Highlights of the September 16, 2008 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
2009 Budget Hearing Scheduled
The Legislature, by unanimous vote, scheduled the formal public hearing on the 2009 Tompkins County Tentative Budget and the 2009-2013 Capital Program. (Legislator Tyke Randall was absent.)  The hearing will take place Monday, November 10, 2008, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at County Legislative Chambers, 320 N. Tioga Street in Ithaca.  The Legislature will take public comment prior to the budget adoption vote, expected on November 18. 

Prior to the formal hearing, citizens are invited to comment on the proposed County budget and capital plan at the County’s Annual Community Budget Forum, which will take place next Monday, September 22nd beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Borg Warner Room of the Tompkins County Public Library, 101 E. Green Street, Ithaca.
Contact:  Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair of the Legislature 274-5434 or 257-2329; Nathan Shinagawa, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 280-7557.

Reduced State Support Mentioned, as Legislature Accepts Grant Awards
The Legislature, without dissent, accepted two State grants, and agreed to serve as administrator for a third grant-funded program, but some legislators criticized the State’s pull-back of support that has reduced the funds that have been awarded.  (Legislator Tyke Randall was absent for the votes.)

The Legislature accepted two New York State Archives records management grants, which were to have totaled nearly $69,000 for the County Clerk’s Office and $64,000 for the Legislature Office and Information Technology Services.  The County, however, has been notified that the State will reduce all grants by 6 percent.  Legislator Frank Proto called the action, which he said compounds an earlier reduction of more than half-a-million dollars in available state archives grant “thievery by the State,” since those grants come from clerks’ fees, not from tax revenue.

The County also committed to administer, on behalf of the Tompkins County Council of Governments, a shared services grant which will update the inventory of public water and sewer facilities countywide and identify potential deficiencies and possible strategies to address them.  The project total of more than $91,000, however, represents a 3.5 percent reduction from the amount sought.  The county Industrial Development Agency is supporting the local share of cost.
Contact:  Michael Hattery, Chair, Government Operations Committee, 844-4361; Martha Robertson, Chair, Planning , Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584; Planning and Public Works Commissioner Ed Marx, 274-5560;Legislator Frank Proto, 277-4875.

Salary Increase Approved for County Administration Position
The Legislature, by a vote of 10-4, authorized an increase in salary for the position of Executive Assistant in County Administration.  The action increases the salary for the exempt position above its normal salary range, placing it in the County’s so-called “red circle” category.  The increase to a level of $60,000  was advanced as a legislative initiative to help ensure a smooth transition to the new County Administrator, Joe Mareane, next month.  Legislator Dooley Kiefer, who proposed the action, said the administrative situation is “unique” and that the Legislature must be concerned that continuity in staffing is maintained during the transition.  Opposing the action were Legislators Jim Dennis, Frank Proto, Mike Sigler and Nathan Shinagawa.  (Legislator Tyke Randall was absent.)  Mr. Dennis, who chairs the Legislature’s Human Resources Committee said, “I understand that we are looking for a smooth transition, but not at this price.”  He and colleague Mike Sigler both expressed concern that the Legislature’s action will set a troubling precedent and could affect future contract negotiations.  Legislator Martha Robertson, who supported the action, said she was troubled by the process, saying that administrative
 policy and the normal committee process should have been respected.  She did support it, she said, because of her belief in the end result.  Legislator Kiefer has asked that the Human Resources Committee revisit the reclassification policy and determine whether any adjustment is needed.  The action requires a more than $7,000 allocation from the contingent fund for 2008 and a $2,400 target adjustment for the County Administrator’s budget for 2009.
Contact:  Legislator Dooley Kiefer, 257-7453; James Dennis, Chair, Human Resources Committee, 387-4058.

Trevor Dougherty Recognized as Distinguished Youth
Trevor Dougherty is Tompkins County’s Distinguished Youth for September.  Trevor was nominated by Belle Sherman Elementary teacher Randi Beckmann, who was particularly impressed by Trevor’s initiative in organizing the Human Peace Sign at the Ithaca Festival last June.  Among his other service achievements cited:  fundraising campaigns for orphans in Uganda and for HIV/AIDS orphans in South Africa and  internet videos produced to raise awareness for a variety of causes, among them one entitled “Stand up for World Peace,” nominated as one of the”most imspirational videos in the 2007 YouTube  Awards.  Trevor attended the Democratic National Convention as a guest of the New York delegation and served as a CNN Citizen Jounalist there.  Legislator Carol Chock said, “Trevor’s work is a prime example of how young people can add great value to our community.”  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