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Additional Changes Recommended for 2019 Budget

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Additional Changes Recommended for 2019 Budget

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Legislators acting as an Expanded Budget Committee supported additional changes, as they completed their second night for acting on potential amendments to County Administrator Jason Molino’s Recommended 2019 County Budget.

At their second voting meeting, Legislators recommended the following changes to the budget.  Those recommendations may be reconsidered at later expanded committee meetings and will require approval by the full Legislature to become final.

LEGISLATURE:
By unanimous vote, a recommended $2,500 increase in target funding for Legislature travel and training was increased to $5,000, to support legislators’ attendance at conferences such as NYSAC Conferences.  The action would increase the total amount in that budget line to $10,000. 

COUNTY HISTORIAN:
$5,000 in two-year funding was approved to be added to the County Historian’s budget, to be available to support recommended expenses of the new County Historical Commission.

CONTINGENT FUND:
-- Route 13 Traffic Study:  $200,000 in one-time Contingent funding was approved, by a 9-5 vote, to be available for a traffic study that would be focused on Route 13, from the Village of Dryden to the Warren Road intersection.  The potential to seek such a study has previously been discussed by the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.  Legislator Michael Lane, who chairs the Transportation Committee (as well as Budget), advanced the amendment, maintaining such a study is needed regarding this important county highway, and indicated that Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer has also indicated interest.  Others in discussion questioned whether the study was needed at this point, since the Planning Department had conducted a study within the past decade, and what such a study would accomplish when it’s questionable whether it would be accepted by NYSDOT.  The study area was first proposed as covering the area between NYSEG and the Village, but was extended to Warren Road, based on an amendment advanced by Legislator Shawna Black, citing ongoing safety issues in that area.

Mr. Lane acknowledged this proposal is out of the ordinary, but said perhaps that is needed to kick-start the process.  Another vote by the Legislature would be needed to authorize a study.  Lane said a study would likely involve the Ithaca Tompkins County Transportation Council and its process (though Legislator Martha Robertson suggested that be done through Planning), and that a planning group would come together to administer a study, give direction, and advise how to proceed.

-- Resource Coordinator, Mental Health Court:  $50,000 in Contingent funding was approved, by a 13-1 vote, for the position of Resource Coordinator for the new Mental Health Court, authorized by the State Office of Court Administration (OCA) to operate out of Ithaca City Court.  Funding approval for the position would be  pending further details from the Mental Health Department and progress on establishing the court. The funding would support first-year start-up costs for a part-time position, with the expectation that OCA would be likely to approve full-time position funding after the first year of operation, when court jurisdiction could be expanded to clients referred from the County’s town and village courts.  Initially proposed as $35,000 by Legislator Rich John, a proposal to increase the allocation to $70,000 failed by a tie vote of 7-7, then the amendment to raise it to $50,000 was approved 11-3, prior to the final vote.

TOMPKINS CONSOLIDATED AREA TRANSIT:
By unanimous vote, a $73,000 increase in target funding was approved for the County’s partner share for TCAT.  The amount would also need to be approved by the system’s other two underwriting partners, the City of Ithaca and Cornell University.  The requested increase, which TCAT officials had said was the first year of anticipated multiple-year requests) is focused on meeting expected service needs related to future development and economic growth.

OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
By unanimous vote, a new one-time funding item was approved as part of the Human Rights budget, $8,000 to support a one-year contract with CNY Fair Housing , managed out of OHR, to conduct fair housing education and outreach, and provide technical assistance to support the County in affirmatively furthering its Fair Housing program.  Through the contract, the agency would conduct training for County staff and community members, provide outreach materials, assist in a community survey regarding fair housing issues and concerns, facilitate an annual public meeting on fair housing issues, and provide 60 hours of technical assistance.


Other actions:

By a 5-9 vote, Legislators failed to approve a new proposal, advanced by Legislator Mike Sigler, for $23,000 in one-time funding to be distributed to towns earmarked to acquire, develop, and enhance town/village parks.  This proposal was spurred a County allocations begun last year to the City of Ithaca to support City parks planning.  There was much discussion, with some legislators saying they would like to see a more developed proposal.  Legislator Sigler will bring back a revised proposal for the next meeting.


Potential Tax Impact of Recommendations to Date

In two nights of deliberations, the committee increased target spending over that in the County Administrator’s recommended budget by $204,737 and the use of reserves by $432,896. If the committee recommendations to date are approved, the county’s total 2019 tax levy would increase by 1.84% (up by 0.42% from the 1.43% increase in the Administrator’s budget), and the county tax rate would stand at $6.42 per thousand dollars assessed property value, an increase of $17.26 for the owner of a median-valued $185,000 home.

The Expanded Budget Committee will meet Monday, October 15, for what is expected to be its final session to consider amendments, before recommending a 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 2019 Recommended Budget, with schedules and other budget-related information, is posted at the budget page of the County web site at www.TompkinsCountyNY.gov/ctyadmin/2019budget.