Highlights of the October 7, 2008 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
Legislature Takes Compromise Stand on Lake Monitoring Program
In what was described as a much-discussed compromise proposal, the Legislature, by unanimous vote endorsed efforts undertaken through the County’s Water Resources Council (WRC) to develop a comprehensive monitoring plan to help identify sources of pollution in southern Cayuga Lake.  (Legislators Kathy Luz Herrera and Tyke Randall were absent.) 

The action commends the WRC and Cornell University on their collaboration to develop the lake monitoring plan and supports the plan’s overall approach.  The measure, however, makes it clear that the Legislature believes that the plan and monitoring related to Cornell’s Lake Source Cooling plant are two issues that must be addressed separately and that the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) should require continuation of lake source cooling monitoring sites in any lake source cooling plant permit renewal.  The Legislature stands by its opposition three years ago to any reduction in monitoring sites required by the state .  The University has indicated that, should it be relieved of its monitoring responsibilities under the permit, it would redirect its $100,000 monitoring expense to the comprehensive monitoring program set out in the comprehensive plan.
Legislator Frank Proto, who chairs the WRC, said, “This is a compromise resolution…and we are not attempting to overstep the DEC’s bounds at all.”  He reminded lawmakers that the County’s comprehensive plan calls for production of a lake monitoring report and commended subcommittee chair Roxanna Johnson and Deputy Commissioner of Planning Joan Jurkowitz for their leadership through the WRC in developing the comprehensive monitoring program.
Contact:  Martha Robertson, Chair, Planning , Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584; Legislator Frank Proto, Chair, Water Resources Council, 277-4875.

Contingency Funds Approved for OAR Bail Fund
By a vote of 10 to 3, the Legislature approved a $10,000 in contingency funding to increase the revolving bail fund for the agency Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources (OAR.)  (Legislators Mike Hattery, Mike Sigler and Greg Stevenson voted no; Legislators Kathy Luz Herrera and Tyke Randall were absent.)  As part of the 2008 budget, $10,000 in contingent funding was earmarked to address jail overcrowding.  Agency director Deborah Dietrich reported additional funding is needed to continue to increase the number of bails provided, and noted that, of 60 people receiving bail so far this year, 49 had bails of $1,000 or less.  Director Dietrich noted that about $6,000 in bail funding which should be returned is being held by municipal courts, and Legislator Pam Mackesey suggested that the Legislature might wish to contact justice courts about the problem.
Contact:  Greg Stevenson, Chair, Public Safety Committee, 273-2439

Legislature Supports Temporary Increase in Federal Medicaid Share
The Legislature, without dissent, urged the state’s congressional delegation to support an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, to provide state taxpayers property tax relief related to Medicaid expenses.  The measure supports a proposal from the National Governors Association to temporarily increase the percentage as an economic stimulus option to provide more federal funding for state Medicaid programs.  The proposal is projected to provide nearly $1.6 billion in fiscal relief to New York State, including $480 million to the state’s counties, reducing the Medicaid burden for localities.
Contact:  Frank Proto, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 277-4875.

Among other actions, the Legislature

  • Awarded LeChase Construction Services of Rochester, New York the contract for deconstruction work at the new Health Department building on Brown Road, for its bid of $324,500 opened September 4.
  • Accepted two state
  • grants awarded to the County Office for the Aging to support health and safety-related home repairs for low-income senior citizens:  a $125,000 RESTORE award through the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation and a $10,000 state legislative initiative grant, awarded through State Senator George Winner.
  • Accepted a $15,000 grant from the state Department of Health Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Diseases to increase awareness of syphilis and other STDs in Tompkins County, including community collaboration and outreach; training for local health practitioners; screening and treatment.