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Highlights of the February 21, 2023 meeting of the Tompkins County Legislature

Tompkins County Details Potential Local Impact of State Budget

Tompkins County Administrator Lisa Holmes spoke about the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the passthrough of Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Program (eFMAP) funds to Counties. Holmes underscored the seriousness of the measure, detailing its impacts on the 2023 fiscal year and 2024 budget – the latest report from local Social Services staff outlined $610,000 in estimated costs to the County during 2023, which Holmes reported might cause actions such as a hiring freeze or delay in equipment purchases by the County this year. Holmes added that in 2024 there could be a $1.5 million increase in local costs which would have a significant impact on the County’s budget.

The Legislature unanimously (14-0) passed a resolution calling on the State of New York to continue to pass the eFMAP funds through to Counties, as Congress intended. The resolution cites the potential impacts on New York State Counties, including Tompkins. Introducing the resolution, Deborah Dawson (D-Lansing) stated, “Lisa’s comments were pretty compelling… We’re going to take a $610,000 hit to our 2023 budget, next year will be more like $1.5 million, an automatic 3% hit to our tax levy… Counties are going to be in a position where we might have to cut services…” adding that the County will have to continue to put pressure on the State of New York. Legislator Rich John (D-Ithaca) outlined that his outcome is not what the federal government intended. Legislator Greg Mezey (D-Dryden) shared that in a Town Hall event with U.S. Representative Marc Molinaro this topic came up and the Congressman shared that he’d be looking into how Congress can affirm their commitment to eFMAP funds passing through to New York State Counties.

Black History Month in Tompkins County

Chairwoman Shawna Black (D-Ithaca) read a proclamation celebrating Black History Month in Tompkins County. The proclamation noted the irrefutable contributions of area Black individuals and denounced acts of bigotry perpetrated on Black lives in the United States. The Pan African Flag is flown on the County’s flagpoles during February to celebrate Black History Month. Legislator Black acknowledged that the proclamation was in large part an effort of the late Legislator Henry Granison.

Legislator Susan Currie (D-Ithaca) announced the publication of Black Voices in Tompkins County by the Tompkins County Historical Commission and author by Carol Kammen. The pamphlet will be available at The History Center in Tompkins County.

Among Other Business

Legislator Greg Mezey (D-Dryden) reported on his having attended the National Association of Counties conference in Washington D.C., and that he plans to share out some of what he learned in comments to various committees. Mezey reported that many issues facing Tompkins County were being discussed across partisan lines and geographic areas at the Conference. Chairwoman Shawna Black (D-Ithaca) also attended the annual conference and reported that she attended sessions on affordable housing, mental health, broadband, and the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds. Black reported that she heard loud and clear that counties across the country are facing similar challenges on homelessness and mental health care.