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County Budget Presentation Summary – As of October 1, 2018

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County Budget Presentation Summary – As of October 1, 2018

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

In two final sessions, Legislators acting as an Expanded Budget Committee heard from 12 more County departments and agencies, wrapping up the presentation phase of their review of County Administrator Jason Molino’s 2019 Recommended Budget. 

The following departments and agencies presented during the latest two sessions: 
 September 27:  Facilities; Assigned Counsel; Mental Health; Public Health; Human Services Coalition (and Coalition-sponsored agencies); Cooperative Extension.
 October 1:  District Attorney; Department of Recycling and Materials Management; the Airport; Office of Human Rights; Department of Emergency Response; County Administration (including the Capital Program).

The administrator’s $186.5 million Recommended Budget would increase the County’s property tax levy by 1.43%, (less than the Legislature’s 2.2% levy goal for 2019) and would decrease the County tax rate for the fifth consecutive year, due to a substantial increase in the county’s tax base.  A $3 increase in the County’s Solid Waste Annual Fee is also recommended.  Under the Recommended Budget, the County property tax bill for the owner of a median-valued $185,000 home would increase by $15.40.

Presentation Highlights:

The department has submitted one-time over-target requests to replace three vehicles—total allocation requested:  $83,000.

Among influences identified by Commissioner Frank Kruppa are staff realignments, moving a full-time psychiatrist to a contracted position and a clinic reorganization which has replaced two Clinic Supervisor positions with a Mental Health Clinic Director position and two Senior Psychiatric Social Workers.  In response to Legislator questions, Mr. Kruppa said he believes department-supported services at the Jail are beginning to have impact, with the new Reentry Coordinator getting former residents of the jail into other services.  He remarked that a new Mental Health Court has been authorized by New York State (no direct budget impact yet on the department’s budget), and that the Department has been able to support through its target budget support for Mental Health Association-sponsored support groups in the jail, which had been supported through over-target funding for 2018.

Recommended as part of the Administrator’s budget are two over-target requests:  $25,000 in one-time funding to establish a pool of funding as part of its Employee Health and Safety Program to assist the County’s smaller departments in making ergonomics improvements; and support through department rollover of more than $105,000 in one-time funding for vehicle replacement with hybrid and plug-in vehicles.  Director Kruppa said the Department’s aim is eventually to transition to an all-electric fleet.

Supported in the Administrator’s budget is the third year of a $50,000 one-time (multi-year) funding to support a transitional housing program, through the county’s Continuum of Care, for individuals experiencing homelessness; continuing $25,000 in one-time funding for LawNY’s Reentry Project, which provides legal assistance to ex-offenders; and $55,000 in one-time funding for the Downtown Children’s Center to enable the Center to meet State requirements and remain open.

The County Administrator did not fund one of four OTRs--$30,000 to support an Operations Effectiveness Management position, which had been supported by the Legislature last year.  Due to some difficulties in filling the position last year, the vacancy remains, and Administrator Jason Molino said the position was not filled the way it was intended to be, and he believes it more appropriate for the Legislature to consider.  Three other once-time requests are included in the Recommended Budget:  $96,000 for structural upgrades at 4-H Acres; $11,000 for management of the Association’s intern program; and $11,000 to continue multi-year funding to support a half-time position for the program areas of Youth Development and Family & Community Development.

The Recommended Budget includes a $3 increase in the Annual Solid Waste Fee, to $58 dollars.  Recycling and Materials Management Director Barbara Eckstrom noted that one of the major influences on her department’s operations is the continued significant decline in recycling revenue, which has produced an anticipated $400,000 revenue shortfall, coupled with increased cost of countywide recycling collection under the new contract.  The annual fee supports all expenses other than those related to disposal and landfills.  Eckstrom said the annual fee has held remarkably steady over the past ten years, and that the department’s budget overall will increase only 2% in 2019, despite the financial challenges.

Director Mike Hall once again briefed Legislators on the status of the Airport’s $24 million multi-faceted terminal expansion project, which will ceremonially begin with a groundbreaking on Friday, October 5th.  Mr. Hall said the Airport will apply for a new round of Federal funding by October 31, to support part of the project’s local share cost.  The fast-moving project will be completed by the end of 2019.

Interim Director Dr. Kenneth Clarke noted that the OHR budget includes a $50,000 one-time over-target request to relocate the Office to the County’s Human Services Annex (located at the corner of Albany and West Martin Luther King, Jr./State Streets), the building in which the County’s Office for the Aging is also located.  The space OHR will occupy was formerly the home of the Sustainability Center, and will be improved and configured to meet OHR’s needs.  Dr. Clarke said the Office’s current, rented space is not fully accessible and has other problems; the move will also put OHR on the County’s Information Technology system, which he said will significantly improve Internet access.  Administrative reorganization will discontinue the current paralegal position (with that employee offered other County employment), reallocating those funds to support education and outreach initiatives within the department.  The Office’s target budget remains at $331,422.  Activities for 2019, identified by the Interim Director, include continued dialogue with the NYS Division of Human Rights regarding how to best assist complainants, ongoing follow-up with complainants after their initial filings; contacting other county OHRs that provide conciliation/mediation services, and to find out more about their education, outreach, training and advocacy programs; re-establishing the Human Rights Commission; expanding OHR’s education and outreach program; and commencing the search for a new Director, expected to take place during 2019.

The Recommended Budget includes a $66,200 over-target request to support a reorganization of the department, related to succession planning.  The reorganization will reclassify two positions—to Deputy Director and Fire, Disaster and EMS Coordinator—and the reclass of a third position and increase from half- to full-time to Community Preparedness Coordinator.  Director Lee Shurtleff thanked the Legislature for its long-time support in enabling the County to achieve its public safety goals.

Among seven OTRs that are a part of the County Administration budget  are one-time requests that would fund consulting support to implement initiatives in response to the County’s Workplace Climate Survey ($22,500); continue funding for the Criminal Justice Coordinator position ($114,572); and provide ongoing support for the County’s Performance Measurement initiative ($24,300).  An $83,490 one-time request is also included as part of the STOP-DWI budget, to support STOP-DWI activities in the District Attorney’s Office, addressing a decline in DWI fines which had underwritten those functions.

As part of his presentation, Administrator Jason Molino also told Legislators that $100,000 has been included as part of the budget for initial program expense to establish a Tompkins County Veterans Service Agency, as mandated under New York State Executive Law, while the County evaluates how best to provide the program.  

The 2019-23 Capital Program involves $62.6 million in capital investment.  In accordance with the County’s current Capital Improvement Plan, a 0.5% increase in the 2019 property tax levy (more than $245,000) will support capital investment, most applied to pay debt service on projects already authorized by the Legislature.  Among new projects are a $2.3 million renovation to the County’s Old Jail office building and construction of a cold storage building at the Bostwick Road public works facility ($140,000 local cost).  The Capital Program continues to allocate $1.8 million for capital improvements to roads and bridges.  Construction on Ellis Hollow Road (Phase IV), the Ludlowville Road Bridge over Salmon Creek (2019) ; reconstruction of the Falls Road Bridge (Town of Ulysses) is added to the Plan for 2023.  Administrator Molino noted that the County’s capital levy policy will be reviewed during 2019.

The Expanded Budget Committee will begin to recommend amendments to the County Administrator’s budget when it resumes work Tuesday, October 9.  Before beginning to recommend changes, Legislators will listen to public comments at their annual Community Budget Forum on October 3, 7 p.m., at Legislature Chambers, located in the Governor Daniel D. Tompkins Building, 121 E. Court Street, Ithaca.

The 2019 Recommended Budget, along with schedules and other budget-related information (including presentation documents from departments and agencies) is posted on the budget page of the County web site at