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As Legislative Term Ends, Chair Reflects on Challenges and Accomplishments

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As Legislative Term Ends, Chair Reflects on Challenges and Accomplishments

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

At the final meeting of the 2010-2013 legislative term, Legislature Chair Martha Robertson took the opportunity to reflect on how the County has addressed the many challenges it has faced over the past four years, and its accomplishments in meeting those challenges.  Among those challenges:  addressing the worst economic collapse in a generation that caused an abrupt drop in aid and revenue, and an equally rapid rise in demand for services.  Chair Robertson noted that the County’s used a measured and balanced response, involving shared sacrifice, tough choices, and fact-based decision-making, then adapted to the “new normal” of a stable, but smaller, county government.  As of now, she said, unemployment is the lowest in New York State, reserves are strong, the County’s AA1 credit rating is almost the best in the state, and Tompkins County is ranged by the Comptroller as the third-most fiscally stable county in New York State.  “We’ve adjusted to our era of constraint and are providing quality services to the community.”

Among other challenges met addressed, according to Chair Robertson, was addressing the County’s space needs—including a new Health Department building, responding to the State Court system’s demand for additional space, and fulfilling the desire to vacate the Old Library  to put it to more productive use.  This produced a new home for the County Office for the Aging, relocation of Legislature Chambers and offices, and the decision to move the Day Reporting program to the Human Services Building.

Among other accomplishments cited—initiation of the intermunicipal health benefits consortium and fostering ongoing cooperation among municipalities through the Tompkins County Council of Governments; extending broadband access within the county; updating the County’s 20-year Capital Improvement Plan; and continuing to improve the County’s ability to realize the goals of a diverse and inclusive government.

Looking ahead to 2014, Robertson said that among important issues to address will be selection of a developer for the Old Library, attention to returning Airport business to the record levels experienced before sequestration, and addressing relations with New York State, as well as how to address large and growing demands for human services within the County’s constrained budget.