News Details - Reflecting on the Year Ahead, Chair Robertson Announces Committee and Chair’s Appointments
Legislature Chair Martha Robertson at the February 7 meeting announced her appointments and the Legislature committee structure for 2012, appointments she noted maintain much consistency with 2011 according to requests of individual legislators. The Legislature retains six Standing Committees (Budget, Capital and Personnel; Government Operations; Health and Human Services; Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality; Facilities and Infrastructure; and Public Safety) and two Special Committees (Capital Plan Review and Broadband). Much of the committee leadership remains the same—Jim Dennis remains Chair of the Budget Committee; Frank Proto continues to lead Health and Human Services, Carol Chock Facilities and Infrastructure, and Peter Stein Public Safety—but there are a few leadership changes. Will Burbank succeeds Pam Mackesey as Chair of the Planning Committee; former Legislature Vice Chair Dooley Kiefer takes over leadership of the Government Operations Committee from Mike Lane, while Lane assumes chairmanship of the special Capital Plan Review Committee, which Chair Robertson had led since its inception. Pat Pryor will continue to lead the Broadband Committee, with Dave McKenna as Vice Chair. Leslyn McBean-Clairborne will continue to chair the county Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Committee (WDIC). Much of this year’s committee membership also remains the same. The committee appointments will take effect as of the end-of-day February 16; until then, 2011 committees will remain in place.
Robertson directed all committees in 2012 to focus on opportunities for shared services, beginning with concentrated discussion at their March committee meetings, and encouraged greater collaboration between committee chairs and vice chairs. Among goals for the year ahead, Robertson said responsibilities of the Capital Plan Review Committee will be important. “This is the year that the Office for the Aging will move out of the courthouse, and it may be the year that we (the Legislature) do, too,” she said. “And I hope this will be the year that we make a decision on the future location of the Community Justice Center, and the future of the Old Library.”
Among responsibilities of other committees, Robertson noted Government Operations will prepare for the once-a-decade County Charter review; asked Health and Human Services to monitor State cuts to agencies and support agencies’ potential sharing of space and administrative functions; and asked Planning and Development to focus on economic development and job creation in closer cooperation with Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD). For Public Safety, Robertson added review of Public Safety Building needs to its responsibilities, and for Facilities and Infrastructure asked the committee to continue to focus on leadership and communication in the Highway division. Presentation of a county employee Climate Survey and development of a county Diversity Plan will be among projects of the budget and personnel committee, and WDIC.
The Chair stated that, while early analysis shows fewer cost-shifts to local government in the proposed State Executive Budget for fiscal 2012, the “mandate relief” promised is not all it is advertised to be—with Medicaid and pension, for example, costing more in the near term, not less. “It’s excellent that the Governor has picked up the message about mandate relief from his own Medicaid Redesign Team, but his proposals will not have the intended effect of reducing property taxes for years to come. Robertson said achieving meaningful mandate relief must be a top priority for counties in 2012. She said county leaders from across the state emerged from their recent conference “with renewed vigor” to make 2012 the year State lawmakers enact meaningful mandate relief.
Chair Robertson called upon the County to make the most of the valuable opportunity presented by the Regional Economic Development Council process. “We can be proud that our Planning Department will receive $1million to lead an intensive, region-wide sustainability planning effort,” Robertson said. “It is very exciting that applicants in Tompkins County were awarded funding for many housing projects in the first round. In addition the award for the million-dollar revolving loan fund, for energy projects in commercial and institutional facilities, is already changing the landscape locally.” She said the County must take advantage of three additional pots of money received by the Council— for agriculture-based business development, development ofshovel-ready sites for industry, and for downtown redevelopment, with a new round of funding promised, applications due in early summer. She has initiated meetings with local representatives to the Council and its working groups to start the process of developing new applications for these funds, and invited legislators are welcome to participate in that exciting process. With its residents’ creativity, energy, and initiative, she said, Tompkins County is poised to lead the way.
“So for 2012, we have a lot to look forward to and much work ahead,” Robertson concluded. “Let’s commit to pulling together as a group, leading when possible and following when necessary, and working together on behalf of our community.”
The Chair’s message and complete list of committee appointments will be posted on the Legislature web site at http://www.tompkins-co.org/legislature.
Industrial Development Agency Members Appointed
Among the Chair’s appointments, the Legislature approved reappointment of Legislators Nathan Shinagawa, Will Burbank, Jim Dennis, and Martha Robertson to the Tompkins County Industrial Agency, with Robertson to be reappointed as Chair. The vote was 13-1, with Legislator Mike Lane voting no and Legislator Carol Chock excused. Also appointed was Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick as an elected municipal official to serve a two-year term, that seat formerly occupied by Dan Cogan.