Highlights from the November 8, 2000 meeting of the

Tompkins County Board of Representatives


The Board approved (13-1; Rep. Tim Joseph voted no; Rep. Nancy Schuler was absent) a contract for up to $139,269 with an independent communications consultant to study the proposed countywide Public Safety Communications System. The New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation (NYSTEC) was chosen from a field of seven firms that responded to the County’s request for proposals. NYSTEC will analyze the county’s public safety communications problems – the current system is over 30 years old and provides emergency-response radio coverage for only 65 percent of the county – and will study various alternative solutions.

By January 2001, the firm will deliver an assessment of the County’s needs and how the local geography and population pattern relate to those needs. The firm will also complete a comparative evaluation – including health impacts – of all feasible technologies including satellite systems, wireless telephone technology, and various versions of a trunked radio system that could require new communications towers.

NYSTEC will also help the County explore how it could tap into New York State’s statewide radio communications network, slated for construction over the next several years. County lawmakers are interested in the potential for a shared infrastructure that could result in significant savings. If warranted, the firm will work from January to June helping the County Planning Department to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, gathering public input, and providing other technical assistance.

NYSTEC is a not-for-profit company that provides technical support to New York State and other government agencies. The firm is co-located with the Air Force research lab in Rome, NY. A subgroup of the Communications Capital Committee (ComCap) recommended the firm. The ComCap Committee approved the contract earlier today.


The Board approved (14-0; Rep. Nancy Schuler was absent) the issuance by the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) of up to $2 million in bonds for the benefit of the George Junior Republic Association, Inc. The residential facility for youth, located in the Town of Dryden, plans to renovate an existing school building and add 15 new classrooms.


Rep. Michael Koplinka-Loehr withdrew a resolution that, if passed, would raise Board of Representatives salaries from current levels. The salaries – for subsequent Boards, not the present one, whose terms all end December 31, 2001 – would increase annually from $15,750 in 2002 to $18,000 in 2005. Koplinka-Loehr said he will present the resolution at the Board’s December 5 meeting. Current Board salaries, set in 1996, are $13,750 for 2000 and will go up to $15,000 in 2001.


The Board scheduled a public hearing for 5:30 p.m., Nov. 21, in the Board Chambers, for discussion of a local law that would compel cellular phone companies to route all 911 calls originating in Tompkins County directly to the County’s dispatch center. Currently only one cell phone provider in the county does so. Present state law requires all 911 cell phone calls to be routed to the nearest State Police headquarters. A local law will allow cell phone providers to route to the County’s central dispatch facility instead, potentially improving response time.