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Highlights of the July 18, 2023 meeting of the Tompkins County Legislature

Resolution to Oppose the Increase of the Permitted Landfill Height and Extended Life of Seneca Meadows, Inc. Fails

A resolution opposing the proposed increase in the permitted height and extended life of the Seneca Meadows landfill failed 7-6 (Legislators Shurtleff (R-Groton), Sigler (R-Lansing), Dawson (D-Lansing), John (D-Ithaca), Lane (D-Dryden), and Klein (D-Danby) in opposition and Chairwoman Black (D-Ithaca) excused).. The landfill is located in the Towns of Seneca Falls and Waterloo, Seneca County, New York. It currently doesn’t take waste from Tompkins County but that could change if a different contract were acquired by the County. If the additional permits are not approved at the State level, the landfill is slated to close in 2025 as has been planned.

Legislator Anne Koreman (D-Ulysses) detailed the types of waste that can be used for recycling, reuse, and reconstruction rather than discarding items to landfills. Some Legislators who objected to the resolution expressed that landfills and current processes of managing the disposal of garbage are necessary due to the amount of items that people discard. Legislator Deborah Dawson (D-Lansing) lamented the landfill but stated that she doesn’t see people limiting their discarding of garbage as immediately realistic – rather she feels the Legislature should weigh in on actions that have a more localized impact and are more controllable on a local level.

Among Other Business

The Legislature recognized Dakota Tseng, a recent graduate of New Roots Charter School in Ithaca for winning the inaugural “I Voted” sticker contest for the Tompkins County Board of Elections. Tseng was on hand to accept the proclamation and thanked their Participation in Government teacher, Benjamin Lawrence, for their support and inspiration to be interested in civic engagement. Tseng’s design featuring a cat in a field of flowers will be printed on 30,000 “I Voted” stickers by the Board of Elections and distributed to Tompkins County voters in the 2023 general election.

A proclamation was read to declare Disability Pride Month in Tompkins County. The proclamation states that Tompkins County “celebrates and honors every single person’s unique needs, strengths, and value, and strives to dismantle all barriers to inclusive access for all.” The proclamation also outlines that 27% of Americans report having some type of disability that causes serious difficulty in their daily lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with many additional Americans living with disabilities of a type or severity not covered by the CDC’s survey. Tracy Decker from the Finger Lakes Independence Center joined the meeting to accept the proclamation.

Tompkins Cortland Community College President Amy Kremenek presented an update from the college, which is supported in part by Tompkins County funding. According to the presentation, enrolment for fall 2023 is up nearly 10% for students continuing education at TC3, with total student enrollment up 13%. 2023-2024 applications are up 47%. President Kremenek also detailed new microcredential and transfer programs being implemented. Workforce development programs and new initiatives to support workers and employers in the areas of nursing and microchip manufacturing are also ongoing. Interim VP of Finance and Administration Bill Talbot shared facilities updates including that some progress has been made on network and other facility upgrades thanks to investments from the Legislature. Talbot also detailed the budget forecast with increasing expenses across several critical lines and the impacts of inflation.

The Legislature approved the creation of a Mandate Contingent Fund which will use $2.7 million of recently received, unexpected funds from New York State for mandated social services rendered in 2021. The fund will be available in the event of future unexpected mandates placed on the County. The resolution passed unanimously, 13-0 (Chairwoman Shawna Black (D-Ithaca) excused).