Meeting Minutes Archive: January, 2009

Office of the Onondaga County Legislature

Court House, Room 407
401 Montgomery Street
Syracuse, New York 13202
(315) 435-2070 Fax: (315) 435-8434


MEMBERS PRESENT:  *Mr. Holmquist, Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Kraft, Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Warner, **Mr. Stanczyk
ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman Meyer, see also attached list

Chairman Rhinehart called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.

        a.        2009 Austerity Budget Measures
        b.        Sales Tax
Mr. Rowley gave a Power Point presentation (attachment #1).  He noted that the estimated sales tax shortfall, Governor's budget impacts, and interest & earning shortfall contribute to a total 2009 shortfall of $19.6 million.  Austerity measures, fuel savings, energy savings, and premium equivalent rate will result in an estimated offset of $8.9 million.  Leaving a net potential shortfall of $10.7 million. 

Gas tax shortfall: If gas price were $2.00/gallon, there would be a $12.2 million shortfall; if $3/gallon; there would be $6.8 million shortfall.  The '09 budget was based on $4/gallon.  Mr. Rowley said that he is taking the worst-case scenario now based on information that he knows-gas is below $2/gallon and the Governor's budget proposal.

* Mr. Holmquist left the meeting.

Governor's budget impact - $4.2 million.  Mr. Kraft noted that the Governor's budget cuts impact Van Duyn by $10 million.  Mr. Rowley agreed, but noted that in 2009 there is IGT money.  The cuts are reduction in Medicaid reimbursement rate--80% of beds at Van Duyn are Medicaid beds.  Chairman Rhinehart said that the Governor has asked that the rebates program be eliminated, which will deeply affect Van Duyn.  Mr. Rowley said that they don't have a number on that yet.

**Mr. Stanczyk arrived at the meeting.

Regarding the OCC proposed effect, Mr. Kilmartin asked if 100% of it is reduction is in aid per student, $300/student.  Mr. Rowley said that it is.

Mr. Stanczyk asked about sales tax in general.  Mr. Rowley said that the 1% increase in the plan, about $3 million; should be considered.  Mr. Kraft said there is a $12 million County share lost, and the County only gets half of the $3 million.  Mrs. Rapp asked about an indication of the last quarter in sales tax.  Mr. Rowley said that it was down 4.5% gross for the quarter.  Mr. Stanczyk asked if the 1% estimate in sales tax for the year is being maintained.  Mr. Seitz said that they will have the final Dec. numbers in early Feb. which will give an indication of where they are headed for '09.  In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. Rowley estimates hitting the budget of $143.7 million; up about 2%. 

Governor's budget:  Mr. Kraft referred to COPS and asked if the County is obligated to make up the cuts.  Mr. Rowley said that they are not mandated programs.  There may be another mechanism to recoup some of that money.  Mr. Kraft asked if the County has a sense of obligation; Mr. Rowley said that there is one.  Mr. Warner asked how much of the cuts are mandated.  Mr. Rowley said that PreK is mandated, but 15% of the cost is being shifted to the school districts.  Mr. Kilmartin said that it is merely a shift of the cost away from the County, away from the State, and onto the school districts for the taxpayers. 

Mr. Stanczyk said that that the Legislature should discuss budget amendments--something needs to be cut.  Chairman Rhinehart said that this is the first meeting in the process.

Mrs. Rapp asked about Center for Forensic Science and Transportation cuts.  Mr. Rowley said that for this analysis they assumed that everything will be kept the same.  Ms. Mignano said that regarding the Center for Forensic Science, it is DCJS funds and largely for infrastructure items--some is overtime for fingerprinting and DNA testing.  Mrs. Rapp asked if it goes away, will part of the obligation go away.  Ms. Mignano said that the State is being contacted ensure that if the State cuts the funding, they will also cut the requirement. 

Mr. Kraft noted that the legislature only has the power of suggestion and cannot initiate any changes.  The budget is adopted; it is totally within the control of the Executive.  The legislature can lobby and make suggestions.  Chairman Rhinehart said that the Executive side is interested in the Legislature's input.  The Legislature needs to assess the problem before it can deal with it. 

Regarding PreK, Mr. Warner asked if the County has a portion of the $800,000; if so, the County cost will be less also.  Mr. Rowley indicated that the County would get a reduction also.

Austerity Plan - Mr. Rowley said that a plan has been put in place--freezing a range of account codes and not letting departments spend out of them.  The Sheriff's Department has agreed to participate, and once added in, the total effect is $6.5 million.  Mr. Rowley said that the departments were asked to report back with a list of things that were realistic; something that departments could hold to.  Mr. Kraft asked for a copy of the breakdown of accounts.  Mr. Rowley said that the money has been encumbered within the accounting system.  Legally, the departments cannot spend it.  Mr. Seitz said that the biggest variances are that the funds for elected officials that cannot be frozen; they can ask electeds to volunteer.  Mr. Kraft asked how many elected officials are participating.  Mr. Rowley said that the Sheriff is.  Regarding the DA, he had a conversation with the fiscal officer, and he is comfortable.  The County Clerk, Comptroller, County Legislature and County Executive have not put in a plan.  Mr. Kilmartin said that it is very early in the year; there is a lot of internal review to undertake.  He asked what encompasses the $6.16 million that is frozen.  Mr. Rowley said it is part personnel--departments came back with what they felt they could do under the auspices that this isn't an austerity--it will be a budget cut.  They responded at the end of November.  Mr. Seitz said there is also austerity in contracts, supplies, travel, maintenance, pay-as-you-go, automotive equipment, etc. 

Mr. Stanczyk said that once budget amendments are formalized and in place, and there is a formalized austerity program, there has to be a blanket accept or deny from the elected officials.  If political pressure is not put on them, the County is not going to get the resolve that it should.  They have to participate in the same austerity that everyone else is doing.

Mr. Stanczyk asked about the detail on the $8.5 million original austerity plan to the $6.5 million proposed plan.  He asked where the $2 million went.  Mr. Rowley said that he will analyze it.  Mr. Kraft said that the $8.5 million was beyond reasonable; it was a big reach. 

Mr. Antonacci said that the reason the elected officials have historically been left out of the austerity is based on a court case, which is approximately 20 years hold.  However, over the last four years, all elected officials have returned money to the general fund.  They have run tight ships.  Mr. Stanczyk agreed, but feels they should sign onto an austerity program.  Mr. Antonacci said that in his office, in order to comply with the austerity program, they would probably be looking at a layoff.  Mr. Stanczyk said that hopefully there will be a State Retirement early incentive or something to push down the numbers.  Chair Rhinehart said that as a result of this meeting, all departments, whether elected or not, should get on board and do the best they can and cooperate.

County Executive's Strategy - Mr. Rowley said that the theory behind it is that they will clamp down on spending--buy time to formalize a plan.  There is a plan in the development right now--agency cuts, program cuts, 4-day workweek for part of the year (paying 80% of salary), are being considered.  Mrs. Walter and the Law Department are looking at the labor perspective.

Mr. Kilmartin asked about historical measures that were taken when there was a crisis of this nature.  Mr. Seitz said the in 1992-93, the County did not go to the 4-day week.  Mrs. Walter said that they asked bargaining units for concessions but did not get any.  About 450 positions were abolished and about 350 employees were laid off.  Mr. Rowley said that they are trying to be more creative; trying to avoid layoffs.  The Co. Executive is committed to having a plan in place.  To close a $10.7 million gap with layoffs, there would need to be 160-180 people laid off.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if the County can advance any concept for early retirement within the State system.  Mrs. Walter said that the County can't do anything that impacts the State's benefit package.  The only thing that the County can do is a local incentive; can't do anything that would give people extra credit or change their pension amount.  There is nothing proposed in the State budget that she or Mr. Rowley are aware of.

Mr. Kraft asked about equipment for the Highway Department.  Mr. Rowley said that a memo was issued Friday which asked them to freeze spending.  Any exceptions to the memo have to go through the administrators.

Mr. Stanczyk said that there is a positive fund balance--a source of funds and anticipates it to be part of the package in meeting any deficit that the County has for 2009.  Mr. Rowley said that the strategy would be to close this gap without using fund balance, realizing that 2010 will be a difficult budget also.  He said that we want to avoid picking a number that is the worst possible scenario and reacting to it before knowing exactly what they are dealing with.

Mr. Rowley said that Van Duyn is being dealt with in another stream.  Time was bought with IGT money, but a decision needs to be made.

Chairman Rhinehart said that another concern is the hefty hit to OCC, which is proposed by the Governor--$300/student. 

Chairman Meyer stated that the Legislature took itself out of the loop regarding pay adjustments.  The Legislature started the process in September.  The County Legislature turned in over $80,000 in its 2008 budget.  In September, he and the Clerk prepared an austerity plan on their own.  The Legislature will meet its austerity number with no problem, just as it did last year. 

Mr. Kraft said that 45 days slips by; the Legislature needs think about this and prepare.  Chair Rhinehart suggested giving this a couple of weeks and holding another fiscal meeting in Feb.  Mr. Kraft said that he is concerned about the State-the Legislature is inclined to maintain programs that the Governor is looking cut, yet they to have to face a reality.  He asked if anyone has sources to keep a handle on this.  Mr. Rowley said that he and the Executive communicate regularly with the local delegation.  NYSAC is a very good source.  

Mrs. Rapp asked if DMB is looking for input from the Legislature; Mr. Rowley replied that he is looking for any input.  Mr. Kraft said that Mr. Rowley's presentation included a list of agencies; there was obviously a pick and choose.  Chair Rhinehart said his message hasn't changed since the budget process.  A lot of the agencies came here and confronted the committee.  He, as well as Mr. Corbett, repeatedly stated that concern that they were grant funded from the State.  If grant funding was in jeopardy or eliminated, they tried to not send message to just come back to the County to have the County pick up the balance.  He is even more concerned about that now.  Mr. Kraft expressed concern that the agencies are retroactive to Oct.  Mr. Rowley said that they will hold off on the ones that they know can be switched to a preventative maintenance funding stream.  The other programs have been told that they are on notice.  He believes that the Co. Executive's office has told them that they will be funded through January.  Mr. Seitz said that the County can't cut an agency until the State adopts its budget.  The County will take the hit on those that are retroactive.

Mr. Kilmartin said that he feels everything should be done to prepare for the very worst-case scenario.  If something short of that comes about, we are more than prepared.  Everything should be done to prepare the County to be as nimble as possible--need to be able move quickly when circumstances change.  He asked Mr. Rowley to be in constant communication with the Legislature's leadership, including the Chair of Ways & Means.  Concerning historical knowledge--cuts, mergers, adjustments--those efficiencies that have been battered around through the years but haven't had action taken; it is time to look hard at those that might be the easier adjustments to make; and make them first. 

Mr. Stanczyk said that it is incumbent on the legislature to have a closed session-closed to the public, closed to the press, closed to everybody.  He does not want the County Executive and DMB to come in and say this is the package and that is it.   The legislature sets the budget for this County; this will be a significant budget adjustment.  He suggested that when Mr. Rowley gets close to the things in play, that there be a closed session. 

Mr. Stanczyk referred to the five agencies listed in the presentation (Cicero Canteen, Faith Hope Community, Liberty ISAF, North Area Athletic Club, Nurse Family Partnership) and asked if the Co. Executive has it made it clear that the County is not going to give them funds after the 1st of the year unless the County gets State funds.  Mr. Rowley said "yes".  Mr. Stanczyk said that these organizations are still spending money with the understanding that their organization would be in jeopardy with these monies right now.  The County is in jeopardy for the last 3 months, Oct., Nov. and Dec.  Mr. Rowley agreed.  Mr. Stanczyk questioned why there is a $448,000 number-it should be $0.  Mr. Rowley said that there will be something there--needs to calculate the retro from Oct. 1st.  The numbers on the list are for a full year; they are the cuts that the State has said will apply to those particular agencies.  Mr. Stanczyk asked if the Co. Executive reported this verbally to the agencies or if a letter was sent.  Mr. Rowley said that he believed the administrator sent a letter.  Mr. Stanczyk said that there shouldn't be any effect for '09; there may be for '08.  Mr. Rowley said it will be an adjustment to fund balance.  Mr. Stanczyk said that it is not a '09 budget impact.  Mr. Stanczyk said that now that times are tough, the County needs to be very clear that it will not pass through anything if it doesn't get money.  If an operation is put in jeopardy by the State's proposal, they ought to know and they ought to make the decision as to whether to cease operations or continue knowing that it is on their dime.  Mr. Stanczyk asked to be provided with copies of the letters from the County Executive's office to the agencies.  Chair Rhinehart said that from a legal obligation, if the State cuts funding, he is not sure if it is the County's obligation or burden.  The County is a pass through agency, but didn't institute the cuts; the State did.  Mr. Kilmartin said that we should to be prepared for the absolute worst.  Related entities, or those that rely on the County in full or part, should be put on notice as soon as possible of a very dramatic situation.

Mr. Kraft said that if this situation is as bad as it could be, there is no question that there will be layoffs involved.  Over the years he has observed that there are more and more higher positions than lower level positions.  Some of the higher-level positions would have to go, at least proportionately.  It may not be easy; it may be contrary to current priorities, but maybe some priorities will have to wait.

Chairman Rhinehart said that he will be in contact with Mr. Rowley's department and will set up another meeting for next month.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 a.m. 

Respectfully submitted,
Onondaga County Legislature


MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Buckel, Mr. Holmquist, Mr. DeMore, Ms. Williams, Mr. Warner
ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list

Chairman Lesniak called the meeting to order at 9:03 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. DeMore, seconded by Ms. Williams, to waive the reading and approve the proceedings of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED.

1.     PROBATION:  Mary Winter, Commissioner
      a.   Transfer of funds from Acct 408 Fees for Services to Acct 300 Supplies and Materials ($35,000)
This is a cost savings measure taken to comply with the austerity plan.  They are moving from drug lab based oral fluid tests to instant oral fluid tests; a savings of $25,000/year.  The tests will be done in the office.  It will test for 6 drugs, rather than 4; the results take 4 - 8 minutes.  In answer to Chairman Lesniak regarding the accuracy level, Ms. Winter said that as far as they know there doesn't seem to be any difference; other places are using them.  She will report back to committee if there are any problems with them.

A motion by Ms. Williams, seconded by Mr. Holmquist to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

Chairman Lesniak took the agenda out of order.

3.     ASSIGNED COUNSEL:  Renee Captor, Executive Director
       a.   Transfer Funds from Legal Defense Indigent Conflicts Acct 503 to Legal Defense of Indigent Defend Acct 500 ($20,000)
Ms. Captor said that the cost per case on the conflict line was lower than anticipated; the number of criminal cases continues to rise.

A motion by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Ms. Williams to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

Mr. Buckel reported that he and Mr. Kilmartin have worked together on the social host legislation dealing with the provision of alcohol to minors and gaps in criminal laws--originally introduced at the December session.  They have worked with John Cirando, former DA, who has worked on these issues on the State level.  He distributed copies of notes to the committee members and asked members to inform he or Mr. Kilmartin on any comments or ideas. They hope to come to committee next month with a finalized form. 

Chairman Lesniak reported that he has had discussion with the Sheriff's Department regarding the overtime issue.  A full report will be given at the February committee meeting regarding new procedures on monitoring overtime and how it will be allocated. 

2.     SHERIFF:  Stephanie Hutchinson, Budget Analyst
        a.     Amend '09 Budget to Provide Additional Grant Funds for Safety Belt Enforcement Prog. ($11,060)
Ms. Hutchinson stated that this is federal money -- provides 263 hours of overtime.

A motion by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Mr. Warner, to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; CARRIED.

        b.     Amend '09 Budget to Provide Additional Funds for a Selective Traffic Enforcement ($2,800)
This provides 66 hours of overtime for road patrol. 

A motion by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Ms. Williams, to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

        a.     Confirming the Appointment of John Linnertz to the Onondaga County Fire Advisory Board
A motion by Chairman Lesniak, seconded Mr. Masterpole to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:12 a.m.

Respectfully submitted, 
Onondaga County Legislature



MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Lesniak, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Kinne Mr. Laguzza, Mr. Masterpole
ALSO PRESENT:  Mr. Meyer and see attached list (Attachment 1)

Chairman Kraft called the meeting to order at 11:35 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Lesniak, seconded by Mr. Jordan to waive the reading of the minutes and to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.

Chairman Kraft took the agenda out of order.

3.      FACILITIES MANAGEMENT:  Mr. Manny Barbas, Deputy Commissioner
a.  Court House Roof - Informational
Mr. Barbas was present to discuss the leaks in the Court House roof.  Mr. Barbas explained that there is a decorative, very heavy stone balustrade all around the building.  If they were designing the building today, they would put copper flashing all the way through and then put the stone on top of it, waterproofing what is below the stone.  They have caulked the joints in the stone that they know move, have mortared the joints that they feel do not move and have done a number of things to improve the flashing and the waterproofing as it meets that stone.  There are over 1,000 feet of perimeter balustrade on the building; of that they have four leak sites.  New roof project is far from finished; target date was November 28, 2008, unfortunately had an early winter, and needed about two to three weeks of decent warm weather to truly finish the project and it has been snowing nonstop.  The building was waterproofed according to the contract documents; the manufacturer has not approved main roofing.  Contractor has provided a makeshift gutter system in the attic to try to control the leaking and will be checking the attic on a regular basis.  Mr. Barbas said they know where the leak sites are and documented them on drawings; the contractors have been very responsive.  They need a prolonged period of above freezing, dry weather to do localized water tests.  Their guess is that there might be workmanship issues where the flashing meets the stone balustrade.  They don't think the main roof is leaking; it has belt and suspenders, vapor barrier, insulation, a welded membrane with a 30-year warrantee and a cap sheet (have three different waterproofing conditions).  They are having some ice damage issues near the drains that could be causing leak problems, also having snow and water up to the flashing level that could also be causing a leak problem.  Mr. Barbas said the contractor is one of the best general contractors in Central New York and stands behind his workmanship, subs, likewise, have been more than cooperative.

In answer to Mr. Kraft, Mr. Barbas said the library is above the fourth floor, but the attic is all the way around the library, the four leak sites are all perimeter, the roof pitches down to the perimeter.  It was cost prohibitive to take the whole balustrade off, re-flash it and put the balustrade back on.

In answer to Mr. Kinne, Mr. Barbas showed pictures of the base of the balustrade with the flashing that has a stainless steel compression bar; below the copper and the compression bar is an expandable sealer, if snow goes over and the expandable sealer isn't doing its job, you have water damming, a week point in the system.  It is more than likely a workmanship issue, there might be a little gap where the sealer didn't expand quite right, they will find it and fix it, but need some good weather.  SHIPO would not allow them to put waterproofing over the balustrade.  In answer to Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Barbas said it would not be an additional cost to the County.  Mr. Kraft mentioned the damage inside the building.  Mr. Barbas said the leak sites were preexisting.  Mr. Barbas said the leaks should be fixed by early May.

1.   PARKS:  Mr. Bob Geraci, Commissioner
a.      Approving the Installation of Solar Energy Panels at the Beaver Lake Nature Center ($130,000)
Mr. Geraci introduced Bruce Stebbins, Director of Beaver Lake Nature Center, and Newt Allen, President of Friends of Beaver Lake.  Mr. Geraci noted that the Friends of Beaver Lake would be a contributor to this project.

Mr. Lesniak explained that he is on the Friends of Beaver Lake Board; for quite some time, they have been discussing the educational aspect of how solar works and its advantages over fossil fuel.  Of the $130,000 estimated cost for solar panels, $90,000 in NYSERDA funds are available, County cost would be $40,000 and Friends of Beaver Lake have committed to support the additional costs for the educational portion - kiosks.  Total project cost would be under $200,000.  Mr. Lesniak said there isn't a substantial savings, initially talked about this as an educational piece.  There would be about $1,650 savings per year on electrical costs (conservative numbers), want to use this as a test case.  If there are substantial grants in the future for solar panels, the Zoo would be one of the most likely places to do something because of the amount of hot water used there.

Mr. Masterpole asked if they looked strictly at solar panels, has been told we should be looking at wind.  Mr. Lesniak said a wind project needs roughly about 15 mile per hour constant winds to be able to produce electricity, doesn't know if we have that constant.  Mr. Masterpole questioned having enough sun.  Mr. Jordan said panels generate electricity even when there isn't direct sun.  Mr. Lesniak said if we want to be a green county, we have to set the tone.

A motion was made by Mr. Lesniak, seconded by Mr. Masterpole to approve this item.

Mr. Kraft said he would vote for this because it is a test, but aught to be cautious, payback is 24 years for $39,000.  Mr. Lesniak said if this works out, future projects would be contingent upon what the federal government does with grants on solar, wind, etc., can't do it solely on payback.

In answer to Mr. Laguzza, Mr. Geraci said the transfer would come out of Preventative Maintenance.  Ms. Hann said the money is already appropriated in the 2009 Budget, shows up as a transfer from general funds because it was in the 960 Account under Preventative Maintenance, had to move it.

Mr. Jordan asked what the anticipated life of a solar panel is.  Mr. Geraci said about 30 years; Mr. Lesniak said the energy consultant, Jim Gladziszewski, confirmed that number.

A vote was taken on this item; Ayes:  5 (Kilmartin, Lesniak, Laguzza, Masterpole, Kraft); Noes:  0; Abstained:  2 (Jordan, Kinne); MOTION CARRIED.

b.   Amending the 2009 County Budget to enable the Establishment of Project Accounts for Tourism Promotions and the 2009 Bass Pro Tour ($67,700)
Mr. Geraci provided a handout showing how they plan to spend the money (Attachment 2).  Mr. Geraci introduced Jeff Mickle, Director of Sports Development, Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), and explained that CVB and Parks have partnered in terms of the Bass Pro Tour and other promotional events.  Mr. Geraci said Bass Pro Tour is coming back to Oneida Lake this year for their final championship of the season; due to the economy, Bass Pro Tour has cut back from 11 to 8 events, it is a testament to the quality of the program and the quality of Oneida Lake fishing that we are still one of them.

Mr. Kraft asked about the website design listed on the handout.  Mr. Geraci said they pay an outside contractor to develop two specific websites for Parks and the Zoo, feels $15,000 is a bargain, their goal is to have it developed and maintained by the County IT Department in the future.

In answer to Mr. Kraft, Mr. Geraci said the total budget for the 2009 Bass Pro Tour event would approach $80,000; CVB is putting in $42,000.  Regarding the shortfall, Mr. Geraci said he would be back in February or March to ask to advance money left over from the 2008 Bass Pro Tour.  Mr. Cooley reviewed that two years ago when the Bass memorial program came to Syracuse, they were able to negotiate out the $25,000 bid fee when ESPN opted to move it from the Oncenter to Onondaga Lake Park; that has carried over.  Mr. Kraft asked about revenue sources.  Mr. Geraci said they are limited; Bass Pro Tour has so many sponsors already locked up.  Mr. Cooley said they have been able to bring in a small amount of dollars in previous years, they are focusing on making sure these events keep coming to Syracuse, it is challenging because of the economy and Bass Pro Tour dropping 3 events from their schedule.  Mr. Kraft asked if we pay them a fee to come here and is it competitive with what they get offered elsewhere.  Mr. Cooley said yes.  Mr. Geraci said it is a sellers market; we are lucky to have the resource of Oneida Lake that is second to none when it comes to Bass fishing.  They are being as frugal as they can.

Mr. Jordan asked if there is any opportunity for advertising revenues from local people advertising in booklets or brochures.  Mr. Cooley said they have, in the past, and will try to continue to partner with Syracuse Media to promote the event; secondly, ESPN and Bass Tour typically pay for the event program supplement.  Mr. Jordan suggested generating booklets about what is going on specific to the Bass Tour with schedule of events, where people will be, etc. in which local businesses would pay for advertising.  Mr. Cooley said they could look into that.  Mr. Geraci said the challenge is that it takes a staffing resource infrastructure to put that together; that doesn't exist.

Mr. Masterpole asked, being so close to Oswego County, the Salmon River and other fishing, asked if they are sure these folks are staying in Onondaga County Hotels thus generating ROT.  Mr. Cooley said it was 2,600 rooms in Onondaga County last year; collective economic impact between that and the regional visitation was $3.3 million.

A motion was made by Mr. Lesniak, seconded by Mr. Kilmartin to approve this item; passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

Mr. Masterpole asked about lost revenue at the Zoo because of the water main breaks.  Mr. Geraci said he does not have actual numbers; fortunately it happened at the lowest visitation time.  Mr. Geraci said he, Ms. Smiley and Mr. Fitch would be meeting with the City, doesn't think there is an easy answer to the fix, heard there is talk about lining the pipe, which would take several months over the summer (their busy time of the year); the water pipe is a century old and is literally falling apart.  The zoo was closed during the water breaks because the fire suppression system is tied into this water and the restrooms need water.  Their alternative water source just about takes care of feeding and watering the animals.  Mr. Kraft said this issue would be on the agenda for next month.

2.      TRANSPORTATION:  Mr. Brian Donnelly, Commissioner
a.   Amending the 2009 County Budget and to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs for the Construction and Construction Inspection Phases of Warners Road (Rt 173) Bridge over the Finger Lake Railroad, C-915, BIN 30939490, PIN 3754.24, at a Maximum Cost of $1,995,000 ($1,995,000)
Mr. Kraft complimented Mr. Donnelly and his staff for doing such a good job keeping County roads passable; it is terrific service.

Bridge needs a full deck replacement, moderate work below deck structures, concrete repair, painting, and they will be doing 25 feet of roadwork on each end of bridge.  Local dollar cost:  $105,000, not asking for an appropriation, was included in the 2006 and 2007 Work Plans.

A motion was made by Mr. Kinne, seconded by Mr. Lesniak to approve this item.

In answer to Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Donnelly said they would maintain traffic on the bridge during construction.

In answer to Mr. Lesniak, Mr. Donnelly said they hope to have it approved and ready for advertisement by mid February, will be a one-season project.

A vote was taken on this item and passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

b.   A Resolution Authorizing Improvements at various Department of Transportation (DOT) Facilities in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $500,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $500,000 Bonds of said County to pay the cost thereof
Mr. Coburn said this item has to do with the EPA Environmental Compliance Audit, provided a handout (Attachment 3).  In 2007, they became aware of EPA's enforcement initiative aimed at municipal vehicle maintenance facilities and came to the Legislature seeking authorization to participate in EPA's voluntary audit disclosure program.  Benefits of doing that:  avoid the risk of an unscheduled audit; gives the opportunity to make corrections of any violations that are discovered with 100% reduction in the gravity base that go along with those violations and depending on the circumstances associated with the violations, leaves County in a position to negotiate a reduction or elimination of penalties.  Audit was completed in the first quarter of 2008; it confirmed that the County is meeting or exceeding most of the environmental requirements, most of the violations that were found were easily addressed.  The balance of the violations revolves around floor drains in three of DOT's garages - Marcellus, Camillus and North Area Maintenance Facility (NAMF).  These can be addressed most cost effectively with a combination of three measures - well water separators, tanks to collect the material and then send it away for treatment, or, in case of NAMF, connection to sanitary sewer.  In the meantime, DEC has notified the County that they have to address truck bed washing operations; it is most cost effective to address this issue as part of the fix to the four drainage issues.  Marcellus has presented them with a unique challenge; the floor drain goes into a septic system and a leach field as opposed to discharging directly to a surface water ditch.  They have to either get a permit to operate an underground injection well or close it.  Part of the funds that are in the resolution are to submit the plan for closure, which includes sampling the site; the unknown is whether or not that site will require some further remediation in the future.  Preliminary cost estimates for everything other than the Marcellus remediation, in the event that it is required, is just under $500,000.  EPA has indicated that if they perform the corrective actions, they will wave all the fines and penalties, which could be as much as $37,500 a day per violation.  Mr. Mendez said it could go back to the point of identification, if not earlier.  Mr. Coburn noted it is essentially an amnesty program.

Mr. Kinne asked if DOT would be doing the work.  Mr. Donnelly said there is limited work not included in the resolution; the purchase and installation oil water separators or new drainage would be put out to bid, it is more cost beneficial to have a contractor do it, don't have the skill sets in house to do some of this work.

Mr. Kinne mentioned the discussion of combining Camillus and NAMF.  Mr. Donnelly said even if they came tomorrow with a set of plans to build a new facility, it would take 18 to 24 months, well beyond what the EPA would allow.  The Options before the committee are the lowest cost options.

A motion was made by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Mr. Kilmartin to approve this item.

In answer to Mr. Kraft about the bond resolution being a higher amount than the estimates, Mr. Donnelly said the number of $550,000 was what Management and Budget was comfortable going with.  Mr. Coburn said there is some expectation that there will be a cost at the Marcellus facility when they do the investigation, hopefully the small balance would address that.

A vote was taken on this item and passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

c.   Amending the 2008 Road Maintenance and Road Machinery Budgets to Adjust for Year-End Deficits - Informational
Should have the final numbers for the fiscal year 2008 by Ways and Means.  They will end up with an overall surplus of $123,711; have deficits in some accounts that they need to address through Legislative transfers.  Mr. Donnelly provided a handout (Attachment 4).

Mr. Laguzza asked how they missed the mark on the Interdepartmental - Equipment Rental by 40%.  Mr. Gottstein explained that they used a book published by New York State to determine rates for 2007-2008; they are now using a new publication that came out in June 2008 to determine rates for 2008-2009.  Mr. Kraft said, in his opinion, there is no reason to have separate accounting for Highway and Road Machinery; it should all be in one budget, at one time the Legislature passed a resolution imploring the State to do away with it.  Mr. Laguzza suggested that it might be time to ask again, with the fluctuation in oil prices.  Mr. Kraft agreed to be the sponsor, and suggested that Mr. Laguzza could be a co-sponsor.

Mr. Donnelly said the Highway Budget has a deficit of $1.14 million and the Road Machinery budget has a surplus of $1.2 million, which left them with an overall surplus of approximately $124,000.  They had budgeted $1.6 million for appropriation of new equipment in their 2009 budget; that has been reduced to $800,000 with the new austerity budget.  They are now prioritizing the items submitted to the Legislature and approved for the 2009 budget.  Mr. Kraft asked what they anticipate for highway paving projects.  Mr. Donnelly said they don't know what will be eligible under the proposed stimulus plan, Governor's budget has a $1.3 million reduction in what they have budgeted for CHIPS.  If the $1.3 million were not restored, it would be a detriment to the hot mix and cold mix programs.  In answer to Mr. Laguzza, Mr. Coley said the lowest rated roads that were not completed last season would be on the top of the list for 2009; roads rated 1 thru 3 were completed in 2008.

Mr. Lesniak asked if the equipment items would go back to the Vehicle Use Review Board; Mr. Donnelly said it has been left up to the department to make the determination.  Mr. O'Shea said it is Management and Budget's expectation that the departments would spend according to the Vehicle Use priority list, that list also went to Purchase.  Mr. Kraft requested that Mr. Donnelly share the information with the committee as they work through the process.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Johanna H. Robb, Deputy Clerk


MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Stott, Mr. Corbett, Mr. DeMore, Mr. Kinne
MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Holmquist, Mrs. Winslow
ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list
Chairman Kilmartin called the meeting to order at 10:35 a.m.  A motion by Mr. Corbett, seconded by Mr. Stott, to waive the reading and approve the minutes of proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.

Informational:  Director search, Board of Trustees Update, Library Roof update
Mr. Manning announced that the selection process has been completed; Elizabeth Dailey has been chosen as the Executive Director, effective February 9th.  The search process started in April; there was solicitation of many of the library associations, newsletters, networks, etc.; initially 14 resumes came in.  The board put together an advisory committee from across the community; it was a very diverse group that worked with the board.  They narrowed the candidates down to 3, held interviews, and selected Elizabeth Daily. 

Ms. Dailey gave a brief history of her background and experience. 

  • An OCPL employee of 17 years
  • Came in as a branch head based on experience that she obtained from SUNY Potsdam for 7 years.
  • Served as branch head at White, Betts, and Petit; also worked at Central administration
  • Transferred to Liverpool 10 years ago as a Librarian 3
  • After 4 years in that position, she was promoted to Director and served for 6 years.

Chairman Kilmartin congratulated and welcomed Ms. Dailey.  Mr. Stott said that Ms. Daily understands the challenges of the heavily utilized libraries, and the frustrations of those that she is helping support at the Liverpool Library; feels she is the best person for this position.  He asked if there is a replacement for her position in Liverpool.  Ms. Daily said that a search process will be done.  Mr. Kinne said that he is happy to see Ms. Daily in this position.  She did a wonderful job at the Betts Branch.  Mr. Corbett congratulated Ms. Daily.  She has gone through the process and has used the new system, which will be used in all of the libraries.  She is a good choice; with her experience she shouldn't have many surprises as a new director.

Mr. Manning said that now that now that Ms. Daily is on board, they will kick off the strategic planning.  Mr. Fisher reported that the Gifford Foundation facilitated a lifecycles assessment of all of their processes and found that there were a number of issues that need to be examined before the strategic process got kicked off.   There is a small committee within the Board, but will also have a task force that will include outside representatives.  They can reach out to the stakeholders in the community and identify the needs of each library that is served.  The model is based on the Public Libraries Association, who has a process that has been used for about 30 years, it involves reaching out to the community, finding out their needs, and taking the 20-25 possible service responses and prioritizing them.   There is an existing challenge - at one level they serve the entire community and serve the entire county, but at the same time there are eight city branches and each of them have specific communities that they serve.  He suspects that City branches may have a slightly different plan for their own strategies. 

Mr. Manning said that in order to grow the OCPL system, they will need to grow additional funds above and beyond what the taxpayers give them.  In the coming months, the Board will be working with the Foundation and others to reach out for addition resources.  With the Polaris system in place, they can look at performance and usage.  Mr. Fisher recognized the Friends of the Central Library; who gave $42,000 last February.  They provide the Gifford Lecture series, which is very popular, but also raise a substantial amount of money that goes to the Central Library to purchase materials and provide children's programs.

Mr. Kinne thanked the Board members for coming; it is nice to have their input.  Chairman Kilmartin added the Bill Fisher and Bob Manning deserve a lot of the credit for that; Mr. Manning is chair of Government Relations Committee and has been very proactive. 

Central Library Roof Update:  Mr. Manning reported that the new roof over central library is complete.  All leaks have been repaired.   Two penthouses (stairways to roof) are done; one is not, but they really belong the Galleries.  If they were to leak, they would no leak on library property.  This is a 15-year roof.  The facilities manager has done a thorough inspection of the 5th floor, documented all damage, and in the process of getting quotes.  By Feb. 1st, all quotes will be in and information will be provided to Chairman Kilmartin and the County Attorney as to what it will take to repair the interior damage that is outstanding. 

Performance Metrics:  The Polaris system is an integrated system that reaches out to suburban, central and city libraries; 2008 performance metrics are beginning to be gathered.  Across the board usage is up in almost everything that is measured.  Libraries are a resource for the jobless and struggling families.  He noted that attendance is up about 20% at the Baldwinsville Library.  Ms. Dailey said that the holds have increased by 200% at the Liverpool Library.  Mr. Manning reviewed the charts which measure borrowing and lending.  He noted that he has data for specific libraries if anyone is interested.  He explained that this is a measure of specific items.  Polaris is an invaluable tool to measuring performance.

State Budget Update:  Mr. Manning said that they have been visiting all state assemblypersons and senators, s the governor has proposed an 18% reduction in their budget.  They hope to have the percentage reduced to something reasonable.  $1.5 million is obtained from the Sate, and the impact would be approximately a $250,000 loss  if the 18% becomes law.

Mr. Stott asked if it would help if the County Legislature put together a resolution to the State representatives--from the standpoint that OCPL is not just a resource to get materials, but also an economic driver.  People in Central New York are using OCPL look for jobs and help students.   Mr. Manning said that it would help.  Chairman Kilmartin stated that over the next month, they can meet with representatives from the board and director to get a better understanding of the proposal.  Possibly by that time, they can see where the budget will be headed and try to come up with something to advance.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:02 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Onondaga County Legislature


ROBERT D. WARNER, CHAIRMAN, January 15, 2009

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Laguzza, Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Buckel, Mr. Kilmartin, Mrs. Winslow
ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list
(Attachment 1)

Chairman Warner called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.

A motion was made by Mr. Laguzza, seconded by Mr. Kilmartin to waive the reading of the minutes and approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.

Chairman Warner took the agenda out of order.

1.   VAN DUYN:
b.      Transfer of funds from Account 120 Employee Benefits to Account 300 Supplies ($175,000)
Ms. Hann said this transfer would cover some unanticipated expenses in dietary costs; Employee Benefits came in under budget due to many vacancies.  Mr. Buckel asked if there is any other way of accounting for these times and services or unused funds that have already been allocated rather than assuming they must be spent.  Ms. Hann said Van Duyn is separate fund; anything not used rolls back to their own fund; recalled back in June they actually moved money out of the 300 Account, because they expected savings in dietary; but due to economic conditions, the vendor was given two cost of living adjustments this year; they were hoping for a savings.  In answer to Mr. Buckel, Ms. Hann said they are moving funds because they have a bill outstanding that they have to pay, Van Duyn has surpluses in most of the accounts, all of those monies will go back to the Van Duyn general fund.

Mr. Laguzza asked who authorized the cost of living adjustments and when were they advised of them.  Ms. Hann said Purchasing notified them in April and August, they would have been fine with the first cost of living adjustment (4.63%) effective May thru October.  Mr. Laguzza said it is way past the time to approve this, is disappointed that they are so far off the mark when they knew this was coming in April and August.

Mr. Kilmartin asked what the present surplus is in Van Duyn.  Ms. Hann said it is close to $13,000,000 in the general fund; that accounts for year 2007 and IGT transfers, doesn't account for any of 2008 (thinks that will be about $1 million).  Ms. Hann said the fund wouldn't be used for capital projects because capital projects can be reimbursed through the Medicaid rate; they use it for deficit reduction, most of it is IGT funds.

A motion was made by Mr. Laguzza, seconded by Mr. Warner to approve this item; passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

a.   Requesting Onondaga County Commissioner of Long Term Care Services to work with the Onondaga Community College to explore and evaluate the feasibility of a tuition reimbursement program for Onondaga County residents who receive a nursing degree from Onondaga Community College and commit to working at a County healthcare facility - Sponsored by Mr. Lesniak
Mr. Lesniak and Ms. Sawmiller, Assistant Dir. of Nursing at Van Duyn were present to discuss this item.  Mr. Lesniak said there are roughly 25 LPN's and CNA's who are very interested in taking part in this program to get their RN.  Initially, when they drafted this resolution, it was to be a recruitment tool to draw RN's in; this is just one more avenue.  Ms Sawmiller said the program for RN's is roughly $7,000, that doesn't include prerequisites or different courses they would need to finish their degree, total amount roughly $10,000 to $12,000.  The 20 to 25 who are interested have already been accepted and are being assisted through Department of Labor funds and Berger funded money.  The have a good initiative going in getting in-house employees started in an RN
program, would be great to have some additional assistance support to help them.  The grant, that supplies support for prerequisites ends in June of 2009.

In answer to Mr. Warner, Mr. Lesniak said these people would have to commit to three years at Van Duyn or another health facility in County government in order to receive the tuition reimbursement; Ms Sawmiller said there would be signed contracts.  In the past, they have supported tuition assistance for eleven nurses, five became LPN's and six became RN's, there has been a 95% retention rate.  They are looking to partner with OCC.  Ms. Sawmiller said 15 positions are open and funded for RN's on their roster.

Mrs. Rapp said this is the direction to go, already have people working there who are familiar with the environment; retention is going to be that much stronger.  Concerning orientation, Ms. Sawmiller said there is a cost savings because these people are familiar with Van Duyn and policies; it would take twice as long to bring somebody in from outside.

Ms. Walter said they are talking about titles that are currently represented by CSEA; need to involve them in the discussion to make sure they agree.

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. Laguzza to approve this item; passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

2.   HEALTH:
b.  Diabetes Initiative - Informational - Dr. Morrow
Dr. Morrow was present to give an update on how the primary Diabetes Prevention Project is going and provided the following handout:


"Diabetes Control and Prevention in the Workplace: A Pilot Study" is a cooperative project with SUNY Upstate Medical University and Onondaga County designed for Onondaga County Employees.  Initially employees from the Health Department and Probation were invited to participate.


  • Promote weight loss and increased physical activity for healthy individuals, thereby reducing the risk of developing diabetes
  • Improve metabolic control for those with diabetes

Recruitment:  Program announcement letters and a diabetes risk assessment were mailed to 500 Onondaga County employees in both the Health and Probation departments in June 2008.  76 (15%) employees responded, and of these 24 (32%) elected to take part. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group 1 (11 participants) began the program immediately, while Group 2 (13 participants) began the program after a wait period of 3 months.

Program Content:  The program consisted of 12 weekly, 60-minute sessions offered during work hours. Skills learned included self-monitoring of food intake, calculating fat grams and calories, adjusting recipes to lower fat content, self-monitoring of exercise, identification of ways to add activity to lifestyle, mindful eating, stress management, and eating healthy in restaurants. Participants were given a pedometer, portion plate, fat counting book, measuring cups and measuring spoons, as well as weekly handouts to reinforce the material.  Ten ($10) dollar gas cards were distributed upon completion of the study questionnaire at baseline and at three months.  A healthy lunch was provided at five of the sessions.

Physical assessments, including body weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, and limited blood work were performed on participants at baseline and at three months.  Assessments will be repeated at six months, one year, and 24 months. At the time of this report, data analysis and summary is not complete.

Group 1

  • Ten participants completed the 12-week program in early October (one dropped out prior to completion)
  • 80% of participants had lost weight (range 1-6.8% of body weight) at the end of the program
  • All participants rated the program positively, and appreciated the opportunity to engage in a healthy lifestyle program at work
  • Monthly maintenance classes for this group began October 30th

Group 2

  • Eleven individuals began the program in late October and have completed 9 sessions thus far (two participants dropped out prior to the start of the curriculum)

Employee Feedback

Positive feedback from participants has resulted in numerous inquiries for additional programs.  Current plans include offering the program in January 2009 to employees in the Department of Social Services.

Sample Comments from Group 1

  • I felt it was a good lifeline because my sugars were progressively climbing and I needed to get them in better control, which I did with the program's guidance.
  • The project was wonderful and I appreciate it.
  • This has been the only method I've used that has helped me to eat better, exercise, and pay attention to how, why, and what I eat. It has provided me with various tools and information to live a healthy life, so many thanks.
  • I've learned a lot, the timing was off for me to do all the things I learned. I know I will use them in the near future.

Dr. Morrow advised that once they complete the pilot project, their intention is to let other employees and employers in the County know about it, this would also be contributing to knowledge base across the country.

Mr. Lesniak asked how many of the participants were previously diagnosed with diabetes.  Dr Morrow said about 3 or 4 in the first group already had diabetes.  They initially wanted to reduce the risk of diabetes, didn't want employees to feel excluded, knew that they would benefit from the educational sessions even if they already had diabetes, will get the exact numbers for Mr. Lesniak.

Mrs. Rapp asked how the people were selected.  Dr. Morrow said it is self-selection; people who select to participate in this program are likely to be more motivated.

Mr. Kilmartin said he worked on this with Dr. Morrow prior to the start of the project.  They only have a small amount of results right now, idea was to start the pilot with public and private partnership - to try to advance it with the Joslin Diabetes Center to see if there was success, then to expand it within other parts of the County of Onondaga, and if successful, to other parts of the community.  There are funds left over to continue the program through this year.  Reasons for the initiative were:

1.      Increase and improve the health of County employees
2.      Reduce absenteeism
3.      Reduce cost to employees for their health care
4.      Reduce cost to County of Onondaga for its health care costs for all its employees.

Mr. Kilmartin said this is part of something larger that he has talked to Dr. Morrow, Ms. Smiley and the Comptroller about in the past to try to integrate within the County a more modern, business model oriented health care initiative, an incentive for employees to be healthier, improve efficiency and reduce cost.

Mr. Warner noted that the program is 12 weeks for 1 hour a week, asked how they incorporate it into the time schedule of the 8-hour day.  Dr. Morrow said it is over the lunch period, they have granted a half hour of administrative leave for those who have only half hour lunch breaks.

Mr. Buckel noted the small number of participants per class.  Dr. Morrow said they know there are more than 24 who are at risk for diabetes out of the 500 they reached out to.  If the core program continues to be successful and if they have the ability to offer it, she believes they will get more and more interested.  Mr. Kilmartin said this is tailored after how private business runs their medical plan, a lot is incentive based, if employees meet basic fundamental criteria for their health, it bodes well not only for the employee, but for the employer, saves money for both of them.  It will take time to analyze the data, integrate the programs, but, if there is success and the idea spreads by word of mouth and if there are sufficient incentives that the County can provide to these different employees, that would be the carrot that would inspire even larger participation and, hopefully, more cost savings.

Mrs. Rapp asked if this, over time, would be offered to the public, to corporations.  Dr. Morrow said this is the pilot, if an employer wants Joslin to come in and do a similar thing in their work place, Joslin would be able to do that.  Mr. Kilmartin said the model could be picked up very readily and moved very quickly to the City and town governments, school districts and could be easily integrated into the private sector if companies are interested.

Dr. Morrow said they have had two groups, will continue with the next set now and another in three months.  At the end of this year they will have a total of 40 people to analyze.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if the Health department is disseminating information within the county workforce about this program and the success.  Dr. Morrow said they would after they get the results from the second group.

a.     Public Health Engineering - Informational - Mr. Gary Sauda
Mr. Sauda made the following presentation:
2007 Environmental Health Budget  $3,145,908, Public Health Engineering represents about 20% of that.

Water Supply Program 
                - $200,000 (approx)  (6% of EH Budget)
                -  2 FTEs

Drinking Water Enhancement Grant 
                - NYS Grant Initiated in 2001
                - $132,000  (unchanged)  
                -  2 FTEs

Amount of fees is economically driven - $100,000 average per year

The workplan for 4/1/07-3/31/08 is broken into 7 major categories:
                A.  Investigations/Enforcement/Emergency Response
                B.  Assure Compliance with Part 5 of the State Sanitary Code
                C.  Full Utilization of the Safe Drinking Water Information System and proficient use of SDWIS add-ons.
                D.  Enhance the safety of drinking water at non-public water systems
                E.  Implement New Safe Drinking Water Act Programs and Regulations
                F.  Staff Development
                G.  Reporting

Individual sub headings under these major categories add up 34 specific tasks that we are required to accomplish.

Mr. Lesniak mentioned Whispering Oaks and their community septic system, asked if they are authorizing any of those currently.  Mr. Sauda said a lot of things have changed in terms of standards, tightening up in terms of 2010 Plan and lot sizes.  Mr. Till said he has one on his desk and is expecting another one (both Skaneateles) for community septic systems, they are smaller systems, not the scope of Whispering Oaks.  Mr. Sauda said there were new design standards that came out in the early 1990's; they scrutinize any proposal to make sure it
meets those standards.  2010 plan does address community systems in general, not sure if it is specific to septic systems; that is one of the things that will be looked at in updating the plan.  Mr. Warner asked if there is some liability when they approve a project and it goes sour.  Mr. Sauda said the County has not been liable in the past because they followed accepted standards.  Mr. Warner asked what has changed with building lot sizes.  Mr. Sauda said over the years some of the towns have enacted minimum lots sizes; that goes not only to septic issues, but well issues also.  Under state standards for lot sizes, it assumes ideal conditions, Mr. Sauda said they have gotten out the message that we don't necessarily have ideal conditions; lot sizes have to accommodate everything on them, have to look at how many acres of the lot are usable. 


- Syracuse 2005

- Smaller villages & non municipal systems

Major Water Main Breaks

Reservoir Issues

- 2004 Green Water - algae - Woodland

- Concern over water level - Eastern Res.

- Main Break

- Scheduled Valve Repair - water conservation advisory

- Regulations - require covering or providing additional treatment UV

GWUDI - East Syracuse, Marcellus, Mountain Glen

The meeting was adjourned at 9:55 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Johanna H. Robb
Deputy Clerk




MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Corbett, Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. Kraft, Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Warner, Mr. Holmquist,
     *Mr. Kinne
ALSO PRESENT:  Mr. Lesniak, Chairman Meyer, see also attached list

Chairman Rhinehart called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Corbett, seconded by Mrs. Rapp to waive the reading of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.


Chairman Rhinehart took the agenda out of order:  

10e.  Res. Providing for a Paperless Onondaga Co. Legislature (Sponsored by Mr. Masterpole)
Mr. Masterpole stated that other legislative bodies are heading in this direction-electronically transfer all communications including agendas and budgets.  There would be an initial capital investment of hardware and software, but feels there would be savings and improve government efficiencies.  Chairman Rhinehart said that he would like to create a working group consisting of Debbie Maturo, Ken Beam, IT, Mr. Masterpole, himself, and a rep from the Law Dept.   There would be several working sessions to develop a better proposal and determine if it is feasible.  The meetings will be open to the public; anyone willing to get involved is welcome.

Mrs. Rapp asked if the goal is for each legislator to have a laptop.  Mr. Masterpole said "ideally"; he has done some initial background on the capital investment vs. paper cost savings.  His goal is that it will pay for itself in the end.  Everyone is moving to green environments, and this is a good step in that direction.  Mrs. Rapp asked about information for visitors at meetings.  Mr. Masterpole said that accommodations would have to be made.  Chairman Rhinehart said that it is complicated, but should be looked at.  In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. Masterpole said that he optimistically feels it will take 6 months.  Chairman Rhinehart said there is an initiative going on now; IT is looking at a much more paperless organization; this will integrate with it.

1.      Parks Department:  
         a.      Approving the Installation of Solar Energy Panels at Beaver Lake Nature Center ($130,000) (Sponsored by Mr. Lesniak)

Mr. Lesniak explained that this is to test solar panels at Beaver Lake; it is a $130,000 project.  The Friends of Beaver Lake will be putting in a kiosk to use as an education piece on how solar power is turned to electrical power.  There is not a significant savings--roughly $2,000 per year.  The County's cost would be $40,000.

Mr. Warner made a motion to approve this item and to be listed as a co sponsor.

*Mr. Kinne arrived at the meeting.

Mr. Stanczyk said that it is not economically feasible now to install a lot of solar panels.  He wants to increase the understanding for the process, but questions how it makes sense to spend $40,000 of tax money to get something that will never have an economic payback.  Mr. Lesniak explained that the economic payback is not known for sure, which is why Beaver Lake is being looked at.  It is probably the most unlikely area to receive the most sun exposure; there are more clouds from lake effect snow.  Mr. Stanczyk said it would be much better to have it come from an off-budget source rather than a direct tax source.  Green makes sense if it makes economic sense.  If it doesn't, then it is folly.  He asked if they are direct solar panels converting solar to electricity.  Mr. Lesniak said that they are-they will basically heat the hot water system.  Mr. Stanczyk questioned what happens when it snows.  Mr. Lesniak said that there is still potential for generation of power; the question is how much.  The daylight is what it is picking up; it does not have to have direct sunlight.  Mr. Stanczyk said that he encourages green technology in the community and being in the forefront of green technology, but it has to make economic sense; disagrees with spending county money.  Within 30 days the County will be looking to cut $10 - $15 million local dollars out of the budget.  This item should be delayed; suggested a conversation with the Friends to see if they want to pay for it.

Mr. Warner asked about the $2,000 savings; Mr. Lesniak said it is an estimate based on the size of the panels for the hot water usage.  Mr. Warner said it is a $2,000 savings, rather than paying it to National Grid.

Mr. Corbett said that this system would capture the sunlight and any reflection coming off of the snow, even in low light conditions.  This is no different than some of the initiatives that have come in with the ACJ; going green with proposed rain barrels, green roofs, and curb cuts.  Some of it is done to measure effectiveness and also if it is economically feasible.  Then it can be expanded or changed.  This will be a build and measure look.  He sees the same type of correlation that is being seen all over the county right now. 

Mr. Stanczyk said that he would be surprised if the cost for hot water at Beaver Lake Nature Center is over $2,000.  The payback is less than $2,000; the payback for the County expenditure is about 23 - 26 years; but the payback for the entire project is 75+ years.  There is no proven economic benefit of return.

Mr. Kinne asked if public money is used; it should be used from the special projects account.  He doesn't think it should be paid for with general tax dollars, especially when there is such a long return.  He would support it if it came from other funds to try as a pilot project.

Mrs. Rapp said there is concern in this economic time when looking at expenditures like this.  There is also a role of leadership-trying to be the green capital of the U.S.  If we wait until everything is done and proven, then there is no leadership and will never get ahead.  Part of the return is dollars and cents; part is the educational component with all the kids that visit there.  The panels work--a cloudy climate can create energy.  Mr. Warner said that there is zero return in pumping thousands of dollars into National Grid every year.  Chair Rhinehart said that there is a new President and new energy initiatives going on nationally; the State is putting money in to push solar and wind power.  The first step is this solar pilot project.  This should move forward.

Regarding the hot water cost, Mr. Corbett said that there is a lot of usage at Beaver Lake; they have a large kitchen and are constantly using it.

A motion was made by Mr. Stanczyk to move this back to Committee because the money should come from some other source than County dollars and suggested Friends of Beaver Lake.  Mr. Kinne seconded the motion.

Ms. Skahen, Parks Department, reported that the total electrical utility cost is $20,000 per year; she was unsure what portion of that is for hot water.

A vote was taken on Mr. Stanczyk's motion.  AYES:  2 (Stanczyk, Mr. Kinne); NOES:  6 (Warner, Corbett, Kilmartin, Holmquist, Rapp, Rhinehart); ABSTENTIONS:  1 (Mr. Kraft).  MOTION FAILED.

Chairman Rhinehart seconded the motion to approve this item.  AYES:  7; NOES: 2 (Stanczyk, Mr. Kinne).  MOTION CARRIED.

         b.      Amending the 2009 County Budget to Enable the Establishment of Project Accounts for Tourism Promotions and the 2009 Bass Pro Tour ($67,700)
A motion by Mr. Kinne, seconded by Mr. Kraft to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; CARRIED.


2.      Transportation:  Brian Donnelly, Commissioner
         a.      Amend '09 Budget and Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs for Construction and Construction Inspection Phases of Warners Rd. (Rt. 173) Bridge over the Finger Lake Railroad, C-915, BIN 30939490, PIN 3754.24, at a Maximum Cost of $1,995,000
A motion by Mr. Warner, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; CARRIED.

         b.      Authorize Improvements at Various DOT Facilities in and for the Co. of Onon. at a Max. Est. Cost of $500,000 and Authorize Issuance of $500,000 Bonds of said County to Pay the Cost Thereof
This is authorizing bonding for improvement of 3 of 4 DOT facilities; addresses items that came out of the self-audit.  Mr. Coburn stated that the legislature approved participation in the EPA voluntary disclosure program.  The benefits of participating in the voluntary program are:  avoid risk of having an unscheduled audit at a facility; allows correction of any violation that is found with 100% reduction in the gravity base penalties associated with violations; and, dependant upon the circumstances or conditions, gives an opportunity to negotiate a waiver of any economic penalty.  The audit was completed in the 1st quarter of 2008 and confirmed, in large part, that the County is either meeting or exceeding its requirement.  Most of the violations were addressed before submitted the disclosure to EPA.  Those that remain:  one is being addressed by WEP at Metro - seeking compliance under Multi-sector Stormwater Permit. The balance of violations revolves around floor drains in 3 DOT garages:  Marcellus, Camillus, and North Area Maintenance.  They can be addressed most cost effectively by implementing a combination of 3 different approaches - install oil/water separators, tanks to capture and then treat and dispose of material, or hook up to a sanitary sewer.  The floor drains at the Marcellus facility go to a septic system and a leach field.  Under the regulations, they meet the definition of an underground vehicle injection well.  The options are to seek a permit, which is virtually impossible to do, or to close it.  Funding has been included for sampling the sight and a closure plan.  Until the samples get back, the cost of corrective action won't be known.  DEC has notified the County that the truck bed washing issue has to be addressed.  The most cost effective way to address it is to incorporate a fix into the floor drain and take care of the trucks indoors.  The preliminary cost estimates for everything, except the Marcellus leach field, is just under $500,000.  EPA has indicated that if corrective actions are performed by June, then all fines and penalties would be waived.  The fines/penalties could be as much as $37,500 per day. 

A motion was made by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve this item.

Mr. Kinne asked about a timeline as to when a decision will be made on a new North Area facility--this is spending money that possibly would not be needed in the next year or two.  Mr. Donnelly it is actively being investigating--working with Co. Executive's Office.  If moving forward with a new facility is feasible, the goal is to present something at the March committee meeting.  There are significant structural problems at the North Area facility.  Also, Camillus is an aging facility and there are issues there.  They have tried to minimize expenses at the two facilities; at best it would be 2 years out before a facility is open and operational. 

Chairman Rhinehart asked if there has been any communication with the local municipalities in that area to see if there is an opportunity for a joint venture.  Mr. Donnelly said that the locations that they have looked at are limited.  The locations haven't worked out to be in conjunction with a town.  Where it makes sense for County DOT, doesn't makes sense for those towns to be located.  They are looking at a design to make a facility that can share services with other municipalities; i.e. salt storage.

Passed unanimously; CARRIED.

         c.      Amend '08 Road Maintenance and Road Machinery Budgets to Adjust for Year-End Deficits
These are transfers to address year-end deficits; there is approximately a $100,000 surplus for 2008.  The largest problems were in November and December.  Due to an unusually challenging winter so far; it has caused them to go over in overtime and salt.  Fuel has dropped, but because of the number of trips they have had to take, more has been spent on fuel.

A motion by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mrs. Rapp to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; CARRIED.
Mr. Warner asked that future projects include a map with an indication of where the project is located.

3.      Van Duyn:  Roberta Sprague, Commissioner
         a.      2008 Transfer of Funds from Acct. 120 Employee Benefits to Acct. 300 Supplies and Materials in the Amount of $175,000 to Cover Dietary Costs ($175,000)
This is to cover meals for dietary services.  

A motion was made by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Warner to approve this item.

Mr. Stanczyk asked about the therapy proposal discussed last month.  Mrs. Sprague said that the proposals were due on Jan. 16th; they received six.  They have gleamed through them; 2 will not be entertained - one did not address the proposal; the other made a mistake.  If they were to abolish positions and go to a contract; they would have to come to the legislature to abolish the positions.  Mr. Stanczyk said he would like to have an update, even if none of the proposals are accepted.

Mrs. Rapp asked if the proposals involve keeping the existing staff.  Mrs. Sprague said the she has not read all of them, but it was in the RFP to demonstrate that they would offer positions to Van Duyn employees.

Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


4.      Social Services:  Steve Morgan, Deputy Commissioner
         a.      2008 Transfer of Funds from Acct. 570 Contract Services to Acct. 401 Travel/Training in the Amount of $25,000 Due to a Higher than Expected IRS Mileage Rate ($25,000)
A motion by Mr. Kinne, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; CARRIED.


5.      Assigned Counsel Program:  Renee Captor, Executive Director
         a.      2008 Transfer of Funds from Acct. 503 Legal Defense Indigent Conflicts to Acct. 500 Legal Defense Indigents in the Amount of $20,000 to Cover a Shortfall ($20,000)
A motion by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Warner to approve this item. Passed unanimously; CARRIED.

6.      Probation:  Andrew Sicherman, Principal Probation Officer
         a.      2009 Transfer of funds from Acct. 408 Fees for Svcs. to Acct. 300 Supplies and Materials in the Amount of $35,000 to Cover Drug Testing Costs that Will Now be Funded in the 300 acct.
This is a change in how they will do drug screenings--will do instant tests instead of lab-based; an estimated $25,000 savings.

A motion was made by Mr. Warner, seconded by Mr. Kinne to approve this item.

Mr. Corbett asked if testing is done on site or in the office; Mr. Sicherman said "both".  It is for clients, not internal employees.

In answer to Mr. Warner, Mr. Sicherman said that there are instant results. An informal poll of other probation departments was done and about 90% use instant tests.  The new test will identify 6 drugs; the previous test was 4-panel.  A license is not needed to perform the testing. The new kit will test for THC, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, methamphetamines, PCP.  The cost per kit is $4.60.

In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Sicherman stated that the probation officers do the tests themselves, which take about 4-6 minutes to report a result.  It is an oral fluid test; a stick with a collection pad on it; similar to the way they test for DNA.  The Department of Correction also does drug testing, but uses urine screens.  The instant oral test is easier than taking a sample to a lab, which is very costly.  Urine tests involve more time; it ties up the probation officers, and there are safety issues involved.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if the data is extremely high for accuracy; Mr. Sicherman said that he will look into it.  Mr. Kilmartin said that it could be interesting for the Sheriff's Dept., regarding DWI and DWI related arrests.  Now in the field they use Alco-sensors, which can't be used in court.  Sometimes it is very difficult when an officers thinks someone is under the influence of drugs, there is no ready way to do that - they have to arrest them and take them in for a blood test.

Mr. Warner asked if someone is on probation, does that automatically provide the opportunity to give the test.  Mr. Sicherman said that it does.  Mr. Warner asked when consent comes in.  Mr. Sicherman said that they have had situations where the person does not have the condition of probation but wishes to consent to test; there is form that they sign.  Conditions of probation drive the testing for both alcohol and drugs.  The first thing a probation officer does is seeks admission. 

Passed unanimously; CARRIED.

7.      Sheriff:  chief William Peverly
         a.      Amend '09 Budget to Provide Addl. Grant Funds for a Safety Belt Enforce. Prog. ($11,060)
A motion by Mr. Warner, seconded by Mr. Stanczyk to approve this item. Passed unanimously; CARRIED.


         b.      Amend '09 Budget to provide Addl. funds for a Selective Traffic Enforcement Prog. ($2,800)
A motion by Mr. Warner, seconded by Mr. Stanczyk to approve this item. Passed unanimously; CARRIED.

8.      Finance:  Karen Carney, Director, Real Property Tax Svcs.
         a.      Amend '09 Budget to Accept Centralized Property Tax Assessment Program Grant Funds for the Onon. Co. Finance Dept. and Authorize the County Executive to Enter into Contracts ($25,000)
         b.      Amend '09 Budget to Accept Centralized Property Tax Collection Program Grant Funds for the Onondaga Co. Finance Dept. and Authorize the Co. Executive to Enter into Contracts ($25,000)
The resolutions accept the second half of grant funds offered by NYS Office of Real Property Tax Services. 

A motion was made by Mr. Kraft, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve items 8a and 8b.

Mrs. Carney said that regarding the collection grant fund, they have completed a study of how to get real time information from the receivers out to the website.  They have worked with IT and vendors to produce a file format.  Receivers will be able to transfer electronically, either nightly or weekly, to the County.  Additionally, receivers would like to see duplicates of tax bills on the website.  Her department, in working with the vendor, has come up with a way to do that.  The receivers also want ability for taxpayers to go on the website and get a paid receipt, which is being worked on and will take at least until the end of the year before implemented. 

Part of the assessment grant was to study the current assessment administration programs in the County, and to come up with different selective models that might realize some cost savings or efficiencies.  She plans to present the study at Fiscal Ways & Means Committee in February.  It outlines several models:

  • County run - cost and benefits
  • Have towns work together - cost savings (similar to Lysander and VanBuren)
  • Contracting with the County for certain services which may have cost savings (i.e. County organize data collection for all towns, exemption administration for all towns

In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Ms. Carney said that they have completed the study.  For the assessment study, the State had given the County $25,000 merely to do the study and present it.  If there were any parts of it to implement, the $25,000 would be used to offset implementation.  Even if nothing is implemented, just by presenting the study, the County gets to keep the $25,000.

Mr. Kilmartin asked for a description on how the money flows from the towns to the County.  Mrs. Carney said that during the months of Jan., Feb., and March, when receivers are collecting at town level for town and county taxes, all money initially received goes to pay off the supervisor's portion of the warrant (covers the town budget amount).  Once that is reached, all additional money is returned to the County.  They do that until the end of March.  At the end of March there is a certain amount of tax, which is not collected at the towns, and it becomes the "unpaids" that the County starts collecting April 1st.  In most cases the money is wire transferred; a couple of towns still send a check.  The towns continue to send money through March 31st.

Chairman Rhinehart asked if item 8b is in line with what happened in Lysander.  Mrs. Carney said "no"; it is a countywide tax collection database, which they looked at.  The County already had it in place, but only provided information on delinquent taxes.  This fills in the missing piece, to provide property owners with current year information.  Chairman Rhinehart asked if the reason is to save taxpayers money or to have more information readily available.  Mrs. Carney said it is t provide more information for the taxpayers.  This $25,000 will be used to pay the vendor to put improvements on the website.  The only additional cost will be adding a small amount to the maintenance fee already paid to maintain the website, approximately $1,200.

In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Mrs. Carney said that towns are made whole immediately, typically by Jan. 31st

Mr. Kilmartin asked if someone now needs proof of payment for taxes, do they call or go to the County Finance office.  Mrs. Carney said that many times they come in for a receipt.  At a closing for a tax search for prior years, they go to the courthouse.  Mr. Kilmartin questioned if all the data is available on the web, how many people or hours are being allocated to that work right now.  Mrs. Carney said that for tax receipts it is really the tax receivers that get the phone calls. 

Mr. Kraft said that once the town satisfies its own warrants, is there specification as to how fast towns have to pay the County.  Mrs. Carney said that they are supposed to pay monthly, but most of the towns are very good about sending in money more frequently than that.  Mr. Kraft asked if "monthly" is State law.  Mrs. Carney said that it is Real Property Tax Law.  Mr. Kraft asked if it can be modified; Mrs. Carney said that she did not know.

Passed unanimously; CARRIED.


9.      County Clerk:  jackie Norfolk, Principal Deputy County Clerk
         a.      Authorize NYS Reimbursement for 2009 Expenses of the Recording Officer for the County of Onondaga for Administration of Mortgage Taxes
A motion was made by Mr. Kraft, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve this item.

Mr. Warner asked why the resolutions are broken down with the various salaries.  Ms. Norfolk said that is the people that are involved in the collecting of the mortgage tax.  Mr. Stanczyk how much less is this from previous years.  Ms. Norfolk said that it stays about the same.  Mr. Stanczyk asked to be provided with the amounts for the last five years.

Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

10.    Ways & Means Misc.:
         a.      2008 Transfer Funds from Acct. 408 Fees for Services to Acct. 410 All Other Expenses in the Amount of $2,100 to Cover Greater than Anticipated Costs Associated with Janitorial Service and Snowplowing (Emergency Communications) - John Balloni, Commissioner, Emerg. Commun.
A motion by Mr. Kraft, seconded by Mr. Warner to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; CARRIED.

         b.      Changing the Date of the November 2009 Legislative Session (Sponsored by Mr. Meyer)
A motion by Mr. Kinne, seconded by Mr. Kilmartin to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; CARRIED.

         c.      Confirming the Appointment of Legislative Counsel (Sponsored by Mr. Meyer)
A motion was made by Mr. Corbett, seconded by Mr. Warner to approve this item.

In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Chairman Meyer stated that $12,000 is allocated to this contract.

Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

         d.      Informational - OCIDA appointment (Mr. Meyer)
Chair Meyer said that Mr. Healy, who has been a long-time member, is resigning.  There are a few people interested in this board; it is a very active board; he is collecting resumes for those that are interested.  This is a Chairman's appointment subject to legislative approval.  It is a 3-year term, but will be a short term to fill Mr. Healy's vacancy.

Project Huger Initiative

Mr. Kilmartin stated that he and the County were involved to a limited degree last year with the Project Hunger initiative.  It would be very beneficial to the community to have full involvement at all County levels, departments and facilities.  The initiative is part of the St. Patrick's Day Parade; food bins are distributed throughout the county and left for a number weeks up to the St. Patrick's Day Parade.  Prior to the parade, the food is collected and distributed to various food pantries throughout the county.  George Dooher and Sheila O'Connor, county employees, were present, who were actively involved in the project last year.  The goal is to expand the program throughout the entire County workforce to encourage people to participate.  It is especially important with the economic conditions and the significantly increased demand at food pantries.

Mr. Dooher said that this is county employee driven.  Last year they had 25 bins located in the Civic Center. This year they have been given the green light to expand it and include other county facilities:  OCC, Van Duyn, DOT, etc.  Mrs. Rapp suggested that a lot of towns and villages would love to get involved in the same way-put bins in town halls, village halls, and libraries, and make this a full Onondaga County initiative.

Mr. Kilmartin said that he plans to work with the legislative staff; write a letter and ask towns to participate.  He will work with Mr. Dooher, Ms. O'Connor, and the Co. Executive, to get the word out as quickly as possible.  The Co. Executive has been active in this and is excited to expand it countywide.  There will be postings around the county; email blasts to county employees, and advertised in the "Communicator".  Another thought is to have a coordinator within each department--he would gladly be one for the Legislature.  Mr. Dooher said that they are also looking to tap into the United Way coordinator network, which is already established. 

Study by State Comptroller
Mr. Stanczyk said a study was done by the State Comptroller regarding cafeteria-style employee benefits and counties offering options for employees to opt out of health benefits--sometimes one spouse has an opportunity for family coverage.  He would like to ask the Comptroller to come back for Fiscal Ways and Means and see if it makes sense.  Chairman Rhinehart said that he and Chairman Meyer have discussed it.  It does require a response from the legislature and it recommends creating a committee to look at it.  Chairman Meyer said that Mr. Rowley is working on it.  Once an analysis is done, if the legislature needs to respond to it, it will do so.  Chairman Rhinehart said that it has been successful in some counties and unsuccessful in others.

In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Antonacci said that he is familiar with it and read the audit.  He approached it from an accounting standpoint; their "findings" were really nothing more than a consultant's report on whether or not the County should look at this type of program.  Also, it is interesting that there are recommendations and yet NYS government does not do what is being recommended. 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 a.m. 

Respectfully submitted,
Onondaga County Legislature

Related Documents