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Additional Changes Recommended for 2018 Budget

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Additional Changes Recommended for 2018 Budget

Friday, October 13, 2017

Legislators acting as an Expanded Budget Committee supported additional changes, as they completed their second night of acting on potential amendments to County Administrator Joe Mareane’s Recommended 2018 County Budget

At their second voting meeting October 12, Legislators recommended the following changes to the budget. Recommendations may be reconsidered later by the Expanded Budget Committee, and will require approval by the full Legislature to become final.

A new Senior Planner position for Housing, at $93,627 (salary and fringe), and $3,600 for equipment and supplies (funded through department rollover) was approved by a 12-1 vote.

There was much discussion about the proposed position before the vote. Interim Commissioner of Planning and Sustainability Katie Borgella told Legislators the position is a critical element in implementing the County’s Housing Strategy, adopted by the Legislature, and addressing the county’s persistent and long-term housing challenges. She said the planner, in part, would be able to help identify infill sites, work with the community on development issues, connect with potential developers who are doing the kinds of development we would like to do here, and serve as a resource for local planning and zoning board members on housing issues.

Legislator Martha Robertson said that the amount of work needed in this area keeps building and building. “If we don’t do something different, we will see increased misery…we have people who are truly desperate,” she said. Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne said she wants to make sure that efforts in this area are focused toward meeting the needs of the people she cares about whose needs need to be met.

Responding to a question from Legislature Chair Michael Lane, Borgella said the work that needs to be done cannot be accomplished through her department’s existing work plan. Administrator Mareane, who suggested positive legislative action on the position, said, “To me, this was not one of the harder recommendations I had to make,” considering the Housing Strategy and the role of staff to carry out policies and priorities. “If we don’t want this to gather dust on the shelf, we need staff to implement it,” he said.

- $20,000 in one-time funding was approved, by an 11-2 vote, to support an “Achieving Youth Results” mini-grant program
- $ 10,000 was approved for a youth worker training program, also by a margin of 11-2.

- $10,000 in multi-year funding (first year of three) was approved, by a 13-0 vote, to renew the County’s membership on the Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board. The item had been advanced as target, but some Legislators questioned that commitment in rejoining the regional board, and wanted the opportunity to assess the benefit over a shorter period of time.
- $14,000 was approved for Legislature Chambers AV system maintenance—a service contract and equipment reserve, Administrator Mareane noting that this preventive maintenance program recognizes that the AV system is now five years old. The vote was 13-0.

By a vote of 13-0, Legislators approved a new Real Property Tax Appraiser position at $89,061. Legislature Chair Michael Lane called the position “very important,” and Director Jay Franklin reminded legislators that he had voluntarily agreed to reduce the number of positions several years ago, in tough times, but at that time indicated that when additional staff was needed, he would come back to request it.

- By a vote of 9-4, $80,000 for employee training was approved—converting the one-time funding that has been allocated for the past several years to target, and increasing the allocation by $10,000.
- $24,000 in one-time funding was approved, by a 13-0 vote, to increase funding for outside labor counsel, to cover all bargaining unit contracts.
- $15,000 was approved to support the County’s employee reward and recognition program, approved by a 13-0 vote.
- $34,630 was approved to support a part-time project assistant position, by a 13-0 vote.
- $15,000 in multi-year funding (first year of two) was approved to establish centralized pool of funds for recruitment expenses for high-level positions, approved by a 13-0 vote.

- By an 11-1 vote, $4,000 in one-time money, and $6,000 in ongoing target funding was approved to underwrite a security awareness training program and software.
- $15,000 was approved for an annual security audit, by a 12-0 margin.

- $5,500 was approved for initial uniform issue for part-time deputies, approved by a 12-0 vote.
- $3,966 for a similar uniform issue for part-time corrections officers was approved by an 11-1 vote.
- $14,500 was approved to support a portable radio replacement schedule, the vote 11-1.
- $3,400 for a replacement schedule for patrol rifles was approved, by a 9-3 margin.
- $7,000 to support the service contract for the Offender Watch sex offender registry was approved by a 12-0 vote.
- $12,000 to support the Sheriff’s Office contribution toward the interagency Critical Incident Negotiation Team
was approved by an 8-4 vote.

- By a 12-0 vote, $41,398 was approved for a part-time Administrative Coordinator position for the Workforce Development Board, Director Julia Mattick telling Legislators that this position would focus on the important issues of program oversight and compliance, which are currently consuming most of the time of the Board’s very limited staff. A related interfund transfer was also approved.
- $30,000 was approved, by a 12-0 margin, to fund the increased local share of rent expected for the One-Stop Career Center, along with a related interfund transfer.

By a vote of 12-0, $42,000 in one-time funding was approved to expand the “Solutions to End Homelessness” (rapid rehousing) program to meet the current level of need.

By a 12-0 vote, Legislators approved $23,000 approved $23,000 in maintenance of effort funding for the Library, to cover increased costs.

$25,000 in one-time partial funding was approved to help support professional assistance to the Tompkins County Council of Governments’ EMS Task Force—supplementing contributions to be made by other county municipalities. The expenditure was approved by a 12-0 vote.

- By a 10-2 vote, Legislators approved a total of $60,000 to support a new Operations Manager position at Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County--$30,000 target and $30,000 one-time, as partial funding for a position to oversee operations and administrative management. Director Ken Schlather said the one-time allocation would be expected to decrease by half in 2019, with the long-term expectation that the County would support half the cost of the position, the Association the other half.
- By a vote of 11-1, $16,000 was approved to restore Extension’s Agricultural Program Leader position to full-time.

$20,000 was approved to increase the Continuum of Care Coordinator position from 60% to full-time, approved by a 12-0 vote.

By a 12-0 vote, $16,157 was approved for the Community Dispute Resolution Center, providing a local match for restoring state funding.

Other actions:

A proposal to establish a Capital Reserve Fund for Housing discussed, but withdrawn for further review outside of the budget process. Legislator Martha Robertson had proposed a $3 million housing capital reserve fund, taken from the County’s unassigned general fund balance (similar to the County’s existing reserve fund for natural, scenic, and recreational resource protection), whose uses would be in line with housing-related goals and criteria established by the Legislature. With no allocation being made now, Robertson said there is time to flesh out more detail and propose policy on how this would work before taking formal action to establish such a fund.

Potential Tax Impact of Recommendations to Date

In two nights of deliberation, the committee has approved contingent funding appropriations of $1,240.675 and increased the use of reserves by $763,915. There remains no effect to date on the tax levy, since all target budget increases have been drawn down from the $1.3 million Contingent Fund allocation included in the County Administrator’s recommended budget to support policy budgeting decisions to be made by the Legislature. The recommended tax levy increase remains at 2.4%; the tax rate at $6.58; and the increase in the County tax bill for the owner of a median-valued $178,000 home at $12.08.

The Expanded Budget Committee will meet Monday, October 16, for what is expected to be its final session to consider amendments, before recommending a revised Tentative Budget. All Expanded Budget sessions begin at 5:30 p.m., and are held at Legislature Chambers in the Governor Daniel D. Tompkins Building, 121 E. Court Street (Second Floor), Ithaca.

The 2018 Recommended Budget, along with other budget-related information, is posted at the budget page of the County web site at .