|COUNTY APPEALS TO STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS TO EASE MEDICAID
The Board of Representatives unanimously approved two resolutions that
request the state and federal governments to take back some of the burden
for Medicaid costs from county governments. One resolution calls for the
governor and state legislature to put a cap on counties’ share of Medicaid
costs at the 2001 level. Recent increases in Medicaid costs have forced
many counties to both raise taxes and cut services in order to pay the
bills. Tompkins County is looking at an increase of $2.8 million in the
cost of Medicaid in 2003, and is already $1.5 million over budget for this
item in 2002. The other resolution asks the federal government to take
on a larger share of the state’s Medicaid burden. Contact: Peter Penniman,
Chair, Budget & Capital Committee, 387-3928, 387-5897.
BOARD TO FREEZE OWN SALARIES FOR ONE YEAR
The Board of Representatives will forego a scheduled $500 raise in
the coming year. By a vote of 14 to 1 (George Totman voted no), the legislators
agreed to freeze their 2003 annual salaries at the 2002 level of $15,500.
The measure will save the County $9,842 including fringe benefits. Contact:
Michael Koplinka-Loehr, 257-2329.
SALES TAX REVENUE MAY EASE COUNTY’S BUDGET WOES
County Finance Director David Squires told the Board that 2002 sales
tax revenues for the County may be $1.4 to $2 million higher than budgeted.
First- and second-quarter returns have come in higher, and third-quarter
sales tax revenues are level with last year, Squires said. Contact: David
DENTAL CASEWORKER TO HELP POOR GET DENTAL CARE
By a vote of 11 to 4 (Reps. Frank Proto, Thomas Todd, George Totman,
and Dan Winch voted no), the Board approved a pilot program to help people
who have Medicaid benefits receive needed dental care. Medicaid reimbursements
to dental providers are notoriously low, and it has been difficult for
Medicaid recipients to receive dental services. A dental caseworker will
advocate for patients, assure appointments are kept, and help streamline
the connection between patients and dentists. About 600 persons a year
will be served through the program, which was funded through April, 2003.
Contact: Mary Pat Dolan, Commissioner of Social Services, 274-5251.
BOARD NEARLY UNANIMOUS ON OPPOSITION TO UNFOUNDED WAR ON IRAQ
After much discussion and a number of votes on procedure and alternative
wording, the Board voted 14 to 1 (Rep. Thomas Todd was opposed) in support
of an anti-war resolution offered by Rep. Dick Booth. Booth’s resolution
states opposition to a U.S. war on Iraq unless the action is consistent
with U.S. obligations under the charter of the United Nations. The U.N.
charter, explained Board Chair Tim Joseph, states that members must refrain
from the use of force unless attacked or when acting under the auspices
of the Security Council. The resolution was a substitute for a version
brought forward by Rep. Martha Robertson stating unreserved opposition
to a pre-emptive, unilateral war on Iraq. Robertson’s resolution lacked
sufficient support to be put to a vote. Contacts: Richard Booth, 255-4025,
272-6573; Martha Robertson, 272-0584.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SERVICES TO RETIRE
Mary Pat Dolan, Tompkins County’s Commissioner of Social Services since
1984, will leave her post next year. Dolan, as well as four others in her
department, is taking advantage of the state retirement system’s early
retirement incentive. She will officially retire at the end of 2002, but
will work for the County throughout 2003 on a part-time basis during the
search for a new commissioner. Dolan was Director of Services for eight
years at the Chenango County DSS before coming to Tompkins County. Her
philosophy, which has guided the department through several major transitions,
is that “everyone deserves the basics of living, and everyone deserves
respect.” The department’s services have become more family-friendly and
strength-based in Dolan’s tenure. “We have striven to be a positive force
in peoples’ lives, and a good neighbor,” says Dolan. Contact: Mary Pat
Board of Representatives
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