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Meeting Minutes April 2010 Return to Committee Meeting Minutes
Office of the Onondaga County Legislature
Court House, Room 407 * 401 Montgomery Street * Syracuse, New York 13202
(315) 435-2070 Fax: (315) 435-8434
Deputy Clerk




MEMBERS PRESENT: Mr. Meyer, Mr. Masterpole, *Mr. Dougherty, **Ms. Williams

ALSO PRESENT: see attached list  

The meeting was called to order at 8:35 a.m.   

1.     FIRE ADVISORY BOARD:  Peter Alberti, Commissioner, Emergency Management

        a.     Confirming Appointment to the Onondaga County Fire Advisory Board (Paul R. Abend II)

Appointment by the County Executive, confirmed by the legislature; board has existed for a number of years; very active and are available to advise the County Executive, Dept. of Emergency Management and the Legislature. Mr. Abend has been a long-time participant in fire service.

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

2.     EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT:  Peter Alberti, Commissioner, Emergency Management

        a.     Confirming Appointments to the Position of Deputy Coordinator and Authorizing Reimbursement for Expenses Incurred in the Performance of their Duties (HazMat)

These are all reappointments; unpaid positions reimbursed for actual expenses; appointments done on annual basis. Some of them have served for many years. Beginning last year, members of the Syracuse Fire Department were included, as we move to a more shared service regional team for hazardous materials response for the City and County. Expenses are for mileage, and a minor amount for travel.  

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


Legislators Meyer and Masterpole asked to be listed as co-sponsors.


        b.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to Accept Funds from the New York State Emergency Response Commission for Use by the Onondaga County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) ($8,072)

This is part of a continuing program for sponsoring the Local Emergency Planning Committee and Hazardous Materials Response activities. The State is behind on paperwork/funding; $8,072 includes the program form ’06–’07; ’07–’08, ’08–’09. Funds were applied for three years ago.


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


        c.   Amending 2010 County Budget to Accept Homeland Security Funds from the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Program for the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Management and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($1,495,440)

This is a Federal Dept. of Homeland Security grant program, administered through NYS Office of Homeland Security. The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes the City of Syracuse, Counties of Onondaga, Oswego, Madison. There is an urban area working group consisting of representatives from those jurisdictions (per guidelines of grant). In 2008 Onondaga County agreed to become the fiduciary agent for the grant program – funds must be spent in all 4 of the jurisdictions.  It is 3-year grant.


Chairman Kilmartin asked Mr. Alberti to review the items of the grant allocation:

  • Protect Critical Infrastructure – physical protection of City of Syracuse water delivery system--fencing, video surveillance, locks, entries, gates at multiple sites ($245,476)
  • Implement NIMS and Nation Response Plan – continue hazardous analysis, risk assessments, taking a look at how plans are doing as they go through individual jurisdictions ($240,001) 
  • Strengthening information sharing - field intelligence for law enforcement, license plate readers installed in law enforcement vehicles throughout the region - enables the officers to quickly identify a suspect vehicle. There are other initiatives to provide servers and some other programs to analyze and share that information better ($72,000)
  • Interoperable Communications – expansion of the interoperable frequencies that exist in Oswego County so they can more readily talk to each other ($72,727)
  • Regional response team – strengthen chemical, biological, radio, nuclear and explosive detection and response capabilities – various equipment and materials, i.e. Bomb Squad incident response vehicle ($763,418)  

In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Alberti said that the Bomb Squad has a number of pieces of equipment that are in various trailers. The Bomb Squad incident response vehicle will help them get the equipment to the scene. Chief Peverly said that the legislature already approved a resolution to purchase the bomb vehicle. There weren’t enough funds in that resolution. At the time of the resolution, the Sheriff’s Dept. advised the legislature that there was another grant that would pay for the rest of the cost of the vehicle.  Chief Peverly said that the cost of the vehicle is over $200K.  

  • Medical surge and Mass Prophylaxis – additional work to ensure that the region’s capability is there in case of a pandemic event or an attack of some type ($72,727)
  • Citizen Preparedness and Education Program – educate citizens of the region on the status of efforts ($29,091)  

In answer to Chairman Kilmartin, Mr. Alberti said that because Onondaga County is the fiduciary agent, they are allowed some management and administration funds to offset some personnel costs.  Mr. Alberti will report back to Chairman Kilmartin on the dollar amount. Chairman Kilmartin asked if it is a direct budget offset; Mr. Alberti said that there is one full-time position that is grant funded and two part-time positions – part of the grant offsets those positions.  There are limitations in the grant as to how much can be put towards personnel. 


In answer to Mr. Masterpole, Chief Peverly said that the license plate readers mostly pick up traffic offenses – unlicensed, uninsured, or if warrants exist on a person. The data is captured in a central server so that it can be used for criminal investigative purposes. City, town, village, Sheriff’s all have license plate readers installed on patrol vehicles. There are also traffic enforcement officers that have this as their primary responsibility. Mr. Masterpole asked if the Bomb Squad is on overtime or straight time. Chief Peverly said that they are a specialized unit--two members are on the Hazardous Disposal Team, fulltime, and responsible for day to day operations. They have 4 part-time members, who are activated and respond when additional personnel are needed. They work different tours of duty.


Mr. Meyer asked about water protection and who else will be served besides the City. Mr. Alberti said that OCWA and MWB were included in other years. For this grant the City was included in the work plan. Mr. Meyer asked for an explanation of emergency services allocations, and Mr. Alberti explained the following:

  • CBRNE/LED training – radio, biological, chemical, nuclear, explosive training
  • Technical Rescue Training – combination of getting some local people trained as trainers and bringing in consultants to do the training. An RFP will be done to determine who does the training
  • RAD detection – combination of handhelds (mostly) and mobile mounted radiation detection equipment.  Handhelds have a lifespan of 10 – 15 years.


A motion by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. Meyer, to approve this item. Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


3.      HILLBROOK:  James Czarniak

        a.     Transfer from Reg. Empl. Sal. Acct. 101 ($26,443) and Supplies & Matls. Acct 300 ($2,000) to All Other Expenses Acct. 410 ($28,443)

One custodian was abolished in the budget; and another maintenance person resigned at the start of 2010 causing a vacancy. An RFP was done, which came back less expensive than hiring a fulltime employee; $3,900 annual savings.  Other benefits:

  • Go from 5-days/week employee to 7-days/week contractor to clean facility
  • Future retirement savings
  • No worry about vacation time and paying other staff to cover shifts
  • Brought in great equipment, i.e. floor machines, that aren’t affordable by the department
  • Contractor has been working on a month-to-month basis; contract can’t be signed until the money is in place.


*Mr. Dougherty arrived at the meeting.


In answer to Chairman Kilmartin, Mr. Czarniak said that the position will remain unfilled and vacant. In answer to Chairman Kilmartin, Ms. Rooney indicated that other county facilities are looking at outsourcing janitorial services. Mr. Meyer questioned when the custodial position would be eliminated; Ms. Rooney indicated it would probably be in the budget process. Mr. Meyer suggested that a resolution be presented soon to eliminate it since there will be a contract in place. Ms. Rooney said that they would like to leave the positions unfunded until they are sure they are satisfied with the quality of the work, since it is very new. Mr. Meyer asked if the service contractor provides substitutes if the “regular” person is unavailable; Mr. Czarniak said that they do; someone is there every day. Background checks are done by the contractor at their expense.


Mr. Masterpole said that he is philosophically against outsourcing and can’t support this.


In answer to Chairman Kilmartin, Ms. Rooney said that she will provide the number of custodial positions within the County. She said that many custodial people in the court house are from JobsPlus, training programs through Social Services; some are county employees. In answer to Mr. Masterpole, Ms. Rooney indicated that the contracted agency personnel (JobsPlus) are supplemental. Mr. Masterpole asked if there are plans for other outsourcing. Ms. Rooney said that there are – they are looking at the bottom line for savings, i.e. OT/PT at Van Duyn -- over a $1 million savings.


A motion by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. Meyer to approve this item.   AYES:  3; NOES:  1 (Masterpole); CARRIED.


4.      SHERIFF:  Chief William Peverly

        a.     Authorize Co. Exec. to Enter into Agreements with Surrounding Law Enforce. Agencies in Support of License PlateReaderServerSystem andAmend ’10Budget toAccept RevenuefromContracts ($1,000)

Authorize agreement to participate in the license plate reader server system; will help underwrite cost of maintenance on the system. The $1000 would come to the county from outside agencies--it is a fee to them to help maintain the server. In answer to Chairman Kilmartin, Chief Peverly explained that as members of the system, they will be able to contribute data that they are capturing and have access to information captured by Sheriff’s Dept. Chairman Kilmartin felt that the system would generate a lot more tickets; Chief Peverly said that it identifies people that are suspended, revoked, uninsured, or have warrants out on them. Chairman Kilmartin said that it is a great way to further track and apprehend people. In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Peverly said it costs about $1,000 per year to maintain the server. The server will probably be replaced in about 4 years, anticipate the cost to be about $5,000.


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


**Ms. Williams arrived at the meeting.


        b.     Amend 2010 Budget to Accept Grant Funds for a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program and Authorize the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($42,000)

Distractive Driver Demonstration Project – didn’t get notified until after March Committees that funding had been approved; project has already started. City of Syracuse and Hartford, CT are the only two agencies that got funded in the country. Target is on people talking and texting on cell phones. Funding for Sheriff, SPD, and NYSPD to strictly target distracted drivers. People will work on overtime basis. The grant has federal funding, which comes through NYS Traffic Safety Council, and will include costs of fringe benefits – retirement and FICA. There will be two waves, first has already started with State and City Police, second wave will be in July.


A motion by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. Meyer to approve this item. Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        c.     Amend 2010 Budget to Accept State Homeland Security Funds for the Onondaga Co. Sheriff's Office and Authorize the Co. Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($109,476)

Targeted funding for Bomb Squad nationwide; Hazardous Device Disposal Team--fund a robot, fiber optic scope, Bomb Squad Training, wireless air card (covers for 3 years), personal protective equipment. This is a smaller robot than the one they have; to be used in smaller, more confined areas, as well as the ability to dispatch a second team with robot if needed.  This robot can get into an aircraft; the other one can’t. 


Mr. Meyer asked if photos could be brought in on these items in the future.


In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Chief Peverly said that there is minimal maintenance and can generally be done by the team; training is included with the cost of equipment. He was unsure about the life span; the current robot is several years old. The robot is expendable, the officer isn’t.  Mr. Dougherty said that he is concerned that if equipment breaks or goes bad, it ends up being the burden of the county tax payer to fix it.  Chief Peverly said that in the business they are in, they need these types of tools to work with -- are able to get the equipment without having to use local taxpayer dollars to purchase it. If the money came in for general funding, he guessed there would be other things that they would see a greater need for--probably wouldn’t go for the robot, would go for police car or other equipment. Since it is targeted, Homeland Security Bomb Squad funding, they have to take advantage of the opportunity to get the equipment.


Mr. Masterpole asked if the Bear Cat is a bomb vehicle; Chief Peverly said “no”; it is for SWAT.


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


5.     ASSIGNED COUNSEL:  Rene´ Captor

        a.     Informational: State Grant Funding Expired for the Defense Assessment and Supervision Project

  • Program ran for two years--federal grant for $130K/year – Assigned Counsel implementing agency; case management services provided by CNY Services
  • Biggest part of grant was to provide case management services to obtain release from Justice Center for defendants charged with low level, non violent offenses, who could not obtain release from jail by any normalities
  • Pre-Trial Release takes a lot of people out
  • Bail Expeditor Prog.– structured to not take people out whose family would be able to make bail--defendants who would have been in jail from date of arrest to date of disposition; most end up in Jamesville to finish out local sentence
  • Morning and Afternoon Arraignment Prog. provided referrals; subsequently Pre-Trial release gave them referrals also
  • Staffing afternoon arraignments provided during jail population study for a short time; stopped because of lack of funding; when this opportunity came up, they applied for funding for staffing afternoon arraignments. Continue to provide representation with normal funding at morning arraignments
  • CNY Services Program – keeping about 14 per day out of Justice Center – will no longer happen
  • Afternoon arraignment program has been disposing cases at arraignment and providing good argument, getting a few more people out without holding them over night


In answer to Chair Kilmartin, Ms. Captor said that the Arraignment Program is exclusively in Syracuse City Court; case management services has been primarily City clients, but open to taking people in town and village courts also. Chair Kilmartin said that the impact could be increased number of inmates staying in Justice Center for longer periods of time; increased stress on system; increased costs for holding people there. Ms. Captor said that the type of inmates that they pull out can be high maintenance; goal was to eliminate the obstacles to release, i.e. mental health, drug addiction, homeless, young, kids that have victimized family members and can’t go home, etc. 


Mr. Masterpole asked about the cost to keep 14 extra in the Justice Center per day. Chief Peverly said that the federal reimbursement rate is about $150/day--feds don’t reimburse everything. There is conjecture about how much it costs to house an inmate--anywhere from $70 - $120/day. Mr. Masterpole asked if it makes sense to put County money back into this program in order to be dollar wise on the front and save on the backside of incarceration. Ms. Captor said that the per diem savings would be about $1140/day. In answer to Chairman Kilmartin, Ms. Captor said that she arrived at the 14 persons/day number by asking the people that supervise them -- one comes in, one goes out – not static. In answer to Chairman Kilmartin, Ms. Captor said that she is referring to supervision after they get out. Case Management Services – makes referrals to appropriate services and then follows up. CNY Services was chosen because they are willing to do what needs to get done--they have a high success rate – people completing referrals, i.e. mental health counseling, psych evaluation, detox, public assistance, ID card, etc. None of the people, who participated through case disposition, were sentenced to jail--hopefully had some positive impact on the lives of the people they were managing. Most dispositions were ACD (non jail); 17 were placed on probation.


In answer to Mr. Masterpole, Chief Peverly said that the Justice Center capacity now is about 80%, are on a downswing, have been over 600 most of the year.


Mr. Meyer said that a number of legislators are concerned about this, as well as the cost of transport--look at it as a cost to the towns and villages. Mr. Meyer asked for a breakdown of the $130,000. Ms. Captor said that $105,000 went to case management agency - 79% of that amount paid case managers -- 12% or 13% was for supervision, the rest was for equipment, cell phone and laptop. The bulk of the balance paid for morning arraignments at $10/day and to fund afternoon arraignment program – pay the lawyers. About $5,000 was for outside counsel supervision---her time spent managing/reporting data. Bail Expeditor was initially part of the grant, but before it was implemented, they backed out. In answer to Mr. Meyer, Ms. Captor said that the solution would be $90,000 to continue through the end of the year; there is no more federal funding; there is hope that there may be some in October; there is no State funding appropriate to take this on.


Chairman Kilmartin asked that Ms. Captor stay in touch with the committee and provide any updates regarding impact to programs or the affect this is having.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 a.m.  


Respectfully submitted,



* * *




MEMBERS PRESENT: Mr. Laguzza, Mr. Meyer, Mr. Holmquist, Mrs. Ervin

ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list (Attachment 1)


Chairman Warner called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. A motion was made by Mr. Laguzza, seconded by Mr. Meyer 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.


4.     HEALTH:  Dr. Cynthia Morrow, Commissioner

        a.     Authorize Advance Step Hire for R.P. 01 40430000 0013 2308, Director of Environmental Health, Grade 35, Step L @ $80,185 effective May 15, 2010

                Abolish R.P. 10 40430000 0013 2313, Environmental Health Technician I, Grade 8 @ $38,352 - $42,406 effective May 15, 2010

                Abolish R.P. 01 40430000 0011 6854, Community Health Counselor, Grade 9 @ $41,662 $46,083 effective May 31, 2010

Dr. Morrow provided a handout with information relating to the advance step hire for the Director of Environmental Health, salaries for individuals in that position in other counties in the State and a comparison of services with counties in Central New York. (on file with Clerk).

  • The former Director of Environmental Health retired in February 2010 at a salary of $89,000.
  • Asking to advance step the current director who was formerly a Sanitarian 4 to a level that is commensurate with an incredible increase in responsibility and time requirement. Even with the advance step, this represents a greater than $9,000 salary savings compared to their 2010 budget that was budgeted at the former director’s level.
  • Holding the Sanitarian 4 position vacant until summer – a minimum savings of $3,000.
  • Proposing to abolish an Environmental Health Technician 1 position effective May 15, 2010, position was vacated February 2010 when the employee failed probation.


Mr. Warner asked how many more positions or abolishes could be done within their department. Dr. Morrow said with the budget crisis the County is facing, they are aggressively looking at positions to abolish in their 2011 budget, all of her directors have been asked to identify positions, and there are programs they will need to eliminate in 2011. Mr. Warner observed that it seems every year at budget time when the legislators ask what positions they can get along without, the department heads say they need every one. Now when they need an advance step hire, they find two. Dr. Morrow explained that the second position listed (Community Health Counselor) is not associated with the Dir. of Environmental Health position; it is a separate grant position for a HIV Counselor and that grant is going away. They will aggressively look at programs across the Health Department as they do every year, they will react according to what the budget pressures are and what services they can provide.  


Mr. Warner noted that in about the last year and a half there have been an extreme number of advance step hires in this county and most did not come to the legislature; that has now been changed. Mr. Warner asked what steps were taken to market, solicit applications for this position statewide. Dr. Morrow said she has the advantage of a very close network through the New York State Association of County Health Officials and she knows what the market is – over the last five years twelve directors of environmental health have left their positions, there is an extreme demand for that position right now. Dr. Morrow said this is a critical position, feels they are extremely lucky that they did not have to do an extensive search, had two people within the county health department who were willing to be interviewed. 


Mr. Laguzza said he does not have a problem with this, he asked them to find a position to supplement the variance in the dollar amount and they have done that.


Mr. Meyer noted that the person currently in the position has more than 30 years of service, asked if that person would be a long term hire. Dr. Morrow said the individual expects to be there for at least five years. Mr. Meyer noted the benefit of internet search – not just to try to find people within the county or adjacent county, but people around the country who would like to come home to Syracuse. 


Dr. Morrow said they do use other resources when hiring, but feels strongly that they have the right person with the right experience, feels she has done her due diligence in making sure she has identified that person. Mr. Meyer said the NYSAC website is source that costs nothing; a person might not be the right fit for this job but a perfect for another position in the future.


Mr. Warner separated the items to be voted on. A motion was made by Mr. Warner to approve the two abolish items, seconded by Mr. Meyer; passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


A motion was made by Mr. Laguzza, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to approve authorizing advance step hire for the Director of Environmental Health position; Ayes: 2 (Laguzza, Ervin); Noes: 3 (Warner, Meyer, Holmquist); MOTION FAILED.


Mr. Warner noted that they are the first committee to start clamping down on advance step hires. Mr. Meyer requested that this item be referred to Ways and Means for discussion.


1.     AGING AND YOUTH:  JoAnne Spoto Decker

        a.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to Accept Federal Funds for the Senior Community Service Employment Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($225,855)

There is a 10% match for the federal funds that will be met by supervision of the participants when they are placed in an agency. Program provides low-income seniors (55 and over) paid training and work experience – 20 hours a week at minimum wage.


Mr. Warner asked if all the benefits including retirement have been taken into account for County personnel working in this program. Ms. Decker said yes, they are mandated to spend 75% of the grant on the participants; other 25% is used for salaries and interdepartmental expenses.


In answer to Mr. Laguzza, Ms. Decker said they currently have 23 participants, will add 21 with this grant, participants are usually in the program about 27 months.


A motion was made by Mr. Laguzza, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to approve this item


In answer to Mr. Meyer, Ms. Decker said they outreach to the vast network of non-profit agencies, reaching persons who are at 125% of poverty. They encourage partner agencies to hire the participants once they are trained; recently placed individuals with the Kidney Foundation, Syracuse Meals on Wheels and BOCES; many times participants enter the private sector.


A vote was taken and passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


2.     MENTAL HEALTH:  Robert Long, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to Accept Additional Federal Funds for the Onondaga County Department of Mental Health to Implement an Electronic Medical Records System, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($125,000)

Funds will support the implementation of an Electronic Medical Records system for the Children’s Outpatient Clinic that they operate on Cedar Street. Reasons for doing this:

  • Increasing complexity in reimbursement and record keeping related to that.
  • To protect the County from future liability related to the increasingly aggressive activity of the office of the Medicaid Inspector General. OMIG audited the clinic over the past three years with recoupment of about $100,000 due to human error in record keeping, none was fraud or abuse. The highest amount a clinic in another county paid back was $900,000, average is $300,000.

A motion was made by Mr. Laguzza, seconded by Mrs. Erwin to approve this item.


In answer to Mr. Meyer, Mr. Long said the servers and terminals would be internal to their operation, would not be sending information over the internet, except for billing. 

A vote was taken and passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


3.        PULLED


The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Johanna H. Robb, Deputy Clerk


 * * *




MEMBERS PRESENT: Mrs. Tassone, Ms. Ervin, Mr. Buckel, Mrs. Rapp

ALSO PRESENT: Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Meyer, see also attached list


Chairman Corbett called the meeting to order at 10:06 a.m.  A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Ms. Ervin to waive the reading and approve the minutes of proceeding of the previous committee; MOTION CARRIED.


1.     LAKE IMPROVEMENT:  Patty Pastella, Commissioner

        a.     ACJ Update

Harbor Brook Interceptor Replacement

2500 feet of interceptor pipe installed

1632 feet of sanitary sewer pipe installed

260 feet of storm sewer installed

Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010


Green Infrastructure

During the month of March, presentations on the County's program were given to the following organizations:

Partnership for Onondaga Creek

Regional Planning Annual Symposium

SUNY ESF Environmental Communications Class

Crouse Marshall Business Improvement District

Onondaga Lake Partnership, project committee

Building Owners and Managers Association

Air and Waste Management Association of the CNY


The County participated in the following local events to promote Green:

St. Patrick's Day Parade

CNY Home and Garden Show

CNY Chamber of Commerce Business Show


The County Executive announced the creation of the Green Improvement Fund (GIF) to provide grant assistance to private business owners /501c3 organizations for the implementation of green infrastructure programs. To date they have received 12 applications and are expecting 5 additional next week.


Midland Phase III (CSO)

A facilities planning proposal received for CSO’s 052 (Hunt and Elmhurst) and 060/077 (West Colvin) in Midland area. Design is in progress or completion of a smaller conveyance to connect CSO 044 (South Ave. and West Castle).


Clinton CSO Abatement

Design is in progress for a large storage facility in the Trolley Lot. A facilities plan proposal has been received for CSO’s 022 (W. Genesee), 027 (West Fayette) and 029 (Walton).


Harbor Brook CSO Abatement

Design is in progress for large storage facility in the Harbor Brook Sewershed near State Fair Boulevard.  


The summer lake ambient monitoring program has begun. The skimmer boat operation began the first week of April. It is scheduled to run on a weekly basis and as needed. Ensuring the harbor is clean prior to any event.

Mr. Buckel questioned if WEP had paid to participate in the CNY Home and Garden show and/or the CNY Chamber of Commerce business show. Ms. Pastella stated she did not believe so.  Chairman Corbett added Mr. Jordan gave a presentation stating they were afforded the opportunity to be at the Home and Garden show.  


2.      WEP:  Patty Pastella, Commissioner

         a.     A Resolution Approving Improvements for the Bear Trap - Ley Creek Drainage District 

         b.     A Resolution Authorizing Improvements for the Bear Trap - Ley Creek Drainage District in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $975,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $975,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay the Cost Thereof ($975,000)

















Amount to Bond


Bear Trap - Ley Creek Improvements


Interest Rate


















Assume borrow in











Fiscal Year




First Interest

Second Interest






Payment Due

Payment Due

Principal and

December 31st

Fiscal Year

January 15th


January 15th

July 15th







































































































































































Average annual debt:


To raise $73,000 in the Bear Trap Ley Creek District: 




A residential $100,000 property in Clay would pay an additional $37.16



                       "                           Dewitt and Salina would pay an additional $1.61


A industrial $100,000 property in Clay would pay an additional $111.48



                        "                          Dewitt and Salina would pay an additional      $4.82


The City of Syracuse would have an additional $7,357.58 added to the abstract. 




In response to Ms. Ervin, Ms. Pastella stated the amount is based on the assessed property value.  Mrs. Rapp questioned the differences between Clay, DeWitt and Salina.  Mr. Petrela stated he would supply the formula for an explanation.  Mr. Buckel questioned the charge to the City.  Ms. Pastella stated a small portion of the district is located in the City.


A motion by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Ms. Ervin to approve items 2a and 2b. AYES: 4; NOES: 0; ABSTENTIONS: 1 (Buckel). MOTION CARRIED. 


3.     OCWA:  Robert Tomeny, Chairman; Michael Hooker, Executive Director; Fred Picardi, Vice Chairman

Mr. Tomeny read the following statement and distributed backup: (on file with the Clerk)

  • OCWA was created by action of the State Legislature at the request of Onondaga County, that legislation providing that “the members of the authority shall receive such compensation for their services as shall be fixed by the Board of Supervisors,” and that the authority be “subject to the supervision of the state comptroller” who “from time to time will examine the accounts,” and that OCWA shall submit a detailed report to the Governor, Comptroller, State Legislature and Chief Fiscal Officer of the County annually, which OCWA has always done.
  • OCWA has been operating since December 1955. The compensation package was set by the Board of Supervisors around 1951, and amended in 1964 when the salary for the chairman was raised from $7,000 to $7,500.
  • OCWA has been audited any number since that system was put into place nearly 60 years ago. In 2008, the State Comptroller audited authorities around the state, including OCWA, and came up with the following:
  • OCWA’s compensation for board members is the lowest of any authority in the State, and OCWA members are “inappropriately” receiving benefits because “benefits” were not specifically authorized way back when.


        That came as news to all of us at OCWA. We disagree with the Comptroller’s interpretation of “compensation” as to be wages only, as the Board of Supervisors set OCWA “compensation” to be wages and benefits more than 50 years ago. We submitted paperwork and county legislation to that effect in support of our disagreement, but the comptroller refused to change his opinion.


        We agree with the comptroller’s recommendation to remedy the situation, which was to have the County Legislature pass a resolution affirming the actions of more than 50 years ago. We discussed the matter with County Legislature leadership and the County Executive, which produced the resolution approved by Ways & Means a few weeks ago with bipartisan support. That resolution was pulled from the agenda when Chairman Corbett saw the need for more information on the matter.


        Monroe County, whose founding legislation was patterned after Onondaga County’s, found itself in the same situation, which they remedied by having the County legislature pass a resolution similar to Mr. Corbett’s resolution that was approved by Ways & Means.


        Regarding Legislator Masterpole’s resolutions: When the OCWA chairman’s $7,500 salary and benefits were established back in 1963, it was at the same time that the County Salary Plan also approved by the Supervisors set the salaries of the County Executive and County Judges at $20,000, the Supervisor’s board chairman at $7,000 and an Assistant District Attorney at $4,295.


        I make those comparisons to emphasize that the Board of Supervisors at that time recognized the importance of the OCWA board member’s position and his or her responsibilities. Those responsibilities and duties have multiplied many times since the original compensation was set.


        That compensation package has not changed since it was established more than a half century ago.


        Let me point out that there is NOT one single dollar of Onondaga County taxpayer’s money in the OCWA budget. The 2010 wages and benefits for OCWA board members amounts to less than two-thousandths of one percent of our more than $36 million budget.


        Reiterating, the OCWA budget has absolutely no impact on the County Budget, whereas the reverse is dramatically true. Because OCWA buys more than 98 percent of what the Metropolitan Water Board produces, whenever MWB raises its rates as approved by the County Legislature,  that impacts the OCWA budget significantly.


        My intention here is to demonstrate that “water” is big business in Central New York and that the current compensation for OCWA board members is justified by our scope of fiduciary responsibility and our efficiency and effectiveness in carrying out our duties.


        Please consider the following:


        Around 1990, the County Legislature determined that OCWA needed to change directions and develop into a world-class water utility that was responsive to the community and customer needs – and that’s the charge that was given to me, Mr. Picardi and Mr. Simmons when we were initially appointed. I believe we have done that. Today, because of the personnel we have brought on board and their commitment to the OCWA mission, we are one of the very best water utilities of our size in the entire nation, and I thank Mr. Hooker and all of our OCWA personnel for that.


        When I came on board at OCWA in 1991, we had 56,271 customers. Today, we have more than 90,000.


        In 1991, we had 1,086 miles of water mains. Today we have almost 1,900.


        In 1991, we had 132 employees. Despite our growth, today we have just 130.


        OCWA is big business. Our annual budget is more than $36 million and we have nearly $300 million in assets.


        We operate, in addition to our mains and hydrants, a 20 MGD water treatment plant on Otisco lake, seven large and 26 small pumping stations, 39 water storage tanks, 40 other facilities that include valves, pressure reducing systems, meter pits, chemical feed facilities, the main office and three remote maintenance garages.


        Between 1994 and 2008, OCWA has reinvested nearly $57 million dollars into our system infrastructure, with only $25 million of that $57 million coming from the issuance of water revenue bonds. We have also overseen the design and construction of an additional $45 million of construction paid for by developers and town water districts.


        The above figures do not include the ongoing covered tank storage project which the County Legislature asked OCWA to take on. That project, which OCWA has brought in at about $20 million under original estimates, totals about $33 million.


        When 22 local towns and villages wanted to get out of the water business, they looked to OCWA to take over – and we did. There are only a few independent water purveyors in the towns now, and they all have approached OCWA in regard to taking over their systems.


        When the County decided to construct the terminal reservoir covered tank at Clay, they asked OCWA to serve as an unpaid adviser on that huge job. And we are.


        The County Legislature has voted 17 times since 1991 in favor of appointing or reappoint myself, Mr. Picardi and Mr. Simmons to the OCWA board, which I would suggest has to mean something in regard to the Legislature’s confidence in us and in recognition of the job we are doing at OCWA.


        All of this has or is occurring while OCWA maintains an outstanding Aa3 bond rating, has a very competitive residential water rate and one of the lowest industrial rates in the nation.


         For the sake of comparison, the City of Syracuse customer using 15,000 gallons a quarter pays $58.21. The OCWA customer using 15,000 gallons pays $56.68, not a significant difference until you consider that Syracuse does not have the expense of operating a filtration plan and does not have to pay high pumping electricity costs since the Skaneateles Lake system is gravity fed to the city.


        For further comparison, a comparable customer in the Utica system pays $79.07, while a comparable customer in the Cayuga system pays about $75.


        I have included other pertinent information for the committee’s consideration.


        We respectfully request that the committee approve a resolution extending the current wage and benefits schedule implemented more than 50 years ago to the current members of the OCWA Board of Directors as per the resolution sponsored by Mr. Corbett.  


Mr. Picardi provided a statement for the record. (on file with the Clerk). 


Mr. Buckel asked if there was a time within the last 20 years in which he would not have served on this Board without compensation. Mr. Tomeny stated this was a difficult question.  He left the Legislature because he had to make a living. He has served on a number of boards without compensation.  He believes the responsibilities of running this business justifies the current compensation.  He would like the original question resolved.  The OCWA board members have done nothing wrong. 


Mr. Buckel stated he is wrestling with the obligation of public service versus his knowledge of how Boards work.  He does not believe that any member of this Board has done anything wrong.  They have performed your duties admirably and with devotion to the public interest.   Chairman Corbett stated he is on a number of Boards that do not offer compensation.  However, he offered his services knowing he was not going to be compensated. The difference is, compensation has always been part of this Board.  This resolution is to correct an oversight. 


Mr. Tomeny stated he has no problem with the Legislature determining if future members should receive compensation or benefits.  The new members will know exactly what they are coming into.  The current benefits are figured into his retirement as well as Mr. Pacardi’s.  Mr. Buckel stated these are difficult times with difficult choices.  We are facing additional cut backs.  Mr. Tomeny stated the OCWA budget has no impact on the County budget. 


Mr. Meyer stated he has sponsored or co-sponsored OCWA board member appointment resolutions many times.  He does not take this responsibility lightly. He carefully reviews appointees for their skill level, body of knowledge and commitment. OCWA has done everything that has been asked of them, including consolidation and shared services.  With the cooperation of OCWA, he has had staff do a complete review of the last thirty years.  When the original resolutions were passed on pay, there were no companion resolutions for benefits for any positions. This includes Legislators, County Executive and County employees. It was assumed benefits were part of the pay. This board is underpaid for the level of expertise they offer.  We are getting a bargain with the so-called benefit package. Look at the turnover level on other boards. It is because of the massive commitment board members must make.  To retain this body of knowledge, for these numbers of years is critical. This board works with multimillion dollar 10 and 20 year projects.  Future members should also receive compensation.  Former Legislative Chairmen Bragman, Sanford and Sweetland have all signed affidavits stating they were aware of this compensation.  He would be happy to do the same. 


Mr. Buckel asked Mr. Hooker for a few examples of major issues he brought to the Board that were not implemented.  Mr. Hooker stated he gathers information from all department heads as well as board members.  They worked together as a team. The board provides them with additional insight. Everything is discussed and agreed upon before being implemented.  Mr. Tomeny stated he could provide three examples of items the board has taken to administration; covered tank storage, modifying rate structure for actual usage, and readjusting rate increases for industrial and residential rates allowing for economic development. 


Mr. Buckel stated the Board has clearly provided a valuable service to this community.  He stated a philosophical question needs to be answered. In the pursuit of the public good should the members continue to receive compensation?  Should this also be supplemented with benefits that may be available to members from a different source?  Mr. Tomeny suggested that these are two different discussions; to rectify the oversight and determining what will be provided in the future.  


Mr. Buckel asked if any of the current Board members would have difficulty obtaining insurance from another source.  Mr. Picardi stated when he started on the Board he did not know these benefits existed.  When he was informed of the insurance he was in the process of retiring. In reviewing all the options available to him at that time, he decided to go with this plan. Now the State Comptroller has determined this to be an in equity.  Given the background circumstances, he would hope that the benefits would continue.  He would probably have to go on Medicare. His Social Security payments would be dramatically reduced as would the benefits.  Mr. Tomeny stated they pay 10% of the premium for their benefits.  With all the health care issues going on at the moment, he does not want to change his coverage.  He is afraid of a new program. He believes that one might be available but he does not want to switch.  Their insurance is with Excellus Blue Cross. They are not on the County’s plan.


Mr. Picardi offered the following performance example; negotiating with the City of Oswego for the use of the intake:


A large capacity intake was built by the Core of Engineers for the City of Oswego.  The City of Oswego asked back in the 50’s or 60’s if Onondaga County would like to partner with them for use of the intake. A non renewable 25 year lease was signed.  When it came close to the end of the lease Mr. Rogers believed he had an agreement with the former Mayor.  At the last minute the Mayor changed his mind.  Oswego got a new Mayor. I negotiated with the Mayor for use of the intake.  The City of Oswego claims pride of ownership of the intake and Lake Ontario. The numbers that were being tossed around for Onondaga County were impossible.  I asked the Mayor for an easement and a deal was worked out, saving the County a tremendous expense.  


Mr. Antonacci stated he believes the issue is transparency. A County charge was shifted to OCWA.  This is government in general.  It is happening globally not just within the County and OCWA. OCWA has done what was asked of them.  We have a 12% water increase stemming from the debt they have incurred.  Consistency and transparency needs to be addressed.  Mr. Tomeny stated that the water increase was explained to the legislature up front. If the services were performed by the MWB the cost would have been even greater.     


Mr. Antonacci suggested the removal of retiree dental benefits as a cost savings. There are OCWA Board members receiving benefits that retired County employees do not receive.  Medicare is a good option for medical coverage.  Medicare is a federally funded program paid into by the retirees.  With a Medigap plan board members would have great insurance.  The additional cost for a Medigap plan is $435 and includes a prescription discount card.  The projected savings per Board member is $1,500.  County employees are required to go on Medicare at age 65. To be consistent with the benefits offered our employees, he suggested paying for a Medigap plan for OCWA Board members 65 and older. OCWA has a valid agreement in response to the audit.  He does not take issue with their compensation.  One could argue we are running out of volunteers. 


Mr. Masterpole stated he did not realize that the OCWA Board was compensated.  He just learned from the Comptroller that the MWB is not paid.  He wants to be fair, equitable and consistent.  Simply stated resolution 3b is for the elimination of salary and resolution 3c is for the elimination of benefits.  Our County employees are questioning the fairness of this issue.  They currently pay more than 10% of the premium for their benefits. Both resolutions have an effective date of July 1, 2010 to allow Board members time to resign, if they so choose, and new members to be in place.  He is willing to change the date if need be. Mr. Tomeny stated that he and Mr. Picard are members of the MWB. It is an advisory board, with no power. Anything they do comes before the Legislature and County Executive.  They have no budgetary responsibilities and meet once a month for 90 minutes.  He added if the County wants to save money he has a number of ideas.


Mr. Corbett stated that until the State Comptroller audit, no one had any idea that the benefits package was not handled properly.  Mr. Masterpole stated that he is not suggesting that there was any wrong doing.  He was not aware of the compensation or benefits. If he had been aware, he would have brought these resolutions forward when he became a Legislator.  Mr. Corbett reiterated that know one new that benefits had not been passed in a resolution.  Mr. Masterpole stated that he was not aware that they were paid or received any compensation.  The Board appointment resolutions he has passed do not list any wage compensation. 


Mrs. Rapp stated she was aware of compensation to OCWA.  They are the lowest paid board and haven’t received a raise in over 40 years.   However, the cost of benefits has risen dramatically over this time.  In talks with union representatives they have discussed not taking away benefits from current employees as they have planned around them.  It would seem consistent to do the same for this Board, in terms of past service.  It may be time to consider where we go for the future. 


         a.     Limiting Salary and Fringe benefits for the Onondaga County Water Authority Board Members (Sponsored by Mr. Corbett)


A motion by Mr. Corbett, seconded by Mrs. Rapp to approve this item.   AYES: 2 (Corbett, Rapp); NOES: 0; ABSTENTIONS: 3 (Ervin, Buckel, Tassone). MOTION CARRIED.


        b.     Amending Resolution No. 447 - 1957, as Amended by Resolution No. 98 - 1964 and Resolution No. 111 - 1964, to Eliminate Salary for All Members of the Onondaga County Water Authority, Effective July 1, 2010 (Sponsored by Mr. Masterpole)


A motion by Mr. Buckel, seconded by Ms. Ervin to approve this item. AYES: 2 (Ervin, Tassone); NOES: 0; ABSTENTIONS: 3 (Buckel, Rapp, Corbett. MOTION CARRIED.


         c.     Amending Resolution No. 447 - 1957, as Amended by Resolution No. 98 - 1964 and Resolution No. 111 - 1964, to Eliminate Fringe Benefits for Future Members of the Onondaga County Water Authority (Sponsored by Mr. Masterpole)


A motion by Mr. Buckel, seconded by Ms. Ervin to approve this item. AYES: 2 (Ervin, Tassone); NOES: 0; ABSTENTIONS: 3 (Buckel, Rapp, Corbett). MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:32 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,


KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature


  * * *





MEMBERS PRESENT: Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Dougherty, Mrs. Tassone, Mr. DeMore

MEMBERS ABSENT: Mr. Lesniak, Mr. Kinne

ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list (Attachment 1)


Chair Rapp called the meeting to order at 9:06 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to waive the reading of the minutes and approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.


1.      OCPL: Ms. Elizabeth Dailey, Executive Director 

        a.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to Accept New York State Division of Library Development Funds for the Onondaga County Public Library, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($23,803)

Two-year adult literacy grant – funds will be used to provide services to refugees and immigrants by offering them internships in the library. In exchange for them helping in the library, library personnel would work with them on computer and English and workplace skills. They are hoping to do 24 internships.


Mrs. Rapp asked if this grant would be reflected in the 2011 Budget. Mrs. Carmer said typically they don’t reflect the competitive grants because they never know what grants will come in, but they could look at doing that for the second year of this grant.


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


2.     UPSTATE BALLET:  William Fisher, Deputy County Executive

        a.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to Provide Funding for the Upstate Ballet Company and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($3,200)

Upstate Ballet submitted a request for funds for 2010, but was left out of the 2010 budget process through the error of the County Executive’s office. They had been zeroed out of the budget when their approved $4,000 for 2009 was put in a contingent account by the Legislature. Money was approved for release in the fall of 2009, but was not release to them until after January when they gave proof of insurance for workers compensation. County Executive has approved their application for funds for 2010 at a 20% reduction (all authorized agencies except Syracuse Symphony were reduced 20%). Funds will be taken out of Room Occupancy Tax. They are a viable ongoing ballet company and normally perform at the Landmark Theater. The County Executive’s office is working with them to find space at the Crouse Hinds Theater for this year, due to the Landmark Theater being closed as they are undergoing a capital project.


In answer to Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Fisher said they have concluded that supporting arts and cultural agencies with property tax is not the right way to go.   These agencies attract visitors to town and bring people from the suburbs and neighboring counties into the City; that creates the visitor/tourist/convention kind of activity, seems appropriate to have them backed by ROT. Mr. Masterpole question if the ballet company would be asking for funds from the Cultural Resource Trust. Mr. Fisher is not aware of any application.


Mrs. Rapp said she would support this because their application was originally submitted on time.


A motion was made by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item; passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


3.     TRANSPORTATION:  Brian Donnelly, Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction and Construction of Improvements to Various Bridges In and For the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $1,375,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,375,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay the Cost Thereof ($1,375,000)

Mr. Donnelly said the bridge program has stayed consistent at about $1.3 million over the last few years. It is funded at the level they feel is appropriate to keep the bridges in safe condition.


        b.     A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction and Construction of Improvements to Various Highways In and For the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $9,270,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $9,270,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay the Cost Thereof ($9,270,000)

Mr. Donnelly said the two resolutions above are in conjunction with the 2010 Highway Plan that was provided to all legislators. The Workplan is made up of bond issue, operating cash out of CHIPS money from New York State, federal and state aid. In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Donnelly said the Workplan is approximately $3 million less in 2010 than it was in 2009, there is a million dollar reduction in operating cash, are reducing their bond issue $2.9 million from last year, but do have an uptake in the amount of federal aid that they will be receiving. They generally come to the legislature with a plan to do 38 miles of hot mix paving and 15 miles of cold mix paving. Due to the economy and asphalt escalation, this plan calls for just under 35 miles of hot mix and 13.5 of cold mix. There will be no Capital Highway Reconstruction Project funded in 2010; money will be moved into paving. 


In answer to Mrs. Rapp regarding the Thompson Road project, Mr. Donnelly said the project was previously funded by the Legislature. The original intent was to take it all the way from Northern Boulevard to Route 31. They have enough funding now to do from South Bay Road north to Rt. 31; that is where they have the biggest bulk of their problems. Intent is to put the project out to bid in June; if prices come in favorably, they might have enough money to do the southern portion. Southern end is not the pressing portion of the project, they will be able to take care of the capacity issues and the traffic problems with the available funding, felt it was more prudent to put the $1.5 million into paving across the rest of the county.


Mr. Masterpole asked about the agreement with the City to buy asphalt paving from them. Mr. Donnelly said the asphalt prices from the City of Syracuse were favorable when the price of liquid was through the roof in 2008, but when the price of liquid came down in 2009 their pricing was actually a little higher. At this time, the pricing from private asphalt producers is better than what they would get from the City.


A motion was made by Mr. DeMore, seconded by Mrs. Rapp to approve item 3a; passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

A motion was made by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Mr. Dougherty to approve item 3b; passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


4.     FACILITIES MANAGEMENT:  Lee Klosowski, Director of Energy Sustainability

        a.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to Accept a Grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and to Provide for the Local Match for a District Heating and Cooling Heat Recovery System for the Justice Center, and Authorizing the Execution of Agreements to Implement this Resolution ($265,000)

System would help heat the domestic hot water for the Justice Center.  This project was in the capital budget at $250,000 for the coming year, will be able to fund about 70% of that through the NYSERSDA grant with a local match of 30%. 


A motion was made by Mr. Dougherty, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item; passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


5.     SOCPA:  Don Jordan, Director

        a.     Authorizing the Syracuse - Onondaga County Planning Agency to Accept the Gift of a Hewlett Packard Designjet 1055CM Plotter from the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council Without Condition ($2,000)


The plotter is identical to one they currently have; they see this as an insurance policy, something to fall back on if something happens to their existing plotter. Plotter prints large format maps and air photos.


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


6.     Requesting the President of Onondaga Community College to Negotiate an Agreement with the Managing Entity of the SRC Arena and the County such that a Portion of the Net Revenues Generated from the SRC Arena from Events Other than Academic Events and Non-Professional Athletic Events be Used to Reduce the County's Cost for Operating Expenses and Capital Expenditures at the College (Sponsored by Mr. Masterpole)

Mr. Masterpole said he is concerned about attracting events to the SRC Arena that could otherwise go to the War Memorial. Thinks any revenues generated from events other than academic and nonprofessional athletic events ought to be used to reduce the County’s cost for operating expenses and capital expenditures at the college. 


Mr. DeMore questioned what the revenue would be used for other than the operating budget. Mrs. Rapp said the proforma when putting the arena plan together was that it would be self-sustaining, any events put on there would cover the operating cost of the facility. Mr. DeMore said that is money the County would have had to give the college to operate the facility - just like the other buildings on campus.


After conversations with Ms. Toennies, Mrs. Rapp said she understands there are a lot of times that even though the War Memorial is not being used, it is unavailable to be booked, they can’t turn the ice over in 24 hours for a one day event, also there are many nights that the Crouse Hinds Theater can’t be booked, that is when events would go to OCC.  Mr. Masterpole noted that the facilities have the same capacity, the arena will be newer, and will have free parking – that will directly pull from the War Memorial. Mrs. Rapp noted that there are a lot of events that could be coming and aren’t because we don’t have the facilities for them. Mrs. Rapp mentioned the BeVard Studio that can’t be used on weekends because the symphony uses the space to store their instruments. Mr. Masterpole noted that Ms. Toennies has changed the number of days from which the Crunch can choose for home games – from 100 to 55; that frees up more days for other events. Mr. Masterpole believes they could turn the War Memorial over from ice in 24 hours in order to have an event.


A motion was made by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Mrs. Rapp to approve this item; Ayes: 1 (Masterpole); Noes: 0; Abstentions: 3 (Rapp, Tassone, DeMore); Excused: 1 (Dougherty); MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:38 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Johanna H. Robb

Deputy Clerk

* * *




MEMBERS PRESENT: Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Warner, Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. Holmquist, Mr. Lesniak, Mr. Corbett, Mr. Buckel


ALSO PRESENT: Chairman Rhinehart, Mr. DeMore, Mrs. Rapp, Mrs. Tassone, Mr. Masterpole, Mrs. Ervin, see also attached lists


Chairman Jordan called the meeting to order at 8:33 a.m. A motion was made by Mr. Warner, seconded by Mr. Lesniak, to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting. Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.




1.   OCPL

      a.   Amend 2010 County Budget to accept NYS Division of Library Development Funds for the Onondaga County Public Library, and Authorize the County Executive to enter into contracts ($23,803)


      a.   Amend ’10 Budget to Provide Funding forUpstate BalletCo. andAuthorizeCo. Exec. toenter intoContracts($3200)


      a.   Authorize Syracuse Onondaga Co. Planning Agency to accept the gift of a Hewlett Packard Designjet 1055CM Plotter from the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council without condition ($2,000)


4a., 5a., 5b. – moved to regular agenda.


      a.   Confirming Appointments to the Position of Deputy Coordinator and Authorizing Reimbursement for Expenses incurred in the Performance of their Duties (Haz Mat)      

     b.   Amending the 2010 County Budget to accept funds from the NYS Emergency Response Commission for use by the Onondaga County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) ($8,072)


      a.    Amend 2010 Budget to accept Additional Federal funds for the Dept. of Mental Health to implement an Electronic Medical Records System and Authorize the Co. Executive to enter into contracts ($125,000)


      a.   Authorize Co. Exec. to Enter into Agreements with Surrounding Law Enforcement Agencies in Support of the License Plate Reader Server System and Amend 2010 Budget to Accept Revenues from such Contracts ($1,000)


Mr. Stanczyk requested that items 4a be removed from the consent agenda; Mr. Buckel requested that items 5a and 5b be removed from the consent agenda.


A motion was made by Mr. Corbett, seconded by Mr. Warner to approve the consent agenda as revised (removal of items 4a, 5a, 5b). Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.




1.      EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT:  Peter Alberti, Commissioner

        a.     Amend ’10 Budget to Accept Homeland Security Funds from the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Prog. for Dept. of Emergency Management and Authorize Co. Exec. to enter into Contracts ($1,495,440)

Onon. Co., City of Syracuse, Owsego Co., and Madison Co. were accepted into the Urban Area Security Program in 2008. New grant cycle – funds used to improve preparedness to protect, respond, investigate all hazards. The guidance allows for personnel, but no positions have been created; existing staff will be used. No local share; all grant dollars.


A motion by Mr. Lesniak, seconded by Mr. Kilmartin to approve this item. 


In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. Alberti said that the $200,000 for consultants is for doing planning assessments for plans and procedures; has not been awarded; there are a myriad of consulting firms – there are one or two local firms – smaller firms partner with the larger firms.  Mr. Stanczyk asked for detail on this item before the contract is awarded.


Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


2.     AGING AND YOUTH  Lisa Alford, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to Accept Federal funds for the Senior Community Service Employment Program and authorizing the County Executive to enter into contracts ($225,855)

Provides low-income seniors with paid training, work experience, unsubsidized employment in agencies/organization, mainly non-profit; receive job search and placement assistance. Currently there are 23 participants in the program; this allows for an additional 21 participants; federally funded, no local dollars. The match is met with supervision of participants provided by the agencies/organizations where they are placed.


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


3.     SHERIFF:  Chief William Peverly

        a.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to accept State Homeland Security Funds for the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office and authorizing the County Executive to enter into contracts ($109,476)

Targeted funds to provide resources to bomb squads throughout NYS--will purchase a smaller robot than what they have to be used in more confined areas and ability to simultaneously deploy 2 teams with robots; fiber optic scope to search in low or zero light; $5500 training for bomb team members; wireless card service for 3 years; personal protective equipment for hazardous material removal


A motion by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve this item. Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        b.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to Accept Grant funds for a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program and authorizing the County Executive to enter into contracts ($42,000)

Received grant notification award in March (after committees were scheduled) for Distracted Driver Program – joint program with City of Syracuse, Sheriff’s Office and NYS Police. City was 1 of 2 agencies in the country to be funded. Provide personnel to work on overtime basis to enforce distracted drivers – cell phones and texting. One initiative was completed in April, the second one will be in July. No match; grant covers some fringe benefits, i.e. retirement and FICA. 


In answer to Chairman Jordan regarding work on overtime basis, Chief Peverly said that it is a saturated patrol, a very unique initiative. Regular patrols are busy responding to calls for services, and time isn’t committed to this type of initiative. Chairman Jordan asked about abilities to reallocate duties or staffing to be able to provide the enhanced enforcement without it being done on overtime. Anything the Sheriff’s office can do to  facilitate that would be greatly appreciated.


In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Chief Peverly said that the targeted areas are inside of the City. NYS Police and SPD are also deploying personnel under the grant funds on an overtime basis. The City component is $65,000; State Police is $38,400. Mr. Stanczyk said he would like to see the results from the first waive. Chief Peverly said that there were approximately 2,000 tickets issued in the first initiative in 10 days.


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


4.     WEP:  Patty Pastella, Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Approving Improvements for the Bear Trap – Ley Creek Drainage District

Maintenance project for the detention basin in the Bear Trap-Ley Creek district – removal of sediment and debris, which has accumulated over the past 30 years – restore capacity of basin to original flood protection level.


A motion by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        b.     A Resolution Authorize Improvements for the Bear Trap – Ley Creek Drainage District in and for the County of Onondaga, NY, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $975,000 and Authorize Issuance of $975,000 Bonds of said County to Pay the Cost Thereof ($975,000)

A motion by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Lesniak to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


4.     HILLBROOK (FROM CONSENT AGENDA):  Jackie DeNero, Director

        a.     Transfer Funds from Acct. 101 Reg. Empl. Salaries in the Amount of $26,443 and Acct. 300 Supplies and Matls.ls in the Amount of $2,000 to Acct. 410 All Other Expenses for Custodial Services ($28,443)

To pay for custodial services at Hillbrook. A cost benefit analysis was done – had 2 original custodial positions, one was abolished in the 2010 budget, the one position was vacant for several months. An RFP was done; the lowest vendor was Human Tech. Increases cleaning services from 5 day to 7 days/week, cleaning continues into late evening hours to reduce safety and security issues. The contract is $36,700; employees’ wages and benefits are a little more; there are long-term savings also. In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Ms. DeNero said that if a custodial person was on vacation, sick leave, etc. there was a gap in services; the contract provides for no gap in services. A team of people come in for a few hours in the evening.


A motion by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. Warner to approve this item. 


Mr. Lesniak asked about the original positions; Ms. DeNero explained that there were originally 2 positions for 30 years, reduced to 1 position in 2010; the position is vacant. In answer to Mr. Lesniak, Ms. DeNero said that the gap for services was filled with a temporary contract for custodial services on a month by month basis, which came before the Legislature. 


A vote was taken on the motion: AYES: 6 (Jordan, Corbett, Lesniak, Holmquist, Kilmartin, Warner); NOES: 0; ABSTENTIONS: 2 (Buckel, Stanczyk); MOTION CARRIED.


5.      HEALTH (FROM CONSENT AGENDA): Linda Karmen, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     Abolish Environmental Health Technician I, Grade 8, $38,352 - $42,406, effective May 15, 2010

        b.     Abolish Community Health Counselor, Grade 9, $41,662 - $46,083, effective May 31, 2010

Mrs. Karmen said that item 5b is related to a grant ending on May 31. Item 5a is related to discussions from the Health Committee meeting this month; requested to come up with salary savings in exchange for the advance step hire that Dr. Morrow is requesting for Director of Environmental Health, who was appointed in February.


Mr. Warner said that Dr. Morrow got caught up in a situation, which has been brewing for a while – advance step hires. The resolution regarding the Condrey Study notes that the County Executive shall have, in emergency circumstances, the ability to hire up to step G. The former administration had one; in the last two years there have been 31 emergencies; very few were approved by the legislature. He suggests that all advance step hires be brought to the legislature; it takes 30 seconds to look at an issue to see if someone is deserving of an advance step hire. The Charter says that the legislature shall do it; he will bring a resolution to the full session. Dr. Morrow was probably more deserving than most on her request; he suggested that the item be approved, as she came to the legislature and explained her situation. Advance step hires have to stop; it has cost $200,000 - $300,000 over a period of time.


Chairman Jordan said that there is a lot of truth in what Mr. Warner is talking about; but if a good case is made before the legislature as to why an advance step hire is needed, then the legislature should be open minded to the concept.


In answer to Mr. Buckel, Ms. Karmen said that item 5a would probably have been given up in the 2011 budget – it was a position that was vacated because an individual didn’t pass probation. She said that the Director of Environmental Health has a significant responsibility which is 24/7; the advance step, even in the 2010 budget, would be $9,000 less than appropriated for the recently retired director. In answer to Mr. Buckel, Mr. Warner said that Mr. Rhinehart will bring the advance step hire for the Director of Environmental Health to the floor, which he will support.  


Mr. Lesniak said that on May 7th there will be a meeting with the County Executive’s office and Commissioner of Personnel to try to rectify the salary schedules that have been inequitably distributed over the years because of the M/Cs not getting raises when the unions were – will try to rectify the schedule so that there wouldn’t be any need for advance step hires. There are still positions in forensics and certain other titles that need to be looked at as reallocations or reclassifications. Mr. Warner said that the Majority Leader and Chairman already met with the administrative staff over a month ago and the practice continues. He suggests that this ends at the next session.


Mr. Stanczyk said that there are equally a number of problems with union positions compared to MC positions there are inequities on both sides – not just the MCs being underpaid – some union people are being paid inequitably low. Mr. Lesniak said that those inequities can be negotiated. 


A motion by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Lesniak to approve item 5a. AYES: 7; NOES: 0; ABSTENTIONS: 1 (Buckel). MOTION CARRIED.


A motion by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Lesniak to approve item 5b. Passed unanimously; MOTIONCARRIED.


5.     TRANSPORTATION:  Mark Primo, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Authorizing the reconstruction and construction of improvements to various bridges in and for the County of Onondaga, NY, at a maximum estimated cost of $1,375,000 and authorizing the issuance of $1,375,000 bonds of said County to pay the cost thereof ($1,375,000)

        b.     A resolution authorizing the reconstruction and construction of improvements to various highways in and for the County of Onondaga, NY, at a maximum estimated cost of $9,270,000 and authorizing the issuance of $9,270,000 bonds of said County to pay the cost thereof ($9,270,000)


A motion was made by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Lesniak to approve items 5a and 5b.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


6.     FACILITIES MANAGEMENT:  Lee Klosowski

        a.     Amending the 2010 County Budget to accept a grant from the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority and to provide for the local match for a district heating and cooling heat recovery system for the Justice Center and authorizing the execution of agreements to implement this resolution ($265,000)

The local match would provide heat to the Justice Center, domestic hot water; project is in the capital budget for 2010; NYSERDA received funds under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and made available on a competitive basis -- County submitted two projects. NYSERDA will fund 70% of the project cost. The estimated project cost is $265,000; NYSERDA’s match will be approximately $185,000; County’s match will be approximately $80,000; estimated energy savings are $45,000 -- a 2-year payback period.


A motion by Mr. Lesniak, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve this item. Passed unanimously; CARRIED.


7.     OCC

        a.     Request the President of OCC to Negotiate an Agreement with the Managing Entity of the SRC Arena and the County Such That the Net Revenues Generated from the SRC Arena From Events Other Than Academic Events and Non-professional Athletic Events be Used to Reduce the County’s Cost for OperatingExpensesandCapitalExpendituresattheCollege(Sponsored by Mr. Masterpole and Mr. Rhinehart)

Chairman Rhinehart said that he and Mr. Masterpole have a tremendous concern as to the ongoing operation at the War Memorial and the future effects of having a second county associated arena. It is important that the legislature take a position of concern and get something on the record so that when this issue comes up down the road, it is made clear how this legislature feels about it. If there are events that the College will rent to outside sources, that the revenues from those functions go on behalf of the taxpayers to the college budge, either in the general fund or contribute towards future capital projects.


Chairman Jordan asked to be listed as a co-sponsor.


Mr. Buckel said that he supports this resolution. He referred to the public comment on this issue and said that there seems to be a great deal of emotion over what was funded and what wasn’t. He supports OCC’s long range plan and respects the decisions made by the college and its experts to close the present pool. With that said, when the legislature voted to support this project, there was a specific component in both the resolution and bond that covered and improvement for the humidification system for the pool. The monies have been shifted for other purposes. When future projects are brought to the legislature, that plans be scrutinized in greater detail. There was sloppiness, some money was appropriated and not used as the legislature saw fit. This is one way to go back and exert some control and oversight to recover some of the capital, if in fact the facility is used for non-academic purposes.


Mr. Holmquist supports this resolution. Normally when memorializing resolutions are done, it is to the State and Federal government. Here the Onondaga County legislature is relegated to the position of memorializing OCC. It seems very wrong. Two years ago when debating this in the face of a fiscal tsunami, the legislature voted for $35 million; 100 people were laid off, everyone was cut, except to OCC; the legislature has never said no to them. By memorializing OCC it is like the tail wagging the dog. 


Mr. Stanczyk said that the legislature has a strong lever, unlike that with the State or Federal governments – County allocates monies to OCC every year. He doesn’t characterize this as a memorializing resolution. If this passes, he expects Dr. Sydow, and the people that handle finances at OCC, to take this very seriously. If they don’t, this legislature can get involved in making them take it seriously. This resolution is a valid attempt to make sure the county is in a position to benefit from this if the arena is used outside of normal educational purposes.


Mr. Warner questioned why this isn’t a dictate rather than a request. Chairman Rhinehart said that at this point with all the issues going on in the legislature, he and Mr. Masterpole didn’t want to micromanage the operation at OCC. There is work to be done; the solution will involve defining what kinds of events are campus-related and what kinds of events are independent from OCC. He is not ready to outline the whole program to say what is an inside or outside event. He looks forward to OCC officials doing that for us.  He agrees with Mr. Stanczyk – the legislature has the power to expect a response to this provided the legislature makes this commitment. 


A motion by Mr. Corbett, seconded by Mr. Stanczyk to approve this item. Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.



        a.     Memorializing the Governor of NYS and the NYS Legislature to Refuse to Adopt a Proposal to Shift Costs Associated with Medicaid Disallowances to the Local Governments (Sponsored by Mr. Jordan)

Currently any disallowed Medicaid claims are handled by the State; they assume responsibility and seek recovery of the claims; once they receive the monies, they keep all of the monies. The State is proposing to shift the responsibility of the disallowed claims to the counties and keep the revenues from any recoveries. 


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


Mr. Warner said that there should also be a resolution requesting NYS to only provide those services that are required under federal law. He understands that there are approximately 30 services or so that are not required, but New York State has decided to hand them out.


AYES: 7; NOES: 0; ABSTENTIONS: 2 (Stanczyk, Buckel). MOTION CARRIED.


Mr. Lesniak and Mr. Holmquist requested to be co-sponsors.


        b.     Resolution Calling on the Governor and the Legislature of the State of New York to Enforce the Collection of Sales Taxes on Tobacco Products and Motor Fuel Sold to Non-Indians on Indian Lands (Sponsored by Mr. Masterpole)

Mr. Stanczyk said that there are a lot of sales wherein normal sales tax is not being collected. It is not the intent of the sponsor to deny tax free purchase of these products by Indians on Indian property, but there is the sincere desire to collect the appropriate state and local sales tax that should be collected on these items.


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


        c.     Amend Res. No. 312-2009 Related to Granting Authorization for Onondaga County to Pay the Difference in Pay Between Military Pay and Base County Salary to County Officers and Employees While Performing Ordered Military Duty (Sponsored by Mr. Lesniak)

Mr. Lesniak said that last time the resolution was passed, there was a modification to the allotments from what was done in all previous years. In previous years base salary was used, not extra allotments for when an individual was needed overseas or in combat duty. The last resolution passed added in the extra allotments. There is a minimal cost between the two; there was an arbitration decision made in favor of a union that this be unilaterally changed for negotiations.


A motion by Mr. Lesniak, seconded by Mr. Warner to approve this item. AYES: 7; NOES: 0; ABSTENTIONS: 1 (Stanczyk). MOTION CARRIED.


Mr. Buckel requested to be a co-sponsor.


        d.     Implementing a Voluntary Lag Payroll Program for Elected Officials (Sponsored by Mr. Buckel)

Mr. Buckel referred to last year’s budget and the projections to have severe revenue shortfalls this year. A cause of great concern was that there are 31 significant step increases, whose higher salaries we are paying the burden for. At the same time, the bargaining units were asked to agree to freeze in salary as well as M/Cs. In asking them to sacrifice, there was not a mechanism for elected officials to share in the sacrifice. This statement is as much symbolic as it is real. By law, all that can be done is to offer a voluntary deferral – cannot vote to decrease M/C salaries or decrease electeds in this particular timeframe. This is a signal to our employees and community that electeds are willing to make some sacrifices.


Mr. Buckel made a motion to approve this item, seconded by Mr. Stanczyk.


Mr. Lesniak said that MCs did not receive any wage increase last year through the budget process. At this point, he would not be willing to support this. He would rather see a resolution requesting the County Executive to negotiate some type of plan with the unions first. Rather than impose something on MCs above and beyond what they have already done. 


Mr. Buckel said that the legislature ought to take on this and be as symbolic as possible. Regarding the MCs, there is a middle ground. A concern has been raised that there are significant steps and the notion that the highest paid workers voluntarily agreed to freeze their already higher step pay – it rubbed MCs below them and the rank and file workers the wrong way. He would rather not put the burden on the rank and file workers first. Feels it is incumbent on those who lead at the top to lead the way before asking others to sacrifice. He will work on item 8e, but urged the adoption of 8d.


Mr. Kilmartin asked if any models have been run on the cost of this. He understands that the wage deferral is a benefit to the County in the short-term. If an employee stays with the County 10, 20, 30 years and then the County has to pay them 10, 20, or 30 years later that set aside amount at a higher rate -- questions if it is a good deal or bad deal for the County in the total aggregate cost overtime. Mr. Buckel said that this is talking about current cash; he has not run a calculation on the MCs. It is not a huge, significant amount of money; it would be that electeds are willing to take a short-term sacrifice knowing that there would be growth in the future through higher sales tax rates, economic growth. Mr. Kilmartin said that the short time benefit to the County would be that they wouldn’t have to expend those dollars and sees the concept of individuals making a voluntary sacrifice, but is concerned that it might end up being a windfall for the rank and file employees or the elected officials. 


Chairman Jordan was concerned that the focus is only on a portion of the people who receive compensation from the County. The MCs have already been hit by not giving them a raise; for the majority of elected officials it has been 3 years since they have taken any pay increase. It sends the wrong signal – already told the MCs to sacrifice and now sending a message to just MCs and elected officials. Now asking them to voluntarily contribute more, but not asking the vast majority of county employees to make a similar sacrifice. In the absence of an equal sharing of the burden, he can’t support this. There is an assumption that because there has been a number of advance step hires that all MCs are making significantly more than union employees. There are number of situations where that is not the case. 


Mr. Buckel said that he has supported advance step raises in the past, but the concern was that there was a small number who had a huge step advance step on hiring. As policy makers, leaders, if cutting jobs and asking people to make a sacrifice in the future, that legislators take a step first – a voluntary program of deferring pay. Then the County Executive will have a different platform on which to talk to MCs or rank and file about the challenges that are faced. Mr. Stanczyk agreed – it is the intent of the legislature to create the atmosphere where people are encouraged to voluntarily make sacrifices – willing to do it themselves; ask the comptroller to work out the details and set the whole thing in motion.


AYES: 2 (Buckel, Stanczyk); NOES: 5 (Jordan, Corbett, Lesniak, Holmquist, Kilmartin); ABSTENTIONS: 1 (Warner). MOTION FAILED.


        e.     Implementing a Voluntary Lag Payroll Program for Employees Not Represented by a Bargaining Unit (Sponsored by Mr. Buckel)

Sponsor withdrew item from agenda.


        f.     Memorializing the Legislature and the Governor of the State of New York to Amend Section 519 of the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law to Place Onondaga County in the Capital Region (Sponsored by Mr. Rhinehart, Mr. Jordan, Mrs. Rapp and Mr. Masterpole)

Chairman Rhinehart said that he suggested this during the budget review; it was not taken up then, but has been under discussion. He sent a letter to the 3 districts that were interested in doing business with Onondaga County in 2004 – Western, Capital and Catskill. Western replied that they were not interested this time, Capital and Catskill submitted information updating their proposals from 2004. Legislators Rapp, Jordan, Masterpole and himself met with the representatives from the districts.  Mr. Antonacci also reviewed the submittals. After reviewing both districts, it was decided to put the request forward to the State to be entered into the Capital District. It was felt that Capital District offered a much better managed organization--more progressive in their field. Horse race betting has declined somewhat in the industry, but Capital was positioned better because they had better control of their revenues. Their revenues declined the least out of all of the other districts in New York State. Capital District has its own television station; Albany Co. has a teletheater clubhouse concept, which has a major screen and multi televisions, fine dining, live simulcast and other sporting events. The district has easy bet machines that can be placed at select operations in the county. The Capital District has a website that is used by people all over the northeast. Because Onondaga County is not associated with a district, when people in Onondaga County use the website, Onondaga County does not receive any money. He has received a number of letters and comments from the public, who don’t understand why the County hasn’t done this. It is a revenue source that does not require a monetary investment on the part of Onondaga County. 


Mr. Warner said that he served on the OTB Committee in 2004 that looked into bringing OTB to Onondaga County and visited several districts, i.e. NYC, Albany, Buffalo. The Committee concluded that they did not get a good feeling about OTB. Since then some districts have been scandal ridden with indictments. The misery factor will far outweigh any money gained for Onondaga County and urged that the resolution be rejected.


Mr. Lesniak said that he would normally agree with Mr. Warner, but times have changed--betting can be done over the Internet now. He questions why we aren’t getting a piece of the dollars spent in Onondaga County. Every county around us has OTB access; Turning Stone is down the road; gambling is everywhere around the county and in the County with the lottery system.


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


Mr. Stanczyk agreed with Mr. Warner; doesn’t know if in the best interest of the legislature and this government to get involved in misery factor. There a lot of ways for government to raise revenues; when it gets involved in something, it sanctions it – not right that the State got involved in gambling. Gambling is a vice; and this is saying that the County can get revenue from this vice. Gambling goes together with other vices. Should look at other things that are healthy and making revenues from it – i.e. having the best source of water in the U.S. and people buying bottled water; promoting the purchase of Onondaga County apples and farm products. It is misguided to collect $1 million that has fallen from someone’s pocket – that $1 million is partially concealing a lot of misery, pain, addiction. The County should not dive into this cesspool of vices for $1 million.


Mr. Buckel said that this will not add one innocent better to the list of people who already wager and ruin lives – difference between some kinds of conduct which are taken very seriously, i.e. smoking – doesn’t affect one individual; it affects society. In this case the costs are generally individualized. He is concerned about the impact on surrounding communities – thinks will take revenue from neighboring counties that are already authorized – shouldn’t be in the business of taking revenue that others rely upon.


Mr. Warner said that the $1 million is only a guess – read every day about the dwindling profits of OTB. Feels the $1 million revenue is a stretch. Mr. Rhinehart agreed that $1 million is only an estimate; the original estimate was much higher than that. An extra $1 million of revenue in the county at budget time could mean as many as 70 jobs when talking about a layoff situation.


Mr. Warner asked if a study has been on done on the misery factor and what this does to a community. Chairman Jordan said that he tried to do some research and couldn’t find anything that addressed the issue.


Mr. Masterpole referred to Vernon, where there used to be farms; now there are hotels, casino, nice placed to go to dinner, and golf – turned farmland into a resort community. This could be about jobs; these are our residents going to Phoenix, Bridgeport and recreating – can’t stop people’s “ills”. These are our people spending their money in other counties and only driving minutes to get to these places. The County should be capitalizing on the things our residents are doing. If we take revenue from Oswego or Madison County it is good – these are our residents spending their money there. This will save County jobs and create other jobs when Capital comes here – they will put our residents to work in their facility. It is an economic development tool more than a promotion of an ill of our society.


Chairman Jordan said that in meeting with the different districts, they were assured that the County would have absolute discretion as to where the facility is sited.


Mr. Buckel said that if the County takes a $1 million benefit and saves 70 jobs here, then it will affect our neighbors who will be forced to cut people back – there is elasticity; we are a region; don’t have walls around Onondaga County. Our gain will be someone else’s loss. 


Mr. Stanczyk said that it is ludicrous to say that the $1 million has the potential to save 70 jobs; there is $1.15 billion; $ million does not equate to 70 jobs.


Mr. Jordan seconded the motion.  AYES: 5 (Jordan, Corbett, Lesniak, Holmquist, Kilmartin) NOES: 2 (Stanczyk, Warner); ABSTENTIONS: 1 (Buckel). MOTION CARRIED.


        g.     Confirming appointments to the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (Ms. Jessica Crawford and Mr. Frank Forte) (Sponsored by Mr. Rhinehart)

Chairman Rhinehart reviewed Ms. Crawford’s and Mr. Forte’s resumes. He noted both are futuristic thinkers, hardworking and energetic.


Mr. Lesniak made a motion to approve this item.


In answer to Mr. Buckel, Chairman Rhinehart said that Mr. Forte would fill the term of William Towsley; Ms. Crawford would replace Mr. Baldwin, who asked to finish at the end of his term in June.


Mr. Buckel said that it is important that the IDA have a broad spectrum of representation; Mr. Towsley represented the interests of working men and women heroically and was a powerful voice. Mr. Rhinehart said that in no way is Mr. Forte a replacement for Mr. Towsley. In answer to Mr. Buckel, as president of a several thousand member union, Mr. Forte has had strong labor background in dealing with both labor and management. He is proud to recommend him; known him a long time, is honest, hardworking and high energy, community minded. Mr. Buckel said that there is a difference between his background and the background represented in trades, there is actually the building and construction trades where these projects are affected significantly. Hopes in the future, there will be very serious attention to the interests of building and construction, trade members whose lives are affected by the decisions of the IDA.




        h.     Amending Onondaga County Legislature Resolution No. 372-1967 as Amended Relative to the Imposition and Disposition of Sales and Compensating use Tax Pursuant to Articles 28 and 29 of the Tax Law of the State of New York (Sponsored by Mr. Buckel, Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Stanczyk)

Mr. Buckel said that he intends to do 3 things in support of this resolution: 1. General comments on process regarding sales tax; 2. Review Co. Executive’s and Chairman of the Legislature’s negotiations with City of Syracuse; 3. Comments on unprecedentedly dangerous fantasy offered as an alternative to Co. Executive’s proposal. Commended the Chairman and the Legislature for opening the process of sales tax deliberations. One concern was that independent experts were not brought in that could add to the mix – that failure has had dire consequences. This is not a question of us handing out gifts to the community; this is not philanthropy – should be thinking of this in terms of investments and the future of this county/region. Hoped a more aggressive look would have been taken on what should be accomplished through the use of this money – i.e. sharing of services, consolidation, modernization, sharing money of schools, increased accountability for achievements and increased graduation rates. Those conversations have become secondary – regrettable because had opportunity to do something good for this community. Proud to sponsor the Co. Executive’s plan, which was negotiated by the Co. Executive and Chairman of Legislature with City of Syracuse, takes a step in that direction – the other plan does not.


  • Agree on how the 1% and 3% sales tax will be shared for next 10 years.
  • General rule intent is that the County will retain all or nearly all of the revenues from the 3% tax – overtime the City shall receive nearly all revenues from the 1% tax.
  • 2011 needs to be treated differently than the other 9 years (current 3% agreement expires 12/31/10 and 1% agreement expires 11/30/11)
  • Towns continue to receive sales tax revenue in 2011, 50% of their share of revenues currently received
  • Villages receive their share of the towns reduced share in 2011; receive a reduced share in 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Schools receive a gradually reduced share in 2011 and 2012 and then continue to receive sales tax revenues fixed at 2012 rate through 2020


If truly interested in reducing property taxes, there is no other way than use of sales tax revenues going to schools. Thirty years ago County government adopted a forward looking perspective, understanding that the quality of our schools and education is central and the core component of our ability to grow as a community and to make up for financing disparities that exist. Case law in NYS is clear that the disparities in funding amongst schools in NYS is unconstitutional; the poorest districts are not being treated the same way. For 30 years this legislature has had the foresight to try to make up for that fundamental disparity. The County Executive’s plan, while not in the amounts the schools would like, at least continues commitment to education as one of the foundations of our community. The competing plan does not – leaves schools on their own to either cut people, schools, programs or increase taxes.


  • City receives a reduced share of the 3% sales tax in 2011; any notion that the City or the residents of the City are not sacrificing is false. One key distinction is that they City provides services not just to its own taxpayers, but to the entire region, and is the home economic engines that are non-profits, i.e. S.U., hospitals, churches, government buildings, etc. Every economist in this nation has told us that the economic future depends upon strong metropolitan regions. It is where the wealth is created, where the people live, where the most efficient use of revenues occur. If the metropolitan region is allowed to suffer, it harms the economy of the entire region. To engage in parochial us vs. them discussions is counterproductive.
  • City will not receive infrastructure payment after 2010. City has given up its right to 30% of sales tax revenues generated from the expansion of the Carousel Mal. 
  • City gives up its right to pre-empt; and action it will take under the alternative proposal. If taken will harm the County – by mandate monies will go out to regions and places that don’t need it.
  • County will share sales tax on percentage basis w/no cap and not hold harmless payments


Mr. Buckel said that every 10 years he has read about tension and a great divide on who gets what. For the first time in his life in this community, there is a chance to not only transform the way we do business, allowing the free market to achieve results from consolidation by making the true costs of governments transparent to all. For the first time ever, before us is something that has support of an unparallel wide body of people – business, universities, press, Chamber, MDA. Business outside of the City, Welch Allyn, Sensis, Syracuse Research, all support this plan. They understand the importance to the investments being made to the greater good of this community and to their own business. They recognize that if the City fails, their ability to track employees fails and suffers.


There has been a lot of "ostrich approach” by proponents of the other plan. There are financial difficulties ahead; what has been experienced in the last 2 years will not compare to what will have to be confronted budget wise this year--loss of stimulus money; loss of uncertainty of State aid, loss of revenues from sales tax and real estate, and higher mandated costs. Every time that was brought up, heads went in the sand--didn’t want to talk about it. The County Executive’s plan at least takes into account that money will be used to shore up a desperate and difficult budget situation. The other plan doesn’t consider that now; it is the height of recklessness.


The notion that the County will share some money with City, much less than is need, and nothing with anybody else, and takes $100 million and gives it to the community in property tax relief, is a fantasy. It can’t happen; impossible in the budget situation; proponents of that plan are not being honest with the community. If this “fantasy” can be plaid out, it will give the most massive shift of resources from ordinary people in this community to the wealthiest corporations, wealthiest individuals, pulled out of towns such as Salina, which has low assessments, to the wealthiest regions of the community.  It is idiocy. It will give a $3 million gift to National Grid; they are the largest taxpayer in the community – what they pay is what courts have established to be the fair value of their properties. Sales tax is paid by working men and women when they buy their kids clothes, books for school, supplies, a car, gas, etc.  After $3 million off the top to National Grid, Verizon is next, real estate companies, apartment buildings, Great Northern Holdings, Harrison Center Associates, Aldi, Wegmans, Bristol Meyer, S.U. – will give some 6-7% of the $100 million tax increase to the largest 25 taxpayers in this county. Individually, 9 of the top 15 people who will benefit from this proposal with windfalls of $16K, $13K, $10K are all in the Town of Skaneateles. One of the recipients of this will be Magna, $100K as they leave this community as a parting gift.  This plan will shift massive resources from a community that has low assessments and low tax rates to the wealthiest parts of our community. It is wrong and has nothing to do with targeting investments where it will do some good. It represents the most outrageous transfer of revenue from poor to rich that this community has ever seen.  If you want to cut taxes, cut the sales tax, don’t play this game. He referenced legislators having to explain to parents at community events how this plan takes their hard earned money, and gives it to National Grid and the wealthiest in this community. The average taxpayers in this county with median house value of $130K is basically going to get nothing  out of this. What is taken out in town and school support will have to be made up through higher local taxes, which will exceed the pittance that will be given to the average taxpayer in this mythical tax relief. He urged support of the County Executive’s plan.


Chairman Jordan asked Mr. Buckel for data indicating the impact on the average, everyday blue collar workers--in terms of the bottom line on their tax bills for each plan. Mr. Buckel said that he will put together the information and provide it to Mr. Jordan. Mr. Masterpole stated that Mr. Antonacci has the comparison for Clay. Mr. Antonacci stated that the current net rate in the Town of Clay is $73.11. He tried to compare Co. Executive’s plan to the Rhinehart/Kilmartin plan and one had to lose the deficit or gain the deficit -- wanted to get the plans as equal as possible to run the rates through the system based on assessed value, population, and amount of credits. There is a difference between allocating sales tax based on population and allocating a levy based on assessed value. In the Co. Executive’s plan, with the deficit taken away, Clay would be approximately $75.02, and in the Rhinehart/Kilmartin plan it would be approximately $78.96. There is a difference in the two plans -- without the deficit considered – under the Co. Executive’s plan, the people in Clay would be receiving a credit to their tax bill, and the Rhinehart/Kilmartin plan already assumes a reduction in the levy due to the sales tax reducing the levy in the first place.


In answer to Mr. Lesniak, Mr. Antonacci said that he took the 2010 budgeted numbers, and so that the plans were consistent, he used the budgeted book levy of $183.997042 and used the current credit provided to the towns. Sales tax credits are complicated. Some towns take it in cash, some don’t, and there are minor adjustments in the abstract to each town’s actual sales tax being credited to their bill. Mr. Lesniak said that is the 2011 numbers with half of the town being zeroed out; in the Rhinehart plan it is zeroed out in the first year. He questioned what the Co. Executive’s plan would be in 2012. Mr. Antonacci said that both plans essentially say the same thing; the Co. Executive’s plan gets there a little slower with a phase in the reduction in credits. By 2012, with all things being equal, the same tax rate would be delivered to the tax payers.


Mr. Stanczyk said that the key component is to get this as simply stated, as simply put forth as possible, and get to a fair allocation of the resources. The end point of this whole thing is 75% of the revenues should accrue to the County and 25% should accrue to the City. In that allocation everyone agrees that there are significant community programs, activities, resources to fund, support and protect – 75% would take care of that; the other 25% of revenues would go to also support resources, programs, and activities that happen to be conducted in our central city. He has been through these sales tax proceedings in the past; he has never before seen the mood as generous, understanding, and as cooperative as it is now. There is a growing, understandable concern and awareness that a strong, healthy, vibrant central city is needed. It is where most people come to work, recreate, do business, and where most major institutions are. The Mahoney/Minor proposals gets the revenues at 25% to City and 75% to the County.. The consequence of the alternative proposal is that it doesn’t have the same endpoint. If we can agreed to the endpoint of 25% city and 75% County, then the proceedings will go very well. He hopes members can understand the wisdom of the Mahoney/Minor plan and support it.


Mr. Lesniak said that it can be said that both plans are attacking the poor and passing it off to the wealthy – both plans change the towns credit from population to assessment. In shifting population to assessment, Salina, Clay, Van Buren, etc. take a big hit. To take the subjective $53 million shortfall, questioned why we would say that sales tax would be used to balance the budget. Consolidating our own services, cutting our own budget should be looked at, not using sales tax to shore up the budget. In the same venture, everybody else should be looking at the same thing; there is less sales tax dollars – budgets needs to be figured out without sales tax.  Some school budgets have appropriated without an increase, showing a $0 balance from sales tax.


Mr. Lesniak asked why in the Mahoney/Minor plan are the towns and villages cut off while there is continuance to share with the schools; schools have the largest budgets and least impact. Mr. Buckel said that to give direction to the schools provides a direct impact on property taxes. It makes a statement that there will be an investment in education. It is recognition that there aren’t sufficient resources available in the communities to continue to increase school taxes. Regarding the towns, in contrast to the competing plan, there is phase out – not as drastic. He had hoped to accomplish more with this process – there are too many layers of government; too many elected officials. The Mahoney plan is consistent with the philosophy of letting the market play itself out. Today towns and villages, whether they take it in cash or in credits, are providing services to a narrow range of people who pay for them but don’t have a fair reflection of what they are paying. The key difference is one removes it over time; the other plan is immediate and drastic. The end result is that the market of governments will have to account for their costs in a more balanced way. Mr. Lesniak said it would apply in the Rhinehart plan also – they both zero out, both say that layers of government need to discontinue or consolidate or share services. The real difference in these two plans is the amount that the City gets vs. the Rhinehart plan, which has a lesser amount for the City vs. the towns and villages. Mr. Buckel said it is one difference, but cannot gloss over the fact that the Co. Executive’s plan is not a shock – it is a phase out. Mr. Lesniak said that the problem with both plans when switching from population to assessment, the towns get hit -- the property tax owner pays more; the City does not see an increase, in fact sees a decrease with their property tax with the Rhinehart plan. In looking at the Village of Baldwinsville, their rate is roughly $7.28/$1,000 at the county rate – they take it all in cash. Under the Rhinehart plan they are $3.25; they could immediately raise their village tax to whatever they needed to do to make up the $1.1 million that they get in sales tax, and still not reach the $7.28 level they are at now. They are then taxing those people for their services within their government in the village and the County is not subsidizing the payment by everybody else. Both plans have flaws, but there is significant difference in taking the towns, zeroing them out, and seeing his own tax bill increase over $600 in two years, while the City is holding steady. He can’t justify that to his constituents. He absolutely sees that a vibrant city is needed; sees balance having to be met in that his taxpayers are not subsidizing the City. Another issue with the Mahoney plan is that to grant money to the villages requires state legislation and questions what happens if the State doesn’t allow it. He can’t support the County Executive’s plan – seeing his tax bill go up to offset the City; he is closer with the Rhinehart/Kilmartin plan, but is not there yet either.


Mr. Kilmartin agreed with Mr. Antonacci that it is very difficult to run these numbers and comparables with all of the different factors involved. He asked Mr. Antonacci and Mr. Rowley to provide an apples to apples comparison over a 10-year period of the County Executive’s proposal and Mr. Rhinehart’s proposal, taking into account the same estimated budget gap, and then do an analysis of the two proposals without any budget gap. The 2011 factor has to be taken into account because of the 1% factor; it skews things artificially, doesn’t take into account the long-term impact. The data he has seen to date shows a much greater opportunity under the Rhinehart/Kilmartin proposal to suppress the levy to reduce County taxes in the towns, villages and City. Under the Mahoney/Miner proposal there is approximately $50 million to the County in additional sales tax revenue in year one; under the Rhinehart/Kilmartin proposal, there is approximately $100 million more – nearly double.  It gives the County the opportunity to reduce the levy.


Mr. Kilmartin said that Mahoney/Miner proposal is a vast improvement over what exists now, but feels more can be done, and the Rhinehart/Kilmartin proposal does more. The Rhinehart proposal promotes transparency and accountability; eliminates County buttressing other government entities’ budgets; does away with perpetuating this factored, arbitrary system. The County should not be in the business of buttressing other government entities’ budgets. The best evidence of that is that the villages don’t share a village tax with the county; schools don’t share with the County or any other government entity; the towns don’t share their town tax with anyone else. Rightfully so; they shouldn’t be doing that. Right now the County is in the business of buttressing all of these other government entities. The Mahoney/Miner proposal still does that and perpetuates that. There are still arbitraries processes for dividing up monies with schools, villages, and City. It perpetuates a bastardized system, which has been in place for 40 years. Need to get away from parochialism and territorialism. Every entity that came before the committee has had a unique argument. Once we go down a slippery slope of who is most needing, most unique, and most deserving, it gets very arbitrary. He referred to Mr. Buckel’s answer to Mr. Lesniak’s question earlier, and his difficulty answering it, which showed that once going down that slippery slope, it is difficult to justify why one is preferred over another. The villages right now rely a lot on the sales tax, a number have built their budgets around it. Regarding the schools, generally the sales tax is approximately 1% of their budget of an approximate $550 million school levy imposed throughout the county. The local levy for the County of Onondaga is $170 million; that is a vast difference. This illustrates how arbitrary this process can become unless this is made transparent and accountability is promoted. Need to be accountable for county residents and voters for County money that is spent on County services that are provided. Fracturing the money does away with accountability.


Mr. Kilmartin said that there are vast similarities between the two proposals. In both proposals: County retains more; County would retain close to, if not all of, the 3%; City Sales tax dollars taken from 1% sales tax; towns eliminated in very near future; villages eliminate immediately or in very near future; school eliminated immediately or reduced significantly. The one significant difference is the amount allocated to the City. He feels that the parties can be to a mutually beneficial position that can be a bi-partisan proposal that is good for the City and County, promotes transparency and accountability. He hopes no one has drawn a line in the sand weeks before there is a vote on this matter.  There is a great opportunity promote the relationship developing between the City and County. 


Chairman Jordan asked Mr. Rhinehart to present item 8k.


        k.     Amending Onondaga County Legislature Resolution No. 372-1967 as amended relative to the imposition and disposition of sales and compensating use tax pursuant to Articles 28 and 29 of the tax law of the State of New York (Sponsored by Mr. Rhinehart, Mr. Kilmartin)

Chairman Rhinehart said that through all of the sales tax discussions of the past 30 years, the minutes show repeatedly that the intent of both sharing and using of the compensating uses of sales tax was to offset county property taxes. The biggest difference between his proposal and the proposal introduced by Mr. Buckel, is that his is focused on those that pay property taxes, not those that don’t. Sales tax and compensating use tax revenues are used first for direct property tax relief to all county tax payers equally – whether living in a town, village or City of Syracuse. The same amount of sales tax revenues shared now under the current formula, with towns and schools, outside of the City would continue to be shared – it is $83 million/year shared in a different way – shared in direct property tax reductions. The same amount of sales tax that is shared with the City and the City School District within the City, $17 million would be continued to be shared just in a different way – direct property tax reductions. The goal is $100 million off of sales tax revenues – shared directly with all County property tax payers. This proposal treats the 4% sales tax as one entity, one pot. It is based on an agreement that would be reached between the City and the County. This proposal is fully transparent; it is fair to a village taxpayer, town taxpayer and City taxpayer – it treats them all the same. It pushes the county tax rate to be very close across the board, with the exception of those that have the equalization rate – it would be the same tax rate for the same county services that everyone enjoys.  That doesn’t exist currently and is the biggest discrepancy under the current system. Right now everyone receives the same services but all pay different rates – some 5 times as many as others. 


  • In the first year under this plan the $100 million overall county property tax relief isn’t achieved because of the 1% ongoing sales tax sharing agreement still in place for another year, which is separate from the 3%.
  • From 2012 on, this proposal applies the first $100 million in sales tax against the overall levy, which would reduce everyone’s property tax equally. The County would retain 100% of the 3% going forward, the city would retain 75% of the 1% going forward.
  • The goal is not wealth redistribution, but balance. The City and County would be sharing cash, along with property tax relief, based on percentages. As sales tax goes up and down, those numbers would increase or decrease incrementally.
  • After 10 years the City would receive $74 million; the villages would no longer be sharing sales tax at all; the towns would be no longer sharing tax or credit and the schools would be sharing under a smaller portion than they are now – half of less.


Going forward, and talking to Executive and Mayor, the plans are close; need to work for the taxpayers and get together and finish this up.


Mr. Holmquist agrees that 10 votes are needed and need to find commonality. He finds the County Executive/Mayor plan to be unreasonable. The country was hit with a fiscal tsunami every single entity here is under intense budgetary pressure and in this proposal there are draconian cuts or total elimination of the suburbs. The villages, towns, schools, County are taking huge hits and the City is being increased. Ten years ago with the agreement was forged, the City got a sweet deal far and above any objective measure – whether it be sales tax collections, population, assessed population, the City got a really great deal. A fallacy is the 75% - 25% -- we are all county residents. The City residents are also County residents, so they enjoy a portion of the 75% and get the full 25% on top of that. Agrees that that the City has a lot of needs that the suburbs don’t have; they should get more. However, it is a matter of degree and there are 15 other, very beautiful, metropolitan areas around our county – villages. The villages provide many of the same benefits that the City does, on a smaller scale. A strong Baldwinsville is great for the region of Baldwinsville; a strong Fayetteville is great for the region of Fayetteville – there is no recognition for that in the proposals. There has been enough discussion on that part of it. In the Executive’s plan, it zeros down the villages on a phase down. He likes the structure of the Rhinehart plan; has some disagreement with; thinks it can be improved. Phase out of the schools is critical; they already collect a half billion dollars in property taxes, 65% of our property taxes. They shouldn’t be kept in indefinitely. The villages deserve special and equal recognition that the City has been receiving in these chambers. He would like to see a reasonable amount of the 1% go to the City, above what they would get through preemption. To have them end up at the end of the 10-year agreement with 98% of the 1% is not reasonable. The villages provide phenomenal benefits to all of the towns around the county and there has been very little recognition of that. He feels the village should be phased down over a five year period and maintain the 50% funding level; remove the ceilings and floors; villages take a 10% cut for 5 years, bring them to a 50% levy and allow them to up and down with sales tax revenues out of 1%. It is a commonality that that city and villages share – doesn’t understand why the City should get all of the money, and more than all of the money. The villages get cumulatively about $8 million and the City enjoys their share of 75% of the 3% sales tax, because they are county residents, and want the entire 1%. The 1% is collected county wide – they want all of it to go the City. It is unreasonable and ignores recognition that the villages share that commonality and can do it for $4 million. 


Mr. Buckel said that conceptually the villages and City are similar - the share a concentration of people, commercial activity, walkabilty, that contributes to the greater good – those concentrations are the engines of economic growth and contribute to a different degree of citizenship, which is important. Not all villages are created equally and not the same as the City. There are some villages, like some towns, that have shown powerful, explosive growth in assessed values. Others have not. Towns such as Geddes, Salina, City of Syracuse have not. It is not just that the City has needs; the City provides services that benefit all. The reason why we all share in the expense is because we all share in the benefits. It should be looked at as an investment. The phase out of the towns and villages is a crash landing on one and softer landing on the other. Under the County Executive’s plan, the City is taking less than before. It phases up over time. Have to account that in light of the deficit the $100 million isn’t going to happen. We have to confront the realities – dealing with a $50 million issue – there is $50 million to give in tax relief, but at the same time the towns are being given $35 million less, the schools $8 million less, the City $5 million less. It is a wash. Wants to make sure that we are not giving people false promises or passing plan based on dollar and a dream that in reality isn’t going to follow through. Under either plan, if this goes to property tax relief, the wealthiest corporations and individuals will benefit more than constituents in some of the towns. He suggested tabling the proposals rather than support a plan that would further divide members.


Mr. Stanczyk agreed that there are similarities between the villages and City and County and City.  However, If on a County road and enters the City, the road become a City road; if on a village road, and exit the village, then the road becomes a County road. There are number businesses, and the heart of the community is normally in the village, which is the heart of the center of town, but they don’t have the same hospitals, universities, nonprofits, that are in the center of our community. They should be taken into account, but are a little different. 


He does not feel that there should be 10 votes to pass this – there should be 16, 17, or 18 votes – a consensus of a reasonable agreement on how these funds should be distributed. The relationship between 25% to support activities in center of city, that support the entire community, and 75% to activities that support the entire community, taxed by this County, are fair and reasonable. He hopes that after that conclusion, a path can be created that all agree to. He disagreed with Mr. Holmquist --  there has not been a win for the City; it was a loss for the City. It sows the seeds for more conflict going forward.


Mr. Kilmartin referred to the budget issue – timing is the issue – if contemplate and analyze a budget deficit today and wrap it into the negotiations and discussions of this agreement, then we are completely shooting in the dark. There was originally a $53 million budget gap estimated by the Finance Dept., since then it is his general understanding that sales tax is up more than a fair amount, which might reduce that. Also a hundred different things could happened between now and budget – could have huge injection of federal money, huge cut in state aid, additional mandates imposed, a terrorist attack again in NYC, which would tank the national economy and have ripple effect on Onondaga County. There are many different factors that could go into what the budget deficit may or may not be; it is completely arbitrary. The County would be doing what it is asking the schools, villages and towns not to do – wrapping the concept around our budget issues when asking them not to do that. The sales tax issue should be analyzed for what it is, try to come to an agreement between the parties, finalize it, and the County Legislature be held accountable for the county budget this fall and deal with the chips presented at that time.


Mr. Warner said that some legislators have a lot more skin in this game than others – for those that represent towns and have no villages, or towns that take their sales tax in credit, the decisions are a lot easier. He represents a district that has 3 villages and one town that takes some sales tax in cash. Both plans call for the eventual elimination of villages and towns receiving sales tax. Like the City, they also generate sales tax. He was elected to represent the 13th legislative district, and that is what he intends to do. One of the villages he represents will probably end up dissolving. Both plans favor the City at the expense of towns and villages. It was mentioned earlier that maybe there should have been an independent study by a financial and legal firm to oversee this whole project. He feels more and more that it should have been done. If we are unable to come to a conclusion soon, it might not be too late – get a different perspective from someone on this issue.  At this point he could vote to send Mr. Rhinehart’s plan to session, but does not intend to vote on it the way that it is.


Mr. Corbett said that to look at the County as a whole, the City is still the hub of that County. He represents Geddes, who historically (since the 1960’s) has taken sales tax in cash. He also represents Camillus and Solvay. He is trying to come up with some resolution that will make this as palatable as possible for the district he represents. The two plans have been worked on for a long time and had a tremendous amount of input.   A lot of other legislators have been interjecting ideas and waiting to see what, if any, would be the final determination of the two plans. Some of those ideas have been interjected in the last few days. There are good parts of both plans. Some other proposals have been put forward; his proposal would not have the votes to pass, but there are parts of it, which can be interjected into other proposals and feels we can come to an agreement that will be more palatable.


Mr. Holmquist said that he represents 3 villages and a beautiful town that was recently selected as one of the top 100 places to live in the United States. He will represent all of them with pride. He is looking to be part of the solution, wants to find commonality; wants strong urban area for Onondaga County both in the City and in our 15 villages. The County Executive is spearheading an effort to reduce urban sprawl; one of the things that can be done is to make sure existing structures are utilized. The 15 villages are filled with existing structures that should be preserved and utilized. He would like to see a vote on both plans today. Send a message that there is a lot of commonality, a lot of overlap of the two plans. However, there is a component of the County Executive/Mayor’s plan which is unacceptable – giving an increase to City while eliminated the other beautiful urban areas in the county -- reducing everybody else, and the City is being increased. It is not reasonable and not fair. By the committee voting “no”, it sends a message that that part of the plan has got to go. The suburbs and everyone else can’t be told to find a way to work with less and then increase the City to $75 million. It is unacceptable. Today vote yes for the Rhinehart plan, there are a lot of good things about it, amendments need to be done, as it is not passable at the moment. Vote no on the County Executive/Mayor’s plan – stop wasting time about more money increases for the City, which is unacceptable.


Chairman Jordan said that all constituents have a common goal in mind – keep their property taxes as low as possible. Agrees that in considering the proposals, they need to look at them on equal footing. Whatever deficit there is should not be addressed with them. He will support which ever proposal has the least impact on the bottom line for constituents. Mr. Buckel refers to the largest firms receiving the greatest benefit, in gross terms that statement is accurate, but they also receive the largest benefit because they pay the greatest amount of taxes. The relative benefit is the same regardless of the taxpayers – the difference is the gross amount which is a function of the assessed value of property. There is a distinguishing characteristic with the school budgets, which are passed by the voters – the voters have the ultimate decision on what they want to spend on the education of their children. Unlike the town or county taxes. In many ways it is more representative of what the constituents and taxpayers want, and not what the politicians are proposing upon them. He has constituents that are struggling now; the numbers being talked about today could increase taxes hundreds of dollars. People are struggling to stay in their homes, and there is talk about redistributing income. He has many constituents that will not be able to afford their taxes. The focus today needs to be to go with a proposal that keeps property taxes as low as possible. 


Mr. Buckel’s comments were partially inaudible.  He proposed that it be agreed unanimously to send both proposals to the floor. There is work to do and some common ground to find.


Mr. Kilmartin said that both of these can go forward to the floor, as they have been discussed at committee. There has been a lot of hard work that went into the proposals and feels they deserve and up or down vote. There is plenty of opportunity to meet, discuss and amend before now and session and asked that the vote be called on each plan.


Mr. Masterpole referred to Mr. Kilmartin's and Mr. Holmquist's comments – the Rhinehart/Kilmartin proposal assumes an agreement with the City; it has to – it is not a County tax, it is a County and City tax. The City has the ability to pre-empt. If the Rhinehart/Kilmartin proposal passes the legislature, it will have wasted all our time and the Mayor will preempt. The County will be OK next year, but years beyond that will be ugly. The things that were wanting to be prevented -- sharing with other municipalities -- is exactly what will happen. The discussions have been open and complimented Chairman Rhinehart on the process. In the behind the scenes discussions, an agreement were reached – the line was drawn in the sand because that it what had to happen. He referred to Mr. Lesniak’s comments, and taxes going up in his district to offset the City. The reality is that there is a budget problem, the taxes are going up either way, in either proposal. The City subsidizes the suburban taxpayers’ everyday – paving the roads for people to come into work, to the Dome, to theaters, etc. It is a reality. Pass the Mahoney/Miner proposal, otherwise time is wasted.


Mr. Fisher agreed with Mr. Holmquist – facing a fiscal tsunami and this is an important part of addressing it. There are some important differences, but there are more similarities than difference. Some differences are that the City receives more, but villages also receive $10 million more under the County Executive’s plan, sponsored by Mr. Buckel, Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. Masterpole.  Next year the towns would receive $35 million; the schools would receive $44 million over the 10 years – it is more sharing and therefore less money available to reduce county property taxes on the levy. Other important differences – concessions the City has made:

  • City has agreed not to exercise its legal rights to impose its own 3% sales tax, agreed that if the plan passes, they will not impose anything different for the next 10 years
  • agreed to terminate the Carousel expansion payment agreement – under which the County would be paying the City 30% of everything raised in the Carousel expansion through 2022 – 800,000 sq. ft. of space that may will cannibal sales in places like Shoppingtown Mall or Great Northern Mall
  • agreed not to seek any continuation of the $3 million infrastructure payment that paid under the 1% agreement. 


Mr. Lesniak referred to Mr. Masterpole’s comments and said that this agreement needs three parties to make an agreement, which is why there are two proposals. There was no agreement because three parties have not signed onto this. Let’s not draw a line in the sand from the Mayor’s side either.  It won’t resolve the City’s problems or the County’s problems. Need to continue negotiations, need to get it done soon to get it moving.


A motion was made by Mr. Buckel to approve item 8h, seconded by Mr. Stanczyk. AYES: 2 (Buckel, Stanczyk); NOES: 5 (Jordan, Lesniak, Holmquist Kilmartin, Warner); ABSTENTIONS: 1 (Corbett). MOTION FAILED.


A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin to approve item 8k, seconded by Mr. Lesniak.   AYES: 6 (Jordan, Corbett, Lesniak, Holmquist, Kilmartin, Warner); NOES: 2 (Buckel, Stanczyk). MOTION CARRIED.


        i.     A Local Law providing for the advance to the City of Syracuse of an amount equal to the unpaid delinquent real property taxes within the City of Syr. (Sponsored by Mr. Buckel, Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Stanczyk) – not considered for vote


        j.     A Local Law Amending Local Law No. 2-2001, as amended by Local Law No. 3-2002, Local Law No. 5-2002 and Local Law No. 9-2006, to terminate the payment agreement executed between the City of Syracuse and the County of Onondaga in connection with the Carousel Expansion Project, and authorizing the County Executive to enter into agreements (Sponsored by Mr. Buckel, Mr. Masterpole, Mr. Stanczyk) – not considered for vote.


The meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature


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