Highlights of the February 20, 2007 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
County Health Care Agency Recognized for Quality Service
The Legislature, without dissent (Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera was absent), commended Tompkins County Home Health Care, the certified home health agency operated by the county Health Department, for “tremendous efforts in providing quality home care to the residents of Tompkins County.”  For the second straight review, the agency has earned the state’s highest level of approval from the state, following an intensive five-day on site visit, document and field review conducted by the New York State Health Department.

Public Health Director Alice Cole is proud of the dedication and professionalism exhibited by the Home Care staff in receiving their second consecutive deficiency-free survey from the New York State Department of Health.  “Having one deficiency-free survey is noteworthy,” Cole states, “but achieving a second one is monumental.”  The state, she adds, has never before awarded a home health agency two consecutive deficiency-free reviews.

The home health agency also earned the highest possible rating in a recent Medicare quality outcomes survey for acute care and earned a 94 percent satisfaction rate from home care clients surveyed during 2006.
Contact:   Alice Cole, Director of Public Health, 274-6674; Nathan Shinagawa, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 280-7557

Also related to health care, the Legislature approved slight increases in rates for some home health care fees and modified the fee structure for the county’s Mental Health Clinic, the new charged implemented to maximize third party insurance revenues.

County Administrator Commends Staff for Work During Recent Storm
County Administrator Stephen Whicher told the Legislature the performance of county workers during the recent heavy snow was “outstanding”.  Staff in the Highway and Facilities Divisions and emergency responders, he said, worked long hours, some putting in close to 12-hour days during the situation, keeping roads clear, facilities running, and citizens safe.

Legislature Authorizes Grant Application for Home Ownership Program
The Legislature authorized the county to seek funding assistance under the New York State Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program, to support the Tompkins County Homeownership Program.  The program has been funded through seven previous such grants since 1993.  The Legislature also amended the Home Ownership Program to increase the eligible purchase price to $150,000, responding to the market-related increase in local housing prices.

Contact:  Martha Robertson, Planning, Chair, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584.    

Memorial Donation to Fund Program for Frail Elderly
The Legislature gratefully accepted a donation in the amount of $10,000 in memory of Marilynn Efroymson Gazevitz to assist frail elders and their caregivers with services to enable the elderly to live independently.  The funds will be used to support services for qualifying individuals through the county’s Office for the Aging.
Contact:  Lisa Holmes, Director, Office for the Aging, 274-5482; Nathan Shinagawa, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 280-7557

Legislature Accepts State Homeland Security Grant for Sheriff’s Office
The Legislature authorized the county to accept a grant award in the amount of $29,500 from the New York State Office of Homeland Security.  Funding will support interoperable communications equipment for the department’s incident command vehicles, as part of the county’s new 800 megahertz emergency communications system. The latest grant represents the third installment of Homeland Security funding received.

Contact:  Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Chair, Public Safety Committee, 277-5104: Sheriff Peter Meskill, 257-1345

Among other business, the Legislature
  • Appointed the Newfield Historical Society for another four- year term as Keepers of the Newfield Covered Bridge. Legislator Greg Stevenson called the Newfield Covered Bridge “truly a treasure for both the Town of Newfield and for Tompkins County” and said the historical society, through this action, will “assure that this structure stays viable and something we can all be proud of.” Contact:  Legislator Greg Stevenson, 273-2439
  • Heard from J. Robert Messinger, field representative for Congressman Michael Arcuri (24th District.)  Operating out of the Congressman’s new field office in Cortland, Messinger said his function will be “the eyes and ears of the Congressman in this section of the district” and encouraged constituents to contact him with questions and concerns.