|EMERGENCY FUNDING FOR LIBRARY STALLED BY TIE VOTE
A 7 to 7 vote sank a contingent fund request by the Tompkins County Public Library. The library asked for $26,000 to replace outmoded computers, a book check-in system, and a microfilm reader. Some Legislators found the request for equipment replacement to be reasonable. Those opposed felt that the request was an inappropriate use of the County's contingent funds, which are intended to cover unexpected or emergency expenses. A majority vote of at least 8 is needed to pass the resolution. The measure may be brought back to the Legislature for another vote when all 15 members are present. Dooley Kiefer was absent from the meeting. Those voting yes were: Dick Booth, Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Michael Lane, Peter Penniman, Frank Proto, Nancy Schuler, and Martha Robertson. Voting no were: Barbara Blanchard, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Kathy Luz Herrera, Tim Joseph, Thomas Todd, George Totman, and Daniel Winch. Contact: Michael Lane, Chair, Government Operations Committee, 844-8440.
HEARING SET FOR TC3 BUDGET
The Legislature voted unanimously (Dooley Kiefer was absent) to set a date for a hearing on the 2005-2006 budget for Tompkins-Cortland Community College (TC3). The proposed budget is 8 percent higher than the previous year's, and the community college is requesting a 4 percent increase in the county sponsors' shares. Tompkins and Cortland County each support TC3 according to the number of students from each county who attend the two-year college. Tompkins County's share in 2004-2005 was $2,127,576; Cortland County paid $1,303,674. In response to a concern from Tompkins County about the proposed increase in sponsorship, college representatives will attend the County's next Budget Committee meeting on June 14. The hearing on the TC3 budget will be held in the Legislature chambers in the County Courthouse at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 21. Contact: Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329.
LEGISLATURE CHAIR: DRUG COURTS ARE SUCCESSFUL HERE AND BEYOND
In relation to the upcoming five-year anniversary of local drug treatment courts, Legislature Chair Tim Joseph recounted a number of evaluations of drug courts that have been done in the local community and around the state and country. Two County evaluations, done in 2002 and 2003, showed that drug treatment courts "work and save money," said Joseph. A report of drug courts statewide, done by the Center for Court Innovation in 2003, included the Ithaca City Drug Treatment Court and showed that "drug courts work and save money," Joseph repeated. The Center for Court Innovation has a pending report titled "Drug Courts - Beyond 'Do They Work'" that will explain the widespread growth and success of drug treatment courts, said Joseph, adding that this community's drug courts have been selected for a visit from the Center for Court Innovation based on the courts' reputation for exemplary operations. Joseph also pointed out that the President's National Drug Control Strategy advocates for a nearly-double increase in funding to drug court programs in 2006, based on statistical success indicators for drug courts around the nation. Contact: Tim Joseph, Chair of the Legislature, 274-5434, 277-2519.
COUNTY CORRECTIONS OFFICERS' CONTRACT APPROVED
Legislators approved a one-year, retroactive contract with the County corrections officers' bargaining unit. The contract assures a retroactive salary increase of 2.13 percent, with an additional 0.95 percent to offset employee costs for a higher prescription drug co-pay. The contract terms are retroactive to January, 2005. The contract will expire at the end of 2005. Contacts: Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329; County Administrator Stephen Whicher, 274-5551, Anita Fitzpatrick, Commissioner of Personnel, 274-5526.
LEGISLATORS' Rx PLAN IS SAME AS COUNTY'S NON-UNION EMPLOYEES
Fourteen Legislators (Dooley Kiefer was absent) voted to approve new prescription drug coverage for themselves that matches a change recently approved for the County's non-union employees. In May, the Legislature established a three-tiered prescription plan for the County's management and confidential employee groups, who do not have collective bargaining power. The new plan requires employee co-pays of $5, $15, and $25. The previous prescription co-pay for most County employees had two-tiers of $2 and $10. Legislators who choose to participate in the County's health insurance plan will have the same level of benefits. Contacts: Steve Whicher, County Administrator, 274-5551; Anita Fitzpatrick, Commissioner of Personnel, 274-5526.