County Participants Optimistic After Recent NYSAC Conference
Reflecting on their experience at the New York State Association of Counties’ winter conference in Albany last week, six legislators who attended told their colleagues that they benefited from the conference and, while conceding that it’s still very early in the new state administration, said they are pleased with how the Spitzer team is handling things so far. Chair Tim Joseph reported that the state budget appears so far to be a “break-even” situation for counties, that he expects the state’s cap on Medicaid will continue to be honored, and that there may be some incremental progress toward removing parolees from county jails. County Administrator Steve Whicher likened the change in administrations as “a refreshing breeze that is blowing through Albany”, and observed that operations such as the Governor’s budget process appear open and well organized. He also said he is heartened by the praise that Tompkins County received at the conference for achievements on a number of fronts.
Contact: Tim Joseph, Chair of the Legislature, 277-2519; County Administrator Stephen Whicher, 274-5551
Legislature Accepts Nearly $100,000 in State Elections Funding
The Legislature, without dissent, approved financial assistance from the New York State Board of Elections – two grants, totaling $41,561, provided as part of the 2006 fiscal year New York State budget, to improve access to county polling places. The Legislature also accepted a contract between the Tompkins County Board of Elections and the state Board of Elections to fund voter education and poll worker training. New York State will pass through $56,148 in federal funding under the contract. All three elections fund allocations stem from mandates of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.
Contact: Greg Stevenson, Chair, Government Operations Committee, 273-2439; Elizabeth Cree or Stephen Dewitt, Commissioners of Elections, 274-5522.
Grant Received for Collaborative Criminal Justice Program
The Legislature, without dissent, accepted $35,600 from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services to support a cooperative criminal justice effort involving the County and four other agencies. Participating are Tompkins County, Cayuga Medical Center, The Advocacy Center, Cornell University Police and the Human Services Coalition. The program will fund the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, self-defense training and a lock change program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Contact: Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Chair, Public Safety Committee, 277-5104
Community Budget Forums Scheduled
Legislators learned more about three community budget sessions that will be held next month to both educate the public about the county budget and to ask guidance concerning where the County should focus its resources. The sessions, organized by the county’s Public Information
Advisory Board on behalf of the Legislature, will be held on Saturday, March 3 at Neptune Hose Company in Dryden, on Saturday, March 10 at Enfield Elementary School, and on Saturday, March 24 at the Tompkins County Human Services Building in Ithaca, beginning at 9:30 a.m. each day. The forums will provide early input to the Legislature, as it prepares for the 2008 budget process.
Contact: James Dennis, Legislature Liaison to the Public Information Advisory Board, 387-4058, Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329
County Receives Incentive Payment from Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance
On behalf of the Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance (MEGA), former county legislator Barbara Blanchard presented county Finance Director David Squires with a $2,000 check, the second of three annual payments provided as an incentive to the county for its past decision to buy into MEGA’s wind energy program. Initiated by Tompkins and Tioga Counties several years ago to reduce utility costs, MEGA now involves 12 counties, a number of towns, villages and non-profit organizations, as well as residential customers.
Contact: Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329
Among other actions, the Legislature
Contact: Kathy Luz Herrera, Chair, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, 273-8169