Highlights of the October 16, 2007 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Health Department Building Construction Committee Established
Legislature Chair Tim Joseph announced that he has charged a new advisory committee with guiding design and renovation of a new county Health Department headquarters on Brown Road in the Village of Lansing. The committee, chaired by County Planning and Public Works Commissioner Ed Marx and made up of legislators, department managers, Health Department and Public Works staff, will participate in selection of a design team, then will work with that team to ensure that the building meets the needs of programs, staff and public who will use the building. The committee is charged with working within adopted administrative policies regarding space standards and within the budget established by the County’s capital program, ensuring that the building is both energy and cost efficient and is consistent with sound health and environmental standards.

Also related to the Health Department building, the Legislature, by unanimous vote (with Legislator Kathy Luz-Herrera absent), amended language of the resolution adopted earlier this year authorizing the County to proceed toward a purchase agreement for the Brown Road site. The amendment removes language from the original resolution that indicated that the Brown Road site had been recommended by the Health Department Building Committee. Tonight’s action corrected the record of the Legislature’s action and has no impact on the decision concerning the Brown Road site.

Legislature Approves Livable Wage for Project Assistants
By a vote of 9 to 5, the Legislature approved changes to the County’s internship program, which include an increase in the pay range for project assistant interns consistent with local livable wage guidelines.  (Legislators Frank Proto, Tyke Randall, Greg Stevenson, Mike Hattery and Dick Booth voted no; Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera was absent.)  The action boosts the pay range from the prior level of $7.00 to $15.00 per hour to a range of $11.15 to $17.00 per hour, with no fringe benefits.  Legislator Hattery expressed concern that the policy, in his opinion, unduly restricts student interns from volunteering to receive pay less than the minimum amount because of the value of the educational experience .  The intern positions continue at a standard work week of up to 40 hours and a maximum duration of 18 months.  As part of the action, project assistant positions will be administered and funded by individual departments, instead of the Personnel Office, with the Commissioner of Personnel maintaining control over recruitment and placement of interns.
Contact:  James Dennis, Chair, Personnel Committee, 387-4058; Legislator Michael Hattery, 844-4361

Legislature Updated on County Government Emergency Preparedness
Legislators tonight heard an outline and update of the County’s emergency management program, a three-pronged effort carried forth by the County’s Department of Emergency Response, the County’s inter-agency Emergency Management Planning Group and its internal Emergency Management Strategic Group.

Director of Emergency Response Lee Shurtleff told legislators his department holds responsibility for managing the county’s emergency dispatch and communications system, implementation of the county’s 911 communications system, oversight of county mutual aid and disaster plans, and training and development of emergency medical personnel. 

Responsibilities of the Emergency Management Planning Group, composed of representatives of county government, city government and other local response agencies, include identifying appropriate local measures and resources to prevent disasters; developing mechanism to coordinate local resources, and  delivering services to aid citizens during and after disasters.  Among the group’s responsibilities, described by chair Cheryl Nelson, county Public Works Administrator, is to prepare and annually update the county’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

The Emergency Management Strategic Group, chaired by Deputy County Administrator Shawn Martel-Moore, is an internal team of county department staff, formed last year, focusing on readiness issues within county government related to maintaining services in the event of an emergency.  Its efforts have involved assessment of the county government infrastructure, internal countywide emergency planning and developing a workforce emergency management plan.
Contact:  Lee Shurtleff, Director of Emergency Response, 257-3888; Cheryl Nelson, Public Works Administrator, 274-0302; Shawn Martel-Moore, Deputy County Administrator, 274-5551.

2007 Proclaimed Youth Services Year in Tompkins County
Recognizing thirty years of accomplishments on the occasion of the Tompkins County Youth Services Department’s thirtieth anniversary, Legislature chair Tim Joseph proclaimed this year Youth Services Year in Tompkins County.

The proclamation, in part, recognizes the department for creating an award-winning network of municipal planning groups to advise local governments on needed youth services; for helping agencies and municipalities to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and state aid each year to support programs serving nearly 7,000 youth; for developing inter-municipal and recreational youth service partnerships; and for developing youth employment, mentoring, drug prevention and homeless/runaway programs serving county youth. 

In the proclamation, the Legislature “extends its appreciation and congratulations to the volunteers serving on the Tompkins County Youth Board and local youth commissions, and to the staff of the Youth Services Department and its contract agencies for their invaluable contributions that help make Tompkins County a national recognized community in which to live, work and raise children.”
Contact:  Tim Joseph, Chair of the Legislature, 277-2519; Nancy Zahler, Director, Tompkins County Youth Services Department and Recreation Partnershp, 274-5310.

Justina Conner Honored as Distinguished Youth
Groton High School senior Justina Conner was recognized as October’s Tompkins County Distinguished Youth Michele Sutton, teacher in T-S-T BOCES’ New Visions in Agricultural and Environmental Science program, praises Justina as “an outstanding leader” and “the picture of a responsible, giving teen.”  Justina is vice-president of Groton’s senior class, president of the Outing Club and Honor Society, treasurer of the Student Council and Science Club, and captain of the Varsity Soccer Team, as well as co-president of Tompkins County’s only FFA chapter.  Among her community service accomplishments is organization of a blood drive next month, sponsored by the National Honor Society and serving as a student mentor to freshmen at her high school.  The Distinguished Youth Award is cosponsored by A&B Awards and Engraving, Bangs Ambulance Service, Purity Ice Cream and Cayuga Radio Group.
Contact:  Legislature Office, 274-5434.

Elections Commissioner Cree Reappointed
By unanimous vote, the Legislature reappointed Elizabeth Cree as Election Commissioner to a new two-year term ending December 31, 2009.  The Tompkins County Republican Committee recommended Commissioner Cree for reappointment.
Contact:  Greg Stevenson,Chair, Government Operations Committee, 273-2439