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Legislature Approves Comprehensive Title VI Policy

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Legislature Approves Comprehensive Title VI Policy

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Legislature approved amendments to County policy reaffirming the commitment of County government to serve all persons without discrimination, and in compliance with requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin. Title VI applies to all recipients of federal funding; as a recipient of federal funds, Tompkins County is required to have a Title VI program. 

“For clarification, this policy, which addresses our ‘commitment to serving the public without discrimination,’ is not new. The policy was established in 1993,” Deputy County Administrator Paula Younger, the County’s Compliance Officer, told the Legislature. “Regulatory requirements have changed since then, as well as directives on how we demonstrate Title VI compliance specifically, so the policy has been updated to meet those requirements.” The contents of the policy and the complementary program document have been well researched, meet best practice in Title VI implementation, and model recommendations by regulatory authorities, she said.

The Legislative Policy Statement which introduces the policy states: “Tompkins County government is committed to equally serving all persons in a customer-friendly and culturally sensitive manner and without discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin, alienage, disability, medical condition, military status, familial status or any other status or category protected by law.” Ex-offender status will also be specified, at the request of the Legislature. The policy, in part, designates all County departments as responsible for identifying and eliminating discriminatory practices that prevent equal access to County programs, services, and activities. It directs that such efforts must address such factors as program participation, access to treatment and other related services, contractor or vendor opportunities for minority-owned and women-owned businesses, proactive investigation of complains, allocation of funds, and prioritization of projects.

To support policy implementation, a companion Title VI Program Plan has also been developed that explains Tompkins County’s obligation under Title VI, requirements for Title VI administrative structure, and guidance for ensuring full compliance.

Approval came by a vote of 11-1 with Legislator Dooley Kiefer voting no (Legislators Martha Robertson and Peter Stein were excused). Legislator Kiefer’s dissent related to concerns about a reference and a procedure citation that were not included in the policy document.