Highlights of the September 18, 2007 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Legislature Authorizes Bonding for Health Department Building, TC3 Improvements
The Legislature, by a split vote and after considerable discussion, authorized the County to issue $3.5 million in serial bonds to support costs related to acquisition of property at 55 Brown Road, in the Cornell University Business and Technology Park, for the county’s new Health Department headquarters.  The action authorizes the County Finance Director to take the necessary steps to proceed to bonding, once an acquisition agreement is finalized with the current owner, Cornell University Real Estate.  The bonds would support purchase and related design services.

The vote was 10-5, with Legislators Frank Proto, Kathy Luz Herrera, Tyke Randall, Greg Stevenson, and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne voting no. Proto, who chairs the Legislature’s Health Department Building Committee, maintained the action is premature, and should be delayed indefinitely, at least until his committee completes its review of building information prepared by consultants and staff, as well as the acquisition agreement under development by legal staff.  Proto’s motion to table failed by a vote of 4-11, with Proto, Luz Herrera, Greg Stevenson and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne voting in favor of delay.  Luz Herrera described the health department site decision as “based on poor procedural grounds” and said the County should take the time necessary now to review the available information. 

For the College improvements, legislators, by unanimous vote, authorized issuance of up to $2.9 million in additional serial bonds to support the County’s share of the Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) campus master plan recreational facility improvements.  More than a year ago, the County had authorized $4 million in borrowing, based on an initially anticipated County share of $10.2 million.

As part of the College’s Master Plan, TC3 has pledged to reimburse Tompkins and Cortland Counties for their financing of the project during construction, from College capital campaign and capital charge-back funds.  By unanimous vote, the Legislature also directed Finance Director David Squires to develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the College and with Cortland County to formally establish the schedule of funds which were advanced to the project by the county sponsors, and directed that no additional funds be released to the project until the memorandum is approved.
Contact:  Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329; David Squires, Finance Director, 274-5544; Frank Proto, Chair, Health Department Building Committee, 277-4875

Legislature Approves IDA Revenue Bonds for Longview

In another bonding resolution, the Legislature, by unanimous vote, approved the issuance by the County’s Industrial Development Agency of up to $14 million civic facility revenue bonds, to support the Ithacare Service Center Company’s expansion of its Longview Center off Danby Road in the Town of Ithaca, adding 32 residential care beds to the assisted living facility.  The Legislature’s action provides Ithacare access to tax-free bonds under provision of the federal internal revenue code and does not incur any County financial obligation to the project.
Contact:  Martha Robertson, Chair, Planning , Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584; Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329

Coddington Road Reconstruction Plan Approved
By a vote of 10 to 4, the Legislature authorized approval of design and right of way plans for the reconstruction of Coddington Road in the Town of Ithaca.  (Legislators Pam Mackesey, Greg Stevenson, Mike Hattery and Mike Sigler were opposed, Chair Tim Joseph was excused at the time that the vote was taken.)  In this initial stage, the project will rehabilitate the road from the Danby town line to the area of Troy Road.  A later stage of the project will continue the work to the Ithaca city line. 

Responding to resident sentiment, the Legislature has requested and supports the filing of an exemption form with the state Department of Transportation to change road design from the standard eleven-foot lanes and four-foot shoulders to ten-foot lanes and five-foot shoulders, with the aim of enhancing highway safety.  A motion to change the exemption request to ten-foot lanes and four-foot shoulders failed by a 3-11 margin (Legislators Mackesey, Sigler and Hattery voting in favor.)

By unanimous vote, Legislators also declared that the Coddington Road project would not produce negative impact on the environment, and therefore would require no further environmental review.  Eighty percent of the project’s $6.6 million budget will be supported by federal funds, and state funding support may be available for an additional 15 percent.  Construction is anticipated in the 2008-2009 construction season.
Contact:  Planning and Public Works Commissioner Ed Marx, 274-5560; Kathy Luz Herrera, Chair, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, 273-8169.

2008 Budget Hearing Scheduled
The Legislature, without dissent, scheduled the public hearing on the 2008 Tompkins County Budget and the 2008-2012 Capital Plan.  The hearing will take place on Tuesday, November 13, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Tompkins County Legislature Chambers in the County Courthouse, 320 N. Tioga Street in Ithaca.
Contact:  Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 257-2329

Transportation Security Administration Agreement Accepted “Under Protest”

By a vote of 14-1 (Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne dissenting), the Legislature accepted “under strong protest” a new five-year cooperative agreement with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) governing its mandated Law Enforcement Officer program, related to passenger screening at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.  The Legislature protests the TSA’s policy which will now reimburse the County for only 65 percent of personnel costs, beginning  October 1, instead of full reimbursement, less other related costs, as had been the TSA policy since the program’s inception in 2003.  
Contact:  Kathy Luz Herrera, Chair, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, 273-8169; Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Chair, Public Safety Committee, 277-5104

Brianna Hulbert Honored as September Distinguished Youth
The Legislature recognized 11-year-old Brianna Hulbert of Newfield as this month’s Tompkins County Distinguished Youth.  Brianna was recognized for her involvement with the Alzheimer’s Foundation, helping the organization raise $1,200 for its memory walk in Binghamton last year and organizing raffles and a pancake breakfast to benefit the organization.  Youth Development staff at TST-BOCES, who nominated Brianna, say that she has “balanced fundraising efforts, extracurricular activities, caring for family pets and being a good family member,” while maintaining a very strong academic average.  They praise Brianna as “quite a wonderful young person who is working to make Tompkins County and Central New York a better place for all of us.”  The Distinguished Youth Award is cosponsored by Bangs Ambulance Service, A&B Awards and Engraving, Purity Ice Cream and Cayuga Radio Group.
Contact:  Legislature Office, 274-5434.

Among other actions, the Legislature

- Adopted a Deferred Compensation Plan, to be administered by ICMA Retirement Corporation, of Washington, D.C., as a retirement investment option for County employees, a program that is compliant with New York State’s model deferred compensation plan

- Recognized the Dryden Grange for 100 Years of Service to Tompkins County, praising the important service that the organization provides to the lives of County residents, on the occasion of its centennial.