Highlights of the July 21, 2009 meeting
of the Tompkins County Legislature

Legislature Holds Recreation Partnership to Target Guidelines
By a narrow vote, the Legislature declined to approve a resolution that would have relieved the intermunicipal Recreation Partnership from having to prepare a budget to meet the County’s budget preparation guidelines.  The vote was 6-7, with Legislators Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Nathan Shinagawa, Mike Sigler, Jim Dennis, Kathy Luz Herrera and Chair Mike Koplinka-Loehr voting no, and Legislators Mike Hattery and Tyke Randall excused. The Partnership Board had asked that, because of the nature of the partnership and the agreement that governs it, the partnership be exempted from the 6.25% target reduction for county departments and agencies as part of the 2010 budget process.  Under the five-year agreement among eleven participating municipalities, approved by the County two years ago,  the County and the City and Town of Ithaca each support one quarter of the Partnership budget, with the smaller municipalities sharing the remaining quarter, and the Recreation Partnership Board’s budget preparation process serving as the basis of municipal budget discussions.  A 6.25% reduction in the County’s $57,000 contribution, it was argued, unfairly affects all other partner municipalities.  Some Legislators likened the Recreation Partnership to other intermunicipal programs the County supports, and many, including Health and Human Services Chair Frank Proto and Legislator Dooley Kiefer, who lauded the importance of the Recreation Partnership which contributes in important ways to youth and the County’s quality of life, especially in today’s tough economic times.  But budget committee chair Jim Dennis cautioned that such action could set a troubling precedent, predicting that it would set the stage for many other worthy groups to ask for similar action.  Legislator Pam Mackesey said the Legislature must  not set aside individual programs, if it is to effectively deal with a very difficult budget challenge for 2010.
Contact:  Frank Proto, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 277-4875; James Dennis, Chair, Budget, Capital and Finance Committee, 387-4058; Legislator Dooley Kiefer, 257-7453.

Legislature Accepts State Tobacco Control Grant
The Legislature accepted community partnership funding from the New York State Department of Health—$160,000 per year over five years—to support a five-year Tobacco Control Community Partnership.  The vote was 12-1, with Health and Human Services Committee Chair Frank Proto voting no and Legislators Mike Hattery and Tyke Randall excused.  While congratulating Health Department staff for their dedicated work for years to successfully move the local tobacco control program forward, he suggested that, with the extent of tobacco bans at this point perhaps it is time to step back and take a “time-out” and evaluate results to date before escalating the effort.  Several legislators voiced support for the effort and congratulated the department for securing a very competitive grant.  As part of the Legislature’s action a full-time grant-funded position of Public Health Educator was created to carry out the program’s work plan.  It was noted that the position will continue only as long as full grant funding to support it is available.
Contact:  Frank Proto, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee, 277-4875; Legislator Will Burbank, Vice Chair, Health and Human Services, 272-7555.

Briannea Freedline Recognized as Distinguished Youth
Briannea Freedline, age 18 of Freeville, is Tompkins County’s Distinguished Youth for July, recognized for her participation, support and leadership as part of the O.U.R.S. (which stands for Opportunities, Understanding, Respect, Success) Program for youth at Congers mobile home park in Freeville. Julie Newman of Cooperative Extension, manager of the OURS Program notes that, after years of active participation, Briannea has grown to serve as a volunteer mentor for the youth and is a true leader in the program, providing consistent support to girls aged 7-17 despite personal challenges and holding multiple jobs.  “Briannea really is an amazing woman,  who has had to overcome so much personally in order to stay on a positive and productive life path,” Newman said. “The fact that she has now gone beyond that to achieve the self confidence and make the time in her schedule to serve as a volunteer mentor to the other youth is what is truly exemplary!” 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.

Among other actions, the Legislature:

  • Discussed, then delayed action on whether to support the New York State Fair Pay Act of 2007, currently before the New York State Senate and Assembly, opting to wait so that Legislators could review the bills in question.  The vote to postpone was 9-4, with two Legislators excused.
  • Authorized a more than $950,000 funding agreement with the New York State Department of Transportation  to support the Pine Tree Road Bike and Pedestrian Paths capital project in the Town of Ithaca.  Under the agreement governing local administration of the project, the County appropriates 100% of the total cost, then files for reimbursement of eligible expenses.  More than 70% of project cost will be supported by federal funds, with the local share supported jointly by the County, the Town of Ithaca and Cornell University.
  • Awarded a more than $500,000 contract to Economy Paving Co, Inc. of Cortland for paving and curbing work as part of development of a new Health Department headquarters.
  • Appropriated more than $34,000 from the STOP-DWI reserve fund to purchase of ten Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring Units and one year of associated monitoring service for the Department of Probation and Community Justice.
  • Approved execution of a deed selling a one-and-a-half-acre parcel in the Town of Dryden to The Nature Conservancy.  The parcel is adjacent to the Conservancy’s 143-acre O.D. von Engelin Preserve and, it is noted, contains many significant natural features. The County acquired the parcel through the foreclosure process The action accepts the Conservancy’s $1,000 purchase offer submitted to the County last month.
  • Approved a supplemental agreement with FoodNet Meals on Wheels to carry out services to provide nutrition services to county seniors supported by $17,661 in federal stimulus funding the Office for the Aging has received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Authorized a three-year contract with Birnie Bus Service, Inc. of Syracuse to provide transportation services for county children enrolled in County preschool special education and early intervention programs.
  • Accepted a $285,000 Federal Aviation Administration grant to complete a master plan for Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.  The master plan project, approved by the Legislature earlier this month, will be the first airport “green” master plan in the nation.



Highlights of Legislature meetings

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