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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

DEBORAH L. MATURO
Clerk
DAVID H. KNAPP
Chairman
KATHERINE FRENCH
Deputy Clerk

 

HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE – DECEMBER 11, 2018

THOMAS C. BUCKEL, JR., CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Dr. Chase, Mr. Bush, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Rowley

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chairman Buckel called the meeting to order at 10:03 a.m.  A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

1.     ADULT AND LONG TERM CARE SERVICES:  Lisa Alford, Commissioner

        a.     Providing for Personnel Changes in the Department of Adult and Long Term Care Services

 

Ms. Alford:

  • In 2011 the duties of the deputy commissioner, a position related to Van Duyn, for Long Term Care and NY Connects were transferred to the Office of Aging under the Project Director of Community Services; position held by Ms. Spoto-Decker went from supervising 2 to 20 people and added much greater program responsibility
  • No changes were made to the grade, position continues to operate in a very different classification, request grade 15 so that the salary commiserates with the responsibilities

Mr. Rowley stated that no budget adjustment was needed.  Ms. Alford responded that all federal dollars will be used for the position. 

 

Mr. Bushed asked where Civil Service fit into this.  Ms. Alford responded that the Personnel office is in agreement and looked at other comparable positions to ensure that this was the appropriate grade for the position.  In answer to Mr. Bush, Ms. Alford confirmed that no additional testing is required.  Chairman Buckel stated that Mr. May supported this when he was the chairman of Ways and Means.  Chairman Buckel believes we need to recognize and treat people for the work that they do and he is happy to do so.

 

Mr. Jordan asked what would if the federal funds were taken away.  Ms. Alford responded that this is not short-term federal funding.  Long Term Care Services approves the home care services provided and that service must be provided.  In answer to Mr. Rowley, Ms. Alford confirmed that there are no local dollars in this position.  Her original conversation with Mr. May contained 3% to 4% local but we were able to adjust that.

 

A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Rowley, to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Ms. Rooney stated that Mrs. Spoto-Decker has also done an unbelievable job accessing grants, especially transportation for seniors

 

2.     SOCIAL SERVICES – ECONOMIC SECURITY:  Ann Rooney, Deputy County Executive/Human Services; Sarah Merrick, Commissioner

        a.     Confirming the Reappointment of Sarah Merrick as the Onondaga County Commissioner of Social Services

 

Ms. Rooney:

  • Ms. Merrick became commissioner with the reorganization of the human services side of DSS and has done an unbelievable job streamlining the whole department, caseloads skyrocketed in 2008 at the same time the workforce was shrinking, were able to keep up and manage it through technology and improved customer service lead by Ms. Merrick
  • At the state level Ms. Merrick is seen as a leader for using technology to address many of the issues, i.e. instituted kiosks and DMV like technology, more respectful and confidential to those seeking services
  • Improved employee customer service, positive consumer surveys show clients are treated with respect in a timely manner – largely because Ms. Merrick has done a great job of making customer service part of the work culture
  • 5-year appointment, dual appointment from NYS and the county, term of appointment is never the same year as the county executive to try and keep the position as A-political as possible; seeking confirmation of the fantastic job Ms. Merrick is doing

Dr. Chase said that she has heard really good things about all the new things being implemented.  Ms. Merrick is doing a really good job.  

 

Chairman Buckel asked Ms. Merrick to join the table and discuss where she sees this department going in the next term.

 

Ms. Merrick:

  • Fundamentals have been put in place, a lot around customer service and management training, about 50 managers at various levels, must equip managers with a skillset in order to drive culture changes, management development will continue customer service and try to maximize technology
  • Only those seeking temporary cash assistance must apply in person all other services can be done online or via the phone
  • Established standard greeting and key questions; customer service surveys rate the department in the ’90s
  • Working to develop a core training system and retraining curriculum for each development line, can only push efficiency so far through technology, ultimately it is about employees knowing the programs well and having the confidence to make the necessary decisions

Chairman Buckel stated he would like to explore ease of access in exchange for a more dedicated personal engagement and holistic approach.  Shifting resources from the intake process to the development of self-sufficiency skills that include education, health, jobs, and the whole package.  He understands that they are in the process of developing phone and other ease of access, which he sees as a tread off toward people becoming self-sufficient.

 

Ms. Merrick:

  • Exciting time for DSS, for the first time in over 50 years we will see a literal change within the next 5 to 7 years
  • On a state working group for the past 2 years for the Integrated Eligibility System – the replacement for the welfare management system, the management system platform is run on Cobol language, literally have no programs around that know this system, runs on gold flickering screen, all are holding their breath that this does not break down as everything they do goes through this system, we created other overlays to make it easier to work in that system but we are on the backbone of the management system
  • RFP’s have been issued and bids are coming in to build this new platform which will change the jobs of everyone in social services, platform will allow us not to talk to the individual about what they need, let them know what social services can provide and then provide linkage to other community programs to help them move out of poverty; thrilled about this, have to wait for the state, can only do a little bit on the side which was the kiosks and DMV
  • NYS will soon push mobile electronic submission of documents, currently being piloted, offers ease and convenience for the client
  • 2nd floor remodel to open in the spring, will begin preparing the workforce for the different role by collocating outside agencies on the same floor, workforce role will link them with other resources for success; excited about the change

Dr. Chase asked if the department fits into the mayor and county executive’s plan to put homeless people to work.  Ms. Rooney responded, absolutely.  It was a joint city/county RFP but all human services come through Onondaga County and RFP responders will likely be partners that the county already funds.  Those that do similar programs to this, i.e. Catholic Charities St. Joseph’s program.  The key difference is having the referral network come from people living on the streets or in our shelters.  If they are in our shelters they are connected to the county because we are the reimbursement mechanisms for those agencies.  This is one more program to move people to self-sufficiency.  For those least likely to apply and get a job this is a stepping stone through that process.  We are excited about the county executive’s real emphasis on addressing poverty.  Chairman Buckel said that it was very intelligent and human, and the way it evolved was government at its best.  

 

Ms. Rooney stated that the stage has been set for having a public discussion on poverty.   Over the last 3 years, DSS has created a single point of entry and homelessness has declined more than 25% and she is thrilled to have a real public discussion about how the community can play a part.

 

Mr. Bush asked if there were any state requirements, certification, or training to fulfill this position.  Ms. Merrick responded that her masters in public administration and years of service in human services qualify and she is not aware of any written requirements form the state.  Ms. Rooney stated that DSS is a department of the state and the county does not set any rules or regulations - just determines if someone is eligible for state programs.  The state has been very careful to have a dual appointment to remind us that we do not stand alone.  Mr. Bush said that he was not questioning Ms. Merrick’s ability, just if the state had a prerequisite.  Chairman Buckel stated that if the state has a prerequisite it has been exceeded.

 

Mr. Bush asked which services would be offered outside of what the county already provides in reference to linking   Ms. Merrick responded that we already know food is needed and a list of pantries may not be enough - need someone there to help with basic needs and navigating the health care system.  Perhaps having someone collocated to help get them to a physician.  Once we have an outline of who is going to be there we will make everyone aware.

 

In answer to Mr. Bush, Ms. Merrick provided the names of various staff members holding supportive positions in her department.  Mr. Bush said that it was very important for him to know county employees and what they do.  People in the trenches doing the day to day work are best able to help someone understand programs, what is being done, who is being served, and how effective they are.  Ms. Merrick agreed.  Mr. Bush said that turnover is also important and she has done well-retaining staff.  Ms.  Merrick stated that she meets with her management team weekly, with each member individual monthly and often more times than that.  She believes in supporting the management team and setting expectations.  She is blessed with people who are passionate about serving the public and feels she has created an atmosphere where her department feels they are supported and can do their job well.  Chairman Buckel stated that the CSEA has made it clear that Ms. Merrick is reaching out and engaging.

 

Mr. Bush said that he wishes the county could get some sort of program where services and support could continue while a person works and retains all their earnings, even if only for a year, to provide work experience without the fear of losing their safety net.  There must be some way to get a pilot program of 50 people to see how this could work.  The fear of getting a job and losing support is disincentivizing.  Ms. Merrick agreed and added, luckily we are in NYS were there are transitional periods and people are not cut off like other states.  It is probably not enough but there is a transitional process where individuals are able to keep some benefits for 5 months when they hit income levels that make them ineligible for other services.  A pilot program is being explored focusing around mothers 25 and younger on temporary assistance.  There is a possibility of looking at a segment of that group and asking the state for a pilot to give them a longer period to school out of poverty.  It takes generations to get into poverty and, in these cases, it cannot take 1 year to get out of it.  She agrees we need to find an idea and request a waiver from the state to pilot a new idea.  Mr. Bush said that we need to be a leader and Ms. Merrick agreed.  Mr. Jordan said that the county website used to show how one could work and still receive some benefits.  Ms. Merrick responded that the information is still available on the website: https://mybenefits.ny.gov/mybenefits/begin.  Mr. Bush stated that it so convoluted that it scares people to get into something like this and have the uncertainty of going a dollar over and losing benefits.  They need to build a resume’, a work ethic, and the dignity to keep what they earned and not be penalized.  Ms. Merrick responded that there is a lot of misunderstanding and every case is unique.  This is why we need to have a conversation with each person to walk them through a plan.  Job’s Plus coaches do this as part of our contract but we need to think about after someone gets employed a period of time where they can get continual service support and not fear the loss of other benefits, i.e. SNAP or child health care.

 

Mr. Bush said that demographics of individualized poverty, outside of the concentration of poverty that feeds on itself, is another segment of our population that could benefit from a pilot program like this.  Ms. Merrick agreed and added that the programs are 80% city and 20% rural.  Mr. Bush said that 20% of 300,000 is different than 80% of 100,000 - when talking figures the raw numbers are out there.  Ms. Merrick agreed.  Chairman Buckel asked if the 80/20 mix means we are not fully serving our rural poverty population.  Ms. Merrick stated that each program is income based and this is just an average.  Temporary assistance is 200% of poverty or below and Medicaid is up to 400% of poverty.  This is a global average but program by program information could be provided if that is something they are looking for.

 

Chairman Buckel asked if there was anything at the county or state level that could be done to build pilot banking programs for poverty clients.  Ms. Merrick responded that the Cash Coalition works to have poverty clients file their income tax so they earn the tax credit and the city is exploring creating a financial empowerment center that will hopefully hire financial councilors to advise people on the advantages of having a bank, how to save for a house, education and potentially moving out of poverty.  However, there is a fear and better education may be needed.  Chairman Buckel said that we cannot compel bank use.  Ms. Merrick responded that she knows this but predatory leading is still a big concern, i.e. clients pay a premium to cash checks at a corner store.  This is all part of having a connection and educating clients.  Also, it would be great if banks were excited about marketing to that community.  Chairman Buckel said that in 5 years this may be a necessity. 

 

Dr. Chase said that the federal government no longer issues checks for social security, it is all direct deposit.  Chairman Buckel asked if the state could then choose to change this.  Ms. Merrick responded that she believes we have to rely on the federal government for a lot of these changes.  For temporary assistance, most of the money is paid directly to a landlord and the remaining cash is put on their EBT card.  SNAP money is on an EBT card, we pay the Medicaid premium and child care services are paid directly to the provider.  In our world, not a lot of money goes directly to the client and we moved forward by issuing EBT cards.  The federal government would have to find a way to streamline and match up some of these requirements in order to do something that innovative.  Technology is getting smarter and the integrated system the state is laying out may open the door for NYS to be cutting edge.  Everything will be on one platform and integrated including WIC. 

 

Mr. Jordan asked if there was any way to ensure SNAP benefits were being used appropriately and not being spent on luxury items.  Ms. Merrick responded that each time a person applies or recertifies for SNAP a series of questions is asked.  If any answers are no it is immediately sent to fraud investigations.  Also, the federal government does a lot of oversight.  We can do some work at the client level but for businesses federal and state government take the leadership role.  Chairman Buckel noted that there are limits on what the card can be used for.  Ms. Merrick agreed, adding that it has to be used for food.

 

A motion was made by Chairman Buckel, seconded by Dr. Chase to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chairman Buckel stated the item unanimously passed with gratitude.  Ms. Merrick said thank you.  Chairman Buckel said that this is one of the most difficult and important jobs and asked that Ms. Merrick stays in touch.  Ms. Merrick said that people think she is crazy but she loves this job.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Rowley, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to adjourn.  Motion Carried.

 

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

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.11.18_HS_!

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

12.11.18_HS_2

 

 

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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE MINUTES - DECEMBER 12, 2018

MICHAEL E. PLOCHOCKI, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Burtis, Dr. Chase, Mrs. Tassone, Ms. Cody

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chairman Plochocki called the meeting to order at 9:08 a.m.  A motion was made by Mrs. Tassone, seconded by Dr. Chase, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mrs. Tassone, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

1.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:  Tom Roads, P.E., Commissioner

       a.     Authorizing the Execution of Agreements to Accept Grant Funds from the NYS DEC in Connection with the Installation of Cogeneration Units at Metro WWTP

  • This is the only new item on the agenda, received Climate Smart Communities Grant for installation of 2 cogeneration units at Metro, will receive up to $1.3 million, matching funds will come from items 1f and 1g which are the digester improvements
  • The goal is to digest the waste, make methane gas, use the gas to make electricity and heat the metro campus; adding 2 cogeneration units will make additional electricity and reduce energy costs

Mrs. Tassone asked if this would have been done without the grant.  Mr. Rhoads responded that we have one unit there but are flaring a lot of gas.  The grant makes this cost-effective and the greenhouse gas climate thing is real.  For many environmental and now economic reasons this makes sense.

 

Mr. Burtis questioned if this was normal wording for the resolution to state “the project is currently in design”.  Mr. Rhoads responded that working with items f and g we are at the 95% design phase.  Our team makes comments on the design, they are finalized and then presented to the DEC.  With your authorization of funding, we would go out for bid in early 2019. 

 

Chairman Plochocki stated that the $27 plus million for item f is not decreased by this grant per se but our hope that the payback period will be less.  Mr. Rhoads responded that is was correct.  When a project is authorized it caps the amount allowed to be spent, the grant does not add to the authorization amount. 

 

A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Ms. Cody, to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     Approving Proposed Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Thickener Rehabilitation Project in and for the County Of Onondaga, New York ($3,730,000)

        c.     BOND RESOLUTION:  Authorizing the Issuance of $3,730,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Thickener Rehabilitation Project ($3,730,000)

  • Built in circa 1978, near end of life, many mechanicals had an expected life of 30 years, seeing decay in the failure curve and because of this have had issues with digesters in 2018 which dramatically increases our operating costs, failing to thicken means we fail to digest which means we don’t recover the energy and we also spend more for disposal
  • 3rd time this has been discussed at this committee; moments ago learned EFC draft scoring gives this project 81 points and a funding line of 68 points, appears these would be eligible for EFC funding, which means the borrowing would be about half of the Triple-A rate
  • Replacement of critical assets, going after all grants and funding opportunities to make this as affordable as possible

Mr. Burtis asked if we get a discount on the rate because of the viability.  Mr. Rhoads responded that NYSEFC scores projects based upon a variety of criteria, i.e. points are awarded for being in a consent area, doing certain things for impaired water, basic points for infrastructure.  The criteria are legislatively set so that it is not subjective.  The recent Westside pump station project, the Metro Phosphorous Optimization project, some recently completed projects in our disinfection program and our CSE program have been EFC funded.  We are currently keeping over 50 different projects alive and probably 30 of them are EFC funded.  Mr. Burtis said that there is then a plus or minus feature where you can get a discount or pay more based on the quality of the project.  Mr. Rhoads responded that the projects are scored and there is an interest rate reduction but we pay a small premium to the EFC for funding and placement.  Almost anytime we borrow an amount north of a million dollars it is definitely money ahead to finance with EFC even though we pay a little for placement.  The county has the same minority and women enterprise and American iron and steel criteria as the EFC so we are not obliging ourselves to additional constraints.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve item b.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Ms. Cody, to approve item c.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        d.     Approving Proposed Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Brewerton WPCP Asset Renewal Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York ($12,575,000)

        e.     BOND RESOLUTION:  Authorizing the Issuance of $12,575,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Brewerton WPCP Asset Renewal Project ($12,575,000)

  • Much of the plant now 45 years old, well beyond its typical life - mechanicals 30 years, electrical 25 years
  • Legislative tour of the Brewerton plant will be conducted on 12-20-18 1:00 p.m.
  • Difficult to locate parts; replacing aeration systems which will reduce energy costs, renewing assets improves safety and cost-effectiveness;  touching on odor control issues due to neighborhood encroachment
  • Even though we are doing permit compliance, energy efficiency, building code compliance, odor control, and safety sight security investment compliance we have not been able to receive EFC funding for this, still strongly recommend doing this project now, believe interest rates are climbing and if these investments are put off they will not be cheaper; many important repairs need to be made as part of this project, aren’t replacing everything, using risk matrix

A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve item d.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Ms. Cody, to approve item e.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        f.      Approving Proposed Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Digester Phase II Improvements Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York ($27,680,000)

        g.     BOND RESOLUTION:  Authorizing the Issuance of $27,680,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Digester Phase II Improvements Project ($27,680,000)

  • Part of the Metro digester improvement project, constructed in 1959, critical infrastructure to campus safety and cost-effectiveness, further digesting biosolids, making energy and reducing the amount disposed of; largest project in the bundle

            12.12.18_EP_1   12.12.18_EP_2

 

  • 2 flares of gas burning today even though it is a cold December day; concerning items, the condition of the digesters is not good

Mr. Burtis stated that this is the project with the gas bubble, which is exciting.  Mr. Rhoads responded that there will be 2 bubbles – 1 blue and 1 orange at no additional cost.

  • Qualifies for EFC funding in draft scoring

A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Ms. Cody, to approve item f.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Ms. Cody, to approve item g.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        h.     Approving Proposed Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Biosolids Drying Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York ($15,106,000)

        i.      BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $15,106,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Biosolids Drying Project ($15,106,000)

  • The current biosolids cake is roughly 30% solid, the dryer will significantly reduce the water content, part of the energy conservation program will pay for itself in 8.1 to 11.1 years based upon landfill disposal costs
  • Pelletizing dried biosolids, hope to use for appropriate agricultural uses, requires an abundance of regulatory approval; use of biosolids as an alternative fertilizer is not required to reach estimated payback term
  • Auditor general asked the EPA to further review the use of biosolids for agricultural purposes – don’t want to make a promise on using this for alternative resources – still a wise investment for landfilling

A motion was made by Mr. Burtis to approve item h. 

 

Chairman Plochocki said, “For the record, whenever we are saving money I want it to be abundantly clear.  This project will be paying for itself and the payback period is 8.1 to 11.1 years.” 

 

Seconded by Dr. Chase, Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve item i.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Dr. Chase asked if the Westside station was done.  Mr. Rhoads responded that all the heavy duty work is done.  There is still some tweaking and the contractor hasn’t demobilized yet. 

 

A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Dr. Chase, to adjourn.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:36 a.m.                    

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.12.18_EP_3

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature


12.12.18_EP_4

 

 

 

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COUNTY FACILITIES COMMITTEE MINUTES – DECEMBER 12, 2018

JUDITH A. TASSONE, CHAIR

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Holmquist, Mr. May, Ms. Cody, Mrs. Ervin

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp; See attached list

 

Chair Tassone called the meeting to order at 10:46 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to waive the reading of the minutes of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIEDA motion was made by Ms. Cody, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chair Tassone stated for the record, “A change in the bond resolution.  It is going to be Animal Health Center at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.”  Chair Tassone stated that the Legislature is not sure for the reason for the change. 

 

Mr. Lansley said there was a need for clarification with the two components:  medical/surgical area and the quarantine area.  Quarantine animals may not need medical attention. 

 

Chair Tassone stated that when it came to the Legislature from the 14th floor, this is what the 14th floor wanted. 

 

Mr. May asked if the committee has the correct resolution for item b, and Chair Tassone said yes.

 

1.     PARKS AND RECREATION:  William Lansley, Commissioner

        a.     Accepting Donations from Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and Amending the 2018 County Budget ($45,000)

  • Accept donation from Friends Group
  • $45,000 project - support guest structure; redoing boardwalk area to create large area to observe elephant yard; requires new shade structure; Friends agreed to fund that part of the project
  • 2 exhibits added to resolution:  
  • (1)  $20,000 donation to fund renovation of large aquarium to jellyfish exhibit
  • (2)  Asian elephant exhibit has large tree structure with fabric canopy; every year canopy takes beating with weather; Friends would like to donate $20,000 to put on a permanent hard metal roof that will not need to be replaced

Mr. May asked if the total spend is $85,000 from the Friends, and Mr. Lansley answered yes.  The Friends Group will fund the renovation of the jellyfish exhibit ($20,000).  The $45,000 is an offset for the shade structure project Parks is already doing.  Mr. May asked if it is a financial offset or in-kind, and Mr. Lansley clarified it’s financial.

 

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

 

        b.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Construction of an Animal Health Center at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $7,200,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $7,200,000 Bonds of said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($7,200,000)

  • ~5 years ago started master planning at the Zoo for severe need of upgrade at health center
  • AZA accreditation important - endangered species and breeding recommendations; makes zoo one of the better zoos in the country for its size; happens every 5 years
  • Last 2 terms for AZA accreditation showed a lack of adequate health center availability for species and size of zoo
  • Bond resolution for $7.2 million
  • 2 part building - majority is surgical suite with prep rooms, diagnostics and labs; also quarantine area
  • Acquired engineering firm; plan ready in for 4-6 weeks to have this built this year

Chair Tassone said this is a bond resolution with a maximum cost of $7.2 million, and Mr. Lansley said exactly.  

 

Chair Tassone stated that most of the committee toured the area, and saw the necessity for this; especially the quarantine area.  Hopefully this means they can bring in new species.

 

Mr. May stated for the record that, “We talked about this at budget for 2018, for budget for 2019, it’s been discussed in this committee informationally, and there has been discussion outside of the committee process.”

 

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

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:53 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.12.18_CF_1

JAMIE McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

12.12.18_CF_2

 

 

 

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PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MINUTESDECEMBER 12, 2018

CHRISTOPHER J. RYAN, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Bush, Mr. McBride

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Rowley, Mr. Jordan

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chairman Ryan called the meeting to order at 12:05 p.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Bush, seconded by Mr. McBride, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. McBride, seconded by Mr. Bush, to approve the minutes of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

1.     SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:  Paula Pellizzari, Captain-Police

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction/Construction of Improvements at the Corrections Facility in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $368,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $368,000 Bonds of said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($368,000)

  • Summarized all the 2019 projects at the October meeting, no changes have been made

Chairman Ryan stated that the last meeting questioned if any funds were left over from last year’s projects.  Captain Pellizzari responded that as of 10-17-18 $59,005.80 remained from the 2018 projects.  All PO’s have been issued based on the quotes received.  Two projects are unfinished as discussed in October.  The start date for the dishwasher and floor installation is January 7th and they plan to be fully operational in the kitchen on January 18th.  If problems are encountered with either project additional cost could be incurred, which would use up some of the remaining funds.  Chairman Ryan stated the good news is that we are in the black and we will hold onto those funds so that we will have the necessary appropriations to deal with any problems.

 

In answer to Chairman Ryan, Captain Pellizzari stated that none of the projects outlined for 2019 have changed.  Because time has gone by from when the quotes were obtained some things could be more or a little less as we saw last year.  When we are ready to start those projects we will get new quotes and the RFP will be based on those dollar amounts.  Chairman Ryan said that $34,500 is the overall total.  Captain Pellizzari agreed adding that there are 6 projects in 2019:  facility roadway paying, air conditioning for housing units 1-2 -3, inmate housing unit entry and cell door replacement, corridor ceiling replacement which includes the classroom and multipurpose room, hot water on demand in the housing units and lighting on facility roadways.

 

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

 

2.     EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS:  William Bleyle, Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing Various Improvements to and Replacement of Emergency Communications Facilities and Equipment in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $5,756,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $5,756,000 Bonds of said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($5,756,000)

 

In answer to Chairman Ryan, Mr. Bleyle confirmed that nothing has changed since the October 17th meeting.  Chairman Ryan asked for a quick overview.

 

Mr. Bleyle:

  • Bonding for 5 projects in 2019, all but one should be completed within the year:

1)     Auxiliary power replacement, building 26 years old, the system was installed in 1991 and has the original building generator, replaced UPS in 2003, reached the end of life, undersized, needs capacity expansion, $688,000

2)     Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, $903,000, replacement of hardware for 8 servers and 68 workstations as well as the software, the current system was installed in 2012, no hardware or software updates since, more aggressive on replacement schedules as they juggle about 60 emergencies at any one time, cannot have systems fail, about 2 versions behind in software upgrades, finding functionalities that cannot be done because software version doesn’t support new technologies

3)     Aerial oblique imagery, unlike Google maps, rely heavily upon oblique imagery that allows more realistic view, helpful in locating missing people and identifying buildings, i.e. rely on description of building and other landmarks to locate someone unsure of their location; last flyover conducted in 2014, many changes, also shared with about 300 users from 40 organizations, i.e. town and village assessors, building inspectors; $300,000

 

Chairman Ryan asked if it was anticipated that we would need to do this again in another 4 years.  Mr. Bleyle responded that we look at the changes that have taken place.  In answer to Chairman Ryan, Mr. Bleyle responded that we don’t have grant money for it at this time.  The last time we used SOCPA’s grant funds for some of the hardware.  He has talked to Mr. Jordan about potential future funding models to incorporate this into the budget to ensure it can be done regularly without having to ask for bonding.  We will consistently rely on this through the future.

 

4)     Makyes Radio tower replacement, $265,000, unsure of site age, was inherited, at least 40 years old, low-grade tower currently stretched to its limits, not as high as it needs to be and the galvanizing has worn thin and can no longer be repaired in places; not aware of others towers in the fleet needing replacement

 

Mr. McBride asked the projected timeframe.  Mr. Bleyle responded that the process will start in 2019; may look at alternative locations, possibly start construction by fall and finish in the spring.  This is the one project that may go into 2020.  The big thing is the steel pricing and how long it takes to manufacture the tower; the last tower took about 5 months from order to delivery.  Mr. McBride asked what happens to the old tower.  Mr. Bleyle responded that it is scrapped as part of the bid and factored into the costs.

 

Mr. Bush stated the cost is for replacement not considering relocation.  Mr. Bleyle responded that if we relocate we may enter into a public/private partnership, i.e. may be a cell company or other alternatives were we build the tower and let others put their equipment there.  Mr. Bush asked if they co-locate on private towers.  Mr. Bleyle responded that there is some however, it is expensive and can be problematic.  We would rather build our tower as often things are not maintained to public safety standards.  For example, we entered into an agreement with Verizon where they were able to build on one of our towers and we were able to build on one of theirs.  They have since sold the tower to another commercial provider who wants a lot of money just to replace an antenna; a one dollar arrangement with Verizon was supposed to be memorialized for any changes.  From a public safety standpoint, we lease our towers and earn revenue for the county but are very careful.  Our system supports 9,000 radios within Onondaga County operated by 160 public safety and public service agencies, therefore, we are very concerned about the noise floor and the generation of noise that could potentially cover up weak signals from portables.  As a lessee, we are at the mercy of other users of the system.  We control our owned towers but it is much more difficult when you are a tenant.

 

Mr. McBride asked how the location is determined and who makes the decision.  Mr. Bleyle responded that our radio system has 15 tower sites selected to provide the best possible coverage for public safety portable radios with some degree of overlap.  The sites are chosen by engineers who have agreements with Motorola.  If we move it will not be far from where we are.  It will be challenging to replace the tower in our current location because it is a small parcel, might be better able to control costs on another site.  Mr. McBride again asked who determines the actual location for the replacement.  Mr. Bleyle responded we determine this along with our engineers - Motorola services our radios and we have our own in-house radio division.  Right now we have 99% portable radio coverage within buildings and we want to protect that.  Our goal is that no firefighter or police officer should be in a situation where they can’t be heard.  Mr. McBride asked if he anticipates moving the Makyes tower from its current location.  Mr. Bleyle responded that we are still in the early stages of looking at alternatives and he is not leaning either way. 

 

Chairman Ryan said that consultants were used for the last project which is the replacement of 10+-year-old technology which is Wi-Fi /GPS.  In answer to Chairman Ryan, Mr. Bleyle said that he did not know if Motorola would enter a bid for this project.  The current system is Data Radio, which is not a Motorola system.

  • All police, fire, and EMS vehicles are equipped with automatic vehicle location as well as mobile computer terminals, allows for CAD messaging, police can run license plate checks, and paramedics can do report writing from the vehicle, the system is beyond its 10 year shelf life, has very limited data – equivalent to a dial-up modem, technology has advanced well beyond that
  • Consultants performed 2 studies, 1st phase looked at what we had and said it needed to be replaced, 2nd phase looked at the options and decided a commercial broadband provider was the best option because it offered more throughput; the project will decommission the old system and replace with mobile routers capable of commercial broadband

Chairman Ryan asked if that this would then be put out to bid to determine whom the next provider will be.  Mr. Bleyle responded that some decision will have to be made as there are two components.  An RFP will be issued for the hardware, which includes removing the old mobile data radios from police, fire and EMS vehicles and installing the new mobile routers, antennas and everything needed to make it work with their system.  The second component would be subscriber fees attached to the commercial broadband network.  We will look to the consultant to determine if we go off state contract, use First Net rates, which is now the national public safety broadband through AT&T, or allow individual agencies to make their own decisions as far as the provider portion. 

Chairman Ryan asked to be provided with the reports from Winbourne.  

 

Mr. Bush stated there was no consideration of moving from the current building location.  Mr. Bleyle responded that there has been discussion about the possibility of moving into a combined public safety center with the Sherriff’s office.  He has not been part of those discussions at this point but it is a possibility.  Mr. Bush asked how much investment should be placed in the brick and mortar of this facility that cannot be transferred to another location.  Mr. Bleyle responded that this was a good question.  The only thing he sees being affected is the replacement of the auxiliary power systems, however, he would expect the site to be retained as a backup site if we were to move.  Our current backup site is about 75% of capacity.  It is workable in a pinch but defiantly undersized and we would want to retain good backup systems. 

 

Chairman Ryan said that this antiquated infrastructure needs to be updated.  Last year, or the year before, we upgraded the air conditioning.  That was a lot of money but we cannot avoid it.  Mr. Bleyle responded that the building construction began in 1990 and was completed in 1991 so all the systems like the roof and air conditioning are at the end of life. 

 

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

 

3.     DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION:  Jason Dean, Director Data Analytics - Finance Department

        a.     Transfer from Probation Department, Account 694010 Travel & Training to Probation Department, Account 694130 Maint., Utilities and Rents, $8,000

 

Mr. Dean:

  • Transfer needed for electronic home confinement contract that came in greater than expected – mandated GPS monitoring

A motion was made by Mr. McBride, seconded by Mr. Bush, to approve the item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

The meeting adjourned at 12:35 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

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KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

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* * *

 

PLANNING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MINUTES - DECEMBER 13, 2018

JOHN D. McBRIDE, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Holmquist, Mr. Buckel, Mr. Burtis, Mr. Plochocki

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chairman McBride called the meeting to order at 10:33 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Mr. Holmquist, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the August committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Buckel, seconded by Mr. Burtis, to approve the minutes of the August committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

1.     CORNELL COOPERATIVE EXTENSION: 

        a.     Confirming Reappointments to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Onondaga County Board of Directors (Debra J. Cody, Kevin A. Holmquist) (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)

 

Chairman McBride stated that these reappointments are for one-year terms that expire December 31, 2019.  Mr. Burtis stated that this board does a lot of good work and he is happy to see two members of the legislature on this board.

 

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

 

2.     GREATER SYRACUSE PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (LANDBANK): 

        a.     Confirming the Appointment to the Board of Directors of the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation (Michael LaFlair) (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)

 

Chairman McBride stated that he has personally known and had a lot of interactions with Mr. LaFlair in his housing division role for a long time.  Mr. LaFlair is very qualified, has the educational background and the experience.

 

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

 

3.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:  Martin Skahen, Director

        a.     Authorizing the Transfer of Tax Delinquent Properties to the Onondaga County Housing Development Fund Company

 

Mr. Skahen:

  • Homes are taken from delinquent tax auction before the auction annually
  • Rehabilitate and sell the homes to low-income first time home buyers; a program with the state provides a subsidy of up to $40,000
  • 6 homes chosen, try to choose homes where we will break even once they are rehabbed and sold

Chairman McBride stated there is one in Cicero, two in Clay and three in Salina.  Mr. Skahen agreed, adding that he is currently doing two in East Syracuse. 

 

Mr. Buckel stated that he supports this but is trying to better understand the process.  These were delinquent properties that were noticed for auction and the appropriate notices were given to the taxpayers.  Mr. Skahen agreed and added that about a month before the auction we receive the list of all the properties.  It is reviewed and a wish list of about 60 is prepared.  The list narrows as people pay their taxes.  About 1 week before the auction the list is narrowed further and then the night before the auction the homes chosen are removed from the auction list.  In answer to Mr. Buckel, Mr. Durr stated that the county takes passion and immediately transfers the property.  Mr. Buckel stated that in essence the notice is the foreclosure and you don’t have to go through the process.  Mr. Durr responded that we always have the ability to acquire because we have the tax lien and that is why we can pull it.  Mr. Buckel asked if they had to engage in a foreclosure.  Mr. Durr responded, “No.”, we just don’t want to hold all these properties and that is why they go to auction.  Mr. Buckel stated he remains in favor.

 

Chairman McBride asked if there was a schedule as to when these would all be completed.  Mr. Skahen responded that this is part of the housing rehab inspectors’ duties.  Currently, 9 homes are at some level of rehab, 2 are on the market, one is located in Solvay and the other is in Mattydale, and as they finish one they will start another.  Chairman McBride asked the time frame.  Mr. Skahen responded that we like to complete them within a year. 

 

Mr. Burtis thanked Mr. Skahen for coming to Cicero, more specifically Brewerton.  Each of the towns has issues with these types of blight conditions.  They are a real issue and sometimes the open markets just cannot catch a vision for a house or the numbers are too tight and so this is a valuable service for neighbors.  Mr. Skahen responded that the homes are usually sold at market value and it actually helps the neighbors.  Mr. Burtis stated that local contractors win and because so much work is done to the house there isn’t much margin for profit but in the end, it is a good thing.  We are helping the neighbors and we get the house back on the tax roll.

 

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

 

4.     INFORMATIONAL:  Empire State Trail:  Dan Kwasnowski, Director

 

Chairman McBride stated Mr. Kwasnowski was present to brief the committee on a new initiative called the Empire State Trail.

 

Mr. Kwasnowski:

  • The idea was written on a whiteboard a week ago and has developed rapidly, presented to Ms. Primo and the County Executive and they ran with it and wanted this presented ASAP

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  • The purple line is where the state will finish the gap in the trail, $20 million investment, yellow area is the trail shed – captures all affected communities
  • The trail starts with the existing canal path in Camillus, the Honeywell project, a portion of Loop the Lake, the Creek Walk, then down Erie Blvd, over to Widewaters and Towpath Rd., use a bridge to go over 481 and tie into the existing trail from there
  • Large investment and a big change for the County, people come from all over the world to ride across the country; trails drive economic benefits but we don’t have a plan as to how our communities will get the most out of this, propose this as a local opportunity to determine how we tie in communities to the trail as it touches 11 different communities
  • Idea is to develop a local economic development plan that will look at connections, wayfinding, marketing, and facilities that businesses will need to accommodate bikes; the proposal is in draft form, asked Mr. Holmquist to sponsor

In answer to Mr. Buckel, Mr. Kwasnowski stated the trails will all be paved.  Erie Boulevard will go right down the middle and there will be a series of crosswalks to get from Erie Boulevard to Towpath Road. 

  • Sam Gordon is working on an interesting project called Erie Commons in Dewitt, a Phase 2 meeting will be held in February, looking at a whole main street redevelopment scenario based upon this trail go through; can look at how will this invigorate and create economic opportunities along the trial
  • The trail will not only attract more people from out of town, but it will also change the way people travel in town, i.e. ride a bike to work, get something to eat or have a beer

Mr. Holmquist stated that this currently happens on the Erie Canal and businesses absolutely have tourist.  Additionally, trails were always at the top of the list for quality of life in every survey conduct from organizations like the Citizen’s League, 20-20, and Consensus.  We have great trails but they are not connected.

  • The informational factor is important, need signage and apps for the trail network to rate the level of the trails and provide direction, i.e. how to get to a pizza shop

Mr. Holmquist stated that when the Burdick Street Erie Canal Park was redone they paved part of the Erie Canal Trail and the level of interest was remarkable and much greater than imagined.

 

Chairman McBride asked if this concept was in a proposal form.  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that there is a draft proposal.  The County Executive would like to use $35,000 of room occupancy tax (ROT).  Mr. Buckel asked what was included.  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that he can do a plan at any level.  Because of the number of communities involved, we would like to outsource this on a contractual basis using ROT funds as a seed to then attract, state, federal and private money.  There is a big portion of the trail on private land and maybe they would be willing to help a bit; want to start talking to local communities to determine what they would like to see and what we can do.  As planners, wayfinding and typical things like mapping would be done in-house.  We are trying to take what we have and grow it.  Mr. Burtis said that we don’t really have a number yet.  Mr. Kwasnowski agreed, adding that $35,000 will come out of ROT. 

 

Mr. Buckel stated that it is a multimillion-dollar project to complete this trail.  Mr. Kwasnowski said that other projects would then be identified.  This will not pay for the projects, just the planning which will go a long way toward CFA applications. 

 

Mr. Burtis asked if this had any connection to the Freedom Trail from the Underground Railroad days.  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that we looked through the national designation of features along this corridor believing it would be part of what we incorporate into the plan.  Mr. Burtis said that people are very interested in the historical significance of the trial and some of his constituents are very proud of the fact that their home was a part of the Underground Railroad though he realizes that this trail will not connect to the Oneida Lake area.

 

Mr. Plochocki asked if this project would be coordinated with Economic Development.  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that it will definitely be coordinated with Economic Development.  One of the things we would like to do is an economic analysis but that depends on how much money there is.  Reaching out to communities and asking if they thought about this is a benefit as this is coming very quickly.  Mr. Buckel said that judging from the enthusiastic reaction of this committee an economic study is not needed.  A holistic approach to engaging local communities is enough to generate support rather than concocting some plan that is “pie in the sky”, especially if communities are engaging in the process.  Mr. Kwasnowski stated he understood.

 

In answer to Chairman McBride, Mr. Kwasnowski stated that he has not had conversations with any of the communities.  This committee was the first to know after Ms. Primo and the County Executive.  He likes to engage the communities as much as possible, but this is coming down from the state so now we have to bring this up from the bottom.  Chairman McBride asked the timeframe.  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that the timeframe would be the January session.  Mr. Holmquist stated that we want to respect the committee process. 

 

Mr. Kwasnowski said that he will also be bringing the County Plan forward in January as a conceptual proposal.  It is well thought out and consist of about 5 things.  By January we will have a community engagement plan that is very specific.  The County Executive and I will be presenting at the County Supervisors and Village Mayors meetings in January to roll out the concept of the plan.  We are trying to get feedback and so far everyone seems to like the direction we are going in.  Mr. Holmquist said that it was refreshing to have SOCPA welcome at the Mayors and Town Supervisors Associations for the first time in quite some time. 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 11:01 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

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KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

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 * * *

 

 

WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES

December 14, 2018

DEBRA CODY, CHAIR

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Jordan, Mr. Ryan, Ms. Williams, Mr. Plochocki, Mr. May

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mrs. Ervin

ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman Knapp, Mr. Bush, Mr. Buckel

 

Chair Cody called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.  A motion was made by Ms. Williams, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to waive the reading and approve the minutes of proceeding of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

CONSENT AGENDA

 

1.     ADULT AND LONG TERM CARE SERVICES:

        a.     Providing for Personnel Changes in the Department of Adult and Long Term Care Services

 

2.     PARKS AND RECREATION:

        a.     Accepting Donations from Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and Amending the 2018 County Budget ($45,000)

 

3.     DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION:

        a.     Transfer from Probation Department, Account 694010 Travel & Training to Probation Department, Account 694130 Maint., Utilities and Rents, $8,000

 

4.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:

        a.     Authorizing the Execution of Agreements to Accept Grant Funds from the NYS DEC in Connection with the Installation of Cogeneration Units at Metro WWTP

 

5.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:

        a.     Authorizing the Transfer of Tax Delinquent Properties to the Onondaga County Housing Development Fund Company

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Ms. Williams, to approve the items on the consent agenda.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

 

REGULAR AGENDA

 

1.     COUNTY CLERK:  Jackie Norfolk, Deputy County Clerk

        a.     Mortgage Tax Apportionment

  • Semi-annual report
  • Up from first half of the year by $660K

 Mr. May asked how it compares to last year.  Ms. Norfolk said that it is up a little bit.  Mr. May asked if it could be provided, and ask that the committee be provided with the year-to-year comparisons each time the mortgage tax apportionment is brought forward.

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Ms. Williams, to approve this item.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

2.     FINANCE, DIVISION OF REAL PROPERTY TAX SERVICES:  Don Weber, Director, Real Prop. Tax Svcs.

        a.     Southwood-Jamesville Water District – General Apportionment

        b.     Southwood-Jamesville Water District, Town of Dewitt Apportionment

        c.     Southwood-Jamesville Water District, Town of Onondaga Apportionment 

  • Small water district, approx. 100 parcels, maintenance, fire hydrants

 A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Plochocki, to approve items 2a – 2c.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

        d.     Warners Water District – General Apportionment

        e.     Warners Water District, Town of Camillus Apportionment

        f.      Warners Water District, Town of Van Buren Apportionment 

  • Special assessment district, supporting maintenance, fire hydrants

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to approve items 2d – 2f.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

        g.     2019 Town Tax Rates, Fixed, Ratified, and Confirmed

  • Town and county tax rates that will be on 2019 January tax bills
  • Approved in town budgets and in the county budget

 

In answer to Mr. May, Mr. Weber said that it changes from town to town when the equalization rate changes.  Mr. May said anyone with 100% is down about a penny.

 

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

 

3.     FINANCE, DIVISION OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET:  Tara Venditti, Deputy Director

        a.     Authorize the County Comptroller to Transfer 2018 Unencumbered Appropriations and Appropriate Revenue After Expiration of the 2018 Fiscal Year Upon Approval of the County Executive and the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee

  • Items 3a & 3b - Standard year end requests for authorization to transfer funds between accounts to clean up any negative balances
  • Reviewed with the Chair of Ways & Means Committee for approval before transfer are made

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Ms. Williams, to approve this item.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     Authorizing the County Comptroller, Upon Approval of the Finance Department Division of Management and Budget and the County Executive's Office, to Transfer 2018 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

  • Interdepartmental account, fringe accounts, interdepartmental chargebacks between departments 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Ms. Williams, to approve this item.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED

.

        c.     Monthly Report - Double Encumbered Positions (Res. 86-2018)

 

Ms. Venditti reviewed the attached report as of pay period no. 24.

 

report

  • As of pay period 24
  • Over 90 days of double encumbered:
  • Finance – Ms. Venditti:   Account Clerk 2 who is chronically ill and in and out of work; position double filled to keep the work going; not sure of the end of status at this point
  • District Attorney – Mr. Weiss:  Assistant DA – the P100 is in, has been split, no longer exits;

Investigator I will end Dec. 31st; Process Server – split time 50/50 – equals 100% for both – go through the day and into the night

  • Health – Ms. Mignano:  Typist 2 – have 6 staff in Vital Statistics that are Typist 1 & 2 – had one Clerk 2 funded, other positions are Typist 1’s – couldn’t fill a Typist 2 due to tasks of the job – also didn’t want to put a person in a Clerk 2 when the entire office were typist positions.  The 2019 budget title was created effective Jan 1st and the Clerk 2 will go.
  • Social Services – Ms. Merrick:  Clerk 1 – received medical resignation – double encumbrance will end PP #26; Community Services Aide – needed to wait until the 2019 budget – will come off PP #1 in 2019; Income Maintenance Supervisor I – required a positions added in 2019 budget – will come off PP #1 in 2019; Income Maint. Supervisor 2 – anticipates a resignation letter – if not, are anticipating a retirement in January – will come off 1st PP in 2019
  • Children & Family Services – Mr. Gasiorowski:  all positions will be cleared up in the 2019 budget

4.     SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:  Captain Pallazari

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction/Construction of Improvements at the Corrections Facility in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $368,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $368,000 Bonds of said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($368,000)

  • 2019 portion of 2018-2023 CIP Project for various improvements at correction facility

 Mr. Jordan asked if this is for on-demand hot water tanks and air conditions units.  Capt. Pallazari said that those are 2 of the projects; there are 6 in the 2019 portion.

 

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

 

5.     EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS:  William Bleyle, Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing Various Improvements to and Replacement of Emergency Communications Facilities and Equipment in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $5,756,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $5,756,000 Bonds of said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($5,756,000) 

  • 5 different projects commenced in 2019 

Chair Cody said that these projects went through program committee and were passed unanimously.

 

Mr. Ryan thanked Mr. Bleyle for providing a consultant’s report, which was requested from the Public Safety Committee, to get an idea of where we are and where we will be going regarding replacement of the mobile data communications component.

 

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

 

6.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:  Tom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     Approving Proposed Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Thickener Rehabilitation Project in and for the County Of Onondaga, New York ($3,730,000)

  • Business case reports were provided on each of the investments
  • Take biosolids, thicken them – existing equipment is over 40 years old – has an expected service life of 30 years
  • In failure cures seen appreciable mortality resulting in poor performance
  • Poor performance in thickener leads to poor performance in the digesting to significant additional cost for disposal of biosolids
  • Equipment is in service all of the time – need to replace significant portions
  • Risk curve – both likelihood of failure and consequence of failure which creates a total risk; not asking to replace everything; doing mechanical, electrical equipment, rehabilitation of tanks
  • Received preliminary scoring from NYS EFC of 81 points; funding threshold of 68 points – that would enable funding projects through the NYS EFC; SRF program – able to borrow the money at one half of the AAA interest rate; are very aggressive about grants

Mr. May asked if the risk maintenance has been used before in terms of putting up any other items.  Mr. Rhoads said that it was created with the business proposals.  Many projects in the past were also driven by SPDES permit or regulatory consent order.  Now getting into asset renewal discussions; important to give a deep understanding of what we are doing and why we are doing it with a business case analysis and risk base study.

 

Mr. May asked for perspective – likelihood of failure 1 - 10 as of today.  Mr. Rhoads said that it is, with a 10 meaning it failed.  Mr. May asked what the basis is for the consequence of failure scale.  Mr. Rhoads gave a couple examples, including a pipeline bursting in the middle of a neighborhood – the consequence of failure would be a 10.  Mr. May said that it is a subjective rating in that there is no formulaic attachment of metric attached to it.  Mr. Rhoads said metrics are tied to it, i.e. is there redundancy; if we lose a piece of redundant equipment we have a spare; lacking a spare, the consequence of failure is higher.  There is a numeric basis for each that is driving the consequence of failure.  The likelihood of failure is a condition of age, ability to get parts, ability to put it back together, how much energy it is using.  There is a numeric process, weighing of each of those factors to get to a likelihood of failure score.  

 

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

 

       b.     BOND RESOLUTION:  Authorizing the Issuance of $3,730,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Thickener Rehabilitation Project ($3,730,000)

 

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

 

        c.     Approving Proposed Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Brewerton WPCP Asset Renewal Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York ($12,575,000) 

  • Infrastructure built in or around the ’70’s; service Cicero area along lakefront
  • Residential populations have adjoined the property; Parade of Homes adjacent to this a few years ago
  • Rehabilitation of infrastructure - failing equipment, replace old items that are are out of date – will provide energy efficiencies; code related situations - life safety codes aren’t there now
  • Difficult to find parts for current infrastructure due to age
  • Increase/Improve SCADA system – more able to operate plants remotely or have optimization of process by utilization of computerized equipment
  • Maintain compliance with permit – if not, could face penalties
  • Tour on 12/20 at 1:00 p.m.

In answer to Mr. Ryan regarding penalties, Mr. Rhoads said that when there is issue with permits, it potentially exposes us to $37,500/day for permit non-compliance from DEC.

 

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

 

        d.     BOND RESOLUTION:  Authorizing the Issuance of $12,575,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Brewerton WPCP Asset Renewal Project ($12,575,000)

 

A motion was made by Mr. Plochocki, seconded by Ms. Williams, to approve this item.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

        e.     Approving Proposed Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Digester Phase II Improvements Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York ($27,680,000)

  • Committee members toured plant – had opportunity to look at digester complex and control house
  • Digesting solids anaerobically, which creates methane and reduces the amount of solids to be disposed by almost half
  • Methane used to heat 42-acre campus at Metro and generate electricity from it
  • Secondary digester roof – no longer goes up and down properly, tilts – not able to store gas, not making energy, wasting money
  • Pieces at end of life – rusted through, can’t get parts for them
  • Heat exchangers were undersized from the start – taking them down monthly to clean them
  • A number of health, safety, environment asset management needs
  • Bond amount includes additional bio-diesel engines, engine generator sets – able to get EFC funding for borrowing
  • Received $1.3M grant

 

Chair Cody noted that the tour at Metro was very thorough and very eye opening as to the condition of this.

 

Mr. Ryan asked how the $27.56 million is arrived at.  Mr. Rhoads explained that when the projects are prepared there are different phases of design.  The first phase is conceptual - what will happen in 5 years, +/- 30% range.  At the 25% design phase, outside engineers itemize all pieces of equipment, materials, and labor to do all restoration work.  At 50% design, the engineers update their estimate.  In this particular project, and most on the agenda today, are at the 50% cost estimate.  Comment is now being made on the 95% design; it is 100% complete.  It is made sure that the project is delivered within the budget provided within 95%.  There is an itemized line for each individual thing listed as part of this.  Mr. Ryan compared these projects to being in the same vein as the projects in Emergency Communications and Sheriff’s Dept – there is antiquated infrastructure and we don’t have a choice.  He referenced the large sums of money, and wants to make sure the right amount of money is being borrowed.  Mr. Rhoads said that there is a small contingency built in for unknowns or field conditions – things that are found when you open them up – about 7% of a project.  He said that if they have to bust the budget, it has to come back to the legislature.  He explained that they don’t borrow the full amount.  As the project is bid, awarded, and proceeds through construction, draws are done with Dept. of Finance.  They draw from EFC money or WEP fund balance to pay for the construction process, then they backfill the draw with borrowings on an annual basis.  At no point will the borrowings be in excess of what the true costs are.  Very often when a project is closed, it closes with a balance between what was approved and what the final project was.  However, the full amount has to be borrowed because when projects are going on, i.e. Westside Pump Station project, Falter has a crane there that is billing the county $2,000/day for everyday that it is sitting on campus.  If we get to the point in a project and don’t have the resources to proceed, the contractors are allowed to continue to bill us for delay damages.  Mr. Ryan said that we ran into that with the Trolley Lot.  Mr. Rhoads agreed saying that there were unforeseen conditions in that project.

 

Mr. Plochocki congratulated Mr. Rhoads on receiving the grant and for thinking outside of the box with the natural methane, etc.  It not only brought the cost down, but is an environmentally effective way of doing things.

 

Mr. Jordan referred to estimated energy saving of $151K per year and asked about anticipated savings from the methane co-generation.  Mr. Rhoads said that most of this project is related to the delivery of energy.  Most of the campus right now is heated with biogas – have to occasionally buy natural gas when we are not storing.  Effectively with these big gas bubble is store biogas for a relatively long period of time, avoiding having to buy natural gas.  He believes the $151K savings is inclusive of natural gas and electricity.  Mr. May asked if the energy benefit is limited to the campus; Mr. Rhoads confirmed that it is.

 

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

 

        f.      BOND RESOLUTION:  Authorizing the Issuance of $27,680,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Digester Phase II Improvements Project ($27,680,000)

 

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

 

        g.     Approving Proposed Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Biosolids Drying Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York ($15,106,000)

  • Significant market changes is disposal market for biosolids cake
  • Biosolids cake is about 30% solids and 70% water
  • NYC experienced the loss of their disposal capacity by train to Alabama and all of it moved upstate
  • Several other market conditions change – 2 of the 4 large landfills in NY have had difficulty with permits to accept additional biosolids
  • Cost of biosolids went up appreciably form $50/ton to $77.50/ton for transport and disposal
  • 2016 study was done – evaluate dryer – did not make sense at that time because biosolids disposal costs were low
  • With spike in pricing, holding at a 5-year bid, it makes sense to invest in dryer – will dry sludge cake from 30% solids up to 90% solids; will pelletize it
  • An estimated payback period of 8.1 - 11.1 years for this project--compares favorably to 20 year borrowing term
  • Pelletized biosolids may potentially be eligible for use as a fertilizer material – would require separate federal and state permitting
  • Feds recently released a report that adds complication to the land use of biosolids

 

Mr. May asked if Mr. Rhoads sees any relief on the horizon in sight for disposal.  Mr. Rhoads said “No, I do not.”

In answer to Mr. May, Mr. Rhoads said that there are carbon credits for alternative fuels in Canada; potential for waste materials from the northeast into Canada.  There is a small potential that this material could be moved to cement kilns or something similar, which would avoid the use of coal.  Coal as a fuel is cheaper, but the Providence of Ontario and Environment Canada has created carbon taxes.  Use of alternative fuels, i.e. tires and biosolids, would create and opportunity for cost of voidance and making perhaps have this material as an opportunity for alternative fuel.  He said that he does not see the landfill conditions in New York State changing at all; they are getting worse; there is a significant movement afoot to make landfills more and more strict.

 

Mr. May said that if any of these opportunities were to come about, i.e. fertilizer, it would require the county to get into that business, or would there be a market for it and someone would pick it up.  Mr. Rhoads said that in the past they have reverse distributed it.  There was a process on campus, where they amended the biosolids and killed all pathogens by adding heavy doses of lime.  It was an attractive item for non-food crops.  Pelletizing would be a material that could be easily handled by typical trucking and agricultural process, but does require a specific application permitting process.  All pathogens will be killed in the process of drying.

Mr. Plochocki said that this affects all plants except Baldwinsville; Mr. Rhoads agreed.  He said that Metro is the receiver of biosolids from almost all complexes that WEP operates.

 

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

 

        h.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $15,106,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the Metro Biosolids Drying Project ($15,106,000)

 

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

 

7.     LEGISLATURE:  Deborah Maturo, Clerk

        a.     Transfer from Co. Leg. Acct. 641010, Regular Employees Salaries, Co. Leg. Acct. 668720

Transfer to Grant Expenditures, $50,000

  • The 600 Mhz band used for wireless microphones in legislative chambers has been acquired by Team Mobile through the FCC
  • By 2020 only 16 mics will be working
  • Potential that 8 can go at any given time
  • Have to move fairly quickly to start replacing the system
  • Will go to a digital system (vs. current analog), which will work coherently with the wired mics that exist
  • Salary savings exits in 101 account; request to move them to transfer to grant expenditures to them move them into the Legislative Chambers Project account

 

Chair Cody said that this is moving money that we already have.

 

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

 

8.     FACILITIES MANAGEMENT:  Archie Wixson, Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  Authorizing the Construction of Improvements at the Oncenter in an for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $1,500,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,500,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay the Costs Thereof ($1,500,000)

  • Improvements throughout Oncenter complex consistent to what is in CIP
  • Consistent with last several years – identified certain elements of Oncenter complex that has required enhancements and upgrades

 Chair Cody noted that this passed unanimously at program committee.

 

Mr. May said there is no appropriation attached to this and questioned why.  Ms. Venditti said that this is a bond obligation for $1.5M; when this is approved, that is the mechanism to set up the appropriation.

 

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

 

 

9.     PARKS & RECREATION:  William Lansley, Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  Authorizing Various Improvements to the Parks and Recreation Areas in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $1,697,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,697,000 Bond of Said County to Pay the Costs Thereof ($1,697,000)

  • Highland Forest:  Replace air conditioning units that are obsolete
  • Highland Forest, Beaver Lake, Administration Garage:  furnaces and boilers
  • Zoo:  HVAC units are corroded and need replacement
  • NBT Stadium:  heat pumps associated with suites – individual to each suite, at end of life; don’t want to replace until they fail to get the most life out of them; this project will replace them as they fail
  • Highland Forest:  original fire suppression system in the lodge has had condensation issues over the years – corroded the piping from the inside; have had a lot of leaks and causes false alarms for sprinkler system, $125,000
  • Willow Bay Annex:  renovate restrooms, $100,000
  • Carpenter’s Brook:  lining concrete exterior ponds, $302,000; previous were given $100,000 for concrete repairs, which they still have – will do concrete repairs first then line with fiberglass
  • Carpenter’s Brook:  roads and trail maintenance -- main road mill and replace, $300,000
  • Veteran’s Cemetery:  repair internal road, $70,000
  • Onondaga Lake Park:  re-done entire Ten Eyck park trail with exception underneath Rt. 90
  • Camp Brockway & Pratts Falls:  road repair

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Ms. Williams to approve this item.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Construction of an Animal Health Center at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $7,200,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $7,200,000 Bonds of said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($7,200,000)

  • Just Completed AZA accreditation, a 5-year process
  • Identified medical facility identified as being woefully inadequate and
  • Will incorporate state of the art equipment, building for surgery, prep, all care animals need; a quarantine section required for every animal that is taken in – for 30 – 60 days
  • Engineer on site – weeks away from that being completed and ready to get it built this year

 

A motion was made by Mr. Ryan, seconded by Ms. Williams to approve this item.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

10.  MISC.:  Brian Donnelly, Deputy County Executive

        a.     Amending Resolution No. 372-1967, as Most Recently Amended by Resolution No. 83-2010, Regarding the Imposition and Disposition of Sales and Compensating Use Tax Pursuant to Articles 28 and 29 of the Tax Law of the State of New York (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)

 

Mr. Donnelly:

  • Amending Res. No. 372-67, which was amended by Res. No. 83-10; essentially an extension of the existing sales tax agreement
  • Takes agreement as it exists in 2020 and extend it from 2021 – 2030
  • Sales tax in Onondaga Co. is 8%; 4% goes back to NYS; half stays in the county
  • Of the 4% - there is a division - 3% and 1%
  • Approximately 74.9% of the combined 3% & 1% will stay with Onondaga County; 24.45% will go to City of Syracuse; .65% will be distributed to the school districts that are within Onondaga County – even if borders cover other counties, they are allotted a portion based on a number registered and living in Onondaga County
  • No a change in the agreement – extension that that takes it out for another 10 years

Mr. Plochocki commended the Co. Executive, the Mayor’s office and Chair of the Legislature for the fantastic job with this.  Things were a lot more drawn out, contentious last time.  He said “this is amazing, and I whole heartedly support this.”

 

Mr. Jordan said that offhand he does not know of any reason not to go with this, but he will abstain, because he hasn’t been able go through all of it.  Chair Cody said that she is not expecting to take a vote on this today.  Mr. Jordan said that this is a 10-year agreement and wants to make sure, as 2018 was a vastly different environment than it is right now.  Chair Cody said that this item was just received yesterday afternoon; it was good to get it here for today, but right now it is for information for members to digest, go back and talk to our constituents.

 

Mr. Buckel said that he learned of this yesterday.  It is a very important process initiative by Mr. McMahon.  He added congratulations and respect to the Mayor’s office and the County Executive for doing this, as well as the village officials who were engaged the last several months.  He said that it needs to be understood that in changing dates, the first 5 years is little change to the city – it is locking in year 10 of where we are today.  There is a lot to discuss. 

 

Chair Cody stated that no vote would be taken on item 10b.

 

Mr. Bush asked what the process is going forward.  Chairman Knapp said that a vote would not be taken today, but it is being considered, which means it gives the flexibility to vote on this on Tuesday, December 18th or the January 2nd session.  He said that this was just received yesterday afternoon, but we have been talking about if for a long time.  There are not a lot of big questions overall, but it is a big deal, and we need to take a look at it and make sure it is done right.  He has been talking to folks up to now and will after this meeting to get their thoughts on the best way to do this.  He said that he is leaning towards January 2nd to give us a few weeks to talk about it, think about it, and talk to constituents about it.

 

Chairman Knapp said that we have worked hard the past 7 or 8 years with the towns, with the village improvement program; put snow plow agreements in place in 2017, which was very well received by the towns.  It has consistently been reapproved by each town unanimously.  The Town of Fabius was just handed a $300K check, which they didn’t expect – thanks to Mr. Donnelly for going back to NYS and getting that extra snow plow money.  The town of Dewitt was made whole on Shoppingtown – that was $7 million that we are helping that community with, which they would have to come up with if we weren’t making them whole.  He said that he didn’t look at this as any kind of conflict with the towns; we are all working together on this.  The town supervisors that he has talked to are all very content with this being moved forward.

 

Chair Cody said that she attended the County Executive’ town hall meeting last night in Cicero, and was able to get feedback from the supervisor and other folks.  There is another one coming up in Salina, and it is very helpful to get a chance to talk to the people. 

 

Mr. May said that what he likes about this is that it is a coordinated strategy to address real concerns and at the same time turn them into opportunities when you look at Sales Tax, enhanced VIP, and other things on the horizon to help towns, villages, and the city in a way that makes sense.  There are priorities being put in place.  He likes the vision, strategy, and coordination; some will take some time to drop into place, but there is a lot of communications going on.  These are two huge pieces of the puzzle, but it is a state of mind.  Many legislators come from town and village governments and have the sensitivity and awareness of what is needed out there.  These are two big steps of moving in that direction.  Communication with the towns and villages has been really good; the mayors have been fantastic; it was a tough situation for them over the last 9 years.  This is stepping towards better things based on the realities of respective businesses in terms of sewer infrastructure and things like that we are going to have to be taking on together.  If it not taken on together, it may have to be taken on individually, and that is a problem for everybody.  He said he supports that is going on; it involves some patience because a lot of pieces still need to come together.

 

Mr. Bush said that as a former town supervisor, he sat in the legislative chambers 8 years ago and watched this body tear a community apart by ripping out the towns from the formula.  It was unconscionable.  He said that while there was legal right to do that, it wasn’t in the best interest of the total community.  He noted that Cayuga County shares their sales tax with their city, their villages, and their towns as one community.  He said that all that some of us are asking for is any increase in the sales tax amount, from what is currently being received now, that the additional increase be shared among the towns.  There is already a village program in place, that you want to enhance – does now know how that compares to what they receive under the sales tax arrangement.  It is two entirely separate issues that are looked at the village governments verses the town governments.  He does not think that is too much to ask that the towns get a percentage of the increase in sales tax revenue over the next 10 years to help them with their day to day budget concerns.  It doesn’t negate the snow plowing – they earned that money and worked for that money.  They are getting reimbursed and the thanked Mr. Donnelly for his efforts to get the state on board with it. 

 

Mr. Bush said that he can’t image how the city would feel if all of sudden they were ripped out of a formula.  That is what happened to the towns.  Not all towns took the money in cash, but they had that option if they needed too.  That was wiped out under the formula passed 8 years ago.  “Now, in the dead of night, we are extending that for 10 more years without any option to discuss some changes in it.”  He said that there are economic changes that have taken place in the county -- seeing growth in a lot of the towns, and it is not static – seeing some growth in the city.  He questioned if it is fair that one form of our government, in this case the towns, have to rely on property tax for their funds to run their government, while they look around and see the county and city getting tax revenues that aren’t property based.   

 

Mr. Bush said that the county saved $5 million by dumping Van Duyn; saving millions of dollars with the cap on Medicaid, which is wonderful.  He feels this needs to be looked at – not short term.  The towns survived, because they had no other alternative.  He would hope there would be a step back and look at us as a total community, to work together, and not just one branch of government dictating because the State Legislature gave it the right to say only the county and city deserves some money and left the towns out of the equation.  Seventy percent of the people are represented by town government. 

 

Mr. Donnelly said that the county executive has been clear – he is considering the entire county.  He is working with the towns and is looking at infrastructure and for ways to partner with the towns to assist in areas where the county can give assistance.  It is not a situation where the county executive is wholly ignoring the towns.

 

Mr. Ryan said that when this was done before, he was a member of the Geddes town board.  What the county legislature is doing in cooperation with the City of Syracuse is fantastic.  This has been looked at holistically – that we are all in this together.  He thanked City representatives for being present; as a legislator that represents the city, he is very thankful.  It is a good carrying on of this with respect to sharing with the city.  He said he appreciates Mr. Holmquist’s enthusiasm for the villages, but “we do have some towns in this county.”  He knows that there is a lot of cooperation happening. 

 

Mr. Ryan referred to Mr. Bush’s point with the towns that a lot of them continually overrode the tax cap.  That’s not OK either.  We all have to look at it from a different perspective.  He said that we are all in this together.  Before he takes any vote, he wants to know specifically what we are doing in cooperation and collaboration with the towns.  We are partners with the towns and villages and do need to put some pen to paper.  There is a big component with sewer infrastructure, which will alleviate a lot of pressure.  Also, sharing of agreements – the consolidated shared services initiative.  He said he was on that – looking at ways the towns could do better; looking at ways to use paving equipment from Camillus and Geddes, and sharing things.  We need to do more of that.  A lot of work was done with Van Buren with the highway superintendent.  He looks forward to having ongoing conversations about what we are doing – “whatever we are talking about, we need to continue it and whatever we are doing, we need to do more of it.”  He looks forward to anything in writing that can be given as to what we are doing with the towns.  He said he needs to talk to his town supervisors and board members and ask what it is that they want to look forward to.  There was a stigma out there that a lot of towns felt a little bit left behind when this was done originally.  There is an opportunity to not do that again.

 

Mr. Buckel said that he respects where this is coming from; was involved in this 10 years ago.  He said he wanted make one historical comment so that all have the same perspective.  He said that if you look at this as a big pot of money that we control and share and is a boondoggle – that plays into the fact that we all want a piece of this action.  He said to remember that if we go back to when we first had the authority to charge a local sales tax, it was designed to fund the local share of Medicaid.  It has a specific county purpose and that Medicaid is still an enormous spend of the county, as well as the entire social services infrastructure, which has grown from the days when Medicaid was first born.  He said we can debate where the excess gets shared, but we have to start there and never let go of the fact of why we got it in the first place.  Mr. Buckel said that he wants to have the debate; thanked the Chair for keeping it open.  The collaboration from towns, villages and the City has been very productive.

 

Mr. May said that when sales tax was given to the towns, town taxpayers really had the benefit on that.  It was a credit on the tax bill.  It wasn’t used to run town government.  He came from the town, and was there when things changed.  For his town, there was no impact – it was business as usual because they never used it.  These are two big pieces of the puzzle; the rest of the puzzle is still a little bit formative in its stages in terms of what is being worked out with the towns and for the towns.  There is a vision.  What is needed is that the vision be shared, if you can’t get to anything with meat on its bones at this point.  Mr. Donnelly said that the county executive has stressed that sewer infrastructure is where his focus is.  He is working with the towns, villages, and City of Syracuse, on solutions for those matters.  He said that he does not have something definitive at this point, as they are working through the steps, but they will get there.  Mr. May said that the end game is known, and it is meaningful, and probably more meaningful than we may realize because we are talking about financial exposure and risk management.  At the end of the day with the towns, that is where the focus is.  That is not a bad place to be – that is where the efforts within the towns and the villages are really going to matter at the end of the day.  He said that is why there is some enthusiasm about the direction and strategy of what is being put in place over all. 

 

Mr. Ryan said that he would like to hear about some cost savings estimates.  He said that we have on paper a long term projection for the villages.  If we can say definitively that we are doing “this” and are actively doing something, he would like to know dollars and cents.  If there is a long-term projected savings that would be coming back to the towns, he will not hold the executive to any numbers, but would like a ballpark.  Mr. Donnelly said that they will certainly take a look at it, but does not know if they are at the point yet, at 40 days in, to be able to give something hard and fast as to what the benefit will be across the community.  He said that the sewer issues are wide and varied and have different impacts in different towns, villages, and different sides of the City of Syracuse.  There may be things that are more immediate and upfront.  The county executive has talked about Meadowbrook-Limestone and the different issues that are there, but is looking at all aspects of the sewer infrastructure as to what the impact is going to be long-term.

 

Chairman Knapp said that it is tough to look at this as county vs. county because every county does things differently.  He referred to item 1a on the agenda, mortgage tax.  It is $4 million that we are distributing out to the towns and villages.  He doesn’t know of any other county that does it – every other county keeps it.   There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle and a lot of little things that add up to pretty big numbers where we are really helping to support our towns.  He said that when he is talking to his towns, it is “do you want this money back that you really didn’t touch or use, or do you want hard dollars that help your budget and help you run an efficient government.”  He said that the cost of county government isn’t going down; we have union contracts, collective bargaining agreements that are increasing over time, fuel – going in the right direction, but long term, who knows what will happen with it; infrastructure not getting any younger – from a building stand point, we have to do maintenance – facilities bonding.  To say we should take an excess off the top, is tough to take.  He questioned what if sales tax goes down, do we bill the towns for that back.  He said that $1.3 billion is a big operation and sales tax is very volatile source of income – some years it is good; some years it may not be good.  When this was done, they had a financial crisis in 2008-2009, and some very dire decisions had to be made.  We are trying to avoid that with some consistency and things people can plan on as best as possible. 

 

        b.   Authorizing Funding to the Villages in Onondaga County to Make Public Improvements for Years 2020-2030 (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp, Mr. Holmquist)

 

Mr. Donnelly:

  • Known as the VIP program, started in 2010
  • Set aside funds annually, which were distributed to the the villages within Onondaga County
  • Resolution extends that program from Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2030
  • Amount vary across the years: 

     2020 – 2022 - $5.2 million per year

     2023 – 2025 - $5.5 million per year

     2026 – 2028 - $5.75 million per year

     2029 – 2030 - $6 million per year

  • Percentage in resolution as to how it will be distributed to the villages 

Mr. Plochocki asked to be listed as co-sponsor, stating that when he first became a legislator he had just been mayor in Marcellus, when the other sales tax agreement had gone through.  The villages had been deprived an enormous amount of sales tax money.  The VIP program helped, but it was still not enough.  One of the key reasons he ran for legislator and advocated from the moment he got here was especially because the villages took things in cash, and the cash was taken away from them very abruptly.  Mr. McMahon, Mr. Knapp, and other legislators were a big supporter of this; it passed the legislature every year since in the budget.  He said he is thrilled to see it will again.

 

Chairman Knapp said that previously it was the Village Infrastructure Program; the money was earmarked very specifically and villages had to state what projects they were going to work on.  This program is the Village Improvement Program and villages will have much more flexibility as to what they can use this for.  Giving them the flexibly to plug holes will be a big help to them.  The legislature raised it in 2012 and tried to improve it even more.

 

Mr. Bush questioned how this compares to the amount under the old sales tax formula.  Mr. Donnelly said that he didn’t know, but can look at it.  Mr. Bush asked what the formula is and how the percentages were arrived at.  Mr. Donnelly said that the percentages are as they were in the 2010 agreement, but did not know how they were arrived at then.  Mr. Bush asked if there is an opportunity to see that information.  He said that he looks at some of the percentages and they don’t correlate to population.  Mr. Donnelly reiterated that it was taken from what was in the 2010 agreement. 

 

Mr. Bush referred to the Chairman’s comments, adding that it was vastly improved by letting the local officials have the opportunity to determine what their needs are and how this money should be used.  They best know; not the county legislature, not the county executive.  The local officials, whether it be city, towns, or villages, know how to use their money best to serve their constituents.  It was a good move in that direction.

 

Chair Cody said that we have been talking about these things for a while; they are part of the larger vision.  There are communications going on with the town supervisors.  We will all have time to talk more with officials in our districts. 

 

11.   LAW DEPARTMENT:

        a.     Settlement of Claim

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mr. Plochocki, to enter executive session to discuss the matter of Hamilton vs. Onondaga County.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mr. May, to exit executive session and enter regular session.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chair Cody stated for the record that no actions or votes were taken during executive session. 

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to adjourn the meeting at 10:35 a.m.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

signature

 

DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

attendanceattendance

 

 

 

 

 

 

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