existing positions, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations and Budget and Capital Committees, That the following policy be adopted, as amended, and incorporated into the Administrative Policy Manual:
02-01 - Creating New Positions and Reclassifying Existing Positions
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It was MOVED by Mr. Proto, seconded by Ms. Kiefer, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the following appointment(s) under the Consent Agenda:
Water Resources Council
Kathy Luz Herrera, County Legislator; term expires December 31, 2005
Report and Presentation of Resolution(s) from the Budget and Capital Committee
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, Chairman, said most of the business conducted at the June 14 meeting is reflected in resolutions on the agenda. He announced all Legislators should have received a Capital Project request booklet.
RESOLUTION NO. 114 - IN SUPPORT OF NEW YORK STATE BILL A6637/S4197 TO ALLOW CREDIT UNIONS AND THRIFT INSTITUTIONS TO ACCEPT MUNICIPAL DEPOSITS
MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mrs. McBean-Clairborne. Mr. Proto suggested that before this Legislature makes a decision to endorse the Assembly or Senate Legislation pertaining to this, that a group comprised of some of the local credit union representatives and bankers be formed to find out what these bills will or will not do. He said credit unions do not pay any federal, state or local income taxes, and they are also exempt from sales and use taxes. He stated some of the monies that come back to this County to help schools or be redistributed in many ways are from the state and federal income taxes and that some of the parties supporting this legislation don’t pay those taxes.
Mr. Proto disclosed that he holds a position in several commercial banks through stock and investments and is also a member of two of the local credit unions.
Mr. Joseph disclosed that his wife is employed by a local credit union that would be affected by this legislation.
Mr. Totman voiced opposition to this resolution and said passage of this resolution will give financial privileges to an institution that does not contribute taxes back to the community and would be taking away from those banks that do.
Ms. Herrera said she is a member of two local credit unions and has an account at the Tompkins County Trust Company. She spoke of her experience with banks and credit unions and how she has been treated. She stated credit unions are owned by their members and don't usually charge monthly service fees. Ms. Herrera said she feels this provides an adequate return to the community and feels that they are equal to banking institutions in many ways.
Mr. Lane said arguments can be made on both sides of this complicated issue and it would be reasonable to postpone action on this for the purpose of obtaining more information.
Ms. Robertson spoke in support of the resolution and said it simply gives counties the option of where to deposit funds and in some cases there may be a benefit to taxpayers. She stated it does not require counties to do one thing or another and said she supports having more choices available when making decisions.
Ms. Blanchard noted this resolution only sends a message to the State Legislature.
It was MOVED by Mr. Booth, seconded by Mr. Proto, to refer this resolution back to the Budget and Capital Committee for the purpose of receiving additional input. A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 8 (Legislators Blanchard, Booth, Kiefer, Lane, Penniman, Proto, Totman, and Winch); Noes - 5 (Legislators Herrera, Joseph, Koplinka-Loehr, McBean-Clairborne, and Robertson); Excused - 2 (Legislators Schuler and Todd). MOTION CARRIED.
RESOLUTION NO. 115 - ADOPTION OF 2005-2006 OPERATING BUDGET - TOMPKINS CORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE
MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mr. Totman. Ms. Herrera spoke in support of this resolution and the number of lives that have been positively impacted by Tompkins Cortland Community College. Mr. Lane noted the College has not requested an increase from Tompkins County in over three years. He also spoke of a reduction of $400,000 in the College's budget last year that had to be absorbed when the State did not increase the promised FTE assistance. He said this is a modest increase that is being shared by Cortland County.
Mr. Winch spoke in support of this resolution and said he agrees with Mr. Lane's comments. He said TC3 has a business development program that works with local business to improve management skills. The College also retrains people who have lost their jobs and need to go back to school to learn new skills. Mr. Winch said these are generally the people who are residents of this community and who will remain in this community.
Ms. Robertson said she voted against this resolution at the Budget and Capital Committee meeting. Although she agrees with comments made, she also feels after attending the TC3 budget presentation, that there are number of staff positions that are being added in the proposed budget. She said since Tompkins County is looking at such a tight budget situation she cannot support this.
Mr. Totman said he agrees with the comments made by Mr. Winch. He said TC3 benefits the entire County and has a proven success record with the number of individuals who graduate from the College.
Ms. Blanchard said she agrees with the comments made by Ms. Robertson.
Mr. Booth said the College has done well with the resources they have been given and while he is committed to not increasing the tax levy, he believes that can happen even with this very small increase.
A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 11; Noes - 2 (Legislators Blanchard and Robertson); Excused - 2 (Schuler and Todd). RESOLUTION ADOPTED.
WHEREAS, a proposed operating budget for Tompkins Cortland Community
College for the fiscal year September 1, 2005, through August 31, 2006,
has been presented to the Legislature of the County of Tompkins pursuant
to County Law and Section 6306 of the Education Law, and
WHEREAS, the Legislature has conducted a public hearing on said proposed budget on the 21st of June 2005, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Budget and Capital Committee, That
said proposed 2005-2006 operating budget in the amount of $25,815,965 of
which the sponsoring community contribution is in the amount of $3,568,500
be and the same hereby is approved,
RESOLVED, further, That the Legislature of Tompkins County includes in the 2006 Tompkins County Budget an amount to be determined pursuant to the approved plan for said College in effect as of September 1, 2005, and that the amount when determined be raised by taxation in the County of Tompkins in the fiscal year 2006,
RESOLVED, further, That this resolution shall become effective upon the adoption of a concurrent resolution by the Cortland County Legislature.
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RRESOLUTION NO. 116 - CONTINGENT FUND APPROPRIATION OF $620,000 TO PAY FOR COUNTY SHARE OF THE INITIAL COST OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TOMPKINS CORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE MASTER PLAN
MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mr. Booth. Mr. Booth said it is his understanding that this is a cash-flow mechanism and does not increase the County’s financial obligation at all. Mr. Lane spoke of the recent increases in construction material costs and stated moving this forward will avoid future cost increases.
A short roll call vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 13, Noes - 0, Excused - 2 (Legislators Schuler and Todd). RESOLUTION ADOPTED.
WHEREAS, Tompkins Cortland Community College has received budget
approval from its sponsors and New York State on a $27,000,000 Campus Master
Plan to upgrade and expand its facilities, and
WHEREAS, site work on the master plan project is scheduled to commence this month, and
WHEREAS, the State of New York has advised the college that funding for the State share of the project will not be available until spring of 2006, and
WHEREAS, the college is desirous of starting work during the current construction season but is unable to advance sufficient funds to cover the cost of initial project expenses without sponsor assistance of $1,000,000, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Budget and Capital Committee, That an appropriation of $620,000 be authorized from the Contingent Fund to provide for Tompkins County's sixty-two percent share of the $1,000,000 construction advance for the Campus Master Plan,
RESOLVED, further, That the Finance Director coordinate with Cortland County in securing within ninety days the necessary bonding authority and intermunicipal agreements to provide for the remaining portion of sponsor funding,
RESOLVED, further, That the Finance Director is authorized to make the following budget appropriations in implementation of this resolution:
FROM: A1990.54400 Contingent Fund $620,000
TO: A9576.54400 Contribution to Construction $620,000
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RESOLUTION NO. 117 - ESTABLISHMENT OF GUIDELINES AND FISCAL TARGETS FOR ALL COUNTY BUDGETING UNITS FOR THE PREPARATION OF THE 2006 BUDGET
MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mr. Penniman.
Ms. Robertson requested permission for the Healthcare Task Force to address the Legislature as they had just arrived.
It was MOVED by Ms. Herrera, seconded by Mr. Proto, and unanimously
adopted by voice vote by members present, to Table this resolution for
the purpose of privilege of the floor by the public.
* * * * * * * *
Privilege of the Floor by the Public (continued)
Rebecca Elgie, of the Healthcare Task Force, spoke of a project
she and others are in the process of undertaking entitled “A Walk
for Health Care Reform”. Ms. Elgie said the intent of this walk is
to try to bring the issues of the need for a universal health care system
more into the spotlight and to express the need for so many people who
are suffering. They have attended several town meetings and have
received an incredible response to their efforts. They are presently
one-third of their way across New York State from Kingstown to Jamestown,
and will continue their walk with many more stops and rallies planned.
Ms. Elgie said they have been sharing information about Tompkins County's
prescription drug program with other communities who will also be pursuing
similar efforts. Bernie Fetterly, another Task Force
member, mentioned that the video of the healthcare panel, including Tim
Joseph as one of the speakers, highlighting Tompkins County's problems
has been shown to many and has been very well received.
A request was made by several Legislators to view this video.
* * * * * * * * *
It was MOVED by Mr. Proto, seconded by Ms. Herrera, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present to Lift Resolution No. 177 from the Table.
Ms. Robertson said the Budget and Capital Committee discussed the options presented by Mr. Whicher at length. There was a motion made to have a lower target but she did not support that. She said a couple of years ago there was a great deal of stress experienced by staff as a result of the target. She said some employees saw this Legislature's deliberations in May or June and came to the conclusions that their job was going to be cut and left County government. A variety of personal decisions were made based on discussions very early in the process, and she is concerned that if that same message is given again, there will again be valuable employees who will leave. Ms. Robertson said the message she would like delivered is that this Legislature is going to be frugal and careful, but rational about spending and hopes employees will not leave as a result of stress created from the budget process.
Mr. Booth said he voted against this resolution at the Budget and Capital Committee meeting because it does not include some reduction in projected target as a mechanism for helping the County Administrator and the Legislature arrive at a budget at which the levy is not increased. He stated he has not seen any logical argument for not using that as a mechanism in the budget review process.
It was MOVED by Mr. Booth, seconded by Mr. Totman, to amend the first Resolved, numbers 1-4, to add "less 2.5 percent target and" be added in the appropriate place in each of those items.
Mr. Booth said this amendment will require departments to prepare budgets in which they anticipate a 2.5 percent reduction in their fiscal target. That will cause departments to place certain items as over-target requests that they might not otherwise. He said he agrees this is a stressful process but it is a useful process in trying to keep the tax levy at a zero percent increase.
Mr. Whicher said a reduction of 2.5 percent would generate approximately $900,000 in over-target requests. Some of those requests will be possible, but many will be an exercise in futility. He said his recommendation of zero percent target was based on the fact that there is a limited amount of time and that staff should look at programs and specific cuts that would not be generated at this reduction in targets. He said the Legislature will have more of an opportunity to make serious cuts if it looks at specific programs and positions. He said the motion made by Mr. Booth has been done and was successful in past years but he thinks all the small cuts have been made and the edges of all programs have been trimmed.
Ms. Robertson noted that given certain unavoidable cost increases, such as insurance already, a zero percent increase is actually a reduction in target and is not keeping things "status quo".
Mr. Joseph said this exercise would not prohibit the use of other tools, but would occupy a lot of the County Administrator's time.
A roll call vote on the amendment resulted as follows: Ayes - 6 (Legislators Blanchard, Booth, Lane, Proto, Totman, and Winch); Noes - 7 (Legislators Herrera, Joseph, Kiefer, Koplinka-Loehr, McBean-Clairborne, Penniman, and Robertson); Excused - 2 (Legislators Schuler and Todd). MOTION FAILED.
Mr. Penniman said he is concerned that if all programs endure small cuts, the end result may be that the County has many ineffective programs.
Mr. Proto said approximately five years ago Mrs. Smithers, former Deputy County Administrator, advised this Legislature that it needed to start looking at program cuts. He said all Legislators have heard complaints from constituents about taxes and that it is time to start looking at prioritizing programs.
Mr. Koplinka-Loehr said it appears that all Legislators agree that this is a useful tool; however, some Legislators feel that during this particular year it will be a distracting and stressful tool. He spoke of the process last year and said it is not a scenario he wants to have repeated this year.
A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 9, Noes - 4 (Legislators Booth, Proto, Totman, and Winch); Excused - 2 (Legislators Schuler and Todd). RESOLUTION ADOPTED.
WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Fiscal Policy specifies that a fiscal
target is the maximum amount of general revenue spending authority that
a department head or program director may request without initiating an
Over-Target Request, and changes in fiscal targets should be communicated
to department heads and program directors as timely as possible in order
for them to submit their budget requests by August 1, 2005, and
WHEREAS, CSEA White Collar, CSEA Blue Collar, and the Employees’ Union of the Tompkins County Sheriff Department staff contracts will not be established in time prior to submission of the 2006 department budget requests, and
WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Legislature has charged the County Administrator with the responsibility for producing a recommended budget for 2006 that does not increase the Tax Levy for 2006 above the 2005 Tax Levy (zero percent [0%] target increase), and
WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Legislature wishes to establish targets at 2005 levels for departments and agencies in preparing 2006 budget requests, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Budget and Capital Committee, That fiscal targets for all budgeting units for preparation of the 2006 budget are hereby established as follows:
1. For not-for-profit agency grants, the amount approved in the 2005 adopted budget less any over-target funding designated as one-time less any funds re-appropriated from previous years.
2. For Human Service and Criminal Justice agencies receiving reimbursement pursuant to the Sales Tax Agreement between the County and City of Ithaca, the fiscal target shall be equal to the current year appropriation, including the sales tax revenue, minus any one-time adjustments for prior years. The target is now equal to the local county share.
3. For all County departments, an amount equal to the general revenue portion of the 2005 adopted County budget, less any over-target funding designated as one-time, less any funds re-appropriated from previous years, plus 2005 Management, Confidential, Sheriff, and County Clerk salary and fringe adjustments.
4. For the Corrections Unit of the Sheriff’s Department, an amount equal to the general revenue portion of the 2005 adopted County budget, less any over-target funding designated as one-time, less any funds re-appropriated from previous years, plus 2005 Correction Officers contractual salary and fringe adjustments, plus 2005 Management and Confidential salary and fringe adjustments.
5. All other salary changes and associated fringe costs or savings will be paid through or received by the General Fund.
RESOLVED, further, That the County Administrator shall work in
close collaboration with Department Heads to develop fiscally responsible
approaches to achieve the Legislature’s goal to develop a financially sound
budget that does not exceed the 2005 Tax Levy.
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Mr. Joseph spoke of the budget guidelines and said the last time the County Administrator was given a directive to come back with a budget at a certain percentage, there was a lot of confusion about what was or wasn’t included in that, such as capital projects. He said the County Administrator did not include those items because he felt they were policy decisions. Mr. Joseph said he has advised Mr. Whicher that the Legislature is requesting a complete budget with a zero percent increase and that will require Mr. Whicher to make recommend some policy decisions.
Ms. Kiefer asked if when there are areas where difficult decisions need to be made, Mr. Whicher could present alternative choices. Ms. Kiefer spoke of the eight tools presented to the Budget and Capital Committee by Mr. Whicher and said there was an expression of sentiment made not to reduce funding prior to reducing funding for departments because agencies generally can provide core services at a lower cost than the County could provide those services. She said she also felt that it would be worthwhile to review fiscal policies, particularly how and when to include salary and fringe costs.
Mr. Lane said he would like the County Administrator to present his best recommendation for a budget and this Legislature should take action to change it, if they have different priorities.
Mrs. McBean-Clairborne was excused at 6:42 p.m.
There was general support of Mr. Joseph's direction to the County Administrator to recommend a budget that is all inclusive at a zero percent increase.
Mr. Joseph said last week he was notified by NYSAC that there in an opportunity to refinance the tobacco bonds that were securitized a number of years ago. He said the details of the package are complex; however, Tompkins County would receive approximately $925,000 by doing this. The disadvantage to doing this is that there would be a reduction in the revenue at some point in the future. He explained that the revenue now coming in pays off the bonds and that there is a residual the County is allowed to keep but uses it as security against those bonds. Mr. Joseph said his interpretation of this opportunity is that the bondholders would be taking on more of the risk with the new bonds, thereby reducing Tompkins County's risk. Mr. Joseph said this issue is being be referred to the Budget and Capital Committee for a more in-depth examination. Mr. Proto asked that the Committee consider present values, and what economic assumptions are being made that make this attractive. Mr. Squires said the County should make a decision on this by early July.
Mr. Joseph informed the Legislature that the communications tower at the Public Safety Building has been found to be structurally not capable of holding the equipment it is currently carrying. He said there have been offers by others to co-locate on it and there has been discussion of building a new tower to replace that one for the various commercial carriers who are located or wish to be located on it. This will be discussed by the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee.
Report from the County Administrator
Mr. Whicher had no report. He said he will be asking for confirmation later in the meeting for the appointment of Highway Manager. Mr. Whicher spoke of the process and thanked Legislator Winch, Town of Lansing Highway Superintendent Jack French, Matt Whitmore, Dale Gregrow, Arel LeMaro, Anita Fitzpatrick, and Ed Marx for their assistance in the search.
Report from the County Attorney
Mr. Wood had no report. He clarified the rules with regard to reconsideration of a motion and stated during the meeting at which something is voted down or at the next meeting, someone can make a motion to reconsider. At the next meeting it could come back but would need to follow the regular procedure as a member-filed resolution filed seven days in advance or receive a two-thirds vote for addition to the agenda.
Report from the Finance Director
Mr. Squires said earlier in the meeting this Legislature approved the transfer of properties that were sold at auction. Those properties produced a net profit of $60,000.
Report and Presentation of Resolution(s) from the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee
Mr. Penniman, Chair, reported the Committee met on June 14th. The Committee received a report from Barbara Eckstrom on the Solid Waste Center traffic study that took place. They are working on a pilot program to modify the process and signage for vehicles that are moving through the facility so that some vehicles need not sue the scales but would pay a set fee. The Committee gave preliminary approval to that and the Department will present a more specific plan next month. The Committee also received a report on the Airport from C&S Engineers regarding a report on identifying obstructions in the vicinity of the runway. The next step is an environmental assessment of removal of those obstructions. He reminded Legislators that the highway field trip will take place on June 27th at 9 a.m. from the Highway Department on Bostwick Department.
RESOLUTION NO. 118 - RESOLUTION CONFIRMING APPOINTMENT OF TOMPKINS COUNTY HIGHWAY MANAGER
MOVED by Mr. Penniman, seconded by Mr. Winch. Mr. Whicher announced Mr. William Sczesny of Broome County will begin employment tomorrow. He has a great deal of knowledge about the State funding system and has both private and military experience.
A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 13, Noes - 0, Excused - 2 (Legislators Schuler and Todd). RESOLUTION ADOPTED.
WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Charter provides that the County Highway
Manager shall be appointed by the County Administrator subject to confirmation
by the Legislature, and
WHEREAS, a search process has been conducted over the last nine months which included two separate recruitment efforts and rounds of interviews, and
WHEREAS, the search committee, consisting of Legislator Daniel Winch, Town of Lansing Highway Superintendent Jack French, Highway Senior Crew Supervisor Matt Whittemore, Equipment Service Manager Dale Gregrow, Director of Facilities Arel Lemaro, Personnel Commissioner Anita Fitxpatrick and Deputy County Administrator Ed Marx, recommended two candidates to the County Administrator for consideration, and
WHEREAS, the County Administrator is requesting confirmation of his appointment of one of those candidates, William Sczesny, as Tompkins County Highway Manager, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, That the County Administrator's appointment of William Sczesny to the position of Tompkins County Highway Manager is confirmed by the Legislature, effective immediately.
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Report from the Space Needs and Location Committee
Mr. Proto, Chairman, reported the Committee will meet tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. There will be discussion on many of the space options and there will be presentation to the full Legislature at an upcoming meeting. The next meeting has also been scheduled on July 13 at 2:30 p.m.
Report from the Health and Human Services Committee
Ms. Robertson, Chair, reported the Committee has not met since the last Legislature meeting. The next meeting will be July 6th at 10:30 a.m.
Report from the Air Service Committee
Ms. Blanchard, Member, provided the Legislature with a detailed report on activities at the Airport. A copy of the full report is on file.
Traffic at the Airport overall increased 21 percent in May, 2005 versus May, 2004 from 5,947 to 7,209 enplanements. Northwest Airlines service reported strong load factors above 72 percent for the month. US Airways traffic held steady with a three percent decline in May, a decrease on par with other US Airways stations in the regions.
Northwest enplaned 1,461 passengers in May, 2005 with an average
load factor of 72 percent. Many flights were completely full towards
the end of the month.
Revenue numbers for May, 2005 will not be officially reported by Northwest until July, 2005. Initial analysis (based on average fares values used by consultants contracted in November, 2004) estimates that the flights generated from between $525,000 to $575,000 in O&D revenue during the month. The revenue guarantee requires an average monthly revenue of $441,667 for the first twelve months of service.
Northwest planning and marketing are both quite pleased with the performance of the new flights. The possibility of exceeding the revenue target in the first month of service is quite encouraging. Most new services run at a deficit for the first few months and have to make up revenue after the service builds. Northwest reports that the flights are continuing to book well into June, July, and August with strong load factors already above 60 percent. Other college towns typically show a decrease in the summer months.
Northwest continues to be in the news with the foreshadowing of potential financial trouble. Their strategy remains to consolidate traffic from smaller airports into their three major hubs and feed their international flights. The airline is also exploring point to point service from mid-sized cities.
Load factors on US Airways in May were 40 percent overall with 45 percent load to Philadelphia and 29 percent load to La Guardia (down from 38% the month prior). Current US Airways planning staff is again unconcerned with these numbers and reports no complaints from the regional airway that manages the LaGuardia service. The planned merger with America West is proceeding with a completion and emergency from bankruptcy reported in the Aviation Press for September, 2005.
Ithaca Airport marketing continues on several fronts. Web traffic in June to date is running up 17 percent from May, 2004. The current strategy is to maintain and build local awareness to grow the outgoing market while beginning to branch out to bid awareness beyond Ithaca to bring in new passengers.
Jean McPheeters and Steve Johnson visited Federal legislators in Washington, D.C. following formal application for the Federal air services grant. The response was positive and Senator Schumer's Office offered to call the Director of the Department of Transportation on Tompkins County's behalf over the summer. Decisions are expected in late August, 2005.
Report from the Planning, Development and Environmental Quality Committee
Ms. Herrera, Chair, reported the Committee has not met since the last Legislature meeting. The next meeting will be July 6 at 2:30 p.m.
Report and Presentation of Resolution(s) from the Government Operations Committee
Mr. Lane, Chair, reported the Committee met on June 15th and most of the business is reflected on the agenda. The Committee received a report from Wendy Skinner on the County's employee newsletter and an effort that will be taking place on reexamining that. Ms. Skinner also presented the final report from the Record Keeping Task Force. Mr. Lane said although all of the recommendations were not unanimously accepted by all of the Task Force members, it contains good suggestions.
Mr. Lane said Ms. Schuler has requested that the artwork that the County began purchasing a number of years ago for display in County buildings be inventoried.
RESOLUTION NO. - ADOPTION OF LOCAL LAW NO. e OF
2005 - A LOCAL LAW IN RELATION TO THE ALTERNATE VETERANS EXEMPTION FOR
REAL PROPERTY TAXES (REPEALS LOCAL LAW NO. 1 OF 1997)
MOVED by Mr. Lane, seconded by Mr. Totman.
It was MOVED by Mr. Koplinka-Loehr, seconded by Mr. Penniman, to amend the Local Law as follows:
1. Past War Veteran Exemption - For those honorably discharged veterans (and certain of their family members as set forth in the enabling legislation) who served during the Spanish-American War; the Mexican Border War; World War I; World War II; Korean War; Vietnam War period; or the Persian Gulf conflict:
15% of the assessed value with
a maximum exemption of $12,000 (change from $15,000)
2. Combat Zone Veterans Exemption - For those veterans under Basic War Veterans Exemption who can also document service in a combat theater or zone:
An additional 10% of assessed value
with a maximum exemption of $20,000 (change from $10,000)
3. Disability Veterans Exemption - For those veterans who have received a service-connected disability compensation rating from the Veterans’ Administration:
An additional % of assessed value equal
to 50% of disability rating with a maximum
exemption of $40,000 (change from $50,000)
Mr. Penniman said he believes the responsibility for veterans should lie with the Federal government. He supports the proposed amendment because he feels it would help alleviate the tax burden.
Ms. Kiefer said adopting this change would align the County with what many of the municipalities are already doing.
Mr. Proto said he opposes the amendment and stated there are several veterans who reside in this County who do not take advantage of this. He feels this is a small token to repay veterans for their service.
A voice vote on the amendment resulted as follows: Ayes - 7 (Legislators Blanchard, Herrera, Joseph, Kiefer, Koplinka-Loehr, Penniman, and Robertson); Noes - 5 (Legislators Booth, Lane, Proto, Totman, and Winch); Excused - 3 (Legislators McBean-Clairborne, Schuler, and Todd). MOTION FAILED.
Following further discussion, Mr. Lane was granted permission
to withdraw this resolution and take it back to the Government Operations
Report from the Public Safety Committee
Mr. Penniman, Vice Chair, reported the Committee has not met since the last Legislature meeting.
Approval of Minutes of June 7, 2005
It was MOVED by Mr. Booth, seconded by Mr. Proto, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to approve the minutes of June 7, 2005 as corrected. MINUTES APPROVED.
On motion the meeting adjourned at 7:43 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Michelle Pottorff, Legislature Office