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Legislature Chair Robertson Delivers 2018 Annual Message, Announces 2018 Organizational Structure

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Legislature Chair Robertson Delivers 2018 Annual Message, Announces 2018 Organizational Structure

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Legislature Chair Martha Robertson characterized the Legislature’s year ahead as one of transition, preservation, and progress, as she delivered her annual message before the Tompkins County Legislature.  The priority of “transition” is inevitable, she said—with five new Legislators, an incoming new County Administrator, and two new Deputy Administrators, all in a few months,  As well as offering the opportunity to think creatively about new systems and structures, Robertson notes that the transitions will require special attention and time, while the Legislature also works to preserve what the County has—especially in light of potential program and funding changes at the state and federal level—as well as to make progress on ongoing initiatives.  One worrisome “unfunded mandate” she identifies is local Medicaid spending, which currently amounts to about 24% of the County’s property tax levy.  Robertson cautions, “If the federal government cuts Medicaid, as seems very possible, we’ll see even more of the program’s costs passed on to us.”

2018 Organizational Structure and Leadership Appointments:  For 2018, the Legislature’s six standing committees remain the same—Budget, Capital, and Personnel; Facilities and Infrastructure; Government Operations; Health and Human Services; Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality; and Public Safety.  For leadership, past Legislature Chair Michael Lane will assume chairmanship of the budget committee, and Shawna Black will chair Health and Human Services, with former HHS chair Anna Kelles moving over to lead Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality.  Dan Klein continues to chair Government Operations, Dave McKenna Facilities and Infrastructure, and Rich John Public Safety (which in 2018 will also assume the work of the past Jail Study Committee).  Four of the new Legislators assume vice chair positions:  Anne Koreman for F&I, Deborah Dawson for GO, Amanda Champion for PDEQ, and Henry Granison for Public Safety.  The special Transportation Committee, chaired by Lane, will continue in 2018, the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Committee will continue to be chaired by Leslyn McBean-Clairborne.  A new special Housing Committee, led by Legislature Chair Robertson, will address the problem of housing, where she hopes, in part, to more closely engage other municipalities, the local nonprofit community and employers.

Among the important committee priorities identified by the Chair—for Budget, Capital and Personnel, accelerating the County’s progress toward achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace environment; for Public Safety, to ensure the jail population is kept low and budgeted and enhanced programs are implemented; and for Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality, addressing energy issues, such as implementing the County’s Business Energy Navigator program.  The new committee structure takes effect as of February 1.

Concluding her message, Chair Robertson paid tribute to past County Administrator Joe Mareane, and the example he set during nine years of leadership.  “In my opinion, Joe’s success teaches us to share credit widely for our successes, while we also accept responsibility directly for our mistakes.  Be proud of what we’re doing well but know that we can do better, and commit to it.  Be humble, and always maintain a sense of humor.  Respect experience but welcome the new.  Embrace change and look for the opportunities it represents.”

Chair Robertson’s full message is posted at
http://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/files2/legislature/2018%20Chairs%20Remarks%201-16-18.pdf