Tompkins County Board of Representatives
BOARD SETS ZERO INCREASE FOR 2000 COUNTY DEPARTMENT BUDGETS
After rejecting a proposal to cut County Department budgets for the year 2000 by 1 percent, the Board voted 12 – 2 to keep next year’s base budgets at the same level as 1999. (Reps. Dooley Kiefer and Michael Koplinka-Loehr voted no; Rep. Nancy Schuler was absent.) Departments must stay within the zero-increase limit – called the target budget – and detail any "over-target requests" for Board scrutiny during the budget reviews in September and October.
On a related topic, Rep. Tim Joseph, who chairs the County’s budget and capital committees, introduced the Board to several possible budget "scenarios" for 2000, with resulting tax rate increases ranging from zero to an unlikely 22 percent. The purpose of presenting these early scenarios is to alert the Board to limitations and demands that will have to be considered during budget discussions. A driving force in 2000 will be the number of capital projects to which the County commits, said Joseph. On the table are an upgrade to the County’s microwave emergency communications tower system, possible reconstruction of the County Jail, a new home for the Buildings and Grounds Department, and other, smaller projects. Joseph suggested that a way to keep capital spending under control is to delay some projects to 2001 or later. The County budget is traditionally adopted in November, following a public hearing. Media contacts: Rep. Tim Joseph, 277-2519; Deputy County Administrator Kathy West, 274-5551.
DONATIONS FOR LIBRARY WILL NOT REPLACE PUBLIC SUPPORT
The Board unanimously endorsed a statement that any private donations to the Public Library for its operations would not be used to replace County support. The Tompkins County Library Foundation requested this clarification when several potential donors expressed concern that private donations not take the place of continued public support of the library. Media contacts: Rep. Michael Lane, 844-8440; Library Director Janet Steiner, 272-4557.
COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT WILL STUDY COUNTY TOWERS PROJECT
The Board agreed by unanimous vote, to grant a $15,500 contract to Dutch Hill Tower Antenna Systems, Inc. to study a proposal to site several new microwave towers around the County as an upgrade to the emergency communications network. Reps. Barbara Blanchard and Charles Evans, and Environmental Management Council member Susan Brock selected Dutch Hill, which will look at issues that include possibilities for using existing towers, sharing or renting out space on towers, and dovetailing with other communications infrastructure projects. Media contacts: Rep. Barbara Blanchard; Deputy Fire, Disaster & EMS Coordinator Lee Shurtleff, 257-3888.
BOARD VETERAN DROPS BY FOR OLD TIME’S SAKE
Harris B. Dates, a County Board member for 29 years and Chair for 12, took the podium briefly to say hello to the current Board. Chairman Barbara Mink noted that she was a journalist during several years of Dates’ chairmanship, and that he had always treated her with respect and kindness. Dates is retired and now lives in Florida.