Highlights of the March 20, 2007 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Legislature Authorizes Issuance of County IDA Bonds for Ithaca College Project
By a vote of 12 to 1 (2 Legislators were absent; Legislator Frank Proto voted no), the Legislature authorized the county Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to issue up to $32 million in Civic Facility Revenue Bonds to assist in the financial support for a wide-ranging construction and renovation project at Ithaca College.   The project includes construction of a new administrative office building; as well as renovating, equipping  and repairing existing academic buildings and residence halls throughout the campus.  The IDA is acting as a conduit for the funds, enabling the college to receive a tax-free rate as a non-profit organization, with no liability for the county.  The purpose of the legislature's action was to certify the validity of the IDA, complying with provisions of the federal internal revenue code.  Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera praised the impact of the project, supporting use of local workers, through contractors offering certified apprenticeship programs and paying the prevailing wage.  That issue prompted considerable discussion - including whether that aspect of the proposal was properly discussed at the committee level.  Legislator Proto stressed that his opposition reflected no negative opinion concerning the project itself, but on the process involved in bringing it forward.
Contact: Martha Robertson, Planning, Chair, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584; Legislator Frank Proto, 277-4875.

Legislature Supports Tobacco-Free Zones for County Facilities
By a vote of 12-1, the Legislature authorized establishment of Tobacco-Free Zones around all county faicilities. (Two legislators were absent, Legislator Frank Proto voted no.)  The measure supports the Health Department's Tobacco-Free Zone initiative and is a voluntary program covering county-owned and county-occupied buildings. It authorizes department heads to establish such zones, as they see fit.  While acknowledging the staff work that went into the proposal, Legislator Proto expressed concern that the measure takes another step in the loss of personal liberties.  Legislator Kathy Luz Hererra was one who praised the action as an enhancement to workplace safety for county employees.

Contact:  Nathan Shinagawa, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 280-7557, Legislator Frank Proto, Chair, 277-4875.

Jonathan Reed Honored as Tompkins County Distinguished Youth
The Legislature presented Ithaca Jonathan Reed with this month's Tompkins County Distinguished Youth Award.  Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, said Mr. Reed was nominated for the award by GIAC teen program leader Cassandra Nelson, who praised Jonathan's active involvement for the past three years with the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, his academic, athletic and civic achievement. Jonathan, she said, is dependable, reliable, and takes the initiative needed to do what needs to be done.  Among his achievements:  participating in a citywide teen focus group addressing teen input and attending a week-long conference last summer in Washington, DC, working with other youth from across the country to address youth violence.  He was called “a positive role model for other teens in this community”.  Accepting the award, Jonathan said he doesn't see himself as doing that much; he just likes to help people. The Distinguished Youth Award is cosponsored by A&B Awards, Bangs Ambulance Service, Purity Ice Cream and Cayuga Radio Group.
Contact:  Legislature Office, 274-5434.

Among other actions, the Legislature

  • Approved several initiatives involving the Department of Social Services (DSS), which carry no county cost.  The Legislature accepted $42,700 in New York State health funding to support a program, to be operated by DSS and the county Health Department, to enhance access to dental care for pregnant women, children with special health care needs and others with significant barriers to dental health care; and approved  a grant-funded position to improve pre-natal and toddler dental care access.  Three additional approved grant-funded positions within DSS  will target improved health care access and resource recovery under the Medicaid program.  The Legislature also applied more than $27,000 in recently received state funding to allow DSS to provide intensive case management for recipients aided under the Temporary Assistance program who have failed to comply with work requirements.  All new positions approved reactivated positions which had been vacant.
  • Awarded nearly $72,000 to 27 non-profit agencies and municipalities, in the Spring 2007 round of the county's tourism grant program,.funded entirely through county Room Occupancy Tax,  Funds are allocated through three separate grant programs to support producing and marketing local community events. 
In a related action, the Legislature also presented Cornell's Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the first African American Fraternity in the country, with the county's first Tompkins Tourism Partner Award, in recognition of its centennial celebration, a national event that attracted more than 400 room nights at local hotels.