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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

Deputy Clerk





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

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list


Vice Chair Burtis called the meeting to order at 9:06 a.m., and welcomed Legislator Cody.  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 Dr. Chase, seconded by Mrs. Tassone, to approve the minutes from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 


1.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:  Tom Rhoads, Commissioner

     a.     Calling for a Public Hearing in Connection with the Proposed Adoption of an Amended Schedule of Sewer Rents for the Onondaga County Sanitary District


Mr. Rhoads:

  • Report shared last month supports requested action - requesting April public hearing in regards to changing the number of gallons in a standard unit
  • Consolidated sanitary district (CSD) members billed by unit, residential family 1 unit, apartment or condo ¾ of a unit, large commercial/industrial user 1 unit for every 140,000 gallons, requesting 2% adjustment for large commercial/industrial rate effective January 2018 – reduces unit to 137,000 gallons
  • Residential households charged 1 unit, average customer using 50,000 - 60,000 gallons per year



  • Rates out of whack, residential customers carrying larger burden of sewer budget, not raising rate - larger customers will take on slightly larger share of the budget; 140,000 gallons doesn’t compare well to the 60,000
  • May return in 2 years – small incremental changes to improve fairness of equity within the rate
  • January 2018 effective date allows large commercial entities time to put in conservation measures as households have done, i.e. low flow fixture, low velocity toilet; maximum 2% change in bill if they do nothing
  • Implementation would cause residential users to pay slightly less


In answer to Dr. Chase, Mr. Rhoads said that assessors in each municipality determine the property type for the rate billed.  Larger institutions are billed by the amount of water going through their water meter.  Dr. Chase asked where people with wells and septic systems fall.  Mr. Rhoads said that if they are using a well and connected to the sewer they pay one standard user rate.  Those using a well and going to a septic system are not billed.  Only those using CSD services pay these costs.  The flat rate system is used due to the many different water purveyors and well- water users.  The rate should be something different because the typical household no longer uses anything close to 140,000 gallons.  They are asking for a small course correction.

  • Resolution revised to include the following:

Mixed use properties having both residential and commercial use – three-fourths unit per family plus 1 unit assigned for the total commercial space, or, alternatively, in the event that the actual water usage exceeds the calculation of gallons per unit within this subsection for the residential and commercial portions of the property, the number of units to be assigned to such property shall be based on water bills, as follows:


  1. Up to 137,000 gallons per year – one unit;
  2. One unit and fraction thereof for each 137,000 gallons per year


  • Language included for assessor clarification, provides uniformity in determining rate
  • Resolution simply asks for public hearing - will return in March to discuss resolution to change rate’
  • Public hearing notice posted in each municipality of the sanitary district

In answer to Vice Chair Burtis, Mr. Rhoads confirmed that conservation was a feature of the resolution as it gives industrial users a chance to revisit their conservation aspects.  They have seen this on the residential side, correspondingly the rate is now out of whack and so this is a fairness and equity issue also.  They are not trying to do this all in one large swoop – slow and steady wins the race.  Vice Chair Burtis said that it was a little something to try to get those putting out large volume to revisit their situation. 


*Chairman Plochocki arrived at the meeting.


Mr. Rhoads said that January 1, 2018 implementation provides an opportunity for all to revisit their use and perhaps take opportunities to further conserve.


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


Chair Plochocki introduced Zac Smith, a senior from SUNY ESF, serving as an intern for Chair Plochocki and the Environmental Protection Committee for this semester.


The meeting adjourned 9.24 a.m.                                


Respectfully submitted,

Katherine French


Onondaga County Legislature



* * *




MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Holmquist, Mr. Ryan

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Liedka

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list


Chair May called the meeting to order at 12:07 P.M.  A motion was made by Mr. Holmquist, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Ryan, seconded by Mr. Holmquist, to approve the minutes from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

1.     SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:  Kenneth Andrews, Chief, Civil Department

        a.     Amending the 2017 County Budget to Make Funds Available for Use by the Sheriff’s Office Within its Special Projects Account


Chief Andrews:

  • 2015 Comptroller audit determined Civil account set up 12-15 years ago needed to close - department opened savings account with funds held to pay income executions and such - $400,000, at some point the County took out $200,000, remaining balance left untouched and earning interest, Civil checking account always short $200,000, footnote referenced funds were in savings account, interest bearing account not appropriate as the funds were not County or Sheriff funds, belonged to numerous individuals
  • Moved $200,000 from savings back to checking to balance account; $51,916 remains in interest bearing account, needs to be closed, cannot determine interest for tens of thousands of individuals, want to transfer funds to Special Project account and purchase a vehicle
  • 3 year plan calls for replacement of 24 vehicles per year, budget process allowed about 12, looking at various accounts to purchase remaining vehicles, i.e. Stop DWI funds, seized assets funds – right thing to do in order to keep this going; 1 Civil car to be purchased
  • Approval needed to close account and move funds into Special Projects account; account used for various funds, i.e. Olum's Appliances provided $7,000 to purchase dog, funds added to account until dog is purchased, individual donations - account managed by grants manager and accounted for during budget process

For clarification Chair May said that it was important to note that the proposed County budget did not contain any cars for the Sheriff’s department.  The Legislature didn’t allow 12 cars, they found a way to get 12 cars.  It is fantastic that the department is finding money to stick with their plan.  He cannot say enough about this.  And, this is on the heels of the last meeting where they shored up an annual budget that is $260,000 plus dollars to the good.  He really likes the direction of everything going on in their department, and this makes sense to him.  Mr. Holmquist agreed.


Mr. Ryan asked why the funds weren’t being putting into a vehicle fund.  Chief Andrews said that they did not have the vehicle.  Mr. Ryan said that they could put the funds into the general fund and then take the money out to purchase a vehicle.  They purchase vehicles all the time, which do not have to come through a special project.  Chief Andrews said that the budget had already been setup for what they could expend, and they aren’t going to buy one vehicle for $52,000.  It will likely be $20,000 for an unmarked vehicle.  The remaining funds will be for other things that may come up during the year, which have not been budgeted for, i.e. upfront costs for new patrol officers’ vests, funds returned to account via state reimbursement.  Mr. Ryan said that funds in the Special Project account provided flexibility.  Chief Andrews said that there are many special enforcement units and they cannot foresee everything that will happen when creating a budget.  These funds can be utilized for those needs, if the Sheriff feels strongly enough, without going back and asking for changes to the budget.  Mr. Ryan said that he was all in, if this is all in the name of public safety.


In answer to Chair May, Chief Andrews said that the Civil account hadn’t been touched in at least ten years, until the time they made the checking account hole, other than the interest earned each month.  Money flows into the Civil Checking account from income executions and such.  At the end of the month the guarantor is paid their funds.  Chair May said that the funds were from all types of transactions.  Chief Andrews said that there would be thousands of transactions.  Chair May asked for one type of transaction, for the record.  Chief Andrews replied, “An income execution”.  Someone gets a judgment against Joe Smith, he pays $25.00 per week, at month end they write a check to John Brown for the $100 that Joe Smith has paid.  In the nature of those transactions there is a float, and somebody decided they could earn interest on the float.  However, the funds were not theirs to earn interest on.  The current administration did not make this decision, but decided to clear it up.  In fact, they asked the Comptroller’s office to conduct the audit to ensure all fiscal transactions taking place were appropriate.  He reiterated that the audit determined it was inappropriate to earn interest on these funds.  They made the checking account whole by returning those funds, but the interest still sits in the account.


In answer to Chair May, Chief Andrews said that the current value of the Special Project account is $17,000, and a deputy told him that $7,000 of that was just received for a new dog.  Mr. Ryan asked which deputy.  Chief Andrews replied, Isaac Eames.  


Mr. Ryan asked for the number of projects awaiting state reimbursement.  Chief Andrews said that he could not say, but would get the information.


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


2.     SAFE ACT:

        a.     Memorializing the Governor and the Legislature of the State of New York to Adopt S. 879A and Limit Application of the New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (Safe) Act to the Counties of Kings, Queens, Richmond, New York and the Bronx (Sponsored by Mr. Shepard, Mr. Burtis)


Mr. Holmquist:

  • Great step in the right direction, frees up County resources for public safety functions as opposed to processing unnecessary SAFE Act paperwork
  • SAFE Act goes after law abiding citizens for no reason - those with pistol permits must now register documentation on a regular basis, law abiding citizens aren’t the problem, law enforcement should be using resources to go after criminals; would rather repeal entire SAFE Act, another unfunded mandate of the state


Mr. Ryan:

  • Often overlooked due to second amendment and pistol permits, SAFE Act strengthens many laws pertaining to guns in and around schools, guns used to commit crimes against children, Kendra’s Law, Marks’s Law and numerous state statutes - strengthens or adds new penal codes; repealing decriminalizes such behavior
  • Class A misdemeanors made into felonies, repealing would be soft on crime; he will not decriminalize a law pertaining to guns near schools - will not vote for this, there is a much bigger picture

Chair May:

  • Don’t disagree with some of Mr. Ryan’s points, are laws that protect society and kids, mental health dimension of SAFE Act very important, doesn’t know another responsible gun owner that doesn’t feel the same
  • Legislation is call to arms saying something needs to be done, can’t explain violence taking place in the world today or that taking away the SAFE Act may change it - personally feels the SAFE Act is not helping
  • Nonbinding memorializing resolution sends message that they can do better; not discounting the very important issues brought up by Mr. Ryan

Mr. Ryan:

  • Offered memorizing resolution in 2013 to amend the SAFE Act, removing some of the responsible gun owners thoughts, keeping laws that were strengthened to enact the provisions for new penal codes for guns used and/or passed around for gang activity; gang activity a problem in his district, homicides and guns passed around to engage in criminal behavior
  • Can’t have it both ways, can’t say your against violence while repealing the bill in its entirety because of the detrimental effect on County paperwork –backlog of pistol permits mainly due to County’s backlog of paperwork
  • Reiterated SAFE Act wasn’t perfect legislation, but repealing weakens penal codes – won’t vote for it

Mr. Holmquist:

  • SAFE Act passed without debate in the dark of night, none of the merits Mr. Ryan addressed were discussed, jammed through as a packaged deal, a prewritten law by well-intentioned liberals not knowing anything about guns or responsible gun ownership, contained some good things but mostly terrible things
  • Process was exhibit A in how not to pass a law, bad government, needs to be repealed, same day could bring out good points to be debated, regardless of merit each should be publically debated, considered, and voted on accordingly
  • Took away rights of law abiding citizens - would include entire state if he were preparing resolution, those living in exempt counties are also American citizens, should repeal entire SAFE Act, then address components Mr. Ryan mentioned. i.e. most would not quarrel with mental health component

Mr. Ryan:

  • State Legislature has an opportunity to do this, don’t look beyond what they are voting on – memorializing the bill to repeal the SAFE Act in its entirety, state assembly and senate can introduce a bill to rewrite the SAFE Act at any time and are choosing not to

Mr. Holmquist suggested Legislator Ryan draft a memorializing resolution to that affect, possibly collaborating with Legislators Shepard and Burtis, and presenting as a package.  He does not think anyone would oppose those good components, understanding that they want the state to do this the right way with an open process.  That way they would have both sides and everyone would be happy.  Mr. Ryan said, “I did do that on March 5, 2013.  I didn’t get away with it”, for the record.  Mr. Holmquist suggested he try again, believing that it would enjoy wide support.


Chair May said that none the less he would like to vote on this item.  He agrees with Mr. Holmquist’s suggestion and hopes Mr. Ryan is not hearing objection to the important things he is bringing up.  As a gun owner and second amendment person he believes they are important and wants them for the people they serve.  With that side, he wants to send this call to arms message to the State Legislature.  Unfortunately, in government the high road isn’t always taken.  Politics prevail when good policy and laws should prevail to do what is intended.  Even when there are two sides of an argument, more times than not, the intent is decent on both sides, and then things get off the rails.  He feels the SAFE Act is off the rails.  


A motion was made by Mr. Holmquist, seconded by Mr. May, to approve this item.  Ayes:  2 (Holmquist, May)  Noes:  1 (Ryan); MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting adjourned at 12:35 P.M.


Respectfully submitted,

Katherine French


Onondaga County Legislature



* * *




MEMBERS PRESENT:  Dr. Chase, Ms. Williams

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Liedka, Mr. Holmquist

ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list


Vice Chair Burtis called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.  A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Ms. Williams to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.


1.     ONONDAGA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT:   Michelle Mignano, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     Transfer from Health, Account 641010 Regular Employee Salaries, to Health, Account 694080 Professional Services, $84,000

                Transfer from Health, Account 691200 Employee Benefits, to Health, Account 694080 Professional Services, $40,381


  • *Deputy Medical Examiner left in Nov.; Oneida County contract and MEO going for accreditation; standards on how many autopsies each can do; workload covering weekends, holidays and vacations; need for a total of 4 Pathologists
  • Transfer money from 101 to 408:  contract with Pathologist; done in past; not a lot of Pathologists available
  • Ability to fill position not related to compensation; not many Pathologists; seeking board certified; recruit every new class
  • Long term plan to have relationship with SUNY Upstate, and create fellowship; direct line to MEO; keeping local


Dr. Stoppacher stated nationally and locally it is difficult to recruit people, because there are not a lot of Pathologists; lots of competition.  Dr. Stoppacher responded to Dr. Chase that they are looking to contract to have Pathologists come for short periods of time.  Ms. Mignano said NYC MEO has the largest group of MEO’s in local government, and they bid on jobs across the state.  Monroe County is utilizing this, and Ms. Unger has negotiated a favorable rate form them to come to Syracuse.  Dr. Chase asked if they meet the standards, and Dr. Stoppacher said yes; they are all board certified Pathologists.  There is a need to keep the caseload within the guidelines set forth by the national organization that accredits the MEO, so the hope is that on a temporary basis this will help manage the caseload.  Dr. Stoppacher stated ideally the MEO would have four Pathologists.


Vice Chair Burtis asked when they would think about more than four.  Dr. Stoppacher responded that this year they need this support as the numbers creep up.  Ms. Mignano said there is no anticipation that people will be dying at a greater rate.  As Onondaga County becomes a regional resource, it will be a natural game plan to need more Pathologists.  This contract will help the MEO in 2017, and keep them within the limits of caseloads. 


A motion was made by Ms. Williams to approve this item.


Ms. Mignano replied to Dr. Chase that this will be for coverage.  Ms. Unger stated it is what they plan on to cover shifts.  Pathologists are working 24/7, so having four fulltime is what is needed.  Dr. Gupta commented that one person left, so everything will be complimented by the rest of the funds.  *Dr. Gupta clarified for the record that Dr. Clark was not a Deputy Medical Examiner; he was a Pathologist.


Dr. Chase seconded the motion.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:46 a.m.                                            

Respectfully submitted, 


JAMIE M. McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature



* * *


February 16, 2017

* * *


February 27, 2017

David H. Knapp, Chairman


MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Shepard, Mrs. Ervin, *Mr. May


ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman McMahon, see also attached list


Chairman Knapp called the meeting to order at 8:55 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to waive the reading of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.



        a.     Transfer from Health, Acct. 641010 Reg. Empl. Salaries, to Health, Acct. 694080 Prof. Svcs., $84,000; Transfer from Health, Acct. 691200 Employee Benefits, to Health, Acct. 694080 Prof. Svcs., $40,381



        a.     Amending the 2017 County Budget to Make Funds Available for Use by the Sheriff’s Office Within its Special Projects Account ($51,966)


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




1.     COUNTY CLERK:  Chris Plochocki, Deputy County Clerk

        a.     Authorizing NYS Reimbursement for 2017 Expenses of the Recording Officer for the County of Onondaga for Administration of Mortgage Taxes

  • 626,310 total projected reimbursement
  • Significantly down from last year – due to decrease in IT expenses by coming off the mainframe


In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Plochocki said that it is based on a percentage – as salaries increase, the amounts increase.  Chairman Knapp said it is similar to what was done with DOT – new collective bargaining agreement where salaries increased so it changed the calculation with the state.


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


2.     FINANCE, Division of Real Property Tax Services:  Donald Weber, Director

        a.     Approving and Directing the Correction of Certain Errors on Tax Bills

  • Correction of $2,500 or more requires legislative approval
  • One is approx. $19,000 – due to a sewer tax for an entire mobile home park put on to a single trailer


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


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


3.     FINANCE, Division of Management & Budget:  Tara Venditti, Deputy Director

        a.     Memorializing the NYS Legislature to Enact Senate Bill No.  S.3916 and Assembly Bill No. A.5260 entitled “An Act to Amend the Tax Law, In relation to Extending the Authorization of the County of Onondaga to Impose an Additional Rate of Sales and Compensating Use Taxes” and Concurring in the Preparation of Home Rule Request”

  • 1st of a 3 part process to extend the additional 1% sales tax
  • 2nd step is for NYS legislature to adopt legislature
  • June/July – resolution to extend the 1% - December 2017 - 2019


Mr. Jordan asked how much is generated from the additional 1%.  Ms. Venditti said that it fluctuates based on the growth collection – 25% goes to other municipalities; county keeps 75%.  It is in the area of $80 million.


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


* Mr. May arrived at the meeting.


4.     MISC.: 

        a.     A Local Law Authorizing the Sale of County Property Located off of Falls Road in the Town of Marcellus (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp, Mr. Plochocki)


Chairman Knapp:

  • Several of these have been done in the past year
  • Property located close to Tuscarora Golf Course, Marcellus, along the abandoned trolley line inherited by the county
  • Neighbors buying property adjacent to their own; county has no interest in property – a liability
  • Advertised on county website per policy
  • A few have been competing offers, but this one is not


Mr. Jordan asked if this landlocked property – no road access to it.  Mr. Knapp confirmed that there wasn’t road access.


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


        b.     A Local Law Regarding County Property Located with the City of Syracuse, on the Corner of South State and Harrison Streets, Presently Known as “Lot 17 (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

Chairman McMahon:

  • Discussed at Planning and Ways & Means Committees
  • Waiting on a draft of the parking plan with proposed developer on 1100 car garage as follows:
    • 125 parking spaces that county would have complete control over for the duration of the PILOT term – County could lease at its discretion and keep all revenue
    • 30 year agreement for 150 additional parking spaces that during weekdays developer would be able to resell until 4:00 p.m.; after 4:00 p.m. weeknights and weekends the county would have access to those spots at market rate; revenue share with developer for first 10 years; following 20 years the developer/owner would keep revenue
    • SMG provided their specific needs during work days, weekends, and different Oncenter events
    • Sutherland is main tenant in parking lot now; believes that in next 12 - 24 months the need for those spaces would go away; more natural that they go to Harrison St. garage; don’t go there now because the City refuses to work with them
    • Gives county more than enough parking spaces for the 25± for visiting nurses and Everson Museum employees
    • Ability to utilize parking spaces if needed to provide parking for a tenant downtown
    • Covers SMG’s needs
    • Will send the plan to the committee today or tomorrow, once complete
    • Voting on an option - details matter:
      • $150 million type development with a major anchor tenant one end of the lot
      • Other additional retail space – potential space that could be retrofitted to fit needs with SMG – details can be worked out
      • Residential/student housing/market rate housing geared toward Upstate’s needs – potential to retrofit that property into many different things – from housing to if there is a need to have hotel rooms there; currently there is no need for for new hotel rooms in the market
      • Will create hundreds and hundreds of construction jobs and some permanent jobs
      • Aggressive schedule in place for developer to meet; by 2019 construction starts, closed on financing, pay $2.5 million market rate appraisal to county


Chairman McMahon noted that through a judicial decision the county obtained the property for $3.4 million.  The county has been receiving revenue for the past several years to offset it, and will get the $2.5 million.  With this agreement the county will receive additional revenue for an extended period of time – property tax revenue and continued parking revenue.  Parking will remain stable and there will be new development in the convention center corridor.


Mr. Jordan said that he understands that there were no other responses to the RFP.  Chairman McMahon agreed; saying that he understood that there was a verbal response for a YMCA.  Mr. Jordan said that his concern is not directed at this project; it is a great project.  In looking at RFPs going out for property, which we don’t really want or need, the RFPS are unreasonable, burdensome, and really restrict the marketability of properties.  It pertains to this one as well - there may be other people out there that might pay $3.4 million and might come forward with an even more beneficial development project, but are basically pushed out of the market because the terms are so onerous.


Mr. Jordan referred to the agreement with the developer, where the county would allow them to access parking spaces in the Oncenter garage and asked if that is still part of the agreement.  Chairman McMahon said that it is not part of the written agreement right now.  He will get it clarified, but noted that essentially we are taking parking spaces off of their ledger right now.  He assumes that they no longer need those spaces in the garage.  There is flexibility during the day, 300-400 spots available during the day, but the flexibility goes away on weekends and nights. 


Mr. May said that in speaking in general terms, he agrees with Mr. Jordan’s concerns about the RFP process--not necessarily this RFP, because this has been on the blocks for pushing 30 years.  The points made are very good – doubts he is the only legislator receiving calls about how stringent some of the RFPs are.  Some vendors aren’t even bidding because it’s a tough process.  It is a concern that we need to be aware of.


Mr. May said that regarding this project, he appreciates the process; it was a good idea to get it to committee; let the caucuses talk about it, and we are in a much better place today.  He likes the project about 98%; nothing is perfect – for the record, the process was a good one.


Mrs. Ervin asked if there is a possibility that part of the building could be used as a hotel later on.  Chairman McMahon said that there is.  He understands that the way it can be constructed is similar to how the jail was constructed – where development can continue – additional stories.  Right now, that is not even an option – there is an 8 year lock up on the property no matter who owns it.  There is a glutton of new rooms coming on the market; room and occupancy rates have had steady growth, but there hasn’t been any significant new demand generators with the exception of weekends with Amphitheater shows.  The ideal world was to always have a hotel connected, but a policy decision was made a couple of years ago that was not the direction we were going in any more.  There are a lot of other opportunities downtown going towards the south side; a lot of new developments regardless of what happens with the Rt. 81 decision.  If this turns out to be a higher need, or if something drastically changes, i.e. start performing better in the convention business, then those demands may be there in the future.  Mrs. Ervin said that in talking to David Holder recently, the need for a connecting hotel is still clear – it’s not a function of having too many rooms, it’s a matter of having one connected to the Oncenter.  If that is not a possibility, she said she still has some concerns with this project.  Chairman McMahon said that connectivity is meaning having improvements made to the area that speaks of a district – looking at what other communities have done.  He noted that in Louisville, a roof was put over the buildings.  There are different concepts; would not feel comfortable to make a promise that there will be hotels or extended stay room on this property.  The property is most likely being built in a way to leave flexibility for the owners to do that. 


Mr. Jordan asked if it is envisioned for as an addition onto the project or a conversion.  Chairman McMahon suggested that it could be either, if the market changes.  Right now the hot trend is getting the grad students that come from different parts of the country, where they make more money.  It is a very good market, but at some point that market might dry up a little bit. 


A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. Shepard, to approve this item.  AYES:  4 (Knapp, Kilmartin, Shepard, May); NOES:  1 (Ervin); ABSTENTIONS:  1 (Jordan).  MOTION CARRIED.


        c.     Establishing an Advisory Committee for Review of the Recommendations Made by the Consensus Commission


Chairman McMahon:

  • Two real issues with the topic of consolidation
  • Recommendations have come out from the Consensus group; at the same time the State came out with their budget process with a controversial proposal from the Governor – pushing the effort to reduce property taxes through shared services with plans driven by county executives
  • Governor’s plan takes legislatures across the state out of the process, unless the legislature is a Board of Supervisors and there is no executive
  • Has outlined a plan opposing the Governor’s plan which essentially eliminates home rule; Governors plan is a flawed proposal as written today – hopefully the state will respect wishes of the voters who approved the Charter in this community – approved policy making decisions for the legislature
  • Consensus report has 50 recommendations – originally had 51 but the county executive and county legislature enacted one of the recommendations by merging MWB and OCWA; shows that our business gets done here and don’t need a top down mandate from Albany to do it
  • Other Consensus recommendations – lots of debate, many ideas about what no. 50 would look like
  • Consensus came up with their vision; not unanimous; it was one vision from 18 well intended folks
  • Have heard many different visions from constituents – not much agreement on no. 50
  • Has no intention of allowing no. 50 to come to a vote by the legislature for a referendum – it’s not ready; not even half baked
  • The idea of taking a vote on something that doesn’t even have a charter, legislative roles, roles of executive branch, etc. or critical details, before we’d allow it for the voters, is really just irresponsible and naive
  • It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do more collectively in partnerships with different governments at the county level or that other governments shouldn’t do more
  • Creation of subcommittee – to tackle the other 49 recommendations and/or other recommendations
  • Committee is bipartisan  - county, town, village, city officials
  • Committee will have the resources of the county and work with Consensus to better understand why the recommendations were made and what the impediments are to implementation
  • Hopefully the committee can look at what Consensus has offered and determine that they make sense and move forward – some of them can be moved forward by the legislature and some can’t
  • Pragmatic – took our time coming out with a response  - a lot of good things have been recommended
  • Members of committee:  Kevin Holmquist, Chair; Supervisor Damian Ulatowski, Mayor Paul Whorrall, Greg Sgromo, engineer, Bill Kinne – Minority Leader’s pic; Susan Boyle and Helen Hudson, Common Council; advisory members are Dave Knapp, Casey Jordan, Joseph Carni


Mrs. Ervin asked if this group will look at no. 50 at all.  Chairman McMahon said “no”, what there is to look at is:  do we think there should be double the amount of legislators; do we think there should no longer be a City Common Council.  There are no other details.  It doesn’t talk about what the new powers of the legislature or executive.  There is not much to digest; it is do we think that there should be 33 legislators; do we think there should no longer be a city council. He said that he is not prepared to go there right now.  Those are two premises that came out of this recommendation, and he does not think it should be looked at.  Mrs. Ervin said that her understanding is that this was a starting place – to start talking about some form of government that might change going forward.  To not look at that premise, is not the right direction to take.  She said that number 50 is not close to being ideal, but there should be some discussion about the prospect of a metropolitan government. 


Chairman McMahon said that he served on the City Council and then went to a body that represents suburban, city, and rural neighborhoods – we already have a metropolitan government.  If the question is “which government should deliver services” – those are recommendations that we have pushed along. 


Mr. Kilmartin said that the way the resolution is drafted talks about making recommendations and advising the legislature on the development and implementation of specific proposals stemming from the Commission’s recommendations.  The concept is to form the committee; make sure the committee is aware of all recommendations, 1 - 51, then go to work reporting and advising the legislature on all of those recommendations.  The committee may look at this in small bites; see if there are little things that can be done to improve efficiencies and save money between the city and county.  Maybe once they grind through the process, they may want to look at something bigger.  The legislature will continue to review all of these issues concurrently with the Commission and see if something constructively in the interim. 


Chairman McMahon said that pragmatically, right now shared services have been done at the county level; towns and villages have.  There is very little trust with many of our friends in elected offices, and in many friends that we represent in neighborhoods, regarding the Consensus Commission and process.  There is very little appetite/support for item no. 50.  He said that he has yet to see somebody who thinks this is a great idea.  He understands the debate, but the premise of a debate is important.  “The premise of the debate is that we don’t have a metropolitan government right now; I disagree with that premise.”  He said that he is one vote, but has the ability to control what goes on and off the agenda – not going to move forward with no. 50 when it starts off on a failed premise and where it has very little chance of success.  If these folks wanted to put pressure on us to move forward with this, they should have really put more details into what no. 50 would look like and how it would be rolled out.  To give this process/subcommittee credibility, where we can have towns, villages, city council, and county working in the same direction, no. 50 needs to be off the table so that something can get done.  “The best way for something to get done, to eventually pass the public, a referendum, is to get wings under our belt.”  He said that there is a responsibility to get some of the other things done and prove to our constituents that we are serious about consolidating in different areas.  He said that in speaking to the Manufacturer’s Association, they think that the idea of one government would be easier for them, but they want to see that government is evolving.  This process will give confidence to a lot of people that the legislature is serious about this.  Right now this has no shot of passing the city or towns.


Mrs. Ervin said that she disagrees that it should be put aside and not do anything about it.  The Commission, 19 people, went through a lengthy process.  It’s not acceptable to look at the other 49 and forget about no. 50; it doesn’t make sense.  Chairman McMahon said that if you get closer to what they want, then you can get wins.  If this was always about no. 50, then there shouldn’t have been 49 other recommendations.  


Mr. Kilmartin said that the vast majority of the commission is not elected officials.  The Commission wasn’t empowered with any legal authority to dictate something.  The essence was to issue the report, put it in the public arena, hand it off to those that are empowered to analyze and scrutinize it.  Because the elected officials have the authority, they have control of the process and legal authority to do what they see fit – whether implementing all immediately, one or none, or some combination.  Consensus was saying that are leaving it to the people who have that authority.


Chairman McMahon said that if anybody wants to put forward a different proposal, that is fine, but this proposal isn’t going to pass; it’s not a real proposal.  There is not enough legs to advance it.  Mrs. Ervin said that she is not suggesting that she is in favor of no. 50; she is saying that it should be talked about with the subcommittee.


Mr. Jordan said that a comment was made that no. 50 encompasses the other 49; it is counterintuitive to have the first 49 and then also have 50, when no. 50 does the other 49.  In a way, when we are by looking at the first 49, we are also looking at no. 50.


Mr. May said that looking at the first 49 is all that we can do; the only aspect of the proposal that really tells us something – the only things that are a little more specific.  Even the first 49 lack specifics that he would want to see to advance something.  Intuitively, we know where the low hanging fruit is--there are opportunities to improve.  It is incumbent upon this group to apply intuition, find low hanging fruit, and finds ways to improve.  To consolidate government entities or not is an evolution of that process. 


Mr. Jordan said that Albany has made it very clear that they want consolidation.  There is a huge impetus and pressure to come up with recommendations.  Albany has offered, what he considers, bribes to implement these things.  It is ironic, arrogant that Albany is saying the problem is at the local level -- if there were no unfunded mandates, there would be no local property taxes.  If rationale is that the property taxes are too high in NYS, then the problem lies in Albany, which passes its unfunded mandates onto the county.  If they truly want to eliminate our property taxes, they would stop shifting burdens at the state level on to the local levels. 


Mr. May said that he supports this.  There is a lot being discussed about the public safety arena by Consensus.  I don’t believe that they have the expertise needed to make some of the assertions that they have made.  He suggested looking at, if not an extension, encouraging the committee to engage some of the public safety sectors – specifically police and fire – in this dialogue.  Chairman McMahon agreed and said that part of the reason someone from, i.e. the Sheriff’s dept, was not included was because he doesn’t consider those recommendations low hanging fruit.  Those are more complex recommendations that would require a lot of time to understand.  In speaking to Chairman Holmquist, those probably won’t be the first ones to be tackled.  With success, eventually, they’d be looked at.  The Sheriff’s department may be having conversations that we don’t know about, with other police departments, with different collaboration ideas, which they may want to bring to the table.  Regarding the recommendation to merge the Sheriff’s Dept. with the SPD, is a highly complicated recommendation, where he guaranteed that enough diligence wasn’t done.  Mr. May said that the the fire departments are just as complex.


A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. May, to approve this item.  AYES:  5 (Knapp, Kilmartin, May, Shepard, Jordan); NOES:  0; ABSTENTIONS:  1 (Ervin).  MOTION CARRIED.



        a.     Encouraging Redevelopment of Blighted Properties by the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation and Extending Credits for Certain Properties within the Onondaga County Sanitary District (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

Chairman McMahon:

  • Essentially this is waiving of different sewer unit fees on different properties in 2017
  • These properties aren’t using the system – they are properties that the land bank just acquired and are looking to redevelop, demo, and cluster in a few cases
  • Allows land bank the flexibility and resources to make the process happen faster
  • Have a policy with the County executive to push forward/encourage the land bank via this process to take on inventory that they could dispose of or have a plan for and not just take on all the inventory
  • Don’t want to waive sewer unit charges just because the land bank took on too many properties with too much too fast
  • Some properties are being clustered for bigger redevelopment, i.e. Butternut Street – Housing Visions received an award for very nice redevelopment
  • Many of of these projects happen where Housing Visions or Home Headquarters, etc., will go forward with a plan to the State for different tax credits; a 2 – 3 year process before they get the money to do the redevelopment
  • Butternut St. development is a big win for the community


Mr. Stanczyk:

  • Asked for one additional property to be added to the list, 664 West Onondaga Street, Syracuse
  • Housing Visions property--working on closing; not on original list because thought it would close in first quarter of this year
  • With tax credit market being in flux with uncertainty in corporate tax structure, would like to add one more property to the list


Chairman Knapp noted that this was discussed at length at Planning Committee, where further information was requested and has been provided.


A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to amend the resolution to add 664 West Onondaga Street, Syracuse, New York, to the list of properties to extend credits for certain properties within the Onondaga County Sanitary District.  AYES:  5 (Knapp, Kilmartin, Shepard, May, Ervin); NOES:  0; ABSTENTIONS:  1 (Jordan).  MOTION CARRIED.


A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item as amended.  AYES:  5 (Knapp, Kilmartin, Shepard, May, Ervin); NOES:  0; ABSTENTIONS:  1 (Jordan).  MOTION CARRIED.


6.     PURCHASE:

        a.     Revenue Contract Report - NONE


Onondaga County Executive Department

Division of Purchase

John H. Mulroy Civic Center, 13th Floor 

421 Montgomery Street

Syracuse, NY 13202


Phone (315) 435-3458

FAX  (315) 435-3424

              JOANNE M. MAHONEY                                                                                                                                                          ANDREW TROMBLEY

                   County Executive                                                                                                                                     Director


TO:                    David Knapp, Chairman, Ways and Means

                          Committee Members, Ways and Means

FROM:             Andrew Trombley, Director

DATE:              2/23/17

SUBJECT:      Reporting Requirements under 2010-241 and 2010-242, Revenue Contracts


Revenue Contract update:  Nothing to report.



Chairman Knapp added the following item, noting that it was put on the desks last Friday.  It is very innocuous, but does have a time constraint on it because of a grant competition.


A Local Law Authorizing the Extension of a Lease of County Property Located Within the City of Syracuse for Use in Connection with the Erie Canal Museum - Bill Fisher, Deputy County Executive


Mr. Fisher:

  • Erie Canal Museum property is owned by the county and leased to the museum
  • The lease expired at end of 2015
  • $25,000 NYS grant competition where the museum has been encouraged to apply
  • Conditions of grant are that the owner of the property has to sponsor the grant or have a lease for at least 6 years
  • Looking to extend their $1/year lease through 2023 with another 5 year option after that


Chairman Knapp said it will be considered today, but no vote will be taken.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,





Onondaga County Legislature




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