Highlights of the November 21, 2006 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
2007 Tompkins County Budget Adopted
By a vote of 10 to 5, the Tompkins County Legislature ended nearly three months of study and debate and adopted the 2007 Tompkins County budget. Voting against the budget were Legislators Mike Sigler, Greg Stevenson, Dick Booth, Mike Hattery and Tyke Randall. 

Legislators approved two amendments to the budget – one restoring $8,000 in permanent funding for the Finance Department (approved by a vote of 9- 6), another making a technical change taking nearly $16,000 in funds to support Occupational Safety and Health program from the fund balance, instead of the Workers Compensation line (approved unanimously).  None of the changes produced significant impact on the final tax rate and tax levy.

The budget increases the tax rate by 2.6 percent and the total tax levy (the total amount of property tax collected) by 5.1 percent, nearly identical to rates contained in the tentative budget.

Two proposed amendments failed before the budget was adopted.  A proposal from Legislator Michael Koplinka-Loehr to restore as permanent funding more than $36,000 to increase staff hours at Offender Aid and Restoration failed by a 4-7 vote.  A proposed amendment from Legislator Michael Hattery would have eliminated funding for a Senior Planner’s position; reduced a paralegal position in the Human Rights Division to half- time; cut Youth Services funding by more than $70,000 and contingent funding for jail board-outs and highway funding each by $75,000.  That proposal failed by a 5-10 vote.

As the most significant change to the budget, Legislators unanimously approved transferring $475,000 from the fund balance to the contingency fund to increase 2007 funding for the Health Department’s Early Intervention Program for children with special needs because of an unanticipated increase in tuition fees to outside providers, as billed by the state.  Health and Human Services Committee chair Frank Proto and Public Health Director Alice Cole warned the legislature that the state is expected to recalculate fees going back as far as 2003, mandates which, if allowed to stand, could produce as much as a $1.2 million shortfall in the 2006 budget, as well as increased expense in 2007.  A top-level working group will convene within days to develop a plan of action to address the situation and advocate for the county’s interests.

Comparison of 2006 and 2007 adopted Tompkins County budgets:

Local Share  (spending on local programs; revenue raised from the local community, primarily through property and sales tax):
2006:  $65,803,707
2007:  $71,208,564

Property Tax Levy  (total amount to be collected from owners of taxable property):
2006:  $33,102,442
2007:  $34,795,186 (Percent change: +5.11)                                -

Property Tax Rate (amount per $1,000 of assessed property value):
2006:  $6.59
2007:  $6.76 (Percent change:  +2.6)

County Property Tax change for home assessed at $100,000:  $17.01

Among other actions, Legislators
  • Established 2007 salaries and benefits for the county’s management and confidential employees, approved by a vote of 11-3, with one member absent.  Nearly all employees will receive salary increases of 3 percent, with the exception of several managerial employees who will receive raises of 2.5 percent, arising from an ongoing adjustment from a salary schedule reconfiguration several years ago.
  • Endorsed a sustainability program for Tompkins County Government and approved a resolution of support backing the research into the development of alternative fuels
  • Urged that, as recommended by the county’s Environmental Management Council, the City of Ithaca conduct a full environmental review of its action to rescind its leash law for the Festival Lands adjacent to Allan H. Treman Marine Park to produce a local dog park and that any off-leash area be enclosed with a fence to protect that area’s grassland nesting area and shoreline bird habitat.  That measure passed by a split vote of 8-7, the minority maintaining that the county has no standing in the matter.
  • Recognized seven students as Tompkins County Distinguished Youth.  Corey Bruneau, Shawn Carroll, J.J. Heffron, Nichole Mack, Anthony Nielson, Keileiy Reeves and Brooke Sepos were recognized for their achievements in Aggression Replacement Training (ART) in the Bridges for Youth and Families Program.

Contact:   Tim Joseph, Chair of the Legislature, 277-2519