|PUBLIC HEARING SET FOR MOVE TO THREE-YEAR ASSESSMENT CYCLE
A public hearing on a local law that would change the County's assessment cycle from annual to tri-annual was set for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 20 in the County Courthouse. The Legislature's regular meeting will start at 4:30 p.m. on that date. The hearing was set by a 9 to 6 vote. Opposed to holding the hearing were: Kathy Luz Herrera, Dooley Kiefer, Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Nancy Schuler, Thomas Todd, and George Totman. Debate on the issue was heated, with opponents of a three-year cycle insisting that assessments simply "keep score" of property values and that annual reassessment is the most equitable way to maintain this information. Proponents were equally adamant that annual assessments are unpopular and stressful, and that taxpayers need a break from the frequency of the cycle.
PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNICATIONS PROJECT ON TRACK FOR 2006 GROUNDBREAKING
County Administrator Steve Whicher reported that the County's Public Safety Communications System (PSCS) is moving ahead as two crucial steps - environmental review and completion of a contract with the system vendor, Motorola, Inc. - near completion. Whicher said the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and a Findings Statement are being completed and will be presented to the Legislature at its December 20 meeting. Whicher also said he expects a final contract with Motorola to be ready for approval on December 20. Pending these two approvals, a Request for Proposals for the construction of communications towers necessary for the system will be released in late December. Groundbreaking for the first structures is expected in early 2006. The Public Safety Communications System is the radio system used by first responders throughout the county; the project would rebuild and upgrade the countywide system. A more detailed explanation of the progress toward a contract, final price, and construction of the system will take place at a Public Safety Committee meeting, 2 - 4 p.m. Monday, December 12. The FEIS will be discussed at a subsequent committee meeting, not yet scheduled.
COUNTY DROPS PLANS FOR REPLACEMENT TOWER
The Legislature unanimously agreed to abandon plans to facilitate construction of a commercial communications tower on Snyder Road near the County airport. The tower was planned to replace a failing structure on the roof of the County Public Safety Building. The existing tower, which will be reconstructed for public safety needs, has supplied leased space to a cell phone company. Other solutions to accommodate the commercial needs have been found, and the new tower is no longer needed. Abandoning the project will move $155,000 from the County's capital program to the general fund.
UPGRADE TO TC3 MASTER PLAN IS APPROVED; NO INCREASE IN LOCAL FUNDING
The Legislature unanimously approved a revised master plan for enhancement and expansion of the campus facilities of Tompkins Cortland Community College. The cost of the master plan project is in excess of $33 million, an increase of $10 million from original estimates, which is being covered by fundraising and state aid. The Tompkins County commitment to the project remains level, at $4.9 million.
STEVENSON JOINS LEGISLATURE
Greg Stevenson, who has succeeded Daniel Winch in representing District 8 (Newfield/Enfield), participated in his first Legislature meeting this evening. Stevenson was elected in November and has taken office a month early, to fill the seat vacated by Winch, who retired on November 30.