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Legislators Recommend 2018 Amended Budget

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Legislators Recommend 2018 Amended Budget

Monday, October 16, 2017

Legislators acting as an Expanded Budget Committee tonight recommended that the Legislature amend County Administrator Joe Mareane’s 2018 Recommended Budget and the Capital Program for the next five years. The recommendation came by a unanimous vote of 12-0.

As part of his recommended budget, Administrator Mareane had included a $1.3 million dollar Contingent Fund allocation (most of that new, recurring casino revenue) to support policy budgeting decisions to be made by the Legislature. During the budget process, Legislators have drawn down nearly all of that to fund budget amendments and, after approving several amendments tonight, adjusted the budget to allocate the $39,537 remaining in that allocation to reduce the tax levy.

The amended budget, to be presented to the Legislature tomorrow, would increase the County tax levy by 2.32%, compared to 2.4% in the Administrator’s budget. The recommended tax rate of $6.57 per thousand is five cents (0.76%) less than 2017, and a penny less than the Administrator’s budget—representing an increase of $11.14 in the tax bill for the median-valued $178,000 home.

The recommended amended budget increases use of reserves by $948,455. Tompkins County’s 2018 Tax Cap is 3.53%.

Amendments approved tonight:

By a vote of 11-0, the committee changed to ongoing target funding the $50,000 in additional one-time annual support provided to TCAT in recent years.

Legislators, by a vote of 11-1, approved $103,061 in multi-year funding (first year of three) to support a Public Administration Fellowship Program. The program will provide an 18-month work experience to two graduates of masters-level programs over three years, who will rotate through various departments to provide high-level assistance to county government, with potential of helping to diversify the workforce and enhancing succession planning. Chair Mike Lane said the program provides the opportunity to bring in some younger people who can look at different parts of county government. Legislator Mike Sigler likened it to a way of using reserves to invest in people.

The committee revisited an earlier decision, and voted 12-0 to allocate $20,000 in ongoing target funding to increase hourly rates for home care subcontractors, instead of placing the item in Contingency. At that time, concern had been expressed that a plan needed to be in place to ensure that the funding was used to actually increase workers’ pay. Director Lisa Holmes said $8,000 would be used to provide a 2% increase to the five contract agencies, with the remaining $12,000 to targeted to increase payment to agency workers by up to 5%. The increased pay to the aides would be reimbursed to agencies after they show documentation of payment.

- By a vote of 12-0, $5,500 was approved for the Ithaca Health Alliance to assist the agency in covering the cost of increased rent and health insurance for staff.

- By a 12-0 vote, $5,000 was approved for the Women’s Opportunity Center to keep funding at the 2017 level.

By an 11-1 vote, $50,000 in multi-year funding (first year of three) was set aside in restricted contingency to fund proposals to improve childcare options in Tompkins County. Legislator Anna Kelles said criteria would be established and proposals would be requested through the Health and Human Services Committee, then reviewed and advanced to the Legislature. With a shortage of about 1,000 childcare spaces at present, and changes in regulations for physical requirements for childcare providers, she said the issue has far-reaching implications and affects people’s quality of life. Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne said, “The lack of units for affordable childcare is not going away, it’s getting worse. People are struggling.” Both Legislators Rich John and Chair Michael Lane expressed some concern that the request was coming in so late in the budget process.

- Legislators, by a 12-0 vote, approved $27,434 in one-time funding for the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County, to fund increased expenses regarding services the Association has been asked to provide at Tompkins County Jail and at Probation’s Day Treatment program.

- By a vote of 11-1, $4,045 in one-time funding was approved to fund increased salaries for Mental Health Association Peer Support staff.

While he views the requests as appropriate, Public Health Director Frank Kruppa asked that they be approved as one-time for procedural reasons, since they had been submitted late in the process and had not gone through Community Services Board review.

Upon the request of Legislator Dooley Kiefer, the committee reconsidered its previous funding decision on the Lilbrary’s request for a Youth Services Librarian and, by a 9-3 vote, approved $65,286 to fund the position at the requested 30-hour level, instead of at 20 hours ($43,524), as decided earlier.

Other actions:

A proposal to increase the County’s baseline Contingent fund by $150,000 to mitigate risk and uncertainty was first reduced to a proposed increase of $75,000, then failed to win support by a 5-8 margin.

A proposal to approve $44,655 to increase the hours of the Inspector position in the Department of Weights and Measures failed by a tie vote of 6-6.

At its October 17 meeting, the Legislature will consider the recommended amended budget. Once the Legislature formally adopts recommended amendments to the County Administrator’s budget, the amended package becomes the basis of deliberations, including the Legislature’s November public hearing on the budget October 30.

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