Highlights of the July 3, 2007 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Legislature Authorizes Reallocation of Unspent Funds
By a vote of 9 to 2, the Legislature authorized 17 county departments to use surplus funds from 2006 to support current year expenses. (Legislators Dooley Kiefer and Pam Mackesey voted no; Legislators Dick Booth, Kathy Luz Herrera, Tyke Randall and Nathan Shinagawa were absent).) County Finance Director David Squires has certified $1.3 million in unspent appropriations and excess revenues and, pursuant to county fiscal policy, departments requested $1.1 million of that amount be rolled over to support department needs this year.   Mackesey said her opposition stems from structural concerns regarding how the rollover process is administered, that the process does not provide legislators adequate opportunity to review all requests and consider the County Administrator’s recommendations.  Because of that, she said, “we are not vetting these things with as careful an eye as we can.”  Kiefer also expressed concern that she did not have enough information to make decisions on specific items.    
Contact:  Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329; Legislator Pamela Mackesey, 273-6203.

Legislature Reinstates State Theatre Grant, Among Several Tourism Program Actions

By unanimous vote of those present, the Legislature authorized payment from county Room Tax Occupancy Funds of a $50,000 Tourism Capital Grant to Historic Ithaca supporting renovations to Ithaca’s State Theatre.  (Legislators Dick Booth, Kathy Luz Herrera, Tyke Randall and Nathan Shinagawa were absent).  The action reinstates a $125,000 multi-year Tourism Capital Grant; $25.000 installments had been awarded in 2003 and 2004, Tourism  Capital Grants, supported by county room tax funds, support major visitor-generating projects anticipated to increase county tourism and income from the county’s Room Occupancy Tax.

Legislators also authorized an amendment to the county’s tourism promotion contract with the Chamber of Commerce to permit purchase from Room Tax funds of a $12,500 watering truck for the Beautification program, the truck to be owned by Cooperative Extension.  The vote was 10 to 1, with Legislator Mike Hattery dissenting.  Hattery questioned whether the vehicle would be used throughout the county and suggested that having such a vehicle available doesn’t provide an incentive for communities to take responsibility for such plantings.

The Legislature, also by unanimous vote of those present, designated the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau as the county’s Tourism Promotion Agency for the 2007-2008 fiscal year and renewed the authorization to contract with Tompkins County Area Development to administer the Tourism Capital Grant program.
Contact:  Martha Robertson, Chair, Planning , Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584; Jackie Kippola, County Administration, 274-5548.

Legislature Authorizes Supplements to Military Pay
As it did in 2002 and 2004, the Legislature committed the County to pay the difference between base County salary and military pay for up to 90 days per calendar year, when a County employee is called to active military duty.  The action, approved without dissent, is effective from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2008.  The Legislature also updated the County’s policy on military leave to reflect the action
Contact:  James Dennis, Chair, Personnel Committee, 387-4058.