Highlights of the July 17, 2007 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Legislature Backs IDA Bonds for Cayuga Medical Center
The Legislature, by unanimous vote, approved issuance of up to $5.5 million in tax-exempt county Industrial Development Agency Civic Facility Revenue Bonds to benefit Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca.  The approval authorizes the IDA to act as a conduit for the medical center to finance the purchase of up to $5.5 million in  medical equipment for the facility, enabling the medical center 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. The equipment to be procured includes imaging and other equipment, with costs for each piece ranging from tens-of-thousands to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.

In a related action, the Legislature, also by unanimous vote, urged New York State to extend state legislation which permits the IDA to issue such Civic Revenue Bonds to benefit non-profit institutions.  The current enabling legislation sunset as of June 30th.  The Legislature’s action urges the New York State legislature to reenact the Civic Facilities Legislation for at least two years.  The Legislature in its action did not express a preference regarding the alternate bills now pending before the Senate and Assembly.

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

Legislature Consolidates Fringe Benefit Accounts
The Legislature, without dissent, authorized moving of employee fringe benefit allocations from individual department accounts to one centralized fringe benefit account, to improve financial management.  The change, recommended by the Legislature’s Budget and Capital Committee, is projected to reduce fringe expenses by about a quarter-million dollars next year and will enable the County to reduce its fringe rate from 39 to 38 percent of salary.  As part of the action, 2008 fiscal targets for departments will be reduced by the 2007 fringe amount.
Contact:  Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329.

Legislature Urges Full Federal Funding for Airport Security
The Legislature, by unanimous vote, voiced its strenuous objection to a proposed new agreement with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that would reimburse the County for only 65 percent of expenses incurred for providing mandated armed law enforcement officers at all passenger screening  points at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, projected to cause an annual shortfall of up to $100,000 for each of the next five years..  As of September 30 of this year, the new system will replace the contract arrangement in effect for the past four years, which  reimburses the County for law enforcement officer personnel costs, though not for associated expenses.  The action urges the County’s Congressional delegation to exert its influence to increase funding for the program so that all enforcement costs are fully reimbursed.
Contact:  Kathy Luz Herrera, Chair, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, 273-8169; Bob Nicholas, Airport Manager, 257-0456.

Among other actions, without dissent, the Legislature

-  Authorized a contract with the County Soil and Water Conservation District to undertake up to $25,000 in flood hazard mitigation projects in county watersheds.  Funds to support the projects are included in the 2007 county budget.  Legislators also accepted a finding that the action does not carry adverse environmental impact.

-  Appropriated the 2007-2008 statewide planning and research budget for the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council, utilizing a $42,500 grant from the state transportation department as part of the state’s Shared Cost Initiatives program.