Highlights from the January 4, 2000 meeting of the

Tompkins County Board of Representatives


The Board of Representatives unanimously elected Barbara Mink as Chair of the Board. Michael Lane was also unanimously chosen to serve again as Vice-chair, making this the fourth year the two have headed the 15-member county legislature. Both are Democrats.

In her address to the Board, Mink emphasized the 20-year vision that is guiding many ongoing and proposed projects, such as the new Public Library and updates to the county’s emergency communications system. Continuing in that vein, Mink announced the new Intermunicipal Resource Sharing committee that she will chair. This group – whose membership includes County Rep. Thomas Todd, Ithaca Mayor Alan Cohen, Ithaca Town Supervisor Cathy Valentino, and Village of Lansing Mayor Donald Hartill – will explore tax sharing as a long-term regional economic development strategy.

Mink also announced the new Tompkins 2020 committee, chaired by Michael Koplinka-Loehr, which will incorporate community input with various data to measure quality-of-life indicators that will be useful in planning for the next 20 years. Frank Proto will head up a third special committee, the Census 2000 Committee, that will work to assure an accurate census count.

This year’s standing committee structure and membership will remain much the same as outlined in 1999. The 2000 standing committees are:

Budget and Fiscal Policy – Tim Joseph, chair

Economic and Workforce Development – Stuart Stein, chair

Facilities and Infrastructure – Barbara Blanchard, chair

Government Operations – Michael Koplinka-Loehr, chair

Health and Human Services – Nancy Schuler, chair

Planning and Intermunicipal Coordination – Michael Lane, chair

Public Safety – George Totman, chair


County Administrator Richard Erb reported that the County’s first tobacco settlement payment for 2000 is 13 percent less than had been estimated, apparently because of a reduction in tobacco consumption. The first of two scheduled installments was received by the County on Dec 31 and totals $466,591, said Erb. That amount is about $70,000 less than the $536,312 the County was told by the state association of counties it could expect. The lower amount is based on decreased cigarette shipments for the years 1997 through 1999, said Erb. Under the conditions of the tobacco suit, tobacco companies’ payments are hinged to their sales records and ability to pay. "We are already seeing that this is a somewhat volatile source of funds," said Erb. The only other tobacco money the County has received so far is a $521,000 initial payment that had been held in escrow. That amount was added to the 2000 budget, but the Board has made no decision on the use of future payments.


The Board gave unanimous support to a resolution that sets aside $23,500 for the Solid Waste Division to contract with Historic Ithaca, Inc. to start up a resale outlet for salvaged building and architectural materials. Solid Waste, with grant money from New York State, will construct a storage shed for re-usable building materials pulled from the waste stream. The plan is to then have Historic Ithaca sort and sell the materials at a site on North Albany Street in downtown Ithaca. The resale outlet is expected to open in June.


A hearing to receive public input on changes to Agriculture District 2, covering farmland in the western half of Tompkins County, was set for 5:30 pm, Feb 8 in the County Courthouse. For more information, members of the public may call Monika Roth, Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, 272-2292.