Highlights of the October 28, 2009 meeting
of the Tompkins County Legislature

Legislature Adopts 2010 Budget Amendments

Reconvening a meeting adjourned from last week, The Tompkins County Legislature adopted amendments to the 2010 tentative budget, as recommended by its Expanded Budget Committee. The vote was 9-6, with the full Legislature present. Voting in favor of the amended budget were Legislators Greg Stevenson, Will Burbank, Carol Chock, James Dennis, Dooley Kiefer, Pam Mackesey, Frank Proto, Martha Robertson and Nathan Shinagawa. Legislators Mike Sigler, Mike Hattery, Kathy Luz Herrera, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Tyke Randall, and Chair Mike Koplinka-Loehr voted no.

The recommended budget would raise the tax levy (the total amount of property tax revenue needed to balance the budget) by 3.97%. The countywide average tax rate in the recommended amended budget would increase by 1%, to $6.00 per thousand dollars assessed property value. It was noted that local share spending in the new tentative budget has declined by .31% from the current year, a reduction of nearly $230,000.

Before the adoption vote, Legislators, also by a vote of 9-6, added an amendment, advanced by Legislator Martha Robertson, to restore just over $14,000 in one time funding to the recommended budget to support a senior account clerk-typist and part-time administrative assistant in the Health Department through department designated surplus funds, an addition that does not affect the tax levy or tax rate. Public Health Director Alice Cole told the Legislature the one time funds would provide critical support for staffing needs next year, while the department restructures and reorganizes to accommodate a number of anticipated retirements.

Regarding the amended budget, several legislators commented that the proposed budget is not ideal—probably not totally the budget each would want—but is the best that can be achieved at this point. Chair Mike Koplinka-Loehr was one who maintained the Legislature could have done better. He said he was not supporting the amended tentative budget, since he would prefer a levy increase in the 3.0 to 3.2% range. That margin reflects the Legislature’s 3% 2010 levy goal, plus the added impact of higher-than-anticipated pension expense.

The amended package, now known as the Legislative Tentative Budget, replaces Administrator Joe Mareane’s tentative budget as the basis of budget deliberations. The Legislature will hold a public budget hearing on Wednesday, November 4, beginning at 7 p.m. at Legislature Chambers. The final budget adoption vote is scheduled to take place Tuesday, November 17. The amended budget will be available for review online at the County website at www.tompkins-co.org (click on “County Budget”) with paper copies available at the County Legislature office at the County Courthouse and at County Administration, 125 E. Court Street, Ithaca.

Contact: James Dennis, Chair, Budget and Capital Committee, 387-4058; Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Chair of the Legislature 274-5434 or 257-2329; County Administrator Joe Mareane, 274-5551.



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