header graphic
Connect with Onondaga County Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On X (Twitter) Watch Us On Youtube
Meeting Minutes

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, Ms. Williams, Mr. Masterpole

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Dougherty

ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list


Chairman Kilmartin called the meeting to order at 9:02 a.m.  A motion was made by Ms. Williams, seconded by Mr. Masterpole to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.


1.     DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Barry Weiss, Administrative Officer

        a.     Amending the 2011 County Budget to Provide the Office of the Onondaga County District Attorney with Additional Funds Beyond the Estimated Dollars Appropriated in the 2011 County Budget and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($17,016)


  • Recording of interviews, witnesses, defendants; State money for North Syracuse, Skaneateles, E. Syracuse, Geddes
  • Funds to purchase equipment; total of $17,016; video cameras, recording equipment - passed down to DA for review
  • One time event unless other agencies apply and pass through again
  • Division of Criminal Justice Services gives money to do this
  • Both an undefined grant pool and specific design for these services; efforts from other counties the same
  • Has been done several times in the past – Liverpool, Sheriff, Syracuse police; this is the last of the agencies
  • Legal challenges by legal defense – not yet, still early


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


The meeting was adjourned at 9:07 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Jamie M. McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

* * *




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

Also Attending:  See attached list


Chairman Corbett called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m.  A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED.


1.     LAKE IMPROVEMENT:  Tom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     ACJ Update


  • Weather allowed continued construction
  • Save the Rain Open House well attended, County Executive announced exceeded Project 50 goal
  • Tim Burns of NYSEFC praised green projects, benefits community and economic development
  • Awarded 1st Environmental Leadership Award to James Corbett; acknowledgement of Jim and the support received from the Legislator for Save the Rain Projects
  • GIF program provides funds to private property owners for improvement of their property with green concepts, private sector portion very innovative, working on version 2.1, continue to refine and improve program, all work is transparent with online access to awards, applications, discussions on capture and updates
  • Onondaga Lake watershed discussion held at the zoo, 150-200 attending from throughout the community; seeing larger segment of community engaged in lake decisions, 4 breakout communication sessions discussed opportunities to utilize the lakes recreational resources, on-going work by Honeywell, Save the Rain program and how to keep the public informed and involved in restoration activities around the lake; community dialogue creates strong base for utilizing the full potential of this resource

Gray Projects Update

  • Thank you to CDM and C&S for update information
  • 6 projects; detailed listing in the update

Green Projects Update

  • Thank you to CH2M Hill for update information and management of projects
  • 60 green projects completed as of 11/29/11; 49 potential projects planned for 2012


  • Thank you to CH2M Hill, Paul Agnetto, and Green Team including members from the City and County Comptroller’s office


In response to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Rhoads pointed out the list if completed GIF projects and the annual gallons of capture.  They have learned that the more infrastructure they can group, the better capture rate.   Chair Corbett added that if you look at the Hotel Skyler, they are capturing 173,000 gallons but if we did something in conjunction with adjoining properties your total amount of capture would jump as they are tied together.  This is something that he brought up earlier.   A green roof draws a lot of press and does have a certain amount of capture but cost per gallon of capture is higher.  The green infrastructure that is being done, including the plantings will take at least 5 years to mature and reach the maximum benefit. 


Mr. Buckel asked if we were tying projects to overflow spots or are they done at random.  Mr. Rhoads responded that they are in CSO abatement areas only.  


Mr. Buckel asked if they were doing actual measurements on the projects; in some cases if the water it not captured it would sit in the backyard, not go into the system.   Mr. Rhoads responded that they look at the functionality for each project in relationship to the overall system.  Through lessons learned they have been able to improve their metrics.  Methodologies have improved for the 2.1 version of projects; discussions are better developed, actually helping the developers.  


Mr. Rhoads added that it is important to recognize the GIF involves a significant amount of private money for each project.  We are actually simulating a lot of private development within the community with the GIF awards.  Mrs. Rapp stated that adding an additional column to the update to include the private dollar amounts would be helpful; showing leverage of public funds.



  • Thank you to WEP engineering team for updated information
  • AMP measures water quality for tributaries to the lake, in the lake and in the downstream river
  • Helping DEC with modeling efforts to determine allowable amount of nutrients in the lake to meet its swimmable, fishable designations
  • Small sampling of the information; have one of the most researched bodies of water in the nation; data is being utilized to make best decisions for our community


Chair Corbett stated the data is also being used in colleges and classrooms throughout the United States.  We are sharing information as a model; projects and progress.  Mr. Rhoads added that the data set is very robust.  There are a lot of college students asking how they can best utilize the information.  Someday they might want to think about having a small scholarship where we try to entice scholars to utilize the data to help all of us.  There are a lot of things that could be done with this complied information to make good decisions for the community.


Mrs. Rapp questioned if we could earn generate revenue from the data for the county; perhaps through speaking fees.  Mr. Rhoads responded that they do small samplings for others and are paid where possible.  They look at every revenue opportunity where possible.  Chair Corbett added that he believes there would a conflict involved in speaking fees. 



  • Thank you to Madison Quinn for compiling information
  • Work recognized locally and nationally
  • National Resources Defense Council lists Syracuse, NY as an Emerald City Criteria, among the highest achievers in the nation; national environmental organization with their own published book – Rooftops to Rivers


2.     OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT:  David Coburn, Director

        a.     Transfer of Funds from County General Contingency Fund Account 650 ($20,000) to Financial Services – Authorized Agency - FOCUS Greater Syracuse Account 888 ($20,000)


  • Onondaga Lake is improving rapidly; will become an important recreation and economic engine
  • County positioned to play leadership role; planning for access issues, security, property, transportation impediments such as railroads, Parkway and 690
  • FOCUS group will assist in the first step of putting together a plan for community reconnection to the lake


Chair Corbett stated that he concurs with this item.  There is an amazing mixture of people interested in the lake; engineers, scientist, neighbors and people for whole other areas all coming together and giving their input.  As part of the remediation, the area called the unofficial boat launch is crushed stone and will become a marina or docking place at some point.   People are actually pulling off the highway and going over to the site; they have had to inform that it is a construction site.  He can see where the money we set aside needs to used for planning; some want to leave the area natural and others want to allow for a picnic area or gathering place.  There will certainly be a need for someone to pull this all together.


Mr. Coburn stated that there needs to be a holistic approach.  Honeywell held meetings in 2011 with community leaders and stakeholders about a few parcels on the southwest corner of the lake.   People wanted to talk about the big picture.  They had to respond that they understand but they don’t control all the land.  This is why it is important for the County to provide leadership in this area, to take a more comprehensive look at the issue.


In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Coburn stated that FOCUS has had some past experience in dealing with Onondaga Lake issues.  They have experience and expertise in having community interaction and would convene the key stakeholders in the community.  They would look at the reports completed by the Environment Management Council in the 1970’s, Reimaun Buechner in the 1990’s and the Lake Partnership in 2007 and would compile all the items discussed in those reports.


In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Coburn stated he believes most of the ideas have been identified.  Chair Corbett added that there are 40 years of reports.   Mrs. Rapp added that in the early 90’s Terry Brown, then president of O’Brien and Gere came to one of her committee meetings to discuss what the lake could look like with mixed use development.  This is not a new conversation. 


Mr. Coburn stated that FOCUS would pull together all of the items that have been talked about in the past, advise today’s stakeholders what has been discussed, ask if there was anything missing, identify what the impediments are, what the costs are, the ownership issues, who needs to be at the table such as CSX, and chart a course.


In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Coburn stated the funds were put into the 2012 budget.  He is not sure why it was not just placed in the FOCUS budget.  Mr. Millea stated there was an oversight, it really wasn’t intended to be in contingency, should have been in authorized agencies.  Chair Corbett stated that it may have been one of the things the legislature did, Mr. Millea is being kind in saying it was an oversight. 


In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Chair Corbett stated that the funds were not coming out of WEP.  Mrs. Rapp added that at one point FOCUS funds were taken out of WEP because of the type of work they were doing.  Chair Corbett stated that the funds are coming from County General.  Mr. Millea added that authorized agencies were cut from the budget; this is the only funds FOCUS will be receiving.  


Mrs. Rapp stated she thought FOCUS was funded through Onondaga Civic Corp.  Ms. Lesniak responded that these funds were part of the fund balance during the budget process.  


A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        b.     Amending the 2012 County Budget to Provide for Ongoing County Participation in Honeywell and Onondaga Lake Remediation Issues ($160,000)

  • Roll existing contingency funds into 2012 budget
  • $500,000 account established in 2003; gradually spending down
  • Funds pay outside legal counsel and technical experts; areas of expertise County does not have
  • Stays in contingency account; must receive legislative authorization to expense
  • Very prudent with funds
  • Substantial liability, $12.5 million EPA & DEC cost recovery action, estimate of $50 million for Lower Ley Creek
  • $70 million identified as part of the bankruptcy issue; could be applied to Ley Creek
  • Funds spent on expertise to limit liability; good investment


Mrs. Rapp asked where we were with regard to GM and the PCP’s.   Mr. Coburn stated he would defer to Mr. Mendez.  Chair Corbett added that he believes they have acknowledged the total of Ley Creek.  Mr. Coburn responded that initially only Upper Ley Creek was eligible for cleanup funds because this was the only area under order.  There was no doubt that the PCP’s in Lower Ley Creek came from Upper Ley Creek but because they were not part of the order they were excluded.  Because of the work of legal counsel, they have acknowledged that there is a connection.  


Mr. Mendez stated that in March of 2011 the United States agreed to a general unsecured funding reverse of $250 million, of which no less than $70 million was allocated towards Lower Ley Creek.  Since then the United States has taken the lead in attempting to resolve the amount of funding that will be allocated.  Because of the negotiations the United States has deemed it appropriate to disclose the details to the County.  They County has been cooperating with them; providing data and encouraging other parties to do the same.  Last week the industrial group presented some very powerful information regarding GM’s contributions.  Because of the nature of the meeting, he is not at liberty to disclose what the information was.  They are cautiously optimistic.


Chair Rapp asked if our area is tied into what happened with the Massena area.   Mr. Mendez responded that part of the GM settlement is tied into what is called the Environmental Response Trust; it provided monies for Upper Ley Creek and the Massena settlement.  Because the amount of money that was provided for NYS sites was substantial, NYS felt that despite their concerns about how Lower Ley Creek was addressed they had to respond to the settlement as on the whole.  It provided significant benefits to the people of the state.  

A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


Mr. Coburn thanked the Chairman for the job that he has done; adding that he has always been fair, productive and has shown a great deal of leadership. 


3.     WEP:  Tom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2011 Onondaga County Budget to Increase Appropriations Within the Department of Water Environment Protection and to Accept Additional Revenue ($735,000)


  • Discussed during budget, expected shortfall
  • Additional revenues applied to expenses; utilities and biosolids deficit
  • Small chemical surplus
  • Net neutral to WEP budget; year-end cleanup


Mrs. Rapp asked where the additional revenues came from.  Mr. Rhoads stated $405,000 was from the industrial waste surcharge, there is also additional interest in earnings on investments, and $100,000 in deferred sewer use payments.  Deferred payments are late payments received from prior years.  


Mr. Buckel asked where we have investments earning $160k; an enormous return in this market.  Ms. Karasinski stated they receive a portion of the interest from fund balance investments made by Management and Budget.  Mr. Millea added that the fund balance is $30 million. 


Mr. Rhoads stated that electric usage increases with the volume of water.  Our Save the Rain Program is important on a number of levels; not only rebuilding downtown but also saving energy, resources and money.  


A motion was made by Mr. Corbett seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


4.     METROPOLITAN WATER BOARD:  Holly Rosenthal, Executive Director


Ms. Tarolli stated item 4c was a technical correction part 2; we saw part one last month.  The State comptroller said the resolution needs to state that the NYS Comptroller can approve this; we would be authorizing this.


        a.     A Resolution Approving Improvements for the Onondaga County Water District of the County of Onondaga New York ($14,000,000)


Ms. Rosenthal stated that Mr. Kinne gave her some great comments to make when he stated that he hopes people get a chance to spend money on things that impact people every day.  These items are exactly that.  There is nothing we do in Onondaga County that impacts people every minute of every day as much as the water system.  This is an opportunity to make some much needed up-grades to that system, on equipment that is at the end of its lifespan.  They will use energy savings to offset some of the costs, some of their funds and some NYSERTA or National Grid grant funding.


Chair Corbett stated a draft of the comprehensive energy plan was sent earlier via email; showing how the savings would be accomplished. 

Mr. Corbett stated one of the project divers on the next page has an estimated savings of up to 20%.   As he has stated in past meetings, these are high voltage direct drives.  It is like a jet engine when they start up, you can see the electric meter just peg.  Soft-start or variable speed startups will bring the pumps up in a different manner, all done through programmable logic and controlling.  This will result in a tremendous electrical savings over the years.  Some of it will be almost immediate savings, within the first 2 years. 


Mr. Buckel asked if all the work and equipment was subject to public bidding.  Ms. Rosenthal responded that they have not determined the method of delivery.  They are considering having a portion of the work completed under performance contract.  This would be done through an RFP or energy services companies (ESC’s), or they may use a traditional method.  At this point they have not determined which way they are going to go.  The prime bidders in every instance would be selected through RFP or competitive bid.


Mr. Buckel stated he is concerned about the use of local labor, also the use of local vendors.  Chair Corbett stated this is something that has been discussed.  There are enough public funds in this project so that the work should be done in a manner that allows competitive bidding.   He is sure that when they go out for an RFP it will be done in an appropriate manner. 


Ms. Rosenthal stated the primary trade for this work is electricians.  Chair Corbett responded that there is a whole group of people waiting to bid on this.  Mrs. Rapp added that they are local. 


Mr. Corbett stated the work in Oswego was completed by 2 or 3 Oswego contractors.


Mr. Buckel stated the savings should reduce the cost of water.  Ms. Rosenthal responded the energy savings in the near term will be used to reduce the cost of the debt service.  Once the debt is retired it will have ongoing rate reduction benefits.  Mr. Millea stated that we wanted to be careful not to talk about rate reductions; our objective here is not rate reduction.  Rate reductions are not good from a long term asset management point of view.  The rates that we charge in Onondaga County for water are fair, if not cheap.  Ms. Rosenthal stated that she miss spoke.  Chair Corbett stated this will create rate stabilization.  Mr. Millea added, the rate payer will benefit. 


Mr. Buckel stated there will be a higher annual operating cost for the life of the bonds.  Mr. Millea stated from a sustainability standpoint we will have a more efficient operation with modernization.  Part of the fear is the raw water pump station; one pump is down, another is wobbly and another is functioning at 100% but could go down at anytime. 


Mr. Millea stated that he and Chairman Corbett spoke yesterday about the seriousness of not have redundancy in the system.  Mr. Corbett added that once they were finished with these items he had something to bring up as a legacy.


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


      b.    Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $12,000,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Certain Improvements for the Onondaga County Water District in and for Said County ($12,000,000)


A motion was made by Mr. Buckel, seconded by Mrs. Rapp to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        c.     A Resolution Approving Replacement of the Onondaga County Water District's Open Terminal Reservoir Located in the Town Of Clay with Two Enclosed Water Tanks ($34,000,000)


A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Mrs. Rapp to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


Chair Corbett asked everyone to turn to the map of the water district:

  • Taskforce was formed in 2007
  • Rupture in the water line from Oswego County or terrorist attack that knocked out waterline would result in entire chunk of the service area including Clay, Cicero and part of Camillus losing service
  • Taskforce suggested causing a redundancy; called for a southwest branch pumping station and pipeline
  • Southwest branch would run from Camillus up to the western reservoir, would tie into the western branch and a section from the City of Syracuse


Chair Corbett stated it would be very expensive but he feels that it is very important.  We have talked about the water coming into this community being the lifeblood.  There was an article in the paper on Sunday stating that those of us who have good clean water don’t realize that there are areas of the United States and throughout the world where they have to buy their water.  Water is a commodity such as gold.  Twenty to forty years from now, what we have could be like liquid gold.  It would be devastating to have this system go down and not be able to supply a business such as Anheuser-Busch or residents with water. 


Chairman Corbett request that the future Environmental Protection Committee, Mr. Millea and Ms. Rosenthal look into the redundancy issue after the new pumps are installed, perhaps in 2013. 


Ms. Rosenthal confirmed that she had a copy and the report.  Chair Corbett provided his copy to Mr. Millea.



        a.     Confirming Appointment to the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (Matthew J. Millea)


Chair Corbett stated that the sun is setting on who will be running OCRRA.   As a means of revenue, there is a group talking about importing trash into Onondaga County.  There is another group that disagrees.  He believes it would be a good thing to have someone directly involved from the county on the board. 


Currently there is a broad brush saying that the board can’t provide information because of executive session.  He believes having someone from the county as part of the executive session would preserve our rights to know what is going on and to help in directing some items.  He would hope that the information would not only be proprietary to the executive office but also the legislative side. 


Mr. Buckel stated that when you sit on a board you have fiduciary responsibilities.  This means you can’t share information within the legislative or executive branch, things that are acquired in the course of your fiduciary duties.   Mr. Millea responded that this is a good point to touch on.  He would agree that there are certain things where that applies but for the majority of things there is no difference between his fiduciary responsibility to OCRRA and his responsibility through the County Executive to the residents of Onondaga County.  He believes this is where public authorities get off track; when they start to worry about their corporate status verses their public authority status and their responsibility to the residents of Onondaga County.  He is not interested in going on the board as a member to protect the interest of OCRRA.  He is interested in protecting the interest of Onondaga County residents.  There may be business matters discussed in executive session regarding personnel, litigation and real estate transactions that should be kept confidential and fall under the scoop of a valid executive session.  Executive sessions on the whole are abused by public authorities.  He doesn’t know if this is true in this case however, when he has asked for information he has been told that they can’t talk about it because it was in executive session.  He is not sure that this is the correct answer.   This issue can be resolved simply by him sitting on the board.


Mr. Buckel commended Mr. MIllea for his actions but would caution him.  Despite the public nature, he is going to have specific fiduciary obligations, also he does not know if it is even permissible under the bi-laws of the public authority.   Ms. Tarolli stated the law has an express provision that contemplates public officers being on the board; currently the City has John Copanas on the board. 


Mr. Millea stated he would talk to future committees and the County Executive; feels the ideal scenario would be for public authorities serving this county in general to have Ex Officio representation from development.   Whether it’s the Deputy County Executive or an appropriate department head, there should be an opportunity for someone from the County to serve on those boards of directors in their official capacity. 


He realizes this is not that case for this appointment; he has to be careful with fiduciary responsibility.   He is not serving as the Deputy County Executive.   He believes that for the majority of the issues that come before the board, there should be no difference in the desired outcome from a board member prospective as a citizen or as a board member as an employee of Onondaga County. 


Mr. Millea stated that it is worthy of consideration for the second term of the County Executive to propose state legislation which would amend the authorizing statutes of a public authority like OCRRA to include an Ex Officio appointment.  


Mr. Millea stated he would have an obligation to recuse himself if a conflict ever arose.  More importantly where executive session really applies is when there is a question about a personnel matter or an OCRRA employee; it would be his responsibility not to divulge this information outside of OCRRA.  He would not come before this committee and disclose an incident about potential legal action with an employee or legal action that is being audited.  He believes the public policy issues before OCRRA for the next four years are so extreme that it is best to be engaged today.   Mrs. Rapp added that he was going to be involved anyway.  Mr. Millea agreed.


Mr. Buckel stated that he doesn’t know that there is a better person suited; just exercise caution.  Mr. Millea responded that he appreciates the point and will be very careful.


A motion was made by Mr. Corbett, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        b. Confirming Reappointment to the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (Donald J. Lawless)


A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:06 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature

* * *




MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Stanczyk

MEMBER ABSENT:  Ms. Williams, Mr. Cox

ALSO PRESENT: see attached list


Chair Rapp called the meeting to order at 10:34 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Stanczyk, seconded by Mr. Dougherty to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED.


1.     PLANNING:  Don Jordan, Director; James D’Agostino, Director of SMTC

        a.     Calling for Publication of the Notice of Eight Year Review of Agricultural District No. 2, Towns of Marcellus, Skaneateles, and Spafford in Onondaga County


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


        b.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Agreements with the State of New York and the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board Relative to the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council


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


Mr. D’Agostino:

  • Every metropolitan area must have an MPO to receive federal transportation dollars
  • Onondaga County acts as host
  • Subcontract with CNYRPDB; no cost to the County


In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. D’Agostino stated that SMTC is handling the public participation portion of the I-81 study for NYSDOT.   NYSDOT is running the actual corridor study. 


Seconded by Mr. Dougherty.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:37 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature

* * *





MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Masterpole, Mrs. Tassone, **Mr. Kinne, Mr. Lesniak, *Mr. Dougherty


ALSO PRESENT:  See attached list


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


1.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARYElizabeth Dailey, Executive Director

        a.     Amending the 2012 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 ($33,963)


  • New grant from NYS – adult literacy grant
  • Focusing on getting children ready to go to school – work with children and parents on pre-reading skills
  • Combination of electronic equipment (specialized educational computer for kids) and parent training
  • Applied to NYS, asked for funding for part-time staff person, coordinate training, do training – at several locations
  • If the grant goes away, then the position goes away; employee will be a new hire


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

  • Person will be available at highest level throughout the system – pilot at Central and Grand Central


Mr. Lesniak seconded the motion.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        b.     Confirming Reappointments to the Onondaga County Public Library Board of Trustees (Anita Lombardi) (Robert Manning)


A motion was made by Mr. Lesniak to approve this item.  Mr. Lesniak requested to be added as a co-sponsor on the resolution.


*Mr. Dougherty arrived at the meeting.


Mr. Masterpole seconded the motion.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


2.     PARKS AND RECREATION:  William Lansley, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2012 County Budget to Accept a Donation from Drivers Village for Playground Improvements at Oneida Shores Park ($100,000)


Mr. Lansley:

  • Drivers Village donation – rehabbing and doing work at Oneida shores:  contacted companies for sponsorship
  • Wegmans sponsor – playground at Onondaga Lake; 8th year lots of wear/tear - $150,000; $90,000 from Wegmans
  • Well received and better than tax payer money – now seeking people to handle playground for Oneida shores
  • $100,000 over 10 yrs; sign at ticket booth, playground and front; donation earmarked for fixing the playground


**Mr. Kinne arrived at the meeting.


  • Playground:  fiberglass fish, sand, sponge material, wood chips; (no pressure treated wood) all metal, rope and rubber
  • $100,000 number – started at higher level; $150,000 - $175,000; not palatable to some
  • Discussed comfort level with Drivers Village; comfortable with $100,000


Mr. Antonacci:

  • Currently working on a draft audit regarding naming rights; based on legislature change in policy on revenue contracts
  • Recommends policies to be followed; what is donation, what is sale of county asset?  Legality of selling naming rights
  • Right now everything for sale; i.e. signs on school buses; NYC budgeted $13 million for sale of naming rights to Parks
  • Suffix County – how to assess the items on behalf of tax payers; how to make it an open and transparent procedure
  • It is a lot of money; how to know if could have received more; more people donated; what is the right amount
  • Resolve the revenue contract and donation (what is a donation; what to get in return); tidy up how to sell, and how to accept donations
  • Will provide the audit draft to the members


Mr. Masterpole stated the Zoo does a great job every year at stating what each item will cost.  This way any person knows that if they were to pay $1,000, then they could have a bench named after them.  Mr. Masterpole asked how Driver’s Village came up with $100,000, and could Masterpole Murphy have paid $100,000 to have the park named after them.  Mr. Lansley responded that they could have.


Mr. Lansley’s responses:

  • Packages were produced for segments of the park ; calling card; engaged in conversation
  • Company solicited; companies who do business there; Driver’s Village huge in the area; owner lives 2 blocks away
  • $100,000 onetime payment - 10 year agreement

 Mr. Lesniak asked Mr. Antonacci if Suffix County has established an advertising policy for naming rights, and how they advertise they are going to offer naming rights.  Mr. Antonacci responded he is unsure, but he does have the Suffix County law that he will forward to Mr. Lesniak.  The law is very specific on empowering the Parks Commissioner to establish all the things being discussed today.  Mr. Antonacci stated he believes it is all in flux which is why he is not saying it is a bad idea.  How does the county establish these parameters?  These things are for sale so make the public aware and max the revenue.  Mr. Lesniak stated it should be advertised so everyone has the opportunity to be involved.  Mr. Lansley responded that Wegmans has been a major sponsor and very well accepted.  Mr. Lansley also stated the Zoo’s sponsor’s are always a newspaper.  Mr. Lesniak replied the Friends group has a large network they reach out, and he is not sure if the County is at the point of having that sort of network. 


Mr. Lansley replied to Mr. Kinne that after the 10 years, Driver’s Village could renew the contract and will have the first right of refusal.  There is no additional in the contract for first right of refusal but typically that is how it is done.  Mr. Masterpole commented it would benefit the County because there would be no changing signs and no additional capital investment.  Mr. Kinne stated he has no problem with this but is concerned about Air One which is different than a piece of land.  Mr. Kinne believes there is a big difference to selling naming rights of a park versus a piece of equipment that the tax payers own.  Mr. Kinne applauds the commissioner for trying to do these things to raise money but agree with the comptroller that there should be a better policy.


Mrs. Tarolli stated for the record that what the County is doing is accepting a donation at this point, not selling naming rights.  There is a very specific law that governs the sale of naming rights but what the county is doing is accepting a donation not selling naming rights. 


Mr. Masterpole stated the County is accepting a donation in the exchange for putting a sign for advertising.  Mrs. Tarolli responded it is in exchange for recognition of the donor which is permissible by law.


Mr. Antonacci

  • Where does it cross the line from donation to revenue contract; be fair and honest with the tax payers
  • Desperate for funds; max return on tax payer investment
  • Concern is following legislative process – RFP process; RFP can be difficult
  • Thanks Wegmans but let’s see if the County can get a larger donation somewhere else
  • Need some idea of what should be getting; more knowingness of what’s available
  • Use word donation conveniently; tremendous amount of revenue – it is coming; want to establish more guidelines


Mr. Masterpole asked if it’s okay to say the County is not selling naming rights but is ready to accept donations for recognition of those companies.  Mr. Masterpole asked what did the County do with Alliance Bank Stadium.  Mrs. Tarolli responded there is state legislation authorizing the county to sell the naming rights at Alliance Bank Stadium.  Mrs. Tarolli stated she is not sure if it was part of the actual sale.  Mr. Masterpole asked what did the County do with Dave Murphy Field and Nick Pirro Convention Center.  Mrs. Tarolli replied there would be a resolution from the legislature establishing a procedure for honorary naming of buildings.  Mr. Antonacci stated comptroller’s has asked OCC for the document regarding the agreement with SRC, and they have not given it to them yet.  He is not aware of any methodology they employ to value the naming rights but he knows the money went to the scholarship fund rather then back to the taxpayers.  Mr. Antonacci stated with Alliance Bank Stadium there was no evidence or indication that there was any attempt to value the naming right or to let any other people try to give more money for it.  Mrs. Tarolli stated in respect to OCC, the education law gives their board of trustee’s specific powers with respect to control over the properties.


Mr. Masterpole stated the County does both things which are honorable but the County gets revenue for the naming of SRC and not for Dave Murphy Field or Nick Pirro Convention Center.  He is not taking those things away or for granted but then the County will accept a donation for something else. 


Mr. Antonacci stated Mrs. Tarolli is correct that OCC is a whole different world but next time they come in for more capital money, the question the legislature should have is are you going to sell naming rights, and what are you doing with the revenue.  Mr. Antonacci agreed with Chair Rapp that the committee will be expecting a recommendation from the Comptroller’s Office based on their research.


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


Mr. Lesniak requested Mrs. Tarolli provide what is allowed by law.  Mrs. Tarolli responded they will be working with the Comptroller’s Office.  Mr. Lesniak responded to Mr. Antonacci that the County should not box anyone out.  If the County says a certain thing is worth $100,000 and no one will sponsor it but someone will give $75,000, then where is the County going. 


Chair Rapp took the items out of order.


        f.      Amending the 2012 County Budget to Accept Funding From Wegmans to Support Various Improvements and Operations at Onondaga Lake Park ($200,000)


Mr. Lansley:

  • 10 years ago – Wegmans gave Parks $1.5 million over 10 years; annual payments of $150,000
  • Construction of Wegmans Good Dog Park, the boundless playground, Wegmans landing and tram operation

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


  • Change in terms – 5 year term before, now 3 years at $40,000


Mrs. Tarolli responded to Chair Rapp that the committee can vote as amended.


Mr. Lansley:

  • 10 years down at end of year; renewing for 3; contract from 10 years ago does not expire for Wegmans
  • Names are not based on contract – name cannot change; it will always be Wegmans
  • Sign is up, even if no money; money assisting in the maintenance of the properties


Chair Rapp responded to Mr. Masterpole that none of the items existed until the initial donation; Wegmans bought the physical item.  Mr. Dougherty commented the places would not be built if not for Wegmans. 


Mr. Lansley replied to Mr. Kinne that Wegmans does not owe another cent.  The contract is up for the agreement that built the properties.  Wegmans can walk away and let tax payers pay for the maintenance so it is great they are coming back to give money to upkeep the park.  Mr. Kinne responded that there should be a more thought-out policy.  Mr. Lesniak responded that Mr. Antonacci is going in that direction.


Mr. Masterpole stated he would support naming rights if it were legal.  Mr. Masterpole stated the County is saying it will accept the donation of $1.5 million; the County will then build the dog park and put up a Wegmans sign as recognition of the Wegmans Good Dog Park in perpetuity.  If that is not a naming right, then what is?  Chair Rapp responded that she sees Alliance Bank Stadium being a naming right because the County built the stadium, then the County is looking for additional funds to help support it.  This was a big empty field, and Wegmans built the dog park on it.  Mr. Masterpole stated if someone was to look at the contract for Alliance Bank Stadium, the naming rights would be listed as a revenue source.  Mrs. Tarolli responded that there is specific state legislation on proprietary versus governmental function.  Alliance Stadium is the type of instance where the government will give the opportunity to sell naming rights.  If the entity has a function that is non-governmental, then they can sell naming rights.  Otherwise an entity has to be accepting a donation, and it has to be for some type of recognition.  Mrs. Tarolli stated Law can work with Parks in the future.


Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        b.     Memorializing the New York State Legislature to Adopt Legislation Authorizing a 25 - Year Lease of Part of Onondaga Lake Park Property to the Onondaga Yacht Club


Mr. Lansley:

  • Yacht club; 125 years; built by Yacht Club on stilts in lake; 1930’s – lake was lowered, building was on state land
  • State reverted property to Onondaga County; 1937; their building – series of leases; continuation of existing lease
  • Was 5 and 10 year, moving to 25 years for the lease; SU was at 25 years – make 25 year lease for both
  • Always had annual fee with $50/year increase


Mrs. Tarolli replied to Mr. Lesniak that 2 years ago was Chargers rowing.


  • Yacht Club is next to marina; small white building; SU lease area by Chargers


Mrs. Tarolli responded to Mr. Lesniak that the Chargers never came to fruition; could not get enough money.  Mr. Lansley commented they received a grant but it was never pursued, and they walked away.


Mr. Lansley:

  • Existing building, leasing before at 5 – 10 years; moving to 25 years to keep consistent
  • Both have to go to NYS for memorializing; both lease come up at same time; SU is mirroring what it was
  • Yacht Club able to sustain financially; $1,800/year with $50/year additional
  • If Yacht Club walked away, believe the County would own


Mrs. Tarolli also believes the County would own the building if the Yacht Club walked away.


Chair Rapp stated hypothetically if John Gormel from the Retreat wanted to lease and operate a restaurant there, the County would probably get more than $1,800 a year for that kind of use.  Is that a legal possibility?  Mrs. Tarolli responded she would have to see if state legislation is broad enough to permit an alternative use.  It really depends on the state legislation for the Yacht Club.  Mr. Lansley stated it is a historical building.


Mr. Lansley responded to Mr. Lesniak that he believes the out clause is a 30 day mutual.  Mr. Lesniak stated he would do the 25 year contract and bring it back in 5 year increments for reauthorization.


Mr. Kinne asked how Parks came up with $1,800 per year and $50 per year.  Mr. Lansley responded that it is a continuation.  Mr. Kinne stated he is all in favor of having a Yacht Club but sees no rational behind those numbers.  Mr. Lansley responded they own the building.  Chair Rapp replied they only lease the land.  Mr. Kinne stated he owns a piece of land by his house and the taxes go up every year.  Mrs. Tarolli commented they own the building on County land, and it is a complicated scenario if something goes a rye.  Mr. Kinne said who is to say $1,800 is the right price.  What if J. Smith comes to the County to rent the land?  Mr. Masterpole responded they cannot because the Yacht Club owns the building.  Unless the County is going to assess the land and subdivide it to sell it, he does not see an alternative. 


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


Mr. Lansley stated they have spent a lot of capital rehabbing the building and fixing the porch; great tenants.  Mr. Kinne commented it is well maintained but is not sure $1,800 is right.  He will be abstaining.


Mr. Lansley:

  • Parking lot maintenance – property line to lake and halfway to restroom; parking lot part of foot print
  • County only cuts grass; Club takes care of property and the docks they put in
  • Gravel parking area – Club has always maintained not the County

Chair Rapp gave an example of a piece of property behind her house that is completely land locked and can be used for nothing.  It was assessed at $18,000 at 14,000 sq ft; taxes of $700 a year.  Extrapolate 2 times and it’s $1,800 so it’s probably fair market for the piece of land.


Mrs. Tarolli agreed with Mr. Masterpole that state law does not allow the County to lease land for less than the appraised value.  Mrs. Tarolli stated in this case there is state legislation authorizing a lease to the Yacht Club.  Mr. Masterpole commented if he were the Yacht Club, he would want it for a dollar because the Yacht Club takes care of everything.  Mr. Masterpole stated he would take the $1,800.  Mr. Kinne commented if the County needed some piece of property, the County has always paid top dollar.  If a property was worth $2,000 then the County would pay $2,500.  Mr. Kinne does not want to cheat them but wants to know how they arrived at $1,800.  Mr. Kinne stated if the County put up a fence around the building, the Yacht Club would not be able to use it.  He will abstain from the vote. 


Ayes:  5 (Rapp, Masterpole, Lesniak, Dougherty, Tassone)  Abstentions:  1 (Kinne); MOTION CARRIED.


        c.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into a Lease Agreement with the Onondaga Yacht Club for Property Located Within Onondaga Lake Park


A motion was made by Mr. Lesniak, seconded by Mr. Dougherty to approve this item.  Ayes:  5 (Rapp, Masterpole, Lesniak, Dougherty, Tassone)  Abstentions:  1 (Kinne); MOTION CARRIED.


        d.     Memorializing the New York State Legislature to Adopt Legislation Authorizing a 25 - Year Lease of Part of Onondaga Lake Park Property to Syracuse University


Mr. Lansley:

  • Continuation of 25 year of row house; boat house


Ms. Napolitano:

  • Introductions:  Diana Napolitano; SU Office of Government Community Relations; Pete Sala, Director of Facilities; Justin Moore, Head Women’s Rowing Coach

Mr. Lansley:

  • Continuation; building on park owned property; 2.5 acres; couple metal buildings for storage of boats; all one property
  • Rowing been there; tremendous with assisting on Empire State Games; community events; allow use of facility; docks

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


Mr. Kinne:

  • They’re helping the community; greater community; County is helping them; Yacht Club is a private club
  • Who is the Yacht Club helping? 


Mr. Lansley:

  • Yacht Club has public sailing lessons; do every Sunday all summer; open doors to public

Mr. Sala responded to Mr. Lesniak that the men’s head coach is living in the boat house.  Mr. Lesniak asked what SU was paying prior to this lease.  Mr. Lansley responded it is a continuation of the previous lease with an annual addition of $200; incremental year by year increase over the next 25 years.  Mr. Lansley agreed with Mr. Lesniak that it was $8,800 last year with no change to the lease as set up before.  Mrs. Tarolli replied to Mr. Lesniak that the County requires insurance and identification with the leases.  Mr. Sala stated in response to Mr. Lesniak that SU does insure the boat house.  Mr. Lesniak requested a copy of what SU is insuring the boat house for. 


Mrs. Tarolli replied to Mr. Masterpole that she thinks the boat house replacement cost is $1 million.  Mr. Sala stated they are not self-insured.  Mr. Masterpole responded the carrier would then do random appraisals of replacement costs. 


Mr. Lansley:

  • It is the County’s building; historically people have lived in the houses located on Park property; lake house at Beaver Lake had a tenant
  • Comfortable with because there is presence at the park 24 hours a day


Mr. Lesniak agreed with Mr. Dougherty that the County is allowing SU to rent the building for 25 years exclusively.  Mrs. Napolitano stated there is historical precedence, and SU has been there since the 1930s’.  SU built the boat house and has been there since the depression; grandfathered in.


Mr. Dougherty asked how the committee knows if this is maximizing the benefits of the property for the County.  He is not suggesting that anyone else is chomping at the bit to buy or lease it.  Mr. Dougherty stated he is not trying to kick them out but it’s a 25 year lease at $9,000.  Chair Rapp commented the County could probably triple that in terms of market value.  Mr. Lansley stated there is not a lot of comparison to go by for a building of that size.  SU boat house has been used exclusively for that purpose, but if they walked away, the County could lease it.  Mr. Masterpole stated they take the good with the bad.  SU went through 50 years of Allied dumping chemicals in the lake and raw sewage being poured in the lake  


Chair Rapp asked if there is an opportunity to renegotiate in the next 25 years?  Mr. Lansley responded he believes this just puts in a rate.  Ms. Napolitano stated the lease includes that SU will handle the maintenance on the building and anything interior.  The County Parks will handle the exterior including the lawn.  Ms. Napolitano responded to Mr. Kinne that from now on, SU will pay for the utilities.  Mr. Masterpole stated SU should be there.


Mr. Masterpole asked if it is accurate that the lease to the Yacht Club is 37,220 sq ft and SU lease is 37,222 sq ft.  Mr. Lesniak stated that both resolutions are the Yacht Club.  Mrs. Tarolli stated law will figure out which one is correct and make the adjustment so they are the same.


Mr. Lesniak stated he will abstain.


Ayes:  5 (Rapp, Masterpole, Dougherty, Tassone, Kinne)  Abstentions:  1 (Lesniak); MOTION CARRIED.


        e.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into a Lease Agreement with Syracuse University for the Boathouse at Onondaga Lake Park


A motion was made by Mr. Masterpole, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item.  Ayes:  5 (Rapp, Masterpole, Dougherty, Tassone, Kinne)  Abstentions:  1 (Lesniak); MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 a.m.                                           


Respectfully submitted,


Jamie M. McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

* * *




MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Stanczyk, 2Mr. Buckel, Mr. Corbett, 1Mr. Lesniak

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Kinne, Mr. Warner, Mr. Holmquist


Chairman Jordan called the meeting to order at 8:45 a.m.


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





a.     Amending the 2011 County Budget to Provide the Office of the Onondaga County District Attorney with Additional Funds beyond the Estimated Dollars Appropriated in the 2011 County Budget and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($17,016)



a.     Amending the 2012 County Budget to Accept NYS Division of Library Development Funds for the OCPL and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($33,963)


Chairman Jordan announced that item no. 2 will be moved to the regular agenda.


A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve the items on the consent agenda.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.



1Mr. Lesniak arrived.


2.     OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT:  Matt Millea, Deputy County Executive – Physical Svcs.

        a.     2012 Transfer of funds from Acct. 650 County General Contingency Fund ($20,000) to Acct. 888 Financial Services – Authorized Agencies, FOCUS Greater Syracuse ($20,000)


Mr. Millea:

  • Funding was part of the fund balance resolution during the budget process
  • It was inadvertently put in as a contingent funding piece –no rhyme or reason why it was contingency
  • FOCUS is an authorized agency that traditionally receives direct appropriations
  • Seek to release contingency and contract with FOCUS to move forward on the lake process
  • Lake is progressing from an environmental perspective; getting into dialogue about what the future of the area around the lake is
  • FOCUS will help organize a community discussion about public properties around the lake and other connected areas – County take a leadership role


Mr. Lesniak questioned why we don’t wait until FOCUS presents a plan to the county.  Mr. Millea said that the effort is not for FOCUS to present the county with a plan, but to help collect community dialogue so the County can develop its own plan collectively as a legislature and executive.  Take people’s input to put forth a strategic plan for specific projects, that would likely have to come through the legislature.  In answer to Mr. Lesniak, Mr. Millea said that this money would be used to cover the costs of organizing outreach meetings, publicity to get input.  A budget was sent to Environmental Protection Committee. 


Mr. Kilmartin asked for a breakout of what FOCUS might do, how they will do it and a timeline.  He questioned if this is something that is better suited within County government considering funding, resources and all activities being carried on now within the County, as opposed to farming it out to a 3rd party entity.  Mr. Millea said that Planning Dept. is currently endeavoring on the countywide Sustainable Development Plan.  This is a diversion from that grand master plan; don’t really want to distract the limited Planning staff.  An outside firm was brought in to assist Planning Dept in the facilitation and development of the county wide plan.  There has been a pretty significant push from the environmental community stakeholders around the lake saying that there needed to be a community dialogue about the future of the lake.  The Executive office felt that the County needed to take a leadership role in the discussion, fund, and ask FOCUS to take a leadership role on the County’s behalf as a steward of County interests to drive that dialogue.  Don’t want to repeat a planning process that has already occurred.  There have been a lot of plans developed; time to get to action phase; decide what to execute – want to ask community first.


Mr. Kilmartin said that originally these funds were placed in fund balance in the budget and were then moved to a contingency account.  The theory was to get an understanding as to what specifically FOCUS might do pending contingency release.  Mr. Millea said that there is a preliminary budget.  This doesn’t have to have action today.  It could be worked out before session or go back to Environmental Protection Committee in January with a more defined budget.


Mr. Corbett said that he received a call that FOCUS may be in line or has submitted to either the State or Federal government for funding to do the same type of thing.  He does not know if it is a rumor or not; maybe it can be dispelled.  Mr. Millea will look into it.


Mr. Lesniak said that his preference is that this item comes back in January after there is some type of organization as to what the money will be used for.


2.     OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT:  Matt Millea, Deputy County Executive/Physical Services

a.     Amending the 2012 County Budget to Provide for Ongoing County Participation in Honeywell and Onondaga Lake Remediation Issues ($160,000)

Mr. Millea:

  • Annual roll over funds – funds will remain in this account and remain contingent
  • Want to keep them in reserve
  • 2 releases of funding this year - largely to support battle with Ley Creek and bankruptcy of General Motors
  • There are some commitments from federal government that there will be a $70 million reserve to help with Superfund cleanup of lower Ley Creek, which was left out of the original environmental settlement.  This fund supported that effort.


A motion was made by Mr. Lesniak, seconded by Mr. Corbett to approve items 1a – 1g.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


1.     FINANCE:  Karen Carney, Dir., Real Property Tax Svcs.

        a.     2012 Town Tax Rates, Fixed, Ratified and Confirmed

        b.     Southwood-Jamesville Water District Tax – General Apportionment

        c.     Southwood-Jamesville Water District Tax – Town of DeWitt Apportionment

        d.     Southwood-Jamesville Water District Tax – Town of Onondaga Apportionment

        e.     Warners Water District Tax – General Apportionment

        f.      Warners Water District Tax – Town of Camillus Apportionment

        g.     Warners Water District Tax – Town of Van Buren Apportionment


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


3.       WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTIONTom Rhoads, Commissioner

a.      Amending the 2011 Onondaga County Budget to Increase Appropriations Within the Department of Water Environment Protection and to Accept Additional Revenue ($735,000)

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Year end clean up
  • There are additional revenues unanticipated in the 2011 budget and requests for appropriations – mainly for utilities and Biosolids removal


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


5.       PARKS AND RECREATIONBill Lansley, Commissioner

a.     Amending the 2012 County Budget to Accept a Donation from Drivers Village for Playground Improvements at Oneida Shores Park ($100,000)

Mr. Lansley:

  • A couple more pieces of the playground have to be put in
  • When Wegmans playground needed redoing, the cost of it after 8 years was in excess of $150k
  • When Oneida Shores playground was built, companies were sought that might be able to assist in future – make repairs in future that wouldn’t be on the taxpayers


Mr. Lesniak said for the record, that there are a lot of things out there that the County does not have a number on regarding their worth – for donations, naming rights, etc.  He noted that the Comptroller provided a resolution from Suffolk County on how they are establishing a policy to decide what naming rights or donations would be worth for facilities around the county.  He recommended that the future legislature take a look at that resolutions and see where we are going.


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


Mr. Kilmartin asked for clarification on the payments.  Mr. Lansley explained that there is a proposal for $100,000 one-time payment.  It is expected that payments will be made at the inception of the contract.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Lansley said that this money will be used for anticipated improvements. 


Mr. Corbett seconded the motion.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


           b.     Memorializing the NYS Legislature to Adopt Legislation Authorizing a 25-year Lease of Part of Onondaga Lake Park Property to the Onondaga Yacht Club

           c.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into a Lease Agreement with the Onondaga Yacht Club for Property Located Within Onondaga Lake Park

Mr. Lansley:

  • Continuation of lease of Onondaga Yacht Club – been in business in Onondaga Lake Park or on the lake for the past 125 yrs.
  • Originally built current facility on stilts in water.  In 1930’s lowered the lake level and State property was created; the State turned the property over to Onondaga County
  • Looking to extent contract 25 years
  • Have been good tenants to County Parks – assist in a lot of on water activities, allow Boy Scouts to use their boats; host a statewide sailing regatta this summer; Montezuma Preserve holds nature classes at their property; Liverpool Schools used to do a yachting club there
  • Yacht Club maintains the property on which the building sits; put an extensive amount of money into repairs – roof and exterior
  • Last contract was 10 years
  • SU has lease for 25 years – trying to combine, as they both have to go to the State


Mr. Stanczyk questioned how much they have been paying the last 10 - 25 years.  Mr. Lansley noted that it there has been a $50 increase each year.  Mr. Stanczyk questioned if they were paying 25 years ago.  Mr. Lansley said “yes” and they can check the amounts going back.  In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. Lansley said that the Yacht Club owns the building on County property.  Mr. Stanczyk asked if you have to be a member to use the facility.  Mr. Lansley said that the facility has been rented to the public.  Mr. Stanczyk questioned why if there was a 10 year agreement in the past, there is now a 25 year agreement proposed.  Feels public access to the lake should be preserved; especially when it becomes clean.  Mr. Lansley said that they have been great tenants: 125 year history and are a good addition to the park. 


Mr. Stanczyk asked about the fee for the marina.  Mr. Lansley explained that the Yacht Club has one slip, which is part of their lease; the rest are the County’s.  There are 97 slips averaging $1,000 per slip per year. 


Mr. Buckel asked what the legal standard is in leasing county properties to ensure that the prohibition on gifting isn’t violated.  Mrs. Tarolli said that in this instance there will be state legislation authorizing the lease.  Mr. Buckel said that when the county sells property, an appraisal is needed.  He questioned why an appraisal is not needed here.  Mrs. Tarolli noted that this is not a typical appraisal issue.  She had discussions with the Commissioner of Parks on what issues are different with this property – what having the property does for the County.  Mr. Buckel said that there is no question that there are remarkable and tangible benefits – use, enjoyment, beauty, etc.  However, need to ensure that we are not giving away county assets for inappropriate prices.


Mr. Lesniak referenced items 5b and 5d – both 25 year leases.  It sounds like there is not a problem with the 25 year lease if it were 25 years with 5 year incremental renewals, which comes back to the legislature.


Mr. Lesniak made a motion to amend items 5b and 5c as 25 year leases, with 5 year incremental renewals to come back to the legislature for approval.   


Mr. Corbett said that if the property becomes so valuable, it provides the opportunity for future legislators to look at it.


Mr. Kilmartin asked for clarification – does the amendment intent this to be a 5 year initial term with options of the tenant elects to extend it for 5 years, contingent upon the legislature’s approval.  Mr. Lesniak said that he does not have a problem leasing it for 25 years, renewable every 5 years with legislature’s approval.  This has to go to the State; he suggested that the 25 year lease be approved, but that it has to come to the legislature every 5 years with the right to approve or terminate.  He does not want the Legislature or the Yacht Club to have to go through State legislation every 5 years – would like that piece off the table.  Would like it to come back every 5 years to the legislature to readjust the value or terminate.  Mr. Kilmartin noted that if circumstances change at the lake, if there is an alternative use, if the property becomes much more valuable or if the County has some other purpose that they want to utilize it for, then a 25 year lease is very beneficial to the tenant, but not nearly as favorable to the landlord because the landlord is committed to a 25 year term. 


Mrs. Tarolli noted that there was a point in time with the Yacht Club where there was a longer term lease.  In order for them to get financing for improvements, they need a longer term lease.  They couldn’t get the money without it.  Mr. Stanczyk said that is why they got a 10 year lease.  Mrs. Tarolli said that she doesn’t know if 5 years will get them what they need to go to the bank.  Chairman Jordan questioned what period of time they would need.  Mrs. Tarolli said that she didn’t know, but can find out.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if they are contemplating specific improvements or if it was an issue in the past.  Mr. Lansley said that in the past it was an issue; to his knowledge they don’t have any plans for anything major.  Mr. Corbett noted that the improvements they have made should last at least another 20 years.  Mrs. Tarolli said that one of the obligations of SU is to maintain interior renovations, etc; does not know how the financing works, but does know the experience in the past with the Yacht Club, if something happens and they need to make a repair, they may need something more than 5 years to get the financing.  


Diana Napolitano, Syracuse University, stated that regarding the boat house, they would like to start having rowing alumni being more engaged.  If there is a possibly that every 5 years it would have to be relooked at, then it might be difficult to engage them and to have certain repairs done.  


Mr. Stanczyk said that the amount of money they are paying is historically what they have paid.  There is no real assessment of the actual value.  There is a need to go out of our way to make sure we are not gifting something to a private concern, and have gone through a process to know that there is something here. 


Chairman Jordan noted that in the 1000 Islands it is common to buy a house and not the land, have a lease for the land the house is sitting on for no rent or very nominal rent.  In some ways this situation is very much like that in the 1000 Islands. 


In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Mr. Lansley said that the membership of the Yacht Club is less than 75 families.  Mr. Stanczyk said that this is weighing 450,000 residents against 75 families – have to make sure it is fair.


Mr. Buckel asked if the County will be bound or able to alter.  Mr. Kilmartin wanted to be certain that if items 5c and 5e are modified that they dovetail with items 5b, and there is not a presumption that there will be a straight 25 year lease.  Mrs. Tarolli said that the terms would probably need to be amended for specific terms. 


Mr. Stanczyk will abstain, as there is no knowledge if the $1,800 is fair and justified.


Mr. Corbett asked for a summary of the amendment.  Mrs. Tarolli said that it would reflect what the actual lease term will be.  It will request the State to authorize a lease up to 25 years.  The actual lease authorization will provide for 5-5 year renewal terms and the renewal will be contingent upon the tenant desiring to continue the relationship and legislative authorization, as well as execution. 


Mr. Stanczyk asked if the amount will change.  Mrs. Tarolli said that the dollar amount is not necessary.  Mrs. Buckel asked if it can be removed and say “as on such terms and conditions as are fair or negotiated”.


Mr. Kilmartin suggested striking the 4th WHEREAS clause in item 5b.  After discussion, Mrs. Tarolli said an amendment to 5b and 5d would take the dollar amount out and memorialize the State to allow a lease up to 25 years.  The other resolution would provide for renewal terms with conditions upon approval of the parties and legislature.  Mr. Lesniak agreed.  Mr. Stanczyk said that this would reflect up to 25 years and no dollar amount stated.


Mr. Lesniak amended his motion to strike out the rate in item 5c.  Mr. Corbett seconded the motion.  A vote was taken on items 5b and 5c as amended.  Passed unanimously.


        d.     Memorializing the NYS Legislature to Adopt Legislation Authorizing a 25-Year Lease of Part of Onondaga Lake Park Property to Syracuse University


        e.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into a Lease Agreement with Syracuse University for the Boathouse at Onondaga Lake Park

Mr. Lansley:

  • At Longbranch end of Onondaga Lake Park
  • Have had a lease with them since 1986
  • Continuation of the last 25 years - $200 per year increases
  • SU built the building; it reverted to county ownership – SU has occupied property for 75 years


Mr. Stanczyk asked if the County makes repairs to the building.  Mr. Lansley noted that the County repairs the structure.  SU takes care of utilities and various things within the structure.  In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, Ms Napolitano said that roof was repaired within the last 3 years.  Mr. Lansley will provide the cost of the project.  Mr. Lansley said that they handled it as another park property because the County owns the building.  Mr. Stanczyk said that there is no way of knowing if $9,000 is close to what it is worth.  Mr. Lansley said that it is an extension of the lease which has been in place for 25 years.


Mr. Lansley said that they have huts for their boats and the Parks Dept. parks trams in them.  County uses their docks for on-water events. 


Mr. Kilmartin clarified and asked about the last WHEREAS clause in item 5D…lease the Onondaga Yacht Clubhouse property to Syracuse University.  Mrs. Tarolli confirmed that the language was incorrect and should say “boathouse”.


Mr. Lansley clarified that the Yacht Club is completely separate – at different ends of the park.


Mr. Lesniak noted that at County Facilities Committee he asked for verification that they are providing insurance for fire and liability.  He will abstain until he gets those copies.  He would like that prior to session.  Also, he noted that as with the Yacht Club, 25 years is a long time without having the opportunity to make modifications.


Mr. Lesniak made a motion to amend the items 5d and 5e to allow a 25 years lease with 5-5 year renewals to come back to the legislature.  


Mr. Stanczyk asked how much income has been derived from this arrangement over the last 10 years, amount of expenses to the county over last 10 years; estimate of what the county will need to pay in the next 25 years for normal upkeep.   Mr. Lansley said that he will provide that information,


Mr. Buckel asked if SU rents the facility to outside groups.  Ms. Napolitano said that they open the boathouse to high schools, Syracuse Chargers, other collegiate teams, Empire State Games – anyone who wants to as long as it doesn’t conflict with their practice environment.  There is an access agreement with Syracuse Chargers – not sure what the rent is.  Mr. Buckel suggested that the legislature know the rent is before proceeding.  Chairman Jordan agreed.


Mr. Stanczyk asked if the utilities are in the Yacht Club’s name.  Mr. Lansley said that he thinks the utilities are in the Yacht Club’s name, but will confirm it.  Ms. Napolitano confirmed that the utilities are in SU’s name at the boathouse.


Mr. Kilmartin asked if Mr. Lesniak’s amendment keeps the existing financial terms.  Mr. Lesniak said “yes”. 


Mr. Kilmartin seconded the motion. 


Mr. Stanczyk asked if there will be any clarification provide as to how the number was arrived at.  Chairman Jordan said that information has been asked for.  Mr. Stanczyk asked if any appraisal has done internally, other than using historical data.  He asked that it an appraisal be done prior to session. 


Mr. Lansley said that Parks Dept. does not have anything that shows how the numbers were arrived at, as it was so long ago.  Mr. Kilmartin noted that trying to arrive at a rental figure is difficult.  Mr. Lesniak noted that this is consistent with what the State does with housing on their parks – they are substantially lower than market value.


Chairman Jordan asked if a market analysis could be done before session.  Mr. Corbett said that the State isn’t going to address this issue for some time.  


In answer to Mr. Lesniak, Mr. Lansley noted that the leases expire at the end of this month.  Mr. Lesniak asked if there was anticipation of signing a lease without state legislation.  Mr. Lansley said “no”, a permit can be done. 


Chairman Jordan asked if there is any absolute necessity that this has to be voted on today.  Mrs. Tarolli said that the item has been considered.  If there is no action today, they would be treated as a holdover tenant. 


Mr. Millea said that if more time is needed to do a more thorough discussion and do a market analysis, then they will come back and have a more thorough discussion in January.  Committee members agreed.


In answer to Mr. Millea, Mr. Lesniak said that the resolution should be resubmitted to the legislature, as they will be in amended forms.  Mr. Millea said that both items would be resubmitted for consideration in January.


         f.       Amending the 2012 County Budget to Accept Funding from Wegmans to Support Various Improvements ($120,000)

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


4.     METROPOLITAN WATER BOARD:  Holly Rosenthal, Administrative Director

        a.     Approving Improvements for the Onon. Co. Water Dist. of the Co. of Onondaga ($14,000,000)


Ms. Rosenthal:

  • All infrastructure built between 1965-1967 and put into use at that time – at end of useful life span


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


Mr. Kilmartin questioned how much MWB has in total reserve account fund.  Ms. Rosenthal said that this will deplete all of the capital fund balances exclusive of that set aside for transmission line repairs.  Capital project fund is put aside on an annual basis as part of the budget; it will continue to accumulate going forward.  Typically $600,000 is allocated every year.  Mr. Kilmartin asked what needs are seen for use of those funds going forward with other capital projects.  Ms. Rosenthal said that she thinks they will be in good shape.  The Terminal tanks project has a component of upgrades to the pump station.  This project has additional upgrades to the remaining pump station that allows for automation and control implementation system wide. The next major upgrades they foresee coming are to the water treatment plant – 3 -5 years down the road.  They would come to the legislature for funding and have some capital project funding to contribute as well.   The greatest potential capital project in the interim period would be with an issue with the transmission line.  There is a single line transmission between Oswego and Clay; there is no redundancy in the system.  It is 45 years old.  It would be an unplanned capital requirement.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Ms. Rosenthal said that a project has been considered for many years which would provide flow back and forth between City of Syracuse and MWB for joint redundancy between the systems.  Another consideration has been a parallel pipeline from Clay to Oswego.  Both options are expensive.  The benefit of the parallel pipeline is that the easement is already in place for it.  However, the distance is much greater than that of the southwest branch project.  Mr. Corbett said that regarding the southwest branch project, a study was done in 2007; there would be a tie in with one of the reservoirs for the city.  Right now if something happens to the transmission line, the whole northeastern area would have no water. 


Mr. Kilmartin asked to be provided with a sketch of the 2 – 5 year plan for a future committee.  Ms. Rosenthal said that they are in the process of creating a formal asset management plan.  It will show all of the required capital outlays over time. 


Mr. Stanczyk asked if there is a fund for emergency repairs or if capital allocation is used.  Ms. Rosenthal explained that they the maintenance and repairs fund is used.  In answer to Mr. Stanczyk, in some years a portion of the allocation is used for capital repairs. 


Mr. Stanczyk said that it is difficult for interest rates to go lower than what they are.  In every instance, for flexibility, the County should be saving whatever cash it has on hand and bonding for everything going forward.  There are factors of inflation going forward and very low interests rates being manipulated by the government, and the County should go out of its way to take advantage of that by bonding what it can.  He suggested MWB keep the $2 million and bond for $14 million.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Ms. Rosenthal indicated that it would put MWB in stronger positions.  The downside to that it would likely require a breach of the property tax cap.  This project is likely to do it as well, unless there is an ability to get relief from that constraint.


Mr. Millea explained that these repairs are funded through the Ad Valorem Assessment Authority that MWB has.  MWB is assessing an ad valorem assessment to a property owner on the real property tax law, which is subject to the tax cap.  The dilemma is that the tax cap will have a chilling affect on capital infrastructure and does not believe that was necessarily the intent. 


Mr. Lesniak asked if it would be in the best interest to authorize $14 million and then deal with it where we are at the time of borrowing regarding the tax cap rate.  Mr. Millea agreed and added that the tax cap issue will be a result of the debt issuance and affect on assessment through MWB, which is approved in the budget.  Theoretically the project would start in 2012, using cash flow from the County to do that; bonds issued in 2012 offsetting the capital cost; debt service would be incurred in 2013.  There may very well be a tax cap issue in 2013 due to increase in debt service, which is an assessed to the real property tax bill.  Mr. Kilmartin said that this is using the available cash to push down the cost that will impact the tax rate.  Ms. Rosenthal said that there will be a problem anyway.  Mr. Stanczyk said that we might as well have a problem with $14 million rather than $12 million. 


Mr. Millea said that they are looking at and thinking about the tax cap issue.  They do not think it is a reason to not proceed, but it makes it difficult for executives and legislators to put themselves out there and have to make two votes on the tax cap override two years from now because of something approved today.  They are going to fight that fight and will probably pursue a memorializing resolution from the legislature to support efforts to have it overturned. 


Mr. Stanczyk made a motion to amend the resolution to authorize bonding to $14 million; seconded by Mr. Lesniak.  Passed unanimously.


        b.     Authorizing the Issuance of $12,000,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga to Pay Costs of Certain Improvements for the Onondaga Co. Water District in and for Said County ($12,000,000)


Mr. Lesniak made a motion to amend the resolution to bond up to $14 million; seconded by Mr. Kilmartin.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


        c.     A Resolution Approving Replacement of the Onondaga County Water District’s Open Terminal

Mrs. Tarolli:

  • Part two of the technical correction made last month
  • State Comptroller needs to have language in the resolution authorizing application to the State Comptroller
  • Passed this once; do not have to pass the bonding again
  • Reservoir located in the Town of Clay with Two Enclosed Water Tanks ($34,000,000)


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



        a.     Authorizing the County Comptroller, Upon Approval of Division of Management and Budget and the County Executive’s Office, to Transfer 2011 Unencumbered Appropriation Account Balances in Excess of $7,500 into, Between, and Among All Interdepartmental Chargeback Appropriation Accounts and Adjust the Corresponding Interdepartmental Revenue Accounts


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


        b.     Authorize the County Comptroller to Transfer 2011 Unencumbered Appropriations After Expiration of the 2011 Fiscal Year Upon Approval of the County Executive and the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee


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



        a.     Authorizing 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


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


Mr. Lesniak said that there was an issue last year; he asked for confirmation that this if off of the base military pay.  Mr. Troiano indicated that it is; noting that the issue has been resolved.


Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


b.     Providing Continuous Individual and Family Dental and Health Insurance Benefits Through December 31, 2012 at County Expense for those County Officers and Employees during their Active Military Duty


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


8.     WAYS & MEANS, MISC.:

a.     A Local Law Amending the Onondaga County Charter and Administrative Code to Provide for Information on Letters of Distribution (Sponsored by Mr. Meyer)

b.     A Local Law Amending the Onondaga County Charter and Administrative Code to Provide for Full Disclosure on Letters of Distribution (Sponsored by Mr. Meyer)

Mr. Meyer:

  • 8a – original local law presented
  • 8b – addition of language per Law Dept. re: mandatory referendum
  • Referred to Charter & Code – Legislature sets pay, policy; does not give departments a certain amount of money – it is very specific for each account
  • There has been distortion in the budget; distortion in ongoing items – particularly payroll
  • It is a diminishing of the power of the legislature
  • Letters of distribution is not happening just at budget time – can happen during the year.  After legislature passes budget, in essence, it opens up pots of money that the legislature never intended.
  • Legislature evaluates programs, get a costs – every time there is distortion, legislature can’t do a proper evaluation
  • The public doesn’t see these things going on – on line or at a public hearing of the budget
  • Proposal is much more transparent; letters of distribution are somewhat suspect
  • Prefers the items to be straight up in the budget book


Mr. Meyer referred to a draft report provided from the Comptroller and noted that this is a growing situation with growing numbers and asked Mr. Antonacci to talk about the accounting side.


Mr. Antonacci:

  • Accountants get nervous when they see changes in procedures that they feel don’t have a fixed methodology or don’t comply with past practice
  • There is a reason there are policies and procedures in place and a reason we subscribe to federal regulations regarding this matter.
  • Issue an A-87, which is a cost plan to the federal government, and used by the State to reimburse the County for federal and state grants
  • Other documents they provide - single audit report, AUD – annual update document, filed with NYS – all are based on sound accounting procedures
  • County has billed to indirect cost plan.  Now there is less transparency
  • The County Executive’s payroll in the budget book does not correspond to the number of approved positions – approximately $795,000 in the budget book and actual payroll is approximately $925,000 --about $140,000 of costs being charged to other departments
  • Not just payroll – a new chair for a deputy county executive was charged to Facilities Management budget
  • Early retirement savings are being charged to WEP
  • In shifting salaries to other departments – starting to see a county wide 101 line
  • 2010 – 3 people in Co. Exec. office charged to 3 different departments; 2011- 5 people were charged to 12 departments
  • Central service departments are allocated with an approved methodology by the federal government to recapture indirect costs
  • The trend being seen right now is not approved by the Comptroller, as Chief Governmental Accountant; it doesn’t comply with any procedures approved by the state and federal government
  • Supports passage of proposed law


Mr. Buckel:

  • Found the Comptroller’s report very confusing
  • Concern that Comptroller is mixing up of administration and accounting
  • Can’t tell Co. Executive how workers can be allocated
  • Letters of Distribution is meaningless phrase – Executive can stop using the phrase and just go about doing it anyway
  • Local law - trying to dictate how personnel are used through the normal course of administering this government
  • On the A-87 there is an accounting method to account for the use of employees in one department on a grant that is being administered – it is already being done and already capturing it

Mr. Antonacci said that now they are potentially double accounting these expenses; allocating expenses directly without a fixed methodology.  In the case of WEP, Mr. Millea’s salary is being allocated to WEP without any methodology accepted in the accounting world. 


Mr. Buckel said that the report seemed almost reckless – red flagging to people that audit us, federal government, to take a look at these things.  It is basically accusing the County Executive’s office of miss-accounting, when in fact the A-87 already shows these allocations.  Mr. Antonacci said that Mr. Buckel is mixing up what is allowed to be done with what is not allowed, and noted that he is absolutely flagging it.  Mr. Buckel said that this is saying that the County is susceptible to fraud claims by the federal government.  Mr. Antonacci said that he is saying that if changes aren’t made, they will have to evaluate what the next step will be – notifying federal government; start with independent auditor, the A-87.  He has talked to them informally; this is a serious matter. 


Mr. Buckel is concerned that there isn’t an opinion of the outside auditors doing this.  This is not necessarily trying to do the appropriate accounting, but take more control over executive function.  Mr. Antonacci noted that the deputy county executive/physical services – can clearly work out of WEP – primary role is to be liaison to physical services departments, but his salary is already being recaptured by an approved accounting methodology – through the indirect cost plan.  Those costs are being recaptured – it is good thing – possibly should attempt to capture even more of this salary.  However, there are no time studies done.  He would entertain it if there were a gross appropriation in the County Executive’s budget, offset by indirect bill/revenue – see salaries approved in a department and see revenue coming in from another department. 


Mr. Buckel gave an example – i.e. in the course of the administration of a federal grant to Van Duyn, the Deputy County Executive has expertise and the county can capture some of the costs; time is actually spent.  He questioned what Mr. Antonacci is asking from the Executive.  Mr. Antonacci said “to follow what the County has been doing for at least 20 years”.  Mr. Buckel questioned how it is different.  Mr. Antonacci referred to an employee that works in Social Services and has been assigned to Van Duyn for a period of time to work on a grant.  There is no problem with letters of distribution in that instance.  It is a whole different theory from what is being discussed now – where there is netting of appropriations from within departments, assigning costs to other departments that are already being recaptured by approved methodology.  The way it is being done now, is not through an approved methodology by the federal government. 


Mr. Buckel asked if there is any knowledge of where the government was billed for time that wasn’t spent.  Mr. Antonacci said subsequent to the audit, they went back to the 2010 plan.  They will evaluate the materiality of three instances that this occurred in 2010; if necessary, will amend the A-87. 


In answer to Mr. Buckel, Mr. Antonacci explained that the indirect cost plan allows recapture of the costs under a methodology, which if followed, should have no problem.  If, in fact, the deputy county executive’s are working more in a department, the Charter says that they are administrative overhead.  He is not sure that the government would allow the County to even direct bill it in the first place, but he is willing to entertain it with a methodology that is understood – i.e. time study, daily record.  The Law Dept. bills departments like a law firm, which is approved and understood.  The A-87 gets around the administrative nightmare by coming up with set criteria and data on how they bill for it – i.e. WEP is based on a percentage of its expenses.  


Mr. Stanczyk recapped and clarified with another example with double billing.  He noted that once there is a methodology there isn’t a need for someone to tell in an 8 hour day how many hours they spend on WEP business and other business, because there is a methodology there is no need to keep track.  He asked if the Comptroller has seen a couple of people that have been allocated, rather than just generally allocated.  Mr. Antonacci said that it is more than a couple – the audit notes 25 – 30 people allocated in all different types of percentages.  There is one individual in the executive office being charged to five different departments.  Mr. Stanczyk asked if the Comptroller is saying that making a determination of so much of a percentage should be based on an evaluation of the time spent; there is already a methodology in place that has been accepted, and this is running counter to it.  Mr. Antonacci agreed.  Mr. Stanczyk said that the administration understands the concerns; Mr. Antonacci pointed out the direction things are going.  He knows the administration had a response to deal with this going forward.  He is a concerned that that the county is on good ground accounting wise and asked Mr. Rowley to address the issued.


Mr. Rowley said that the Comptroller is taking a pure audit standpoint relative to this whole issue.  There is legitimate management needs and concerns – he is starting to prepare a response to the Comptrollers draft audit.  He almost completely disagrees with the audit report.  The basic premise that the Comptroller is trying to make is that in most instance letters of distribution should be stopped an allocations accounted for in either the indirect cost report or interdepartmental billing.  Letters of distribution have been in place for years.  They are an important management tool.  He is not aware of any audit comments from the independent auditors claiming that we have done something wrong with letters of distribution from an accounting principal standpoint.  Regarding the indirect cost report, it is compiled using two year old data; of such complexity that the Comptroller has to hire an outside firm to get it prepared.  It is used to comply with A-87 claim reports.  These numbers have traditionally been booked as journal entries in the financial statements and budget of the County and then they are forgotten.


Mr. Rowley said that relative to the interdepartmental billing, it is much less transparent than letters of distribution.  It grosses up the budget unnecessarily, which adversely affects fund balance calculation and misclassifies what is truly a direct cost as an indirect cost.  He provided an example. 


Mr. Rowley noted that he has delivered a letter to the Ways & Means Committee committing that his office deliver information about letters of distribution in future budgets in exactly the format that they want and is being called for in the local law.  The language in the local law would stop letters of distribution in the Personnel Department, used for allocation of administrative interns, which the Comptroller’s audit says is proper.  He noted that the legislature has the power to amend the budget – if a letter of distribution comes to the legislature that is clearly delineated in a report, the legislature has the ability to nix it – not subject to veto, as it is reduction to the budget.  He provided example where portions of Mr. Millea’s and Ms. Rooney’s salaries were direct billed to respective departments, because they were truly doing work for those departments.  Department heads were gone and they were doing day to day work.  A judgment call was made that it was fair and proper to allocate their salary cost directly and have fringe driven from those departments also.  It is very difficult to manage those kinds of costs when they are varied in an indirect billing charge, which encompasses a lot more than just salary costs.


Mr. Stanczyk said that in running the government, they are running from problem to problem – taking care of issues as they come up.  There is something in place to say that all of the cost get spread to everybody.  He asked if the allocations are changed from year to year.  Mr. Rowley said that do, and Mr. Stanczyk questioned why noting that both systems seem redundant.  Mr. Rowley said that it seems there is a problem with how the County Executive established her letters of distribution; those need to be reviewed periodically.  They want to properly reflect the cost in the department that is bearing the expenses.  They felt that these people go above and beyond an oversight role where they would be charged as overhead to the departments.  They were doing day to day work – that is going to change and adjustment need to be made.  Mr. Stanczyk asked if it is more or less work to adjust it all of the time.  Mr. Rowley said that it is easier to understand what resources they are consuming vs. trying to understand from an interdepartmental charge what is happening from a department.  It is a personal management preference.


Mr. Meyer said that you can’t tell any of this when looking at the budget book – the payroll doesn’t add up and there is no way to know.  The best way is not to have letters of distribution.


Mr. Stanczyk said that with some contracts and situation it is necessary to have them.  Now we need to see if it should be contained because is seems to be growing.  He doesn’t know if to contain it means that it has to be outlawed.  Mr. Meyer said that unfortunately, it can be after the fact - going on for months.  Then they come back and want an adjustment to their budget – it is an adjustment that the legislature didn’t authorize.


2 Mr. Buckel left the meeting.


Mr. Kilmartin if the use of letters of distribution has increase over time.  Mr. Antonacci said that it has.  The intern program, an 18 month program, a temporary program housed in the Personnel Dept. with the legislature’s full knowledge and understanding.  Mr. Maturo noted that the interns are billed 100% to the departments that they are actually working in.  Interns are not overhead positions; they are housed in Personnel because that is the way it was set up.  They were set up with the full knowledge that whatever department utilizes their services, then that department would pay those salaries for them.  They were housed in Personnel Dept. just for that program to have a home.  The authority to do letters of distribution is questioned on anything other than on a temporary basis.  Regarding the County Executive’s office, this is the first time there has been partial distribution of salary to people who are deemed by the federal government as overhead positions.  The question that the Comptroller’s office has is whether they are direct billed to the 101 line or not doesn’t change the fact that they are overhead positions – they are not direct salary positions.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Antonacci said there is an upward trend of usage – not just the Executive Department; other departments are expanding usage of it. 


Mr. Kilmartin asked if some members of the County Executive’s office are utilizing letters of distribution, is it appropriate for example that Mr. Corbett to utilize this for the time he devoted to WEP.  Mr. Rowley said that it is not the same – the individuals were doing day to day work in those departments.  Mr. Kilmartin questioned if that wasn’t part of their job – oversees and administering and the departments that they have.  He understands if a department head leaves or is terminated and someone needs to step in and take charge of that department, then that might be an appropriate use of letters of distribution.  However on an annual basis, part of Ms. Rooney’s and Mr. Millea’s salaries are being dedicated to departments.  Mr. Rowley said that the decision was made to allocate their salaried from a management perspective.  It was clear for them to understand that Mr. Millea was spending a lot more time than he should be in WEP and they should be charged directly for it. 


Mr. Rowley gave an example of an information aide that the County Executive has – half of her salary is charged to Co. Executive and half is charged to Budget Department.  That was done specifically as a cost saving measure; it is a proper use of letters of distribution.  Mr. Kilmartin asked what Mr. Antonacci opinion is of this example utilizing letters of distribution.  Mr. Antonacci suggested that a great idea should not be confused with accounting for it.  He suggested that it should come back to the legislature; have a sharing agreement, create the position and appropriate the funding to that position, rather than having the position in one office and you can’t figure out where the funding is coming from.  Gross is very important – not seeing the gross appropriation, what it truly costs to run a department with letters of distribution.  Mr. Rowley disagreed, saying that it was much more transparent.  


Mr. Kilmartin asked for absolute clarity and simplicity, why not keep all of the salaries in the County Executive’s department.  Mr. Millea said that sending some of his salary to WEP has a rate base pay for that piece of his salary.  There are parts of the county that are not paying his salary because they are not benefiting from his efforts – really focused on the sanitary district.  This issue is two-fold with regard to the importance of letters of distribution and the County Executive’s objection to this proposed legislation.  At the end of the day, if this is about the County Executive’s office and there is a wish to amend the County Executive’s budget, as it was presented and accepted, and if desired to put everyone on straight salary on 101 local dollars, then the county Executive has no objection to that.  It can be done through a budget amendment in January.  Mr. Kilmartin noted that he is not pinpointing the County Executive’s office.  Mr. Meyer said that the issue is in other departments too.  Mr. Millea said that letters of distribution is used for administrative interns; Mr. Rowley said that most of the Law Department was taken care of in the 2012 budget. 


Mr. Kilmartin referred to the local laws and asked why the local laws are different; noting that item b is more expansive.  Mrs. Tarolli said that she wrote local law a.  She added the mandatory referendum piece to local law b.  Mrs. Tarolli confirmed that the Law Dept. has an objection it section 6 & 7 in local law b, unless there is a referendum.  Mrs. Tarolli said that the Law Dept didn’t write local law b, so there is an interpretation.


Mr. Lesniak asked if item b, with the amendments that Law Dept. included, is a passable local law.  Mrs. Tarolli noted that Law Dept. prefers to draft legislation themselves.  She can’t say that it is illegal.  In answer to Mr. Lesniak, Mrs. Tarolli stated that if local law b was passed, the County Attorney would not say it was illegal.  The Legislature’s Rules said that the County Attorney has to approve legislation as to form and legality, but she feels that Municipal Rule Law would give enough ability to put the local law on the desks as it is.  Mr. Meyer asked if there are any objections to form and legality.  Mrs. Tarolli said that the Charter and Code vests the County Attorney with the responsibly for drafting legislation.  Law Dept. has reviewed it, she thinks she understands what it means, which is why she added mandatory referendum language, but she has some hesitation in the interpretation.  Mr. Lesniak asked if the legislature would have to suspend the rules to pass local law b.  Mrs. Tarolli said “no”.


Mr. Lesniak referenced a Van Duyn example.  Regarding indirect costs for IT, how is the formula calculated when an individual is taken out and then re-billed.  Mr. Maturo said that IT direct bills based on a methodology for everything that they do.  The individual, even though on roster for IT, none of their costs go to IT; it all goes to Van Duyn.  It is as if that person is a Van Duyn employee – that person works directly, 100%, at Van Duyn.  He assumes it is on the IT roster for supervisory purposes.  Mr. Lesniak said that Van Duyn would then get revenue from Van Duyn for partial reimbursement of that position.  Mr. Maturo said that is not how it is working right now.  Ms. Rooney said that it is strictly for management purposes.  Mr. Lesniak said that if that person was at Van Duyn on Van Duyn’s payroll, not IT’s payroll, there would be partial reimbursement for that position.  Mr. Rowley said he not so sure they are not claiming that anyway, because it is a direct charge on their 101.  Mr. Lesniak said that in turn there would be a revenue back to IT.  Mr. Rowley said that it shouldn’t go back to IT because the person does IT work specifically for Van Duyn.  The only reason why they have the position housed in IT and charged to Van Duyn is for oversight responsibilities.  Van Duyn doesn’t have the in-house expertise to manage that person.  Mr. Lesniak said that Van Duyn has a Medicaid reimbursable portion.  Mr. Maturo said that Van Duyn gets the revenue.  Mr. Lesniak asked if that portion gets returned to IT for that individual.  Mr. Rowley said “no”--  there is a dotted line to IT.  Mr. Lesniak said that the reimbursement gets clouded.  Mr. Rowley said that the position could be put on Van Duyn’s roster, have Van Duyn pay the payroll, but in their judgment it is bad management practice.  Mr. Lesniak said whether that person is from IT and getting paid from Van Duyn isn’t going to make a difference who his supervisor is.  Mr. Rowley said in their judgment it is.  IT can have oversight of this person and tell them what to do.


Chairman Jordan said that direct billing between the departments seems to make the most sense; the cleanest, most clear cut, most easy and traceable methodology.  Mr. Rowley disagreed.  With letters of distribution it can clearly be seen, when looking at budget numbers, where the expense is going.  They can go into interdepartmental charges and make sure that it got billed correctly – it would have to be separated out from everything else – have to understand what is driving the 101 and the fringes.  It is much more confusing.


Mr. Kilmartin asked what the Law Dept. does – i.e. has an attorney assigned to work on a contract issue in DSS and it takes 3 months – do they bill for that person.  Mr. Rowley said that they track their time and bill the department accordingly.  It is different than the IT example.  Mr. Kilmartin said that he doesn’t think anyone has problem with the chain of command, oversight, supervision – is the accounting side not farming out a person to a department to perform expertise. 


Chairman Jordan said that this isn’t just someone who is dedicated to one particular department, it is where someone might be dedicated to 5 departments – their salaries are being spread out to a number of departments.  Mr. Kilmartin asked Mr. Antonacci if part of his issue is that letters of distribution are being used a little bit arbitrarily.  Mr. Antonacci indicated that it is.


Mr. Meyer request that local laws a and b be sent to session.


        c.     Create Assistant Director of Veterans Service, Grade 32 @ $55,873 - $73,189 effective January 1, 2012 (Sponsored by Mr. Stanczyk)

A motion was made by Mr. Stanczyk to approve this item.  Mr. Corbett seconded the item for discussion.

Mr. McLean:

  • Have had as many as 7 people over the years; has had a sequential staffing reduction
  • Currently have:  1 M/C Director, 1 full time Veterans Service Officer, Gr. 9, and 3/5th of Vet. Service Officer, who took ERI
  • By year end will have dealt with approx. 3200 veterans; there are about 30k in the county
  • Cessation of activities in Iraq has just occurred; services are all announcing a major reduction in force
  • Currently NYS has one million veterans – anticipating an increase in the county’s veteran population
  • A lot of work is done in the area of pensions for elderly veterans and surviving spouses – many reside in nursing homes, many without family and are in need of counsel when the Veterans Administration sends them correspondence.  A response is expected relative to income change – if Veterans Administration does not get a response in a timely fashion, the funds are cut off and it can create a dire situation for them. 
  • Because of a reduction in personnel at many of the nursing home facilities, Veterans Services has acquired another 800 cases this year – previously did not have that responsibility
  • All things combined lead them to seek some measure of help for staffing – deputy director would be appropriate use of funds; allow him to dedicate more time to case work, which he is accredited to do.  Allow deputy director to do budget policy outreach, legislative liaison and other special programs

Mr. Stanczyk asked Mr. Rowley how this would be paid for.

Mr. Rowley:

  • Majority of Veterans budget is paid by DSS through interdepartmental billing –
  • This charge could be done through interdepartmental billing; DSS would in turn claim whatever is appropriate
  • Would not be using fund balance or going outside of what was budgeted
  • Funding would come from DSS budget; they would get interdepartmental charge and in theory get some revenue from NYS for this – does not know to what extent


Mr. Seitz noted that Veterans has a line 060 – interdepartmental charge to DSS – in their budget.


Mr. McLean:

  • 75% of their work is pension related; 25% is compensation – 75% of their clients come to them through DSS
  • An extension of DSS for veterans

Mr. Meyer:

  • Is a member of Co. Exec. Veterans Advisory Board; retired member of US Military
  • From and administrative point and view and personal point of view has experience in dealing with Veterans Service Agency
  • Provided committee members with the budget of the Veterans Service Agency; job descriptions:  
  • Director – clear that the member shall be a veteran; applicant should supply a DD214 – documentation from military that the person served
  • Veterans Service Officer – person shall be a veteran appointment
  • Veterans Service Office Aide – person shall be an honorable discharged war time veteran
  • Consistency that the jobs require being a veteran
  • Job descriptions have a revised date – previous job descriptions required that the appliance be a veteran
  • Assistant Director – obsolete 40 year old job description – deficient that it does not require being a veteran during peace time or serving during war time.
  • Agrees that the department needs to be upgraded; needs staffing
  • Objects to a Assistant Director of Veterans Services position – totally out of place as written; total slap in the face to veterans community
  • Read from various articles and pointed out that unemployment rate for those that have served in Iraq & Afghanistan was 12.1% in October vs. 9% for the overall U.S. population; over 30% for 18-24 year old group
  • These folks have the current skill, training that are addressed in the job description
  • All applicants should have a minimum qualification of being a veteran and outlay areas of expertise


In answer to Chairman Jordan; Mr. Meyer said that Mr. Troiano is not looking to upgrade the minimum qualifications.  He suggested that the job description be upgraded to include veteran’s service.  If there is a willingness to bring the position back in January, where there was a reasonable pro-veteran job description, then it would be appropriate for the committee to address it.


Mr. Corbett asked what it would take and what the time frame would be to change the description.  Mr. Troiano said that it doesn’t take a lot of time to change it.  The job description, when reviewed in connection with Mr. McLean’s description to the role that the position would have in the office, focused on human outreach, administrative duties to allow him to focus on specific veterans things.  It seemed to fit the way it was.  He can format it differently so that contains language as if were being written today.  It would not change the basic content, but will make it more current with the way job descriptions are written now.


Mr. Corbett said that it seems fitting that it maintain the same consistency in the language for the veterans community.  Mr. Troiano said that from a personnel standpoint, that would not be the focus of reviewing the job description.  The position is adequately representing the duties designed for that position. 


Mr. Stanczyk there is an opportunity to bring assistance to this function and area and would like to move this forward.


Chairman Jordan agreed with Mr. Meyer that there should be a minimum requirement that the person be a veteran. 


AYES:  1 (Stanczyk); NOES:  2 (Jordan, Lesniak); ABSTENTIONS:  2 (Corbett, Kilmartin).  MOTION DEFEATED.



a.     Settlement of Claim Briefing


Mr. Corbett made a motion to enter into executive session to discuss a pending lawsuit entitled Lynch v. Waters, et. al v. Pompey Hill Fire District et al.; seconded by Mr. Lesniak.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


A motion was made by Mr. Corbett, seconded by Mr. Lesniak to exit executive session and enter into regular session, noting that no action was taken during executive session.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 1:45 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature


* * *


To Provide Feedback About the Disability Accessibility of An Onondaga County Department's Website, Click Here to Access the Department's Contact Page

© 2001-  Onondaga County, New York  All Rights Reserved.   |  Ongov.net  |  Privacy Statement | Directions & Parking | Language or Disability Access Assistance