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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. Bottrill, Mrs. Tassone

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, Dr. Chase

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp; see attached list


Chairman Jordan called the meeting to order at 9:04 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Bottrill, seconded by Mrs. Tassone, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Bottrill, seconded by Mrs. Tassone, to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED. 



       a.     Confirming Appointment to the Region 7 Fish and Wildlife Management Board (Timothy Burtis)


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



        a.     Confirming Appointment to the Onondaga County Water Authority (Benedicte Doran)


Chair Jordan stated he has known Mrs. Doran for a number of years.  She is very active in the community, very bright, and would be a perfect addition to the authority.  The committee agreed.


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


3.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:  Tom Roads, P.E., Commissioner; Frank Mento, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing the Execution of Agreements with Municipalities in the Meadowbrook-Limestone Service Area for the Purpose of Designing and Installing Sewer Infrastructure Improvements for the Removal of Extraneous Flows


Mr. Rhoads:

  • Introduced Deputy Commissioner Mento whose immediate primary roles and responsibilities relate to discussions regarding consolidation and the County Executive’s ideas for improving our communities infrastructure; Mr. Mento will discuss the proposed resolution

Mr. Mento:

  • A minor but important issue, starting Phase 1 of consolidation outlook in Meadowbrook-Limestone service area which contains 6 municipalities:  Towns of Manlius, Dewitt and Pompey, Villages of Manlius and Fayetteville, and the City of Syracuse in part
  • Seek approval for IMA with these municipalities for accessing their sanitary sewers and right of way’s for design and construction, perfunctory - funding and allocation already authorized
  • All work will be programmed and initiated by the County

In answer to Chair Jordan, Mr. Rhoads stated that this work is not connected to the ACJ.  It relates to Meadowbrook-Limestone infiltration and inflow (I & I) and the Notice of Violation (NOV) issued by the DEC.  Mr. Mento stated that this has nothing to do with the ACJ.  Rather it is everything to do with the Meadowbrook-Limestone service area that dumps into the Meadowbrook-Limestone Treatment Plant and the tributaries to that plant are these 6 municipalities. 


Mr. Bottrill asked if prior approval was needed from the municipalities.  Mr. Mento responded that the administration has talked to them generally.  There will be more discussions to tweak the wording.  They are also aware of the $9 million dollars we will be spending to help kill the I & I that affects the plant in that area.


Mrs. Tassone asked if we would be able to stay within the $9 million.  Mr. Mento responded that it is the total plan right now. 


Chair Jordan questioned if this had gone out for bid.  Mr. Mento responded that the work will be done via Onondaga County term contractors, i.e., sewer lining, manhole repair, and closed-circuit TV.  Task orders will be produced by us to engage contractors to perform the work.  There will be no extraneous costs – barebones, design, construction, get it done.


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


        b.     ACJ Report 


Mr. Rhoads:

  • Fourth Quarterly Report 2018 distributed; http://savetherain.us/category/reports/
  • Report required by the Amended Consent Judgment (ACJ), monthly requirements are now fulfilled by emails; starting to see tapering back of work for the ACJ, tremendous amount completed since 1998, over 20 years of progress to abate combined sewer overflows and phosphorous going into the lake, all work is reported quarterly and annually, Annual Report due April1, 2019 for calendar year 2018
  • Doesn’t make sense to continue quarterly reports, asked state to taper back reports; spent over $5 million last year on ACJ related work, CIP work approved in previous 2 months is $60 million dollars for  entire sanitary district, doing much more work at treatment plants and on conveyance, not associated with the ACJ – hope to reach a point where ACJ goes away

2.13.19 EP 1

2.13.19 EP 2


2.13.19 EP 32.13.19 EP 4

  • Onondaga County closer to the finish line than other communities nationwide
  • Several CSO’s average well over 6 overflow events per year; now capturing 97.7% of the volume, meet 2 of the 3 items for presumptive approach, presentation all about ending or amending ACJ into a Long Term Control Plan, many ways to discuss these items with the state, much deferred maintenance in underground water and sewer lines, concerned ACJ could make it difficult to go after the more important critical parts of our infrastructure - that being the underground sewer and water lines owned by many other municipalities
  • The goal is to transition out of CSO events and spend wisely on affordable projects to improve that infrastructure which is the backbone of our local economy

Gray Project Update

  •  No longer doing gray projects

Green Project Update  

  • Most cost effective projects, i.e.,  rain gardens, bio-retention, underground infiltration trenches; all work was done to abate CSO’s
  • Neighborhood scale projects:  Fire Station No. 5, McKinley Park, streets in the Harbor Brook Sewershed include Wilson, Magnolia, Wilbur, Lakeview, and North Geddes - rather than building regional treatment facilities that tear down neighborhoods, doing small pockets of bio-retention, infiltration, porous pavement, and green street projects which rebuild neighborhoods
  • Keep costs down by doing street projects in tandem with the City of Syracuse; several projects near completion at end of 2018;trying new typologies, i.e.; Berkeley Drive and Ostrom Place infiltration manholes, WEP does the trench work and the City does the paving as part of their normal project, saves money and provides better capture metrics
  • Includes a number of completed projects

Green Improvement

  • Green Improvement Fund used to make public funds available for private property improvements, contribute $.20-$.30 cents per gallon of capture depending on the area and capture need, projects are taken on by the private property owner and they are responsible for maintaining the project for 10 years

Mr. Bottrill asked if the private landowner was monitored.  Mr. Rhoads responded that there is a semiannual maintenance inspection process and they have found over 97% of the maintenance is being performed.


Metro WWTP

  • ACJ requires ambient monitoring, spent over $21 million dollars just in outside services for ambient monitoring of the lake and tributaries, look at all the different aquatic species and all the different richness’s and diversities of the lake, if this information is important to the Dec it should be gathered by others, no longer has anything to do with our combined sewer overflows or the Metro plant; trying hard to right size this effort, will take time, in deep discussions with the state
  • Major goals accomplished over the 20-year ACJ:

2.13.19 EP 5

  • Hazardous algae blooms aren’t forming in Onondaga Lake because the ammonia and phosphorous has been removed; spent a lot of money and worked with a lot of partners to attain these goals, now seeing all the opportunities the lake has to offer the community, much going on around the lake even now in February

Legislation & Media

  • Lists legislation adopted during this period, primarily the capital improvement program
  • Legally responsible to ensure litter does not enter receiving waters;  social media campaign included Coaches Jim Boeheim and Dino Babers, also doing outreach at schools and the MOST, also have Nature in the City Program with Baltimore Woods – doing a lot to carry the message to youth and get everyone involved to keep litter out of the lake

Financial Update

  • Publish every contract, transparent about where the money comes from and goes
  • Currently 4 principal capital budgets:  Clinton/Lower MIS CSO, Harbor Brook Drainage CSO, Midland CSO, and Sewer Separation, which is also used for green programs


  • Includes a chronology of projects; WEP acronyms listed on final 5 pages

Chairman Knapp asked the timeline for wrapping up the ACJ and moving onto the maintenance phase with less oversight and money.  Mr. Rhoads responded that the money is real and the hesitancy to end things is one of our concerns.  We have been collecting data on the streams and Lake Outlet for over 20 years.  It is great data but what is the purpose – if it serves a larger scientific purpose maybe they should pay the County for doing their research.  We have demonstrated that the lake continues to meet all its opportunities for public use.  Ending the ACJ discussion started with the EPA and NYS in January of 2017.  We continue to meet quarterly and are now looking at a variance approach.  One of the problems is the way in which the ACJ is written.  It requires us to meet a bacterial standard for receiving waters at all times, even during wet weather events.  Nine Mile Creek has no relationship to the CSO’s but during wet weather events, it does not meet the ambient water quality standard for bacteria.  Sawmill Creek, Onondaga Creek, Harbor Brook, and Ley Creek tributaries do not meet this standard even before reaching the combined sewer area.  NYS has a very high standard for water quality.  Each time we have a CSO overflow the stream is inoculated with some untreated wastewater.  Everyone envisions a long term goal of all waterways meeting the standard nationally, however, the question is the affordability.  Pets, wildlife, and farmland for agricultural purposes contribute bacteria which will cause dissimulation of the water quality standard.  We need to take a longer vision on what our long-term goals are and how we can progress there in an “opportunistic fashion”.  It takes a tremendous amount of change to get people out of the mindset that the County can just spend more money and build more storage facilities.  We are making progress and have a powerful presentation on what other CSO communities are doing.  The purpose is to drive hard with NYS that we are far ahead of most other communities because we have been at this for 20 years.  Cities like NYC and Philadelphia are just starting and hope to reach 85% capture in 30 years.  Milwaukee is likely the only city ahead of us with 100% capture, but it still is not meeting the water quality goals.  It is important to recognize that fecal coliform bacteria is not harmful to wildlife.  It will make humans sick so we should avoid recreation in waters after wet weather events.  A variance would work by suspending any contact recreation for a period of 24-48 hours after a wet weather event.  It makes a lot of sense but will require a lot of “kumbaya circle”, and probably some stipulations in court by all involved parties.  


Chairman Knapp stated that the DEC and EPA would both have to agree.  Mr. Rhoads added that Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ALSF), is also a part of this.  All parties would have to agree to convert the ACJ into a Long Term Control Plan. 


Chair Jordan stated that the water quality standard sounds impossible to reach.  We have no control over wildlife and things of that sort.  There is no rational way to ever comply with this standard.  Chairman Knapp agreed.  Chair Jordan stated that he does not see the point of creating a water quality standard that can never be attained.  Even in a perfect world wildlife will be running around – seems nonsensical.


Chairman Knapp asked the next step.  Mr. Rhoads responded that we continue to meet with the parties and work towards a settlement approach.  These presentations were presented to all parties to help them understand our position.  Our next salvo is the April 1, 2018 report – having a good strong report demonstrating how much we accomplished and building strong public support.  Regulatory agencies are most concerned about their reputation and don’t like to take risks.  We have to demonstrate that we have done our part and will continue to make small incremental steps toward our vision.  Everyone would like all our waters to be pristine but we have to change the way we are approaching this.  We cannot throw $70 or $100 million dollars per year at this.  We must determine how we can manage these things in a more opportunistic manner in partnership with the people in our community, i.e., no matter which choice is chosen for I-81 they will completely redo the way in which stormwater is managed.  The current legacy system literally dumps all the stormwater into our combined sewer system causing it to overflow or overwhelming treatment at the plant.  We need to work together on the old legacy pieces of infrastructure and new projects to manage stormwater at the source.  Stormwater fees are being created throughout our nation as stormwater has to be managed smarter whenever something is redeveloped.  All projects have to be done as a team with developers, towns, villages and the city.  It won’t happen overnight but that is our goal.


A motion to adjourn was made by Mr. Bottrill, seconded by Mrs. Tassone at 9:41 a.m.; MOTION CARRIED.


Respectfully submitted,

2.13.19 EP 6


Onondaga County Legislature

2.13.19 EP 7



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MEMBERS PRESENT:  Ms. Cody, Mr. McBride, Mrs. Ervin

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Holmquist

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp; See attached list


Chair Tassone called the meeting to order at 10:34 a.m.  A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Mr. McBride to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED


1.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY:  Janet Park, Executive Director

        a.     Providing for Various Personnel Changes

  • Add title to payroll roster – Literacy Aid, which is a part-time minimum wage position; equivalent to a Page
  • Renovation of Central Library created new space for children including interactive early literacy area for preschoolers
  • This area requires support staff with necessary skill set for working effectively with children and caregivers; also they have to have the ability to promote literacy activities; adding title allows to do this
  • Typically Page would shelve books and do clerical tasks; converting to Literacy Aid will allow for specifying qualifications and experience in early childhood to support literacy area
  • Will advertise as always, and could be someone interested within the department; want to find someone interested in working with children
  • Funds in 2019 budget; instead of filling a Page position, will fill this
  • Position will be added as of March 5th (session); no list for part-time; no civil service tests; advertise when job ready

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


2.     PARKS AND RECREATION:  William Lansley, Commissioner

        a.     Concerning Construction of a New Animal Health Center at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo; Approving the Classification of an Unlisted Action Under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA); Accepting the Environmental Assessment Form; and Accepting and Adopting the Negative Declaration ($7,200,000)

  • Construction approval for Zoo should have included SEQRA; negative environmental impact; accepting negative declaration for short order form; legal document for Bond Counsel
  • Area where the building will be has had fencing, barn, pond, etc.; no serious environmental impacts
  • Will be tying into water and sewer for zoo program
  • Oversight by Parks that it was not included when came to Legislature for bonding

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


        b.     Update:  Lights on the Lake

  • 29th year of Lights on the Lake
  • Price adjustment for first time in 6 years
  • Comments in past about vehicles backing up on Parkway - to accommodate is to create additional queue lane
  • Average day will be single car lane, but can break off to 2 separate lanes if it starts to back up; also opened Shore Line Trail for another 110 cars; another option is an additional ticket booth
  • Mayor had no complaints about Lights on the Lake parking or traffic this past season
  • Price increase from $15 to $20 on weekends; sold presale tickets for the previous year price; $6 presale tickets limited to weekdays (previously any day); brought heavy traffic to weekday shows instead of weekends only
  • Breakdown shows $10,000 in charitable walks (2 in beginning of season)
  • Raised $6,500 for Second Chance Shelter – extend one night at $5/car; had 1,060 cars, but people left more money per car for the shelter; $11,500 total in charitable donations
  • Advertising expense is contractual obligation with Galaxy to give at least $1 mil of equity in advertising; radio stations, TV and billboards done on behalf of County to keep numbers up
  • Revenue of $408,000; expenses of $428,000; recurring balance kept in Special Events Account; not budgeted item
  • Hold money in Special Events Account - used to buy equipment and build infrastructure
  • Revenue comes in towards middle and end of show; have account to afford starting show without asking for dollars
  • Spent money on rehab; 2 largest displays are the mountain drive through and Cinderella’s Castle drive through – massive pieces that have not been touched in 20 years; had them scraped, painted, new lights and electronics
  • Also spent money on new equipment to add to show and keep it fresh

Mr. Lansley responded to Mr. McBride that the advertising is in equity, and the County is not spending those dollars.  It is a private/public partnership, and Galaxy’s responsibility is to promote on behalf of the County.  Chairman Knapp commented that Galaxy goes out to get (i.e.) Wegmans to sponsor.  It is not coming from the County.   


Mr. McBride asked how much is in the Special Events Account.  Ms. Fricano responded that it is in a grant fund with hundreds of events included.  Ms. Fricano can do an update on the account, and provide it to the committee.  Mrs. Ervin stated she would like to see that.


Mrs. Ervin asked if the intent of Lights on the Lake is not to make any money.  Mr. Lansley replied as far as the department is concerned, yes.  Mr. Lansley continued:

  • His job is to increase, or make available, public use of Park’s facilities; Lights on the Lake brings in 205,900 people, and is a multigenerational event people come to year after year; anything to bring people into the parks is priority
  • Do not ever lose money on the show because of the way the contract is built
  • If the show is built and knocked out by an ice storm that wrecks displays, the County will still be paid; no risk at all
  • Never have needed to come to Legislature to ask for money for Lights on the Lake
  • Short fall happens rarely; this past year invested in equipment; do not see it as a loss
  • 2013/2014 show was close to $0; some years made $190,000 or $165,000
  • Along with expenses, they do trail repairs; Legislature gives Park’s money for paving projects to keep trail in shape
  • See 40,000 cars coming through causing wear and tear; used over $100,000 for trail from revenues; need to keep show in pristine condition

Ms. Cody asked if there is a way to gauge how many people from out of town come through.  Mr. Lansley answered that the only thing they can look at are the web page views.  There was a tremendous amount of web inquiries from people in Boston and New York City.  Mr. Lansley can send over the information from the website.  Ms. Cody said the walks have become very crowded, and asked if there has been any discussion on expanding that.  Mr. Lansley replied:

  • Not a lot they can do; currently do 2 nights for charity
  • People check the weather for both nights, which can lead to a bulk of people on one day
  • Have had really bad weather days that keep people away, then the next night will be nice with 15,000 - 20,000 people
  • Open parking with Longbranch and Griffin Visitor’s Center to accommodate; show also hires Liverpool Officers to maintain all areas

Mr. Lansley answered Mrs. Ervin that the revenue goes into the Special Events Account, and is used for new equipment and other expenses.  Also, in previous years there was no overtime, because Park’s would use inmates from Jamesville to set up and breakdown the show.  This year they did not have inmates to set up or breakdown, so there was an increase in overtime.  Employees have the option to take comp time or overtime in cash, and most took comp time last year (comp time not reflected; future expense).   


Mrs. Ervin asked how they decide on the charities they will support, and Mr. Lansley said they are discussed with Galaxy, Parks and the County Executive’s office.  It has been the same every year with the exception of adding Second Chance Shelter two years ago.  The evening for Second Chance is worked by Park’s employees who donate their time, so there is zero cost to the County.  All the dollars for that night go to the Shelter.  Mrs.  Ervin asked if there is any chance in changing the two charities, and Mr. Lansley replied that it can be discussed between the County and Galaxy.


Chairman Knapp asked if the Galaxy contract is a three or five year deal.  Mr. Lansley answered that it has been RFP’d multiple times.  The County normally does a three year contract with options to extend one or two years.  Galaxy is currently within their three year contract.


A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Mr. McBride, to adjourn the meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:52 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,


JAMIE McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature




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MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Buckel, Mr. Holmquist

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, Mr. Burtis

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp, Mr. Bush; see attached list


Chairman McBride called the meeting to order at 2:03 p.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Buckel, seconded by Mr. Holmquist, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Holmquist, seconded by Mr. Buckel, to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED. 



        a.     Confirming Appointment by the County Executive to the Board of Directors of the Onondaga Civic Development Corporation (Gerald Albrigo)


Chairman McBride said that Mr. Albrigo has a stellar resume with thirty years of experience, both private and public sector, and is an elected official in the Town of Geddes.


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


2.     INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY:  Kevin Sexton, Chief Information Officer

        a.     INFORMATIONAL - BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing Technology Refresh Improvements in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $1,581,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,581,000 Bonds of said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($1,581,000)


Mr. Sexton:

  • Bonding for technology refresh, in terms of support, have a number of environments beyond life, at end of life or soon to become end of life, looking for replacement, refreshment or another source
  • VOIP technology is the most pressing, new phone system 6-7 years ago, did not pay for support, now 4 versions behind, need to purchase an upgrade license to avoid a catastrophic event; had some and recovered, fear not being able to bring this back to life one day
  • 2nd item is the ongov website, uses old technology, represents our brand, image, and credibility, is a maintenance nightmare with 76 sites maintained by one fulltime person and an intern - looking at WordPress which is an open source product, used this technology for the amphitheater, Sheriff and DA sites, works well, want to upgrade the entire ongov.net platform with base design, standard templates and themes to leverage a new look and feel
  • Next items are hardware:
    • Sever replacement for backup and recovery
    • 2 Core switches - large units that all infrastructure runs through connecting to our core computing environment, big-ticket item, end of life July 2019
    • Various firewalls, routers and network switches at end of life or soon to be, want to replace gradually over the next 18-24 months, $225,000
    • Tape library 7 years old, broke down 3 times within the last year, each time the system was out of commission for over a week, big risk as proper backups weren’t completed on those days - looking at newer technology, disk backup, cloud technology isn’t cost effective at this time

Chairman McBride asked how long before the next refresh if all these items became a reality.  Mr. Sexton responded that ideally, it would be 5 years minimum, probably more like 6 or 7 years.


Mr. Buckel asked if these items were part of the budget request and capital plan.  Mr. Sexton responded that these items were originally submitted as CIP requests.  It was agreed not to present them last fall and to bring them over this winter.  Mr. Buckel said that he did not recall this coming before the legislature.  Mr. Sexton stated that he believes it was directed by the County Executive.  Mr. Morgan said that the CIP is an 8-year plan and we have been asking the legislature for support after the budget cycle.  A few years back feedback noted there was a lot of information and much to deal with during the budget cycle.  The legislature added a session where the CIP plan is discussed and Mr. Petrela highlighted the main areas.  The legislature dealt with a number of bond resolutions at the end of 2018 and it was decided that this one would be pushed off towards the spring. 


Mr. Buckel asked if this bonding would be put into the same basket as other bonding.  Mr. Morgan answered yes.  We front the money for projects each year then evaluate how much we need to borrow for the expenses already made and what we anticipate spending for the remainder of that year and part of the next.  Mr. Buckel asked if we go to market in the summer.  Mr. Morgan responded that it varies.  He believes this year will be back on the schedule that was run for years - sale in late June or early July.


Mr. Holmquist asked the next steps for this informational item.  Chairman Knapp stated the item will come back to this body next month for a vote, then go to Ways and Means and presumably be voted on at the April session. 


Chairman Knapp questioned how bonding companies look at bonding for technology that has a short lifespan.  Mr. Morgan responded that it is just folded into the overall useful life.  Language was added to this resolution to allow the use of surplus funds at the end of 2019 if they exist. 


Chairman McBride asked if there was a pecking order.  Mr. Sexton responded that the VOIP upgrades are number one, the tape library is probably second.  Everything else could possibly be held off for up to another year if need be.  Mr. Buckel stated that his impression is that this stuff is essential to the everyday working of government.  Mr. Sexton said that we put ourselves at big risk if don’t get back on current versions under annual support and stay inline by doing fairly frequent upgrades.



        a.     INFORMATIONAL - Onondaga County Plan:  People, Places and Partnerships Conceptual Themes


Mr. Kwasnowski:

  • Presenting at the federation conference March 7, 2019; intend to meet with each municipality in the county to discuss the 6 themes, thus far meet with Town of Clay, Village of Jordan and the Town of Marcellus


   2.28.19_Planning_1         2.28.19_Planning_2




  • Community Engagement - planning from the ground up
  • Strong Centers – villages, the city and town centers; long discussion with Town of Clay about creating a center or two
  • Transportation – not uniform, determine how to make corridors multimodal, perform better, and enhance development along those corridors to create more value
  • Agriculture  - keep building on what we have been doing
  • Greenways and Greenbelts - not lumped in the agriculture, determine how to further protect the resources and enhance the development that goes alongside them, usually the highest valued development is along greenways, greenbelts, parks and such
  • Housing – housing and neighborhoods are the most difficult, vacant issues are countywide - not just in the City, also have great neighborhoods, working with Community Development to determine how we can encourage people to buy and fix these houses
  • Looking for feedback and ideas, will be working on this all year, end of summer will create 3 page report on each community that will lead to our plan, doing a strategic plan first, want to know what people are trying to do so that we can create a master plan for the entire County both graphically and otherwise, and then bring in the resources to make it happen

Chairman McBride asked if someone was in charge of this.  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that it was just he thus far but he hopes to have an advisory committee in the fall.  The ideas and conversations thus far have been great.  He is excited about this and hopes to see some kind of uniform themes come forth from the villages and towns.  Chairman McBride asked if a theme was emerging now.  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that the communities have been pretty diverse so far.  Drainage issues are one theme - the fix is easy, just a matter of who is going to pay for it.  The Village of Jordan was very excited about the Empire Trail Plan that is also currently in development.  The idea of creating strong centers and focusing on the areas already developed seems to go over very well; i.e. Great Northern Mall, Shoppingtown.  Malls are in a transition period except for Destiny USA which seems to be doing well and keeps renewing themselves.  The trail was purposely not put into this as it can be a difficult topic but that area seems to have come to maturity.  People accept that we really need trails in our community, and he loves that it has come to the surface on its own.  He believes trails will be featured in the greenways and greenbelts because it is a very common theme that people are excited about, especially local leaders.


Mr. Buckel said that he hopes a foundational piece of the County Plan includes strengthening Onondaga County as a place where enterprise is created by its own residents.  Mr. Kwasnowski asked if the thought was that the money would stay here.  Mr. Buckel responded that we are on one of the thousands of other communities trying to compete for the same companies.  Helping our poverty population and middle-class nurture and create enterprise is ultimately where long term economic growth and strength will come from.  Not to substitute but add this as one of our foundational pieces.


Mr. Bush asked for clarification or definition of the goal “attract new residents and businesses through placemaking and amenities.”  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that placemaking is the things you can add to a community that makes it unique, i.e. Eastwood has the theater; whatever is unique to that community, things that people have pride in and draws people to live there.  Mr. Bush stated that everything is in transition.  If you look at history Downtown Syracuse has shifted out to Destiny.  People are nostalgic in wanting the Addis and Wells & Cloverly stores back but that it just not going to happen.  Township 5 is becoming the new center of activity for Camillus - this goes on constantly and sometimes people try to reverse that economic trend.  Mr. Kwasnowski said that Township 5 is a good example.  It is a fairly unique development that has a theater and its own vibe.  You cannot do this from scratch, sometimes it takes time to develop that character.  A lot of it has to do with the public places and public spaces within private development, i.e. Village of Jordan has incredible historic resources that make them unique.  It is determining how to improve, preserve and adapt that to the modern needs of business and commerce to keep it viable and there are different technics depending on where you are.  New developments like Township 5 are challenged in that they don’t have age or by in from the community to make it their own.  On the other hand, it is a blank slate and there is a lot of opportunity for planning how you can make it more unique and continue that viability.


Chairman Knapp asked that legislators be advised of the meetings with each municipality so that they may also attend.  He loves the bottoms up approach and it is important for legislators to know what questions are being asked as ultimately this will come before the legislature.  We have an amazingly diverse county so this will take a lot of creativity on Mr. Kwasnowski’s part.


Mr. Holmquist said that it is nice to have SOCPA well received wherever they go.  Mr. Kwasnowski responded that there are certain challenges to development even under the best of circumstances.  We are there to help and do the best we can for the County. 


Chairman McBride said that there will be more to come and thanked Mr. Kwasnowski.  In reference to the Empire Trail, Mr. Kwasnowski stated that we will partner with David Botar and have essentially doubled our money as CNY RPDB had local waterfront revitalization funds that needed a match. 


4.     To Promote New Educational Opportunities for Onondaga County Residents:  Requesting the Enactment of State Legislation Regarding the County’s Support in Financing and Otherwise Assisting in the Development of a Regional School (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp


Ms. Rooney:

  • Introduced Superintendent Jamie Alicea, Syracuse City School District, and Jody Manning, Superintendent OCMBOCES, the two have partnered for over 2 years on the planning stage for redevelopment of Central Tech High School
  • 1st regional high school, state education excited about this prospect, allows county and city pupils to enroll; distributed letters of support noting that others are coming and there is wide ranged support
  • Resolution asks NYS for home rule legislation stating this has a county purpose; proposal originally came forward in 2003 as a Syracuse only high school to repurpose Central Tech, now a much larger vision
  • Must use science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) type education to prepare students for jobs of the future
  • Syracuse School District has been successful with the Institute of Technology (ITC) graduation rates
  • Will build on what ITC has accomplished and repurpose grand facility, i.e. Hotel Syracuse, equal celebration but with groundbreaking education; districts are excited and the County should be proud to support this

Chairman McBride stated that there are 8 or 9 letters of support but there are 23 districts in total.  Mr. Alicea said that they talked to the districts closest to the city first but it will be open to all districts in the county and more letters are coming in.  Ms. Rooney said that there aren’t 23 standalone districts.  Chairman McBride responded that there are 18 in Onondaga County but within the OCMBOCES footprint there are 23.  Mr. Manning said that there are 23 within Onondaga, Cortland and Madison Counties and all must be included for OCMBOCES to participate.  In answer to Ms. Rooney, Mr. Alicea confirmed that students from each district must be allowed to participate if they so choose.


Chairman McBride asked how this started.  Ms. Rooney said that there has always been an appetite for repurposing Central Tech.  Mr. Alicea responded that when we talk about future jobs in the CNY we are talking about drone technology and construction technology.  More importantly, we are the only member of the Big 5 School District that does not have a performing arts school so we talked about having a STEAM School to integrate the arts as part of the program and to offer services to all students in the county.  The ITC program has 500 students and no further capacity with a graduation rate of 93%.  People outside of the district have been asking to attend and we wanted to provide that opportunity for all county students.


Chairman McBride asked what curriculum the STEAM school would provide that is currently not available.  Mr. Alicea responded performing arts – drama, music, writing, 2-d, and 3-d art, theater, drone technology for flying, analyzing data and repair, construction management and engineering, and business entrepreneurship.  Chairman McBride questioned if this was a new curriculum not afforded to anyone.  Mr. Alicea responded that the PLSA program at Fowler provides graduates with their certificate on how to fly drones but STEAM is about fixing and analyzing data. 


Chairman McBride asked how students would be chosen for the programs.  Mr. Alicea responded that a committee is working on the development of the curriculum area for 4 years beginning in ninth grade and is also talking about the process.  All the requirements haven’t been finished as they are still working in that area. 


Chairman McBride asked if certified teachers were in place.  Mr. Alicea responded that the only drone certified teachers in NYS are located in Syracuse.  We are working with Lemoyne College and Syracuse University to get the other teachers certified therefore the program would not open until the year 2021-22.  Chairman McBride asked the number of teachers needed.  Mr. Alicea responded that it would be about 80 teachers for all the areas.  Chairman McBride asked if the teachers would be new to the district.  Mr. Alicea responded that if it reduces the enrollment in some of the buildings they could be transferred.  Chairman McBride asked if they could budget for an increase of 80 teachers.  Mr. Alicea said that it will not happen all in one year, it will start with 9th grade. 


Mr. Holmquist asked the role of the legislature and the next steps.  Ms. Rooney said that one reason the County is involved is because of its favorable credit rating.  There will be no County exposure with the repayment of the bond.  State aid funds for education could be used, currently working on calculating the amount for repayment.  A URI application will also be part of this and signed MOU’s between the County and City declaring the City responsible for any remaining local share.  The impetus is to show county purpose and to minimize the costs of the project.  This is the first part, we are required by law to ask the state to declare there is a county purpose.  At the same time, the work group has been meeting at least once every two weeks to discuss every part of this project.  If we are going to finance the project, this is how it has to be done.  Mr. Holmquist said that if the County passes this it will presumably go to the state in time for their budget.  Ms. Rooney said that the state could then approve the concept but not anything around the bonding mechanism.  Mr. Holmquist asked if returning to the legislature for the bonding would be the next thing.  Ms. Rooney responded, “Yes when we get to that point.”  Mr. Donnelly said that there will likely be multiple opportunities for the legislature to talk about where we are in the process before a formalized funding plan is presented to the legislature.  Right now how we move forward is speculative but without this memorializing legislation, it cannot be considered as a true county purpose therefore that bonding could not be part of the discussion. 


Mr. Buckel stated that this is potentially transformative for the city schools, the community and the economic growth of the community.  There will be a knee jerk reaction if this is called an honors school but he will note for the record, “Western NY and Buffalo have a school and that is one of the defining differences in the economics of that city.  The housing market, which is double the strength of our housing market and faces the same problems.”  He won’t call it an honors school but would encourage them to make the admission criteria competitive so that it is truly transformative and not just another institution with the same pool and mass of issues.  Making these types of programs available to county and city students will change the dynamic of our city system, housing market, and economic system.  Ms. Rooney added that there has been a tremendous investment around that part of downtown, i.e. hotel, War Memorial, paving of Harrison and Adams, and the bus terminal.  Revitalizing that building will transform downtown and contribute to creating opportunities for children that they currently don’t have, training them for jobs of the future.  


Mr. Bush said that he is very concerned about the county getting into a program involving education.  His constituents already pay way too much for school taxes and he feels very uncomfortable with this kind of proposal which is not detailed, who is going to pay what and what is the county’s ultimate responsibility.  This has an effect on our bonding and we don’t even know how much you are talking about bonding for.  We are really shy about some facts.  Ms. Rooney responded that this is not going to be the only opportunity to discuss this.  Mr. Bush said that once the train leaves the station it is very difficult.  We need as much information as possible before starting down that track.  Ms. Rooney responded that the key factors to keep in mind are that other than issuing the debt, there will be no exposure for the County on the repayment of the debt.  Mr. Bush asked how this is done.  Ms. Rooney reiterated there are three things to keep in mind:  1) state aid will be applied to the payment, 2) application for Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI); STEAM school is part of the Mayor’s Syracuse Surge project, 3) City responsible for paying any remaining local share. 


Chairman McBride stated that this would be done through the signing of an Intermunicipal Agreement, which we don’t currently have.  Ms. Rooney responded that we don’t know what that is.  Mr. Donnelly added that we are waiting for the state education department to tell us the percentage of the project that they will finance.  We are not asking for a funding commitment at this point.  The County Executive has committed that he will not present a plan that will put the County in jeopardy.  Chairman McBride ask if wording could be added to the resolution stating that this is a memorializing resolution to fulfill a requirement of NYS but we are not committing to this project at this time.  Mr. Donnelly stated that the resolution does not bind the legislature to any future action.  Chairman McBride disagreed; similar to what was done with the beach on Onondaga Lake the resolution stated we support the project but are not committing to the project, very simple. 


Ms. Tarolli reiterated the steps as stated, adding that past projects have used this same mechanism, i.e. library elevators, $11 million was added to the abstract.  This is not a new tool for the Law Department, if there is shortfall an agreement will be drafted to show how it will be covered and there is always the sales tax.  At this point, the state would be looking for something clean to make this a county purpose and in order to get to the next step.  Without a doubt, there will be other legislative steps.  To that point, Chairman McBride again asked if wording could be added stating we support the notion of this and are doing this as a requirement of NYS but this does not obligate us.  Ms. Tarolli responded that she has never seen that in a memorializing resolution which is requesting legislation.  It is usually a clean expression of intent. 


Mr. Maturo asked if the County would take ownership of Central Tech.  Ms. Rooney answered no.  Mr. Maturo asked if the reason for county purpose was to allow the county to issue debt for rehab of an asset that it doesn’t own.  Ms. Tarolli responded that the ownership with relationship to bonding has changed over the years, formerly had to have ownership, now county purpose is sufficient to issue bonds.  Mr. Maturo asked if he was correct in stating that this would not make it taxable.  Mr. Morgan responded that he did not believe so.  The way it is structured now the City owns the building and the school district leases it for a dollar or rent waived, which could be a potential approach if taxes become an issue but that would bring other issues in terms of liability and insurance.  Mr. Maturo stated that the question would then be, if we take ownership, what about the operations down the road.  Mr. Morgan responded that there is no intent for the county to be involved in the operations of the school.  This is strictly the county offering to finance its support of the project with full funding of issuance costs and debt service.


Mr. Bush said that the county is being drawn into this because we have a favorable bond rating.  Ms. Rooney responded that this is a project all should be proud to be part of but our role would be the financer of the debt.  Mr. Bush stated that he is sure the project has many benefits but they want to use our bond rating for a city building.  Ms. Rooney said that the city is part of the county.  Mr. Bush said he understands that but so are a lot of other school districts.  Ms. Rooney responded, “Who are all in the support of this project.”  Mr. Bush asked why the school districts didn’t get together with the city to found the bonding rather than drawing in the county as they are the educational institutions in our county.  Ms. Rooney responded that the school district does not issue debt, the City of Syracuse issues on behalf of the school district and they don’t run a school district either.  The City’s bond rating is not in the same position as the county - it will be advantageous because the cost of the debt will be cheaper. 


Mr. Frateschi stated that the county has a better rating and cap than the city, and has the capacity to do this.  Aside from bonding, the public purpose is to allow Onondaga County residents to attend a city school.  The state legislature will not even consider that thought until they receive an indication from the County Legislature that it is something they are interested in doing.  This is the initial step, it is not will you do this, it is will you consider what we are thinking about.  Once considered we then get into the details of finance.  His understanding is that funding for children from other districts attending the school will follow them so that revenue will be available to pay off the bonds in part.  Mr. Buckel added that he did not want to limit this to geography.  As he understands the concept, it is the creation of an education program that is unique to the northeast.  NYC has performing arts programs but this provides a unique educational setting in one place.  The facilities are historic and would put us on the map in the performing arts programs but in the sciences and stem technologies it provides something unique and valuable and will enhance both education and economic opportunities. 


Chairman McBride reiterated his request for added language.  Mr. Frateschi said that he will work with Ms. Tarolli to come up with language so that the County Legislature does not feel bound.  However, there is no way to bind the legislature as the ultimate stop is passing a bonding resolution by a two-thirds vote. 


Chairman Knapp said that he has all or part of six school districts in the county and all are in support.  The location is very convenient for outer lying towns to get to quickly so that kids aren’t spending a lot of time on buses.  This piece just dips our toes in the water as we will be talking about this a lot over the next several months to a year.  Once this piece is done we can start looking at the details.


Chairman McBride said that language would be added to the resolution.  Mr. Frateschi agreed noted that the more we qualify the resolution the bigger risk that the state legislature will state this is not good enough; needs time to come up new language.  Chairman Knapp said that a vote could be taken on this item as it stands today and then it can be tweaked between now and session.  Mr. Frateschi agreed that the resolution could be passed with the understanding that they will work on the language to ensure the County Legislature is not bound to anything other than an aspirational goal.


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


The meeting was adjourned at 3:02 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature




* * *



FEBRUARY 26, 2019



MEMBER PRESENT:  Mr. Jordan, Mr. Rowley, Mr. May, Ms. Williams, Ryan, Ervin

ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman Knapp, Dr. Chase, see attached list


Chair Cody called the meeting to order at 9:07 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to waive the reading of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mr. Rowley, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED. 


Chair Cody took the agenda out of order.


9.     PERSONNEL:  Duane Owens, Commissioner

        a.     Accepting and Approving the Contract Between the County of Onondaga, the Sheriff of Onondaga County and the Onondaga County Deputy Sheriffs’ Police Association, Inc.

  • Settled 3-year contract
  • Pleased with this agreement - Personnel Dept. and Harris Beach did a fantastic job
  • 2.5% raise each year, starting with 2018
  • Total cost is $3.6 million
  • Longevity language changes – had an issue where they were almost being penalized for taking a promotion; change was made so that one moves to another position, they do not lose previous longevity pay
  • Added Detectives Unit on call pay of $50 for each time they are on call
  • Added an attendance premium enhancement – hope to encourage better attendance and less call ins; allows for those who have accumulated over 1,000 hours of sick time to sell back one week of it
  • Union voted 140 – 0 to approve contract


Mr. Ryan spoke to union leadership who expressed they were quite satisfied.  He suggested that in the future negotiations start sooner, get behind the 8-ball; we get to the point of almost going to remediation and it costs a lot of money.  Last time there was a lot of money tied up in legal fees.  He suggested there be a better process – money could be returned to the bargaining unit or the department.  Mr. Owens said that he would welcome starting earlier and will take it into consideration for next time.


Mr. May said that it is always better to get it done sooner, but appreciates that it was done sooner this time.  The retro situation is a lot more digestible than in the past; just under $600,000.  The annual all-in cost is about $1.2 million.  It is always great when we can get these things done – it creates anxiety on both sides.  The longer they go, the more sticker shock there is unnecessarily.


Mr. Rowley said that he had trouble following Mr. Owens’ memo.  He suggested that the memo would have lent it itself to a nice chart:  salary, increase, accoutrements to the contract, total cost by year - requested that it be prepared, as it is difficult to understand exactly what the cost is.  Mr. Rowley asked if the $3.985 million includes payroll tax and pension cost.  Mr. Morgan said that it does.  Mr. Rowley requested that the information be broke out in a chart form before session.


Mr. Rowley asked if there is money in the 2019 budget to pay for this increase.  Mr. Morgan said that there is not; 2018 numbers are still be finalized and the retro will be absorbed into 2018.  For 2019, as typically done, when funds are not set aside for contracts that settle, they will monitor it, and as it gets closer to going into the red, we will first try to identify funds within the department and other areas that can be moved to cover it.  Then, they would ultimately look to other departments and areas outside of department.  Finally, if need be, they will look to fund balance for it.  Mr. Rowley asked if provisions for salaries and wages isn’t used any more.  Mr. Morgan said that it varies from year to year. 


Mr. Rowley said that this is just for road patrol and does not include custody, jail, or others.  Mr. Owens agreed.  Mr. Rowley’s opinion is that we should go back to breaking out the budget by functional area.  He said that he would have liked to take the number and bounce it back against the budget to do a comparison, and it is tough to do when the budget is combined.  Mr. Morgan said that they do budget by function and have all of that information.  It’s not in the document, but it drills down more than just custody and road patrol – there are 15 or more programs.  He said that the information is available, but it’s just not portrayed in the document.  If the legislative body would like to see it, it’s available.  Mr. Rowley said that in terms of transparency and for the public to understand how much our Sheriff’s Department cost, he would like to see it broken out in the document.  It is good practice.


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



        a.     Confirming Reappointment to the Onondaga County Justice Center Oversight Committee (Marissa J. Mims) (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp, Mr. Ryan)

  • Created the Justice Center Oversight Committee several years ago and they are doing fine work
  • Ms. Mims is the Chair and is doing an outstanding; works closely with the Sheriff and the Sheriff’s Dept.


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



        a.     Confirming the Appointed to the Onondaga County Council on Environmental Health (Julie Abbott-Kenan)

  • A group that is intermediary between the public and Health Dept., and various departments
  • Looks at various issues for health and welfare , i.e. clean water, septic, trash removal
  • Ms. Abbott-Kenan will do a great job; will replace Mike Plochocki


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


3.     CNY WORKS, INC.Chairman Knapp

        a.     Confirming Appointment to the Board of Directors for CNY Works, Inc. (David Knapp)

  • Traditionally the Chair of the Legislature is representative on this board


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


4.     COUNTY CLERKChris Plochocki, Deputy County Clerk

        a.     Authorizing New York State Reimbursement for 2018 Expenses of the Recording Officer for the County of Onondaga for Administration of Mortgage Taxes

  • Pursuant to Section 262 of NYS Tax Law - reimbursement of salaries and other expenses related to the collection of mortgage tax
  • Down significantly from last year due to drastic decrease in IT expenses because of offsets of subscription fees
  • $438,950 – total reimbursement


In answer to Mr. May; Mr. Morgan said that this is revenue account for the County Clerk. 


Mr. May said that the cost of IT services, interdepartmental, went down, so there is less of an expense to administer.  Mr. Plochocki agreed and said it is based on a percentage.


Mr. Rowley asked what the amount was last year that we got reimbursed. Mr. Plochocki said that he didn’t have the number in front of him, but it is a decrease of about $100,000.


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


5.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARYBrian Donnelly, Deputy County Executive

        a.     Providing for Various Personnel Changes

  • 103 position
  • Effectively taking the place of the page positions; paid at the same rate
  • Different skill set – work in literacy and youth programs
  • No additional funding; covered in existing 103 line


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


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

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

  • Corrected tax bills greater than $2,500 requires legislative approval
  • Many corrections are routine, adjustments for parcels for the sewer unit charge
  • *One large one – addressed in agenda item 6c for Syracuse Property Partners
  • County tax bill reduced by $573,000 as a result of a PILOT that came off of their property tax
  • They were billed for both their PILOT payment and school tax bill in error
  • When the school tax was unpaid it was added to their town and county bill in January
  • Correcting now to remove the tax that they did not to pay

Mr. Rowley asked if the county owes anything to the school.  Mr. Weber said that we do.


*Mr. May asked that the item be discussed with item 6c; and then vote separately.


Mr. Weber explained that all school taxes that go unpaid, the county makes the school districts whole.  This is part of Lyncourt School District; this if $573,000 and their entire levy is about $5 million.  It represents about 10% of total school taxes in the district.  If the county were to correct the bill, it would charge the school district back after that – wouldn’t make them whole, necessarily – would charge them back.  When the county would send them the money on April 1st, it would withhold the amount due to the correction - the amount that never should have been billed in the first place.  Item 6c is to soften that blow.  The county has worked out a payment schedule, or amended the PILOT agreement, to allow them to pay that back over time, rather than taking the $573,000 from them at once.


Mr. Morgan clarified that there was an error on the assessment that was considered to be taxable and it wasn’t.  For a school district of that size to absorb all of that blow at once, they would not be able to operate.  The County Executive was open to entertaining alternative methods of payback.  Worked closely with the county Law Dept., OCIDA, school district, and their attorneys, to come to an agreement on pay back terms.  Item 6c details the terms – allows them to pay it back over 8 years.  There is precedent – was allowed years ago.  Mrs. Tarolli said that the school board will have to pass their own resolution.


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


        b.     Providing for the Partial Payment of Delinquent Onondaga County Real Property Taxes

  • Partial payment of delinquent property tax - never had that before
  • Have pre-defined installment agreement for delinquent payers – they have to put down 25% of the total amount outstanding and make monthly payments for 24 months
  • Currently anyone who wants to make a partial payment without entering into this agreement, can’t do so
  • Change in state law last year allowed this
  • Asking that property owners who walk up to the window and want to pay, i.e. $1,000, that the county accepts that money and not require them to meet all other restrictions of the pre-defined installment agreement
  • Advantage of the installment agreement – if they enter into it, the property gets held out of tax auction while the agreement is in good standing
  • This would be outside of that – would maintain the payment agreement but also allow separate, partial payments of at least $200


Mrs. Ervin said that this if for anyone; Mr. Weber agreed.


Mr. Rowley questioned what the advantage is for the taxpayer if you can still put property into delinquency even with the partial payment.  Mr. Weber said that they get a lot of people coming to the counter with $1,000 and question why the county won’t take their money.  Mr. Rowley asked if there is an advantage to doing a partial payment to the taxpayer.  Mr. Weber said that they would accrue less interest.  Sometimes they don’t have the full 25% to put down; don’t want to make monthly payments – want to pay it off in 3 months; don’t want to enter into a 2-year agreement; don’t want to have to pay the $50 application fee.  Mr. Weber said that it is a lot of administrative burden on his end.


Mr. May asked if good faith effort counts for anything in the process.  Mr. Weber said that anybody can enter into an agreement.  Mr. May referred to the ability to make a smaller payment.  Mr. Weber said that it is defined in the law – 24 payments divided by whatever is owed. 


Mr. Rowley asked if school districts are allowed to collect partial payments.  Mr. Weber said that they are allowed to, but the school district would have to opt into it.


Mr. Jordan asked if we are waiving of late fees.  Mr. Weber said that we are not – just accepting partial payments.  His only concern is that sometimes a person comes in who does owe a late fee, and when they have to pay in full right now, they don’t want pay the late fees.  He can’t take it without the late fee.  Overall it will be good for the taxpayers.


Chairman Knapp said that anything that we can do to give folks flexibility in trying to meet this obligation we should do.  He referred to small family farms who struggle to pay their taxes every year.  If we get a little money in, take it; it helps a little with the balance overall.  Whatever we can do to make this easier is a good thing.


In answer to Mr. Rowley, Mr. Weber confirmed that credit card payments are accepted.  Mr.  Morgan said that it went into effect when the new tax collection software was launched.  Mr. Weber said that the county went live with collection of delinquent taxes in January of 2018; 7 villages came on in June, 5 school districts in September; 9 towns have been using since January.  He said they are working with the City to bring them on line.  Mr. Rowley said that it is one of the initiatives in the Shared Services Plan.  It cuts the municipal tax bills in half if they implement the system.  The goal is to have all municipalities on it – takes some time. 


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


        c.     For the Project Known as “Syracuse Property Partners, LLC”:  Approving an Alternative Allocation of Payments in Lieu of Taxes Related to Property Owned By Syracuse Property Partners, LLC, Providing for Repayment and Authoring the Execution of Agreements


*See discussion under item 6a.


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


        d.     Accepting the Recommendation of the Onondaga County Director of Real Property Tax Services, and Rejecting the Application for Refund and Credit of 2018 Real Property Taxes Regarding Property Located in the Town of Clay

  • Recommendation to reject a property owner who asked for corrections to their tax bill
  • Legislature has to approve corrections over $2,500 and also any property where he recommends that we don’t correct the bill
  • Parcel with two buildings – an auto body shop and a car wash
  • For many years the owner was billed one sewer unit charge – OCWA was only providing consumption for one of the water meters – the auto body shop and not the car wash
  • This year the property owner received a significantly higher bill because both meters are being captured
  • Sewer unit charge is based on water consumption
  • Property owners are not happy – liked the way that it was and didn’t feel it needed to be corrected
  • Respectfully disagree and feel the amount on the bill was appropriate


Mr. Rowley asked if it is known if OCWA has other issues like this throughout the county – concerned that we are leaving money on the table somewhere else.  Mr. Weber said that the sewer unit billing is a difficult process because they are converting a lot of different data sets – water consumption from OCWA, City of Syracuse, Village of Baldwinsville Water Dept., Clay Water Dept.  Their billing does not necessary tie back to the way the tax bills are done:  i.e. OCWA could have a property that is 123 Main Street, and the county is trying to tie that back to 123 West Genesee Street.  There is not a one to one relationship.  Have worked hard to modernize that process and fix how that works.  Planning Dept has helped – using GIS to map and tie things back – a pretty good job is done now, but probably need to update the data set and work on a way to get it done more often.  It is much better than it was.


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



a.     Requesting New York State to Fully Fund Counties for the Added Costs of Implementing Early Voting (Sponsored by Mr. May, Mr. Knapp, Mr. Rowley, Mrs. Tassone, Ms. Cody, Mr. Holmquist, Mr. McBride)


Chair Cody said that early voting was passed at the state legislature recently and did not include any funding for counties to offset the cost of it.  There is a very conservative estimate in the resolution of $390,000 – it could be substantially more than that.  This is calling on the state to fund those costs.


Chairman Knapp said that this is truly an unfunded mandate.  It was passed after all 62 counties had their budgets in place.  Agrees with Chair Cody that the cost could be significantly more than $390,000 – asking the state to backstop us and the other counties so that we can plan going forward.


Chairman Knapp said that he is going to spend several days in March at the Board of Elections with the vendors for the new electronic system that will have to be implemented.  There will be six sites with the county – LaFayette, Dewitt, Camillus, Clay, two in the city – one possibly DestiNY and possibly Eastwood.  They will be open to anyone – i.e. if you live in Clay, you can come to LaFayette and vote early.  Your name will be pulled up on a computer, see what district you live in , etc., and print a custom ballot for you right then.  The person will vote, scan it in and is done.  It goes on for 10 days prior to election.  The Monday before Election Day will be used to take all of the data of people that voted early and transpose it onto the books.  A code is entered next to the voters name indicated that he/she voted early.  It will be a monumental effort for BOE to make sure it is done right.  He said that there are no ID requirements – most of the other states have one. 


Chairman Knapp said that the county has to buy the computer system, which will be a big part of the cost.  Also the poll inspectors will have to be paid for 8 hours a day during the week and 5 hours a day on the two weekends.


Mr. May noted several county legislators were at an event on the weekend wherein Assembly Member Pam Hunter articulated well some of the concerns from a NYS legislative standpoint, at least from an upstate perspective.  Passing the law and changing how things are going to go is one thing – to do it so fast leaves many unknowns.  Money is a big issue from our perspective, but also the logistics and some of the things that Chairman Knapp mentioned.  There is so much to understand; this is just part of it and it would be nice if they’d pay for it before we step into this dark room. 


Chair Cody said that the Assembly actually wanted to make this effective next year – give us all time to absorb it.  Chairman Knapp said that a lot of it will be a one-time cost when we buy the computer system -- will be able to use it next year.  Next year the cost won’t be as bad – more personnel costs than hardware and software.


Chair Cody said that the dates of the demonstrations will be provided to members, if anyone wants to go to BOE and look at it.


Mr. May pointed out that last month the legislature approved a very big cost overrun for Board of Elections attributable to the political climate – it was a big year last year; this year there are some primaries.  Chair Cody said that delaying it would have given us a better cost estimate.


Mr. May said that this won’t be applicable for the primary process.  Chairman Knapp agreed – the primary is a one day event.


Mr. Ryan said that a lot of the BOE overruns were due to a high voter turnout, which is a good thing.  Hopefully this will encourage greater voter turnout, greater civic participation.  Now we can understand it and budget for it.  Now we will be able to gage it – which polling places will be busier – it will give people an option.  DestiNY is great – glad to hear that; maybe some of the sites are close to bus routes.  There are a lot of challenges in the city the prohibit people from voting.  It’s different for towns outside of the city of Syracuse – it’s a different way; most people don’t have the transportation challenges.  He looks forward to greater participation and hope it works.  Chair Cody said that it will be interesting to see.


Chairman Knapp said that we are not debating the good or the bad; we just want help paying for it.   Chair Cody said all of the counties are advocating for that – money was not put in the budget, but hopefully it will be.


Mrs. Ervin said “Do you think this piece of paper is going to make a difference; it would be foolish to think that it’s really going to make a difference.”  Chairman Knapp said that it can’t hurt.  “If all 62 counties are doing this, I know a lot of them are, then at least they know how we are thinking.”  Chair Cody said that then we are on record.


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


8.     MISC.:

        a.     Requesting New York State to Fully Restore Cuts to Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) Funding (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp, Mr. May, Mr. Rowley, Mrs. Tassone, Ms. Cody, Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, Mr. Holmquist, Mr. McBride, Mr. Bush)


Chairman Knapp said that we are asking the State to look at the cuts to Aid to Municipalities.  The original resolution in the packet encouraged the legislature to restore the funding that was cut by the governor.  For some areas this funding is not a lot of money, but for others it is a little bit more.  For the Village of Solvay, it is a very significant number.  It will force municipalities to raise property taxes; it’s a huge issue – quality of life, retaining people and business here.  The original resolution asked for the funding to be restored.  However, between the printing of the original resolution and today, the governor came out and said that it would be restored but would come out of counties sales tax collections.  It is basically throwing another unfunded mandate on us.  Mr. Morgan said that it is in the $1.6 million range if added all together.  Chairman Knapp said that the resolution was revised to say that it should not only be restored, but keep it where it was coming from--the State; just don’t pass it off as another unfunded mandate onto the counties. 


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


        b.     Requesting Amazon to Consider White Pine Commerce Park Located in Onondaga County, New York for the New Amazon Headquarters (Sponsored by Mr. Jordan)


Mr. Jordan said that for for some unknown reason Queens decided to dissuade Amazon in locating in Long Island City.  We would love to have Amazon here – it would be transformational.  He said that he looked at the criteria that Amazon was looking at for site location.  The preference was a metropolitan area of one million or more.  Obviously, Onondaga County doesn’t have a population of a million people, but with I-81 and the Thruway it doesn’t have to be limited to just a condensed area in terms of population.  To go beyond Onondaga County and look at contiguous counties, adding them all together, people commute every day from Oswego, Madison, and Cayuga Counties.  Adding those populations makes us well above one million people and could fulfill that requirement to staff their local headquarters.


Mr. Jordan said that another criteria was a stable and business friendly environment.  Unfortunately, New York State is the least business friendly state in the country, but Onondaga County has shown itself to be a very business friendly county.  He said that Onondaga County is a “Steady Freddy” – don’t really participate in the big booms, but when the economy sees a down turn, we don’t seem to suffer as much as other areas of the country.  In that regard, we are a very stable community. 


Mr. Jordan said that we are community that thinks big; noting that he didn’t support the amphitheater, but we went forward and built it.  We have many sporting teams and now have a relationship with the Mets.  He said that we are community that tried to think outside of the box.


Mr. Jordan said that another criteria that Amazon said could, but does not necessary have to have, is an urban or downtown campus.  It would make sense in i.e., Chicago or NYC with that many people in an urban area.  He said that in our community, because of the ease of transportation, you don’t necessarily need to be in an urban environment.  His research finds that Amazon isn’t necessarily opposed to locating in a suburban area.


Mr. Jordan referred to the Seattle campus, and is not sure how it is set up, but understands that they want to have the ability to expand.  The Clay Commerce Park has over 300 acres wholly owned by the IDA – a large parcel available for Amazon to locate to.  Additionally, there is a land owner across the street from the commerce park that has 150 acres who is looking to sell.  It would certainly fit their criteria of having a large parcel of land to position their headquarters on, as well as available vacant land that they could have access to expand.  Lastly – a development prep site – the commerce park is literally a turn key site.  The only need may be to do some sewer infrastructure expansions. 


Mr. Jordan said that it may not be a strong possibility, but thinks that we would be a wonderful community for Amazon to locate here.  There are a number of well-respected educational institutions nearby, which would be pools to draw from for staffing their offices.  Ease of transportation – literally at the crossroads of the two major highways in New York State – the Thruway and I-81.  While we aren’t exactly sure what Amazon would be doing out of this headquarters, Oswego is within 30 miles, and hopefully we will have an inner harbor port in the Dewitt area.  If access to railroad is needed, there is a railroad spur in the back to the Clay Industrial Park site.  That will be available. 


Mr. Jordan said that Amazon has talked a lot about wanting to utilize drones to perhaps deliver packages.  He suggested where better to locate than Upstate New York, where it is the cutting edge of drone technology.


Mr. Jordan noted that it is well known in the community, that every weekend in the summer there is a festival or some type of event going on.  There are the beautiful apple regions, skiing, and a wide variety of activities that makes the area very attractive.  We are an hour away from Alexandria Bay, the Great Lakes, etc.  All it would take is for someone to sell the region a little more aggressively – a great case can be made as to why this would be perfect place to locate Amazon’s headquarters.  The resolution simply asks Amazon to expand their horizons to consider locating in Onondaga County in the Clay Commerce Park. 


Chair Cody said that it certainly was a loss for New York in the city.  A transformational aspect in upstate would be so much more amplified than it would have been down there.  It is a shame to see New York State as a whole lose this opportunity. 


Mrs. Ervin questioned if we know much about what Amazon was offering.  She said that everyone is talking about New York State losing and NYC saying “no”, but questioned why they said no.  There must be something that was there that we don’t know about that they said “no” to.  We don’t know the details about the deal that they had.  Chair Cody said that they backed out – there was a lot of opposition to the tax breaks; we did see some of what the state was offering them to locate there.  Mrs. Ervin said “Let’s be real about this; they are not going to come here anyway, but long story short, why aren’t we concerned about the tax rates.”  She asked why we aren’t concerned about giving them too much to come here; questioned if that is something we should be talking about as well.  It’s wonderful to say that we have a great place, and have this park that they can come too, but asked why we aren’t thinking about the reasons that go beyond downstate-upstate. 


Mr. Jordan replied that we are talking about billions of dollars; billions in additional revenues for the community.  Mrs. Ervin questioned what it would cost us to get those supposed jobs.  She said that we need to know something more about this than to say “Oh it’s wonderful having Amazon here.”  Mr. Jordan said that by reading the newspapers, it said that it might increase housing costs – asked if that is the end of the world because the value of our properties will increase with higher demand.  Mrs. Ervin questioned if we are making decisions based on what is in the newspaper.  Mr. Jordan said that all we can do is utilize the available information.  What was stated by the opponents was that it would increase housing costs within Long Island City.  That was the only justification that was published in the paper as to why there was opposition to it. 


Ms. Williams agreed with Mrs. Ervin that there has to be more reason as to why this project was not accepted in NYC.  She said “for us to blindly say, based on what the newspaper reports – we all know that they don’t always report accurate information, and they leave out information.”  She said that she can’t support this blindly; needs more details as to why it was not successful.  Ms. Williams said that she is not willing to give away our whole county just to get something in.  She said that she understands that it is jobs, but there has to be reasons as to why NYC declined it or walked away.  She said that she can’t support it blindly.


Mr. Jordan said “that is your prerogative if you don’t want to support it; if you don’t want to support billions of dollars in investment, thousands of jobs created.”


Mr. Ryan said that part of the opposition was coming to terms and conditions on how many jobs are going to be created and doesn’t think Amazon was willing to concede or clearly stipulate how many jobs they were going to bring.  If you are a company that measures your profits in the 100’s of billions and you pay $0 taxes – those are conversations we should be having.  He said that he just did his taxes and is has significantly less coming back than he has in years’ past because he has to pay for companies like Amazon and others that keep getting more and more.  He said that he is not against economic development; nobody here is against it – we want big employers to come to Syracuse and Onondaga County, but the devil is going to be in the details.  He asked “how much more can we give.”  The pendulum has swung so far in the other direction – one of the richest men in the world, making 100’s of billions in profits, is not paying taxes on it.  He questioned -  will they have to come in front of OCIDA; is there a job guarantee; what the jobs are going to be – mid level, entry level.  He said that the talk about 10’s of thousands of IT jobs, but that’s not what the people in the City of Seattle are saying.  The members of the Seattle Council went to NYC to tell them how bad Amazon was and that they never delivered on any of their promises.  He said “I’m not being an obstructionist; I’m not saying we should be anti-economic development.  At some point in time, if you are the world’s richest man, and your properties are worth 10’s of 100’s of billions, then you are going to have to pay your fair share.”

Mr. Rowley said that the the governor was a big proponent of this and was quite displeased when it got shot down.  He said that he doesn’t always agree with the governor or his economic development projects locally, but in this case he was dead-on; he was right.  No one knows the details; all we know is what was in the media and public realm.  He said that his understanding was that a $3 billion tax incentive investment – no cash – to return a $27 billion benefit to the citizens of New York City and New York State; 25,000 jobs all in the six figure range.  He said “That is big time economic development.  The governor was spot on; I support the governor and his efforts; I support this resolution.”  Mr. Rowley asked to be listed as a co-sponsor.


Mrs. Ervin said that she is not ever saying “let’s not do economic development.”  She said she just wants to make sure that if we are going to do this, that we ask the right questions and don’t just blindly say “come here Amazon because they are going to bring the jobs.”  There is not a guarantee that they are really going to bring the jobs, no guarantees that they are really going to pay the taxes that we should be getting.  She said that it would be crazy to do that just because it is Amazon, just because it sounds good, just because it sounds like Christmas in the summertime.  Mrs. Ervin said that talking to Amazon is not a bad thing, but “let’s talk with them the right way; let’s not just say blindly ‘Come on Amazon, we’ve got a place for you.’”


Mr. May said that these are valid points, but this is starting to get into politics.  Looking at the resolution, all it says is that Onondaga County is up here in Central New York--“we are open for business, and we would love to be part of the dialogue.”  There is nothing about the resolution that says we are willing to give away the farm; it says “we’d like to be considered.”  Mr. May asked to co-sponsor the resolution.


Ms. Williams said that she wanted to clarify that this is political.  She stated “This is very political; let’s just be clear on that as well.”


Chairman Knapp said that whatever the deal was in NYC, it would be totally different up here.  It is totally different regarding cost of living, transportation, cost of doing business, etc. – much more attractive up here in a different situation.  He said that he is sure we would be starting from square one and re-negotiating the deal.  He referred to Mr. Rowley’s comments, noted that the governor put this together, and it was going to be transformational for the area down there.  Unfortunately, part of the problem is that we have been just observing, and all are plugged in as far as what is going on, but nobody knows what the deal was.  Unfortunately, the governor kept it behind closed doors, didn’t really tell anybody about it, and then allowed the narrative to go crazy because nobody really knew what the deal was.  He suggested that if Amazon did show interest in coming here, that whatever is done, that it be a much more open and transparent process.  He said “if you don’t ask, you are definitely out of the game.”


Mr. Jordan explained that the resolution just says “consider coming to the Clay Commerce Park.”  It is not saying what the details are; it is saying let’s open up the dialogue and see if we can negotiate a deal to get them to come here.


Chair Cody said that it was very poorly handled, very poorly rolled out down there with the Mayor and the Governor not disclosing a lot of details.  It shouldn’t have become political. 


Mr. Ryan suggested that perhaps a better course of action would be to refer this resolution to the Planning and Economic Development Committee so they can take a look at the tax deal, look at what they were asking for.  There had to be something said, and/or done, notwithstanding just the housing costs – thinks there is a lot more to it which caused the lawmakers who represent those areas to say no.  Mr. Ryan said if there were a 25,000 jobs at $100,000+ sort of premise, then to leave that on the table without actually trying and saying “we are open for business”, would also probably be a bit of a mistake.  He asked why don’t we find out – we have a committee process; Legislator McBride could take that up.  There are good people that sit on the OCIDA Board that could take a look at it and advise us as to the best course of action for Central New York.  He said that he would hate to rush into something; would hate to not get our arms around it and understand all of it before just a race to a conclusion and put forth a resolution that we don’t know enough about.


Chair Cody said that she just sees this as a consideration – “Amazon consider us.”  If Amazon actually did consider coming to Onondaga County, that would start a process.  This resolution does not seem to go that far.  Mr. May said that it’s not a condemnation of the process; not a condemnation of what happened; it doesn’t even speak to the deal – “It just says we are up here.”  He noted that the discussion has become entirely political.  At this point, it says “don’t forget about us” and lists a dozen different attributes of this area that are applicable to any company.  This does not just send a message to Amazon; it sends a message to anyone out there of “here’s what we have to offer.


Ms. Williams said that it is like putting the cart before the horse.  We don’t know what happened with Amazon, but here we are waving saying “come here.”  She said “it could be something bad, and you are saying come here and we’ll talk about the details later.”  Ms. Williams said that is doesn’t make any sense to her.  She added that if this wasn’t political, it should go to Planning and it should be thoroughly vetted through that process instead of rushing it.  She said “It’s the political season, so I get it; process only matters sometimes.”


Mr. Jordan said that he thinks Ms. Williams is politicizing a nonpolitical resolution.  He said that this is all about creating jobs; it’s all about economic development.  It is nothing about politics.  Ms. Williams said that it has everything to do with politics.  Mr. Jordan referred to the County Executive’s initiative to address poverty.  He asked how do you address poverty in any better way than creating well-paying jobs in the community. 


A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Rowley to approve this item.  AYES:  4 (Cody, May, Jordan, Rowley); NOES:  0; ABSTENTIONS:  3 (Williams, Ervin, Ryan).  MOTION CARRIED.



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




  • 6 positions remaining double filled
  • No new ones; a handful came off
  • The first one will come off next month, as well as a couple of others
  • Hopefully next month there will only be a few of these remaining


Mr. Jordan said that there are a few that say “uncertain”, and questioned the uncertainty.  Mr. Morgan explained that the DA’s position is 100% with two part-time people.  He was unsure if their plan was to continue that or not.  Mr. Morgan said that the position in his office was double filled because there is one individual with some serious health issues who is in and out.  A decision was made to cover it for when the person is out for treatment.


Mr. Morgan said they will probably need to create a position for the ones that say “uncertain.”  They have been double filled for quite some time.  Typically it is done during the budget cycle, but if there is desire to address them earlier, they can do that.  Mr. Morgan said that the key is that positions can be seen coming on and going off – try to use it sparingly for specific situations.  He said they are not looking to abuse the authority to do that.  At the end of the day, the money drives what can be filled.  He said that they will honor legislation if there is a desire for them to come over and request the approval to continue this past 90 days or create new positions.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,





Onondaga County Legislature












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