Highlights from the April 18 meeting of the
Tompkins County Board of Representatives


The Board showed support, via a straw vote, for a feasibility study of a jail that could be shared by Tompkins and Cortland counties. While the County will continue with a study – now almost two years in the works – to renovate and possibly enlarge the existing Public Safety Building on Warren Road, legislators agreed that looking at the cost and other considerations of a shared facility makes sense. With a possible location in Dryden, a joint facility would have advantages and disadvantages already recognized by the Board. A larger facility could make more in-house services, such as mental health treatment, more affordable. Certain positions, such as kitchen and maintenance workers, could be combined. On the other hand, labor and management issues in merging two sets of correctional staff, with two different pay scales, could be difficult to resolve. Both counties would pay more in transportation costs. Cortland County’s legislature has also taken a straw vote that indicates its interest in pursuing the study. At the next Board meeting, the Public Safety Building Space Study Committee will bring forward a resolution to fund the study, at an estimated cost of $30,000 to $50,000 for each county.


Tompkins County received a total of $8,796,130 in sales tax returns for the first quarter of 2000, up about 1 percent from the first quarter of 1999, Finance Director David Squires reported. About half that amount is dispersed to the city, towns, and villages. Tompkins County government retains $4,957,075. The County has anticipated $19,700,000 in sales tax revenue for the 2000 budget year.


By unanimous vote (13-0; two Board members were absent), the Board okayed $21,900 in local tourism grants, from a potential pool of $40,000. The grants are funded by proceeds from the local tax on hotel and motel rooms. A total of 17 applications were received. The Board anticipates the announcement of more grants after further review of applications, and a second round a grants may be opened. The grants were awarded to:

Community Arts Partnership, for Ithaca Artist’s and Holiday Artist’s Markets, $950

Cornell Cooperative Extension, for 3rd Annual Farm-City Day, $3,000

Cayuga Nature Center, for TreeTops 2000 celebration, $1,500

Kitchen and Hangar Theaters, for Ithaca Summer Theater 2000 brochure, $5,000

Southside Community Center, for Juneteenth 2000 celebration, $2,000

Ithaca Downtown Partnership, for regional tourism brochure, $3,500

Ithaca Festival, for an Ithaca Winter Festival, 2001, $4,000

Center for Environmental Sustainability, for Earth Day Festival, 2001, $1,200

Varna Community Association, SummerFest 2000, $750

NOTE: Nancy Schuler, an employee of the Hangar Theater, abstained from the vote on the Summer Theater brochure.


Tompkins County’s rich distribution of flora and fauna, as well as its natural beauty and geologic significance, has been well documented in a report called the Unique Natural Areas Inventory. The result of a collaboration among the Environmental Management Council, Cornell Plantations, and the County Planning and Information Technology departments, the updated inventory of 192 sites includes information on plant and animal life and unique environmental qualities, such as wetlands, old-growth forests, and habitat for rare species. The document, which will be available at municipal offices and local libraries, is a conservation, education, and planning tool.

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