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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





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MEMBERS PRESENT:  Dr. Chase, Mr. Shepard, 1Mr. Corl, 2Mrs. Rapp

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list


Chairman Plochocki called the meeting to order at 8:41 AM.  A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Shepard to waive the reading of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Shepard, seconded by Dr. Chase to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


1Mr. Corl arrived at the meeting.


1.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTIONTom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing the Revision of a Permanent Easement Granted to the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, now National Grid, for the Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of the 002 Bypass Treatment Improvements Project at the Metropolitan Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant

Mr. Rhoads distributed a map (attachment 1) and provided the following:

  • Revision of easement, no cost to the county
  • Tank construction part of 002 Bypass Treatment project, necessary for SPDES permit effluent requirements
  • Asking National Grid to relocate utilities located on the plants backside - towards the lake, along the railroad track

2Mrs. Rapp arrived at the meeting.


  • Real Property requires resolution; $1 fee waived

Chairman Plochocki asked for clarification of the map and if the utilities were going to move to the other side of the railroad tracks.  Mr. Rhoads:

  • Utilities will stay on WEP’s side of the tracks
  • Red lines show the existing easement, green line shows relocation, property line is just above the green line, some utilities are in gray scale
  • Going underground – will allow cranes and other equipment to work in and around high power lines used by WEP and their neighbors


Chairman Plochocki stated he wanted to confirm that the move would not interfere with the completion of the Loop the Lake Trail.


Mrs. Rapp apologized for being late and asked why this was necessary.  Mr. Rhoads responded that construction of  two-million gallon tanks is necessary as part of the bypass operation so that portions of the flow can be contained and treated during wet weather events, before release.  The tanks will be going in on the on left side of the campus, with utilities relocated to accommodate the construction.  This is part of a $20.2 million dollar plan already approved as part of the budget process and being fast tracked for completion.  The final survey has not been completed.


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


        b.     A Resolution Approving Various Sewer Improvements as Outlined in Local Law 1-2011 for the Purpose of Mitigating Inflow and Infiltration of Stormwater into the Consolidated Sanitary District Sewer System in and for the County of Onondaga, New York (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)


Chairman Plochocki stated that Save the Rain projects had infrastructure changes being done within the city, but 3 years ago, there was concern that while those changes were good and helped to meet the ACJ, there was ageing infrastructure in the suburbs.  The Legislature passed legislation in 2011 supporting green infrastructure projects outside of the city and solicited applications for 2012 and 2013.  The applications were reviewed, projects selected and completed.  That program is now completed however; the interest was so intense that there were more applications than funds.  In some cases, the applicant did not make the cut -programs were good but were more of a gray solution than green.  At the end of the day, those municipalities were out of luck.  A guideline decision was made to put aside funds received from Honeywell dredging, take in applications and use the funds to pay for selected projects.  The money from Honeywell dredging is not tax money or sewer money and must be spent on improving Onondaga Lake and meeting the ACJ.  There is a total of $785,000 broken down into seven projects.  The projects were vetted and have the approval of Mr. Rhoads and the “powers that be”.    

Mr. Rhoads responded that there was discussion with leadership and the County Executive.  The item was presented to Ways and Means last month, with a draft report.  Mr. Rhoads distributed copies of the draft report (attachment 2), adding that there were no changes and the final copy has been emailed to the legislature.

Chairman Plochocki stated that last month this item was on the agenda for Ways and Means, and passed.  There were some concerns that items were presented to Ways and Means without going through program committees, therefore the item is now going through this committee.  Normally they would review each project, but in the interest of time, Chairman Plochocki would like to make a leap of faith that all the projects are good.

In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Rhoads confirmed that all the projects are detailed in the report.  WEP is treating approximately 29 billion gallons of wastewater per year, in six campuses.  In a dry year, 30% is extraneous flow and 40% during wet weather.  These projects will help to reduce that extraneous flow.  The 2014 budget authorized $800,000 and they are spending $785,000 with this application. 

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


A motion was made by Chairman Plochocki, seconded by Mrs. Rapp to adjourn the meeting and proceed with the tour.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

        c.     Tour:  Jim Jones, Head Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator


Respectfully submitted,

Katherine French


Onondaga County Legislature




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MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Shepard

ALSO PRESENT:  Mrs. Ervin; see attached list


Chair Tassone called the meeting to order at 10:35 a.m.  A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Mr. Shepard to waive the reading of the minutes of the previous committee.  A motion was made by Mr. Shepard, seconded by Mrs. Rapp, to approve the minutes of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.



        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Fund in the First Instance 100 Percent of the Federal Aid Eligible Costs at a Maximum Amount of $2,704,000 for the Design (Scoping I-VI) and Right-of-Way Incidentals of Various Federally Aided Local Projects and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Agreements to Implement the Intent of this Resolution ($2,704,000)


  • Combined resolution to start 6 federally funded projects; first instance to fund federal share of $2.704 mil; start design
  • Local share of $676,000; local is included in previous work plan and budgeted
  • Instead of 6 separate resolutions, they combined them into one
  • Projects:  (1) old Rte. 5 and Warners Road paving, (2) Fremont Road bridge – north of ESM school, (3) Electronics Parkway paving, (4) John Glenn and Kirkville Road paving, (5) Morgan Road/Ver Plank Road safety – intersection improvement, (6) W. Taft Road paving


Chair Tassone asked how much paving on each road needs to be done.  Mr. Rauber responded there is a list with limits that can be sent to the committee.  Chair Tassone stated she would like a copy; Mr. Dougherty and Mrs. Rapp said they would as well.  Mr. Rauber responded he would send them over.


Mr. Dougherty asked what the safety project is.  Mr. Rauber replied there is an accident problem at the Morgan Road and Ver Plank intersection.  The intersection mandates a three color signal; currently stop controlled.  Mr. Rauber agreed with Mr. Ryan that it is the back side of Great Northern.  Mr. Rauber continued that they will improve the geometry and add a three color signal.  They will also look to see if it warrants turn lanes or a dedicated left hand turn lane. 


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


2.     CNY ARTSStephen Butler, Executive Director

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Make Funds Available to CNY Arts for Distribution to Musical Associates of Central New York, Inc. ($70,000)


Symphoria Schedule


  • Request second quarter payment from contingency; Symphoria continues to do very well
  • More then met target for subscriptions; on track with donations; lived up to performance schedule; have funds on hand for contracted performances; marketing more robust; for a startup it’s doing quite well, moving out of that phase

Mrs. Rapp asked if the musicians are making any money.  Mr. Butler responded that it is a modest amount.  More musicians have signed up to be core musicians, so they are not jobbed in at more expensive day rates.  This is a benefit to the Symphony, and speaks to the growing acceptance of the new model.  They are not up to the levels of payment of the former SSO, but they are making money.  Mrs. Rapp is worried about losing the best musicians.  Mr. Dougherty asked what Mr. Butler meant by the musicians not being up to the same level.  Mr. Butler responded that the SSO had a budget of $7 million, and Symphoria is coming in at $1.3 million.  Ms. Underhill commented that the musicians are making about 25% of what they were making.  They are being provided health insurance through Healthy New York.  Chair Rapp asked what their attitude is, and if they are excited about this growing startup.  Ms. Underhill replied yes; they are being driven by cash and the commitment to the mission of the organization.  There is an expectation that those on the administrative side will work hard to bring resources to the table to gradually increase compensation to a more sustainable level.  This will not happen until revenue streams are sustainable and secure.  Symphoria is in growth mode; started at $500,000 budget and now almost $1.5 million (Sept. 1st – Aug. 30th).


A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp to approve this item.


Mr. Ryan asked if there are more dates planned, if attendance is better, or if there are more concerts than last year.  Ms. Underhill responded the upcoming season is approximately the same length as this year’s season.  They opted not to produce more concerts until they sell out concerts they are currently presenting.  Symphoria will be presenting at least ten free summer concerts to perform throughout the region this summer.  Mr. Butler commented they are free to the general public, and there is a fee paid to the organization.  Ms. Underhill stated it is fee based or subsidized by contributed income from sponsors and donors.  Mr. Butler interjected that it is on the increase.  Mr. Ryan said the hope is to allot less money towards Symphoria, so it can become a more self-sustaining organization with more concerts and ticket sales to drive more revenue; less subsidy for the County.  Mr. Ryan would like to see Symphoria succeed.  Mr. Dougherty stated the amount paid for this is very modest.  Mr. Dougherty would much rather see this turn into a bigger organization where the subsidy grows, then seeing the subsidy shrink and Symphoria disappearing.  Mr. Dougherty wanted to be clear that Mr. Ryan’s opinion is not shared by everyone.  Mr. Ryan responded he does not want to pull back the subsidy, but ensure that it is growing, which is why Mr. Ryan has asked about adding concerts.  Mr. Ryan asked if they had a successful event at Oswego College.  Ms. Underhill answered yes; they will perform in Oswego this summer being supported by the Shinneman Foundation.  Ms. Underhill stated it is important to note that Symphoria is trying to ensure accessibility to the music.  They would like to see more people attending, which is the trend they are seeing now.  They are adjusting their ticket prices to continue to encourage people to come, so looking only at ticket revenue as a percent of budget, it will not increase substantially.  Everything is growing including the number of people going, and the diversity of revenue is expanding, but Ms. Underhill does not think Symphoria will get to a point of relying only on ticket sales. 


Mr. Fisher:

  • Many years $400,000+ was appropriated to SSO annually; County Executive Mahoney continued this with $404,000
  • Legislature asked to dial back to $300,000 last year and $280,00 this year; see as a slippery slope
  • Art organization that employs dozens of people (different from other arts orgs); musicians live here w/families, give music lessons, are involved in music education at a time when schools cannot afford the music programs they have
  • CE office would like to encourage the Legislature to help bring Symphoria back on trajectory, so the musicians can make this their primary living; symphony can make it on ticket sales alone – won’t find a symphony that does
  • Value the type of benefits provided and find Symphoria relevant to life of community; think more assistance, not less

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


        a.     Mundy Branch - Update


    • Final piece of OCPL infrastructure completed; opened Mundy last Monday May 5th; by 10:00 there were many teens there from Fowler HS thatattended the Twilight Academy (middle picture)
    • Their comments were that it is bright, clean, awesome - very pleased
    • Grand opening next Tuesday May 20th at 3:30 p.m. – all invited
    • Mundy needed a new roof and addressable fire alarm; received a ground to ceiling makeover
    • Biggest challenge, even though it is the newest branch, is that it’s built on a slab with drop ceilings; had to trenchthe floor to lay data and power lines
    • Rectangle shape – needed to create spaces for distinct users:  different age groups (teen/child/adult); also good sight lines for safety and security
    • New technology in library; early literacy stations, laptops for one on one consultation, charging stations, and furniture that meets needs of all groups

Mundy Library Pictures












Chair Tassone stated it looks like it turned out very nice.  Ms. Reckhow commented that it met the vision the community had, and the staff worked very hard with community groups; specifically the Skunk City Neighborhood Initiative and the Near Westside Initiative. 

Mr. Ryan commented that the neighborhood was very clear on what they wanted and needed.  The library receives a tremendous amount of traffic, and it’s a need that fits the community.  There is some dismay that it took longer than people wanted.  Mr. Ryan has heard that it is awesome, he is very happy about it, they did a good job, and thank you.


Ms. Reckhow responded to Mr. Dougherty that library was out of service for three months. 


4.     PARKS AND RECREATIONWilliam Lansley, Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing an Agreement with the Village of Liverpool Regarding Police Patrol at the Griffin Field Parking Lot and the Salt Museum Parking Lot


  • Liverpool regarding police patrol at Onondaga Lake Park (OLP) - Griffin Visitor’s Center and Salt Museum parking lot
  • Businesses growing around there and frequently using these parking lots
  • At the request of the village, they do a cooperative municipal agreement where (park is open dawn to dusk, but people park later and no staff or ranger patrol) lots can be used by businesses, and Liverpool police will make rounds
  • Cooperative agreement with Parks (County) and the village of Liverpool
  • Restaurants, bars and grills adjacent to Parks are now open full time; one was a rental banquet facility; also a project to take Heids corner which has been a vacant lot for some time
  • Benefits park for enhanced patrols

Mr. Lansley agreed with Mrs. Rapp that there is no money involved.  Chair Tassone commented it has been in the works for quite a while.  The Village needed certain spaces, but the County said they could not be used for White Water Pub, Barking Gull or the apartments being put up.  They asked to use the County parking lots.  Law said they can use them, but the County is not responsible, so they have to take care of them and patrol them. 


Mr. Lansley responded to Mr. Dougherty that there is no issue with anyone parking there.  If it became a problem (i.e. bottles), Parks can withdraw the agreement; with police presence it should not occur.  Mr. Lansley replied to Mr. Dougherty that this is not to issue parking tickets.  This is when the park is closed, and currently they drive through the park to ensure people are not doing things they should not be doing.  Mr. Dougherty asked if the park rangers are down there at night.  Mr. Lansley answered they are there until ten or eleven, but a lot of businesses are open until two in the morning.  Mr. Lansley agreed with Mr. Dougherty that they are not there twenty-four hours.  Mr. Dougherty asked if the village is having a problem with it.  Chair Tassone commented the village is the one pushing for this.  Mr. Lansley stated they are driving through the park anyway.  The agreement is to keep the Parks’ parking lot open later; policy is dawn to dusk.  This says they will keep it available for businesses.  It is a pretty big parking lot, and it is tight around Willow and Lake Street.  Mr. Lansley does not see this as any great strain on the park. 


Chair Tassone responded to Mr. Ryan that it is the lot by the Salt Museum.  Mr. Lansley stated it is behind Limp Lizard, and there are two lots which provides additional parking for overflow. 


Mr. Dougherty asked if there is any lighting in the lots.  Mr. Lansley replied not at this point.  There were some from the old field that became problematic, and one fell down fifteen years ago; they were taken out.  It is not an issue.


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


        b.     INFORMATIONAL:  Parks Sharing - Bill Lansley, Commissioner


  • Draft resolution – agreement w/Town of Geddes; 2 parks abut OLP and Geddes Athletic Fields at Fay Rd./Grand Ave.
  • Asked to see if it made sense to do field maintenance – grass cutting and trimming
  • Makes sense with Lindbergh Lawn Park which is attached to Long Branch Park – can take mowers right through there without having to transport vehicles
  • Lakeland Park is backside of OLP by State Fair Blvd.; Geddes Athletic Fields between cemetery and zoo
  • Proposing taking grass cutting from them; estimate would save Town of Geddes approx. half the cost; pick up staffing, gas and use their vehicles; done by part-time staff; $5,000 cost to County for part-time staff and fuel

Mrs. Rapp asked if the County would charge the town back.  Mr. Lansley responded they do not have that built in.  This is a neighborly/community thing to do; does not overly impact Parks.  The cost is small. 


Chair Tassone asked if the County has considered taking over any of these parks.  Mr. Lansley replied it has never been a conversation he has had, but they are relatively close. 


Mr. Dougherty thinks it’s a good idea, but is concerned if the County does it for free, that the next town or park will want it done for free as well.  Mr. Lansley said that is a good question, but these parks are closely located to where County parks are.  Mr. Dougherty understands it is convenient and cheap, but it’s more of the principle of it.  If the Legislature adopts this for one town, they are showing a selective ability to take over work that the town would do.  Mr. Dougherty would support this 100% if the County charged the Town of Geddes the small fee to do the work.  It is reasonable, and would be beneficial to everybody.  Chair Tassone is wondering if the County can do that, and commented that Mr. Falcone cannot use part-time workers to do the lawn mowing, because of the Union.  Chair Tassone is also afraid it will set precedence.  Mrs. Rapp’s immediate thought is that Hopkins Road is right next to Electronics Park, so why not mow that lawn.  Mr. Dougherty could imagine it continuing, and believes it should continue.  It is a great idea, will not cost the County much to do, and is probably saving the Town of Geddes more than $5,000.  Mr. Lansley agreed.  Mr. Dougherty said to send them a bill.  It sets the precedence that the County will do it, will do it for cheap, will do it effectively, and everyone will benefit.  Mr. Lansley said this is a draft resolution that he would like to move, but is asking for any caveats the committee would desire.  Mrs. Rapp said they will get any changes to Mr. Lansley before Ways and Means. 


Mr. Ryan stated residents from the towns of Onondaga and Camillus probably use the fields in Geddes just as much as residents from the Town of Geddes.  It is a mutual aide benefit.  Mr. Dougherty commented they can make the same argument for Hopkins Road and other parks.  Mr. Lansley said this will have to go through the town for approval. 


Chair Tassone said this is informational.  If there are any questions or thoughts, get them to Mr. Lansley, so it can be sent to Law. 


5.     A Local Law Providing For a Waiver of Parks Admission Fees for Persons or Groups Presenting a New York State Access Pass Card (Sponsored by Mr. Dougherty)


  • State has pass for people w/physical disabilities - Empire State Access Pass; this will allow people w/pass free access to county parks; not managing accessibility or the card, simply granting free access to those that have the cards
  • If park charges per car (i.e. Beaver Lake) and someone in car has pass, then the car will have free access
  • Currently 3,500 people statewide have the card; about 500 have card in Onondaga County; not a wide spread removal of fee; just small group of population with significant physical limitations

Mrs. Rapp asked if Mr. Dougherty checked the numbers to see how much it would cost the County.  Mr. Dougherty responded it is hard to tell because the state does not keep records on who uses this card.  The person presents the pass to the person working the gate, and they are waived through; do not keep track.  Mr. Dougherty replied to Mrs. Rapp that there are 500 in Onondaga County.  There is a disproportionately large number in upstate New York; not sure why but could have to do with the state parks.  Mr. Dougherty does not expect this to be a large cost to the County. 


Chair Tassone asked what physical disabilities and type of person actually get this card.  Mr. Dougherty responded there is a long list that the state website has.  These are not people with bad backs, but with serious limitations like amputees. 


Mr. Shepard made a motion to move this item.


Mrs. Rapp has heard comments from some Legislators that they have been pushing Parks to drive revenue to help pay for costs; more revenue than tax dollars.  Mrs. Rapp would like a better sense of how much this will cost.  Mr. Dougherty replied if they approve it and establish a year, they can look at it again.  Wording can be added to include tracking how many people access the Parks.  Mr. Lansley responded to Chair Tassone that it can be tracked.  Mr. Dougherty said they can track the effect in twelve calendar months, and revisit this again next year.  Mr. Lansley stated the only thing they cannot track is the impact.  They will not know if someone was going to come there anyway or if they were coming because of the free admission.  It will be easy to say how many people used it.  Mrs. Rapp commented she can support it, but it is hard to give and take back.  Mr. Dougherty responded that in this case you can.  They are not taking the access card away; it would only affect the County parks.  This is also not exempting them from all fees.  At Highland Forest, they would still have to pay for the cross country skiing trails.  Anything above and beyond the basic admission they would still pay for.


Chair Tassone personally does not believe it will be a big impact.


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


6.     Establishing a Program to Provide Aid and Support to Maintain Infrastructure and Facilities Related to Transportation within Onondaga County (Sponsored by Mrs. Rapp)

7.     Exploring the Feasibility of Turning over Certain City of Syracuse Roadways to the County of Onondaga (Sponsored by Mrs. Rapp)

8.     Providing for Recoupment of Costs Incurred by the County Relating to any Roadway Paving Performed by the County on the City’s Roads through the Annual City Abstract (Sponsored by Mrs. Rapp)


Mrs. Rapp:

  • Talk about all three resolutions as a group; not looking for a vote because these are concepts and ideas that came from last session
  • At end of day, no one seems to have a problem taking dollars and putting it into infrastructure, but the problem is that there is no process, making up as went along; left wondering if this is the best way to do this
  • First resolution (dealt with situation last month); horrific winter, bad roads and extra money that would go back to fund balance – how addressing?
  • Resolution says establish a program, change to process, that recognizes taking care of roads is a core function of gov’t; it contributes to economic vitality, it’s the face put forward, Legislature committed to taking care of infrastructure
  • Should Legislature find extra money, it would go into a pot; everyone has opportunity to apply for the money (ie applying for CHIPS or Save the Rain); find most worthy and needy projects
  • To be considered roads: (1) would have to be at lesser standard than county roads, (2) would not be in towns or cities work plan for that year, (3) would be measured on traffic use (back country road earns less points than Harrison St.)
  • No vote this month or next month; sometimes feel like Legislature is under gun to pass things before having time to really think it through and have a policy that isn’t the best work; send ideas to Mrs. Rapp
  • Second and third resolution deal with City
  • Don’t see there being a major change going forward in roads in city; talked to Mr. Donnelly who said the city is the only municipality in the County that does not have any County roads in it (doesn’t know why)
  • City didn’t want County in space; why is Hopkins Rd. a county road but Adams St. that is much more of a municipal structure not one; not a lot of people living on those municipal roads, so appears to be less initiative to take care of
  • Adams Street - County front door to hospitals, the dome, OnCenter – does not make good impression
  • Maybe rethink roads in the city for County Roads, and bring them into County workforce; problem is that it will be expensive and cost more; is this where the County should be going? 
  • When negotiated sales tax, the argument to give city 1% or $70 mil, was because they had sever infrastructure challenges that the rest of the County didn’t have; gave them money to recognize, but it isn’t going there
  • City was at 97% of bonding; that has changed – 60% now; movement to take care of
  • Third resolution – use abstract as vehicle to take care of roads; County takes care of, but charge back on abstract
  • This won’t be on bonding debt; showing County recognizes the problems
  • Thought was that maybe the two resolutions need to be combined; between now and sales tax renegotiation, name the County roads, and charge back on abstract, because they have money already
  • Next time sale tax negotiated, will have broader look and decide to keep going
  • County doesn’t charge Town of Salina for County roads, but the town is no longer getting sales tax

Mr. Ryan asked in the first resolution, who is deeming which roads are worthy; is it DOT or the Legislature, and if this will be a process like the city or towns that have high and low priority roads.  Mrs. Rapp agreed, and stated after talking with Mr. Donnelly, there is a recognized a process that towns go through to apply for CHIPS money; receive money based on how bad the road is (have criteria).  Mr. Ryan commented that sometimes roads that are worse, but are country roads, will find their way into some improvements.  Mr. Dougherty responded if the County relies on a mathematical formula to determine this, then it is sunk from the start.  It is too imperfect, and there are far too many variables to incorporate.  Mrs. Rapp said there is a certain feel for this.  Mr. Dougherty thinks there should be expertise from maybe the town or city DPW or commissioners (i.e. Brian Donnelly).  The town will present the streets they want to fix using some of the money, and somebody (not something) will make the decision.  Mr. Ryan does not disagree.  Mr. Ryan would like to make sure everything is being taken care of, and would like to make a big process with lots of people and input; not so many people that they cannot agree on anything.  Mr. Ryan agrees with Mrs. Rapp that the roads are bad, and they should be maintaining the infrastructure.  Mrs. Rapp said who knows if the County will be in a position with fund balance left over, and maybe it would not be used.  If it should come up, there should be some sort of standard.  Chair Tassone commented there should be a standard.  Some towns keep up their roads better than others, and they may lose out.  Mrs. Rapp responded that someone suggested in order to be eligible, they would have to have a capital work plan.


Mr. Dougherty:

  • Biggest concern - rarely fund balance money that is not already slated for something else
  • i.e.:  start a process to do this putting $1 million in the pot, (runs in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018); people will start relying on it; in 2019 there is a financial crisis and there is no money; suddenly all roads slated to be fixed next, don’t get fixed
  • Money is irregular and hard to come by; hate to start, but like the idea of it
  • Would hate for people to county on money that won’t always be there; especially for something expensive

Mr. Shepard commented this would be more like Community Development Block Grant money, and does not think any of the towns are addicted to that or relying on it; especially lately because it has shrunk so much.  Since they are applying for the money, Mr. Shepard feels it means that no one in any given year (or 3-5 year period) can count on it.  It might magically remain in the nature of a gift.  Mr. Ryan stated the Block Grant has a specific amount of parameters to qualify.  Mrs. Rapp agreed.  The parameters should be identified and be pretty specific. 


Mr. Ryan thinks there are County roads that exist that are not deemed as County roads.  There are County roads that are County roads up until they hit the city lines.  Mr. Dougherty commented that the city used to have all the money; they were not always in the financial straits like today.  Mrs. Rapp agreed, and said it may have been back in the day that the city didn’t want the County handling their roads.  Mr. Ryan stated they need to expand the conversation and get their arms around where the County roads are in the city.  Mrs. Rapp responded to Mr. Ryan that the second resolution acknowledges the problem, and they are not fixing it.  Mr. Ryan asked if there is a County road in Manlius that needs to be fixed, then the County will fix it, but if there is a County road in the city that needs to be fixed, then the County does not fix it.  Mrs. Rapp agreed, but there are no County roads in the city.  Mr. Dougherty commented that everything Mr. Ryan is saying is true; however, when the County was adopting roads, there were rules of what can and cannot happen on those roads.  The County determines how to build on them, what develops on them, and how they are prepared.  If the County starts taking over roads in the city, the same things will happen.  The city cannot say take these roads and nothing else will change, because that is not true.  Mr. Ryan stated every municipality has its own classifications.  If there is a County road that comes into the city, then they will not do that anymore because it is a city road; need to rethink that.  Mrs. Rapp asked for an example, because she cannot picture any County roads that become city roads.  Mr. Fisher responded Velasko Road.  Mr. Dougherty is sure it happens. 


Mrs. Rapp said they may look at roads near the downtown campus and hospitals, because no one lives on those roads.  Their job is to look at the policies, and figure out the best way to run this government in the world today.  Also, try to pick the scarce dollars, and decide where they will do the most good.


Mr. Dougherty asked if the last resolution helps the city or County.  Mrs. Rapp replied both.  Initially it becomes a way for the city to raise taxes without raising taxes, which improves the quality of life in the city.  Mr. Dougherty asked what the city gets for it.  The County can do some of the work for the city, and the city pays for it through the abstract.  Mr. Dougherty asked what kind of work the County would be doing.  Mrs. Rapp responded road maintenance.  Mrs. Rapp agreed with Mr. Dougherty that this is the kind of agreement they do all the time; it is an IMA.  The city counselors want to take care of the roads, but they are cash strapped and feel that they cannot raise taxes.  There was a concern there would be a receivership any day now, but because of the sales tax they are getting, they are not on the watch list anymore.


Mrs. Rapp answered Mr. Ryan that it is on the abstract, but it is not free.  This is a reflection to the towns who are saying the city was just given a huge consideration with the sales tax and the County is doing this; that is not right.  The city is making the choice not to take care of those roads, and for whatever reason, those roads might not be in their best political interest. 


Mr. Fisher commented that the total abstract has gone down.  It is more than $1 million less than the first year County Executive Mahoney was in office.  The abstract is charges the Legislature is aware of, and also an apportionment of property taxes.  The city share has gone down.  Tax payers in the city are paying less than they were six years ago.  Mr. Dougherty asked Mr. Fisher if there was a bright light on the horizon.  Mr. Fisher responded there is a structural deficit of more than $10 million per year, and they have a fund balance around $40.  This year they budgeted $20 million in fund balance, but they will not need it.  At some point the revenues are less than the expenditures, and the fund balance goes from 10% to 8% to 5%.  When it is below 5%, the fiscal review board is on the horizon.  Mr. Dougherty asked Mr. Fisher to compare that to the story three to five years ago.  Mrs. Rapp asked how much more sales tax does the city get per year.  Mr. Fisher replied two things in the city have changed over the last five or six years.  They received significantly more revenue in sales tax.  Mr. Fisher responded to Mrs. Rapp that it was more than a $10 million increase; revenue went up, but the taxes have been flat.  The city has seen the same things the County has in terms of mandates and cost of pensions.  They’re putting huge amounts of money into fire and police.  Pensions went up for everyone, and the state has frozen state aid to municipalities.  They were receiving direct payments, but that was cut back and kept flat.  The costs from the state are going up and revenue from the state is down or flat, which creates a structural imbalance.  Mr. Dougherty asked if it’s better or worse than recent years.  Mr. Fisher responded the state gave them a year of spinout money that the state can be reimbursed at the end of the year or beginning of the year; put off structural imbalance.  It is so big that they cannot do a couple little things.  They need to do a lot of things. 


Mrs. Rapp asked about the article in the paper that talked about being on the watch list for excursion.  Mr. Fisher responded to Mrs. Rapp that there is a new way of measuring things.  How much fund balance will be used this year, and how much fund balance is left.  It does not look at trend, and it is hard to measure structure imbalance.  Looking at the credit ratings, Wall Street assumes the city will find a way out of their structural imbalance; therefore they gave them a good bond rating.  The city will have to do fifty different things, and keep tightening their belts.  They do not have a way to finance infrastructure.  The County has a bigger tax base so it can handle the cleanup of the lake.  When the city replaces a water main system, they do not have a big base to levy sewer charges or water charges.  Mrs. Rapp commented that maybe they should look to combine with OCWA for a bigger tax base.  Mr. Fisher stated they need to have major capital, infrastructure combined with a broader set of municipalities and a broader set of tax payers; especially from things everyone benefits from like the University, which is hurt when people cannot go down Comstock.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:37 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Jamie McNamara

Jamie M. McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature



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Members Present:  Mr. Liedka, *Mr. Corl, Mr. Plochocki

Members Absent:  Mr. Knapp

Also Attending:  Chairman McMahon, Dr. Chase; see attached list


Chair Rapp called the meeting to order at 10:40 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Liedka, seconded by Mr. Plochocki to waive the reading and approve of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED.


        a.     Unveiling of the Brand Plan - David Holder


  • 1st Priority:  brand the area; outcome and recommendation from market analysis; number one project for the year
  • 2nd:  Sustain sales success had in 2012-2013; behind through end of April, but will make up by end of May or June and be back on track from where they were last year; key measure is room nights booked
  • 3rd:  Switching over database system - provides tracking for sales program, info for partners, feeds database
  • Switchover going well; training in first week of June; connection to industry partners so they can go onto website for database and pull up info on their listings – how they present themselves and can change themselves
  • Directors of Sales they work with can get information on how sales team progressing
  • Detailed information they can access through database; on schedule and on budget; previous system was a nightmare; providers have asked them to serve on a couple committees as a reference point
  • Lead to new website:  complete overhaul; new look/feel; tie into branding work; launch in late August/early September
  • 4th:  Build new markets overseas; do not come through Syracuse currently
  • International tour companies have an interest thanks to DestiNY and region’s history; upcoming initiatives to hit market hard; relationship with DestiNY never better; NYC & Niagara Falls connection critical for business
  • Legislation – able to add a position for this market which should be in place by end of summer
  • Great thing for County as part of revenue is this is all new business; includes tour buses, and FIT (Foreign Individual Travel) – books in similar way to group tour, but use overseas travel agents; need to develop relations with agents
  • 5th:  Enhanced visitors services:  tied into brand, new Centerstate office and new visitor information desk at airport - give more access to information
  • Continuing to go through conversations for full time visitor center in DestiNY; use to sell region and NYS; not tax supported or any private industry dollars




  • Two people heading to Saratoga for Empire State Society of Association Executives Trade Show – there with hotel partners pushing area as state conference destination
  • Rob O’Connor from Syracuse Nationals; 15th anniversary this year; County increased their funding for 2014 so they can hit more market places; partnership to bring in film crew to do show about Syracuse Nationals Velocity Network

Mr. O’Connor thanked the Legislature for the support; fifteen years is a good milestone to reach.  Over the years, Syracuse Nationals has contributed over $150 million to the economic impact of the area.  They have also contributed over $750,000 to local charities including Ronald McDonald House.  When Mr. O’Connor and his team are out promoting the Syracuse Nationals, they are not just promoting the car show; they are promoting Syracuse.  The reason this show continues to be successful where other shows of the same caliber have declined, is because of the destination of Syracuse itself.  The hotels, the restaurants and DestiNY.  Mr. Holder and his crew have been a huge part of the promotion of the Nationals and Syracuse.  Mr. O’Connor has dealt with other crews across the country, and Mr. Holder and his crew are rock stars; they do a great job.  Mr. O’Connor would again like to thank everyone for their support, and looks forward to many more years in Syracuse. 


Chair Rapp asked how many room nights are they expected to fill.  Mr. Holder responded they fill the area, and there is spill over everywhere.  This event is vital for the weekend, and generates about $13 million in travel spending.  Mr. O’Connor commented it is a higher end demographic.  There are six hundred campsites that they sell at the Fairgrounds.  People come from thirty different states across the US, three provinces from Canada, England, Germany and New Zealand.  These folks have high end cars so they have money to spend, and they like nice things.  A lot of them are not only in town for three days, but stay eight nights.  They will use Syracuse as a base camp to go to Cooperstown, the Casino or DestiNY.  Chair Rapp commented it is a signature event in Syracuse, and it’s been fun to watch it grow.  Mr. Holder stated this summer is the 15th anniversary so the celebration will be big. 


Mr. Holder:

  • BCF - destination branding specialist company - struggled as an area of brand; related to different aspects that appeal to different people; advantage to that; learn more about what that means
  • Get into the psyche of the visitors coming here; find out what emotions they carry away from visiting businesses here
  • One month away from unveiling brand that will be used to market everything about community
  • Hope community will use for community pride, businesses will use to tie into destination; thread for lots of programs; not a campaign or temporary window; something that is permanent, and defined by customers
  • First thing research unveiled - locals have a true love for this place that is tempered by perception of negativity – people anticipate that expressing their love for the community, someone will say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
  • Loss of industry has been challenging; starting to emerge from that, and love growing above that
  • Second thing - passion expressed is found in different forms:  connection people feel to community
  • i.e.:  people that went to school here, people at hockey game routing with 4,000 other fans, people at convention networking with peers, people on family vacation, or a shopping binge with friends wandering through DestiNY
  • Part of this destination seen as challenge becomes strength – an appeal that crosses multiple forms of customers
  • Branding - looking for right phrase or message that ties diverse destination and diverse customers together
  • Few weeks away from unveiling and will bring to committee’s attention prior to release to the community
  • Release will bring together businesses, residents, public officials, etc.; a celebration of what community has to offer
  • Unveil coming up, and will probably be at Civic Center theatres
  • Summer months spent in brand transition; signs in the community, hand out tool kits to different businesses
  • i.e.:  Hotel will receive tool kit designed on how the hotel can utilize the brand in the way they answer phones, greet guests, signage around hotel; ways they can tie into the brand
  • Any business that wants a part of the brand; will hand out to tool kits at premier
  • 2 months to build brand to see and experience it; late August will prepare how to disseminate brand in target markets – Buffalo, Toronto, Albany, Boston, NYC, Montreal and Ottawa
  • Funding given through Regional Economic Development Counsel to launch the brand
  • Ottawa will see on TV, Canadian newspaper insert, digital advertising, out of home signage
  • Local celebrity Chef Julie Taboulie; nationally syndicated on public broadcasting; in process of filming next season
  • CVB proposing to underwrite her season with one stipulation – Ms. Taboulie goes on road trip with CVB throughout those communities, work with convention planners, travel media journals, travel trade and any residents
  • In each community, launch brand through public event; drives interest; do this through presentation and trade show
  • Taste of Syracuse NY - restaurant samplings, wineries, etc.; showcase what area has to offer; Ms. Taboulie to give quick course on Lebanese meal
  • Think it will put Syracuse apart from other destination; will be from Sept – Dec; invite to come along and see trade shows in action; great way to unveil brand and reintroduce people to community


Chair Rapp commented Ms. Taboulie is really engaging.  Ms. Taboulie films in different parts of Onondaga County, so this would be a natural tie in.  Mr. Holder stated it is a perfect way to reintroduce this connected destination.  Mr. Holder will be back soon for $175,000 in a contingency fund they will need released for this fall campaign, and a lot of other things that go along with it.  Mr. Holder responded to Chair Rapp that he will be heading to Ways and Means, but not certain of the time frame; maybe this month or next. 


Mr. Plochocki thanked Mr. Holder for his enthusiasm and energy, as well as the help with Ms. Taboulie.  The approach has been fantastic.  Mr. Holder thanked Mr. Plochocki as well.  It will be a great relationship, and this will bring awareness and change in a positive way.  Chair Rapp commented she may bring Ms. Taboulie to the next meeting.


2.     Onondaga County Neighborhood Initiative (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)


Chairman McMahon:

  • Neighborhood Initiative legislation passed 2 budgets ago; money taken from DestiNY’s extension fees put aside to reinvest in community; model based off Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative (SNI) that Jim Walsh did when in congress
  • Target different housing stock issues; part of counsel to see it through different phases to see what worked/what didn’t
  • Intent of legislation was to have a town, village and city neighborhood be in phase one
  • Two programs:
  • (1) Revolving loan fund where they give low interest loans to homeowners for exterior home improvements; as loans are paid back, it revolves to be reinvested in the same neighborhood
  • (2) 1% interest loan; Home Headquarters a lender where they get money from banks; DestiNY money to be used to buy interest rate down to 1%
  • Successful in numerous city neighborhoods (i.e.: Strathmore, Northside); complete hit
  • Steering committee including a real estate agent, community development expert and Community Development Director (Bob DeMore) – Mike LaFlair, Bob DeMore and Ted Ackerman (real estate agent)
  • Committee met, worked with Home Headquarters and analyzed different areas in different home ownership
  • Recommendations – Mattydale, Ville of E. Syracuse, Village of N. Syracuse (targeted neighborhoods in Clay and Cicero) and Elmwood neighborhood (drips into Valley)
  • Local law addresses the revolving loan fund; once pass this, funds released to Home Headquarters
  • Home Headquarters will then work with the Legislators in those areas to organize different community meetings to explain program and application process; after applications come in, will start organizing and giving out loans

Chairman McMahon responded to Chair Rapp that it is essentially one program, but to use the revolving loan component, there is a need for a separate local law.  These are loans so the money is being paid back, but it is cheap money.  Chairman McMahon agreed with Chair Rapp that it is being paid back at one percent. 


Chairman McMahon stated this will be dynamite.  As soon as they receive feedback on the success, then they will look at phase two.  Chair Rapp commented that neighborhoods like Mattydale can revive themselves.  Chairman McMahon said the neighborhoods chosen are an extension of city neighborhoods facing the same urban issues like outdated housing stock.  For years when the SNI program was going on, people from Mattydale and E. Syracuse were reaching out for help, but the programs were not available until now. 


Mr. Liedka asked if the money is set in stone.  For example:  20 years ago until now in East Syracuse it was sixty percent rental properties.  This has had a big impact on property values.  Is there a way to create incentive with this money for people that want to take a two family home, and convert it to a single family?  Those homes are old, and were never meant to handle the population.  Chairman McMahon responded those are good conversations to have.  This was one aspect of the SNI that worked the best, and was the best bang for the buck as far as seeing a visual impact in the neighborhoods.  Other aspects are having mini-grants, demos, rehabs, and others.  Rehab has been done before, but they cannot do as much.  It cannot be as effective for a neighborhood, and does not touch as many properties.  Depending on funding streams going forward, it could easily be done.  Chair Rapp commented it will build homeownership. 


Dr. Chase stated people are taking a lot of the big houses and chopping them up.  Having owner occupied is always a good thing; even if it is a two family owner occupied.  Dr. Chase asked if it will always be the areas chosen.  Chairman McMahon replied this is only phase one.  Typically they will have some areas that will oversubscribe, and some areas that will undersubscribe.  In phase two, they may go back to take care of those people that oversubscribed, but there will also be other geographic areas (towns and villages) to handle.  Dr. Chase asked if this program is working with the Land Bank.  Chairman McMahon answered not really.  It compliments what Land Bank is doing, but they do not have the same purpose.  This is for owner occupants, there is not the same underwriting criteria with these loans versus going to a bank (easier to get), and it is for exterior improvements.  The Land Bank gets titles to properties.  The Legislature earmarked some of the Land Bank money they contributed to create a different type of fund.  If a responsible investor took over a vacant property, but does not have the money to rehab it, then they could go to Home Headquarters and Land Bank to get money to rehab it.  This is a program for owner occupied, and the Land Bank today is mostly rental properties in the hands of responsible landlords. 


Mr. Liedka asked how long before this is up and running.  Chairman McMahon responded within the next thirty to sixty days; want to start the process this season.  The Legislature will then be able to get feedback in the fall, and review it at budget time to potentially put more money into the program. 


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


3.     Memorializing the Support of this Legislature for the Development of a Casino Project in the Finger Lakes Region (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)


Chairman McMahon:

  • Paul J. Wilmot, President; Shawn Griffin, Company Attorney; Juris Basens, VP of Development and Management
  • Onondaga County in opposition to OTB and gambling within county lines; this is a different circumstance
  • State had referendum with gambling; 5 Upstate NY casinos; Hudson Valley and up
  • Different regions awarded; not a question if there will be a casino, but who will be there to develop casinos in those regions; Central NY has casino in Oneida, so Onondaga County will not have one
  • Ask to consider supporting resolution to support Mr. Wilmot’s proposal; look at getting involved with Finger Lakes
  • Three proposals in this region:  City of Binghamton, Tioga Downs and outside exit 41 off the Thruway (outlet malls)
  • One proposal will be selected and casino built; how does this impact our constituents and economic opportunities as far as construction and professional services
  • What’s better for Onondaga County?  Exit 41 (two exits away) or Southern tier
  • Developers have certain criteria; will be a project labor agreement; trades and unions involved in helping build
  • Not deep bench of workers where casino is going to go; workers would come from Onondaga County; this commitment is not in the proposals for Binghamton or Tioga
  • Not about gambling in Onondaga County; distinct reality that there is gambling in Finger Lakes region (already a law)
  • This is about what’s best for economic interest of Onondaga County, and Chairman McMahon’s opinion is this proposal is


Mr. Griffin:

  • Thank you for opportunity to speak
  • Here to provide technical info for resolution; If supporting can ask lobbyist to make formal request to the County
  • Started meeting with town board members; open sessions; lawsuit happened already which was decided in their favor
  • Town adopted comprehensive plan; wanted maximum control over what the site would look like
  • Town approved the comprehensive plan; they have applied for PUD; activity as early as this evening
  • Town board making decisions; the county does not have to weigh in, but they asked counties to consider a support resolution; Seneca, Wayne and Skylar counties all passed support resolutions
  • Statute of this round requires town to be supportive, and like to see all supportive
  • If Onondaga County is interested, then they have an example of a support resolution
  • Biggest thing to offer outside the region; Oneida payments shared in Onondaga County region, Seneca money shared to the west, and this is down the middle for counties that do not get payments – regional facility
  • Tiagoa Downs and Binghamton are significantly smaller, so this casino should score better
  • The trades in Seneca County area, represented by the Fingers Lakes Trading Counsel, work with Rochester, Onondaga or Syracuse Trades Counsel; 55%-60% Onondaga area, thought it made sense to talk to County
  • 1,200 construction jobs for the fall, and 1,800 full/part time jobs once casino is open; casino opened by end of 2015
  • Labor pool – Vets program and MWB program; working with Veterans Agency in Syracuse


Mr. Wilmot:

  • 65 year old real estate development company out of Rochester; third generation; doing business for 40 years in Onondaga; primarily shopping centers, student housing, and last 10 years working on gaming opportunities
  • Two gaming opportunities in Oklahoma; one outside Sacramento, CA
  • Expect to break ground in next 90 days; priority is Seneca Wilmot Casino Project; $400 mil
  • It will move quickly; submitting full app on June 30th; oral presentation in September; selection for site in Oct.; will grant temporary licenses and permanent licenses by November
  • Shovel ready in October to start moving dirt; through approvals and SEQRA process
  • Construction jobs will start at end of this year; Casino to open in 14 months; hotel 6 months behind; 24 months for construction workers with up to 60% of those workers from this area


Mr. Griffin responded to Chair Rapp that any company can bid.  In an environment with a PLA the contractors and subcontractors that bid would enter into the PLA.  Chair Rapp commented that means they both have the same rules, so it does not preclude anybody.  Mr. Griffin agreed.  


Mr. Basens:


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  • Location is exit 41 directly north of thruway (1,600 feet); great visibility east and westbound; 83 acres, 60 for the build
  • Completely avoided all wetlands so no federal permitting for wetlands; well into SEQRA process and hope to have approvals in next couple weeks
  • Traffic studies – virtually no negative impact; come off from exit and make immediate left or right onto property
  • Mitigation recommendations including replacing the bridge to be 4 way lanes from thruway to property entrance
  • Taxes – comparison to competitors; first year contribution to NYS will be $78 mi; 10% shared equally between host community and Seneca County; very impactful to those communities


Mr. Wilmot commented the town is about 960 residents with a budget of $275,000.  They will be receiving approximately $3.9 million.  They are typical upstate fiscal conservatives, no town hall and no justice court.  Wilmorite is agreeing to take care of all of the direct and indirect costs; have agreement with town.  It is not finalized yet, but they are very close.


Mr. Basens:

  • Adequate golf in region; preliminary studies called for 450 hotel rooms, golf, and other amenities
  • Chose phase 1 – 200 hotel rooms; shared data with community, and now very supportive
  • Made potential partnerships with vineyards and breweries; lot of wineries calling this casino gateway to Finger Lakes
  • 200 room hotel, 6 stories; local desire to not build too high or have crazy neon lights; very subtle to area
  • Casino:  2,000 slots, 100 table games, 5 restaurants
  • Stole idea from Rochester (hosted PGA) – there was a Taste of NY pavilion which was well attended and successful
  • Will be doing that on property; local vineyards, ag industry, yogurt makers and all will participate – featuring, promoting and selling in pavilion; will be first thing visitors see when they walk into the casino

Mr. Basens responded to Chair Rapp that they are in negotiations with Canandaigua for marketing opportunities.  Mr. Wilmot commented it includes CMAC.  Mr. Griffin stated there is also Watkins to the south.  There are a lot of business surrounding the area, and they intend to work with all of them.  Mr. Basens said the wineries and breweries are tremendously excited, and their visitation is about four million.  Wilmorite is working with them to assist with finding out where these visitors are coming from.  Those businesses do not know right now.  Chair Rapp asked if there was legislation that passed to allow them to ship wine out of state.  Mr. Basens answered it is in the process, and there are special ways that they can do that.  There are certain things the vineyards have to go through, but it is not one hundred percent.  Mr. Wilmot replied to Chair Rapp that they are starting to see the Sonoma vineyards coming into this area, because the land cost is about one-fifteenth of what they pay.  Mr. Basens stated South Center Lake is one of the big names. 


Mr. Basens continued that the property will have a ten-thousand square foot spa.  This is primarily to bring people from outside the area to make this more of a destination, and not just localized.  It is a full service resort, they are proud of the design, and believe they will reach out to even Canada.  The outlet center is very highly visited by Canadians who come down Route 81 through Syracuse from Ottawa and Montreal.  Mr. Wilmot commented that they spoke to the GM about cross marketing opportunities with the Finger Lakes Outlet.  They get three and a half million visitors per year, and project two million are from Canada.  It is a pleasant surprise.  Mr. Basens said especially since they are coming down Route 81, and not through Niagara. 


Mr. Basens:

  • Family doing business for decades; not Las Vegas company that will build and go away; there’s a commitment to hire locally, to use local suppliers, to work with the local wineries, etc; no national contracts
  • Ability to be good corporate neighbor during construction period; made agreements with Syracuse and Rochester
  • Ongoing operations – commitment to recruit, train and hire locally; Syracuse through Rochester area
  • Background:  started in this business in 1978 in Atlantic City; fresh out of college; Atlantic City started first casino gaming outside of Nevada; became minimum wage dealer; spent 10 years there and became a first level of executive
  • Ran a casino in Bahamas then opened 15 riverboat and land base casinos during the 90’s in Mississippi, Louisiana and Iowa; COO for two public companies; starting from a minimum wage job so many people are quick to criticize
  • Casino Dealer would be minimum wage employee, and in addition to minimum wage regionally (Seneca and Turning Stone) some dealers earn between $20 - $25/hr in tips plus full benefits
  • Offer competitive health care and vacation package; there is a career path and recruiting
  • Once get in front of people, people will stay here; young people leave here because there isn’t a lot of opportunity in Seneca County
  • Park 3,700 cars; 1,000 in structured parking deck and another 2,700 surface
  • Sensitive to local taste and culture; when designing this, engineers did balloon test; highest points of all three buildings (done with no foliage on trees), there was virtually no visibility to residential or agricultural areas
  • Sensitive to this and left all the natural landscaping and will add landscaping

Mr. Griffin:

  • Gone out of way to address impacts; road to the north is Chase Road – three families of concern had 60 people sign and sue Wilmorite; lawsuit was whether town can act and do this, and court said yes
  • 10 years ago 4 Amish families moved to the area, reached out to them, and met with Bishop, women brought in Amish from other communities, and reporter said the town was 70% Amish, which is entirely incorrect
  • Reaching out to the town since December, and had unanimous town approvals; process to wrap up in next 6 weeks

Mr. Wilmot stated the site selected is only two turns off the thruway, so there is minimal impact; except for job creation.  Most of the traffic will be from the NYS Thruway.


Mr. Griffin:

  • Onondaga County gets a percentage of what’s produced by Turning Stone; gaming operation is pretty stable; current is approx. $2 mil; Monroe County shares out of Seneca County pot which is predictable because of gaming operations

Chair Rapp asked if the casino will draw off of the population that goes to Turning Stone, and reduce the share.  Mr. Griffin responded when the bankers come in to do the underwriting, they tend to draw a tight circle.  This will capture through the middle part of Onondaga County and the middle part of Monroe County.  They do see evidence of people coming from Canada.  The catch basin does reach far.  Mr. Griffin stated they are hoping it will be competitive and will grow the market.  The Nation’s picked their exclusivity zone, and this is outside that area.  They surprised some people with drawing the line so far out, they hit Cayuga County, but left Seneca County and the thruway.  Wilmorite has not heard anything from the Nation at this point.  Chair Rapp received calls asking to support an opposing resolution.  Mr. Griffin responded to Chair Rapp to refer to the finance office to do their own math, but Mr. Griffin thinks the market will grow.  The Nation drew their own line, and chose the east side of Seneca County; not the west side.  The main thing is that there are 1,800 permanent jobs and 1,200 construction jobs that start next year.  A large pool of that will come from this region, and Monroe County.  Mr. Basens believes the quality of the product will significantly grow the market.  Turning Stone has good operators, and will maintain their customer base.  Mr. Griffin commented that anyone that would like to argue about the taxes should look at the seven hundred employees living in Onondaga County. 


Mr. Liedka stated Turning Stone did their research, and would fight hard if they thought it would cut into their profits.  Mr. Wilmot commented they thought the bigger threat to Turning Stone would be Albany.  Mr. Wilmot cannot say there will be no impact, but they feel strongly that the positive attributes of this will far outweigh any cannibalization that might exist.


Mr. Holder stated if they are looking at enhancing the business for either or both businesses, it is not looking internally or externally.  The enhanced funding for marketing gives them a way to bump up the fee.


Mr. Wilmot said two hundred rooms will not be enough for the casino.  The casino will probably fill ninety percent of the rooms during the week, so they will look for more rooms on the weekends.  Mr. Basens commented that the more attractions in the area means more co-marketing opportunities.  The casino is about thirty minutes from exit thirty-nine to exit forty-one. 


Mr. Plochocki enjoyed talking to Mr. Griffin previously, and asked Mr. Griffin to discuss the importance of Onondaga County passing a resolution in their favor.  Mr. Griffin responded:

  • Process open and score based; dynamic of gaming business where customers come from depends on circle
  • Sullivan County thought they had it, but then someone moved their dot to Orange County and picked up part of city
  • Got a little bit of same thing but different; Wilmot site on thruway covers areas of Onondaga to Monroe
  • Dot in Binghamton, not a lot of people around – dynamic much smaller and project not financing much bigger
  • Tioga did very well with lobbying - $100 mil and trying to argue $150 mil
  • Walsh family in Binghamton – would need to do $150 mil; in that market very difficult
  • $350 mil in Finger Lakes market, and added a $50 mil license fee to pay; $1 mil nonrefundable to review the app.
  • Done well and blessed the community has supported; if one of those drops out, would be good, because revenue in region five would be $350 mil; i.e.  Broome County would receive $1.2 mil more than if Tioga gets it

*Mr. Corl Arrived at the meeting.


Mr. Wilmot stated it is a competition.  Ultimately each proposer put up their $1 million with their best three thousand page application.  Having a resolution from Onondaga County will greatly help Wilmorite’s chances in the review process.  Mr. Griffin stated they had to have one from the town, and would like to see other ones if available; host county and others.  The host county was looking to have a casino two days before Wilmorite talked to them. 


Mr. Griffin commented as a formality, Pat Brown (lobbyist) will send a letter to Onondaga County requesting a resolution. 


Mr. Wilmot said they have a unique site in the Finger Lakes with close proximity to Onondaga and Monroe County.  Over forty thousand cars drive by the site daily, a lot of which are out of state cars.  Wilmot Casino is three times their largest competitor in scope, and propose similar numbers economic wise.  They have a strong application, and would appreciate the committee’s consideration.  Chair Rapp commented the economic spin on this location is so much greater with the other businesses feeding off of it.  Mr. Wilmot stated seventy percent of the rating is supposed to be based on the economics. 



        a.     Confirming Reappointments and Appointment to the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (Victor G. Ianno, Sr., Daniel M. Queri, Patrick Hogan) (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)


Chairman McMahon:

  • Mr. Hogan replacing Mr. Allen - labor pick, worked with numerous unions, and strong record of economic development and local labor issues; Mr. Ianno and Mr. Queri have been part of the agency

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


The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Jamie McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature



* * *



MAY 27, 2014



MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Kilmartin, Mrs. Ervin, Ms. Williams, Mr. May, Mr. Jordan

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Holmquist

ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman McMahon, Mr. Ryan, 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 previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mr. Kilmartin, to approve the minutes of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.


1.     COMPTROLLER:  Robert Antonacci II, Comptroller, James Maturo, Deputy Comptroller

        a.     Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

Mr. Antonacci distributed the following documents, and noted that the CAFR has been emailed and hard copied to legislators, as well as available on line.  His office is one of the first to release its annual report, which is important.  Timely issuance of financial data is essential to a sound operation. 

Mr. Antonacci provided the following:

May 27, 2014

To:    Honorable Members of the Committee on Fiscal Ways & Means

          Onondaga County Legislature

Re:    Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the year ending December 31, 2013


          Today our office hereby presents Onondaga County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the year ending December 31, 2013.  The report was released on April 18, 2014.  The release of this report in such a timely fashion is essential to the maintenance of our bond rating and continues to add to our reputation of sound fiscal management.

          The CAFR was prepared under the direction of Deputy Comptroller James Maturo and Chief Governmental Accountant Anthony Calogero.  In addition, my audit staff, led by Deputy Comptroller Phil Britt, provided the underlying audit work.  With both divisions working together we again lead all counties in New York by becoming one of the first to release our financial statements.  I respectfully recognize the efforts of all my staff as their hard work has contributed greatly to the financial stability of this County.

          This committee and all members of the Legislature can use these statements in both evaluating past policy decisions and considering future financial decisions.  We respectfully offer the following comments in using this document in performing your duties:

          Once again the County has received an unqualified opinion from the independent auditing firm.  In non-accounting jargon we have received a “clean” opinion, which means among other things the County is fairly stating its financial position in all material respects.

          This opinion is important for many reasons.  First as a sitting Legislator and taxpayer, take comfort the County is diligent in reporting financial data accurately and timely.  This allows all, bond-rating agencies, taxpayers, vendors and any with an interest to use this financial “tool” to make informed, reasoned decisions involving Onondaga County.

          As a leader in government financial reporting, our County issues a CAFR as opposed to basic financial statements.  We go beyond the minimum standards for financial reporting by issuing such a comprehensive report.  We believe this entire report can and should be used in your legislative capacities when reviewing any financial issue requiring your attention.

          The CAFR consist of the following sections:

  • Letter of transmittal- pages iii-viii
  • Opinion Letter from independent auditor-pages ix-xi
  • Management Discussion and Analysis-pages xii-xxiii
  • Basic Financial Statements consisting of:
    • Government Wide Financial Statements- pages 1-4
    • Fund Financial Statements-pages 5-17
    • Notes to the Financial Statements- pages 18-43

We respectfully suggest the Required Supplementary Information consisting of Budgetary Information on Major and Non-Major Funds (pages 44-63) would be of tremendous use during budget sessions.  These statements reflect budget to actual financial figures and assess our variance from the budget.

          The Statistical Section, beginning on page 64 is another useful financial tool providing historical perspective on many key financial conditions based on previously audited statements.

          As you perform your duties, this document can assist you in evaluating past decisions of the government and help you in making future choices.  In the recent past, Legislative committees have asked questions in areas like Fund Balance and Long-term Debt.  The CAFR can be a reference for these issues (Fund Balance page 5 and Long-term Debt pages 31-34) as well as many others.

          In closing, no one single measure of financial condition can fully capture the financial stability of our government.  Each of your constituents may gauge financial success differently.  However, the discussion must begin with and be based on sound financial data.  The issuance of timely financial statements begins the discussion and we are proud to submit this Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the year ending December 31, 2013, to help you serve the taxpayers of Onondaga County.


Respectfully submitted,


Robert Emil Antonacci II CPA


Mr. Antonacci:

  • Have a clean opinion – no problems – as good as you can get from an outside auditor
  • CAFR goes beyond minimum standards – other data provided which is not in a normal financial report
    • Letter of transmittal, management discussion and analysis, and basic financial statements
    • Supplemental Information (pgs. 44-63) – tremendous use to legislators during budget process--need to look at historical data to make future projections
    • Need to use Comptroller’s team and CFO’s team in tandem
    • Statistical Section (pg. 64) – a lot historical data


Mr. Kilmartin asked about fund balance calculations.


Mr. Maturo referred to page 44 of the CAFR, noting that it is one of the most valuable pages in the report – general fund budget to actual.  This is the actual expenditures and revenues on a budget basis.  At the front of the CAFR there are reclassifications for GAAP purposes – the numbers on page 44 won’t necessary tie to the numbers in the face of the statement.  This puts the county’s financial data in a format, which is most familiar to the county as a whole because of the budget process.

  • Actual Revenue: take budget’s basic revenue $761 million; $2.8 million of fund balance was used; actual revenue is $758 million
  • Per Res. No. 184-07, sales tax pass through is backed out--money that comes in and is turned around and paid out
  • Fund balance calculation $675.8 million; 10% is $67,682
  • Total fund balance is $96,971,731 – encumbrances are backed out (contracts and POs at the end of 2013, which are still outstanding – valid commitments that get rolled forward to 2014
  • Prepaid expenses--$8 million is taken out – prepaid NYS Retirement paid in Dec. for April 1st to March 31st of the following year
  • Fund balance reserve legally committed by Res. No. 159-12 - $5 million
  • Fund balance is $80.6 million; the fund balance total is now $67.7 million; $12.9 million now over 10% limit
  • $2.5 million appropriated in 2014 budget, left $10.4 million over the 10%, which the County Executive designated through year-end designation
  • $1.5 million appropriated last month for road project


Mr. Antonacci explained that a designation is management designation; until the legislature passes a resolution encumbering that money, it is still available.


Current Method Per

Calculation of 2013 10% Fund Balance Goal

Resolution #184/07

Actual Revenue

 $          758,724,711

Less: Sales Tax Pass Through


         Interdepartmental Revenue


Total Revenue for Fund Balance Calculation

 $           676,828,905

Fund Balance Goal 10%

 $            67,682,891

Total Fund Balance

 $             96,951,731

Less: Encumbrances


         Prepaid Expenses


         Committed for Debt (Resolution 159/12)


Unassigned Fund Balance for Calculation

 $             80,573,342

Amount over the 10% Goal


Appropriated to the 2014 budget (see detail below)


Remaining Amount over the 10% Goal

 $             10,397,137


Mr. Maturo noted that two years ago, the Comptroller made a recommendation about tweaking the fund balance policy.  He referred to the sales tax pass through, noting that the same argument could be made for backing out interdepartmental charges – i.e. IT charges to other departments, indirect cost charges to other departments.  It is money going from one pocket into the other.  It is approximately $54 million in and of itself – additional funds that can technically be backed out.  It is not true revenue to the county; it is charges that go between departments.  Mr. Antonacci said that $5 million of fund balance is being held onto; holding onto taxpayer money.  Mr. Maturo said it is holding onto money that doesn’t leave the county.


Mr. Kilmartin asked what the net effect would be if pursued.  Mr. Antonacci said that it would lower the amount needed in fund balance from $67 million to $62 million and would be almost $17 million over the goal.  Mr. Kilmartin said this has been discussed internally with the Comptroller’s office, and believes it has been discussed with the County Executive’s office over the past 12 months.  Mr. Morgan agreed and said that when he started as CFO, the Comptroller made a recommendation with the CAFR presentation that the legislature consider some changes for the actual calculation for one or two items, which would impact the goal and overage.  Since then there hasn’t been any serious discussion on it.  The calculations are in resolutions and passed by the legislature.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Morgan said that he doesn’t necessarily disagree with the recommendations, especially the interdepartmental revenues.  The prepaids are funded already.  Mr. Maturo said that the prepaids should be taken out today.  He explained that it is the first 3 months of the retirement for 2014.  By the time the statements are issued, not only is it funded in the 2014 budget, but it has already been paid; it has already been expensed.  The reason it is taken out is because there is a reserve of fund balance, similar to the encumbrances, similar to the commitment.  To take that out of the 10% calculation, is in essence, doubling.


Mr. Antonacci referred to the sales tax – basically passing it through to the City; to reserve 10% is holding onto taxpayer money that we don’t need to hold on to.  It is the same thing with the indirects – it is internal charging of expenses within the departments.  The County is holding onto to $5 million of taxpayer money that is really not an outside revenue source.  His office has now proposed this now a couple of times; if the policy is changed now, it is holding on board because we are well above the 10%.  He doesn’t want to all of a sudden see a fire, and be down to 8.5% of fund balance policy and then decide to change it.  It has to be something that should be done when we are on the footing that we are on.  Mr. Maturo agreed and said that if this change is made, it would be close to $23 million over what the limit is.  Prior to making the change, there should be a plan on how the additional amount will be reconciled back to 10% of the fund balance. 


Mr. Kilmartin said that once the $1.5 million is pulled out, which was appropriated for the roads, there is approximately $8.9 million remainder over the 10%.  Mr. Maturo agreed, under the current formula.  Mr. Kilmartin asked what the percentage is then; Mr. Morgan said is its 11.3%. 


Mr. Kilmartin asked if there are any concerns with the remainder of 2014, going into 2015.  Mr. Antonacci said that sales tax ratcheted down quite a bit early on.  It is clearly something that we have to be sensitive to because a lot of our revenue comes from sales tax.  The late April check was up, which was nice to see.  Debt continues to be a concern.  A report will be issued, that Mr. Britt has been working on, that provides details by project, as to where all the debt has been in the last 6 -7 years.

Mr. Kilmartin asked about the mechanics of the $5 million for debt resolution.  Mr. Morgan said that the way it was proposed was a commitment.  The only way to actually use it is if the legislature approves it.  Mr. Maturo said that it might be one area to look at if the fund balance formula is changed; maybe bumping it up to retire future debt and level out the debt.















General Obligation Bonds





EFC Loans










Debt Summary


Note: $8.5M in EFC BANS 2007 from Official Statement added to 2007 loan number


The interest numbers above are gross and do not include subsidies such as interest subsidies from


Build America Bonds                                                  up to 35% Interest Subsidy-- Estimated Savings                                                            3,700,000

Recovery Zone Bonds                                                 up to 45% Interest Subsidy-- Estimated Savings                                                            2,300,000

EFC Interest Subsidy Generally about 50%           Generally about 50%   40,906,362                                                                                    28,566,722

Any other Forgiveness of Loans (Harborbrook etc) up to 50% estimated at                                           10,000,000


Premiums from Bond issuance are also not included above they go into Reserve for Bonded Debt (RBD)


E-911 can be funded thru the E-911 Surcharge


2.     MANAGEMENT & BUDGET:  Steven Morgan, CFO

        a.     1st Quarter Report


Mr. Morgan distributed the following:




First Quarter Indicators Report

reportOnondaga County

Division of Management and Budget

             Key Economic and Fiscal Indicators


Inside this issue:











2014 First Quarter Budget Forecast






Unemployment Rate: Onondaga County








Employed Persons by Month (in 000’s):  Onondaga County








Employed Persons yr-over-yr (in 000’s): Onondaga County








Overall Consumer Confidence: Syracuse MSA








Consumer Price Index (all items) - Inflation Rate








Weighted Average County Interest Rate








Reconciled Quarterly Sales Tax Collections % Chg CYTD








Auto Sales CYTD: Onondaga County








Gasoline Prices per gallon paid by Onondaga County








Retail Gasoline Prices per gallon in Upstate NY








Onondaga County Clerk Fees CYTD








Lis Pendens CYTD








Existing Home Sales CYTD: Onondaga County








Average Median Home Price YTD: Onondaga County








Onondaga County Filled Positions








Average Monthly Public Assistance Caseloads YTD








Average Monthly Medicaid Caseloads YTD







CYTD = Cumulative Year to Date (January - Period listed)


2014 First Quarter Budget Forecast
















Property Tax Levy


















Prior Year Collections





Pilots/Interest & Penalties





Room Occupancy Tax





Abstract Charges





Sales Tax - County Portion





Sales Tax - Municipalities/School Portion





State Aid





Federal Aid










All Other





Total Revenues











Mandated Programs















Contracted Services (408/570)





Interfund Transfers





Debt Service





Sales Tax - Municipalities/School Portion










All Other





Total Expenses






Fund Balance





Fund Balance





Carryover Fund Balance






Total Fund Balance










Local Dollars










Regarding sales tax, statewide for the first quarter there was nearly a 2% decline.  Onondaga County didn’t fit that mold and actually grew a little bit.  The economy is still in a soft place, but unemployment is down locally.  Sales tax is the major item they are keeping their eye on; ended 2013 with 2% growth year; budget was predicated for 2014 on a 2.15% growth, plus another 2.75% in 2014.  They are hitting that mark now; the last payment received gave them a year over year growth of 2.8%-- seeing a little rebound after the first quarter.


Page 2 – General fund - major categories rolled all together:


  • Outliers are prior year collections and interest and penalties 
  • Ended very strong in prior year collection for 2013 at $10.3 million; PILOTS/interest & penalties at $10 million 
  • 2014 Budget – significantly lower in each of the categories from how 2013 ended
  • 2014 projections – really setting the pace for revenues – strong current year and prior year collections – a lot has to do with the city’s efforts in trying to collect on delinquent taxes – has inched up.  Have to be careful – only so many taxes that are delinquent –will come to an end and start to plateau
  • Sales tax – projected to be a little short – ended 2013 lower than projected, which was the basis for 2014 budget
  • All Other – main driver of the deficit is federal inmate revenue at Dept. of Correction – roughly $2 million projected not to be received that was budgeted.  Overcrowding at Justice Center is pushing inmates to Jamesville, not allowing acceptance of federal inmates, which produces revenue for the county.  At one point 18 inmates were sent out of county; where we were actually paying – that has stopped.  It will have to dealt with going into the 2015 budget cycle

Mr. May said that we are right on the edge – do not only have the revenue, but the expense is looming because of the jail situation. 



  • Mandated programs continue to stabilize and not grow at pace anticipated.  Temporary Assistance (Family Assistance and Safety Net) 1% growth with a number of individuals receiving TA.  Driving surplus, especially Children’s Services in Health Dept.  – State continues not to raise rates; county continues to anticipate that there will be rate increases
  • Medicaid – capped – taken guess work out; $105 million

The bottom line is a $3.4 million surplus, which includes the fund balance appropriated at $2.5 million.  A true potential surplus is approximately $900,000.


2013 Revenue

 $ 758,724,711

Less: Sales Tax Pass Through


Total Revenue for Fund Balance Calculation

 $ 676,828,905

Current Fund Balance Goal 10%

 $   67,682,891

Unreserved Fund Balance 12/31/12

 $   99,790,882

Appropriated in 2013

       Adopted Budget


       Additional Fund Balance in 2013


2013 Surplus/Deficit


Unreserved Fund Balance - 12/31/13

 $   96,951,731

Less: Encumbrances


         Prepaid Expenses


         Debt Reserve


        Appropriated in 2014 Budget


        Additional 2014 Appropriations



Unassigned Fund Balance - Estimated

 $   76,580,027

Amount of Fund Balance as a %


Amount of Fund Balance over 10% Goal

 $     8,897,137


Mr. Morgan said that this is nearly a mirror image of what the Comptroller distributed; the difference is that is shows the addition 2014 appropriation of $2.5 million into the analysis.


Mr. May asked if all ROT revenue come into general fund.  Mr. Morgan said “no” – a good portion goes into the Oncenter revenue fund.  The Oncenter isn’t represented in his report – it is just general fund. 


Mrs. Ervin said that we are sitting on a lot of money; $8 million above fund balance and questioned if we know what we are going to do with it.  Mr. Morgan said that the actual policy states that it has to be used for the reduction of debt or property tax relief.  They are general, global goals, but set the framework for potentially what that money could be used for.  As it is used in budgets, they try to be conservative in what is used to plug budget holes.  By using it, it is in fact being used to offset property taxes.  Mrs. Ervin said that it seems that the design is bad in having this much money left over.  Mr. Morgan explained that for 2013, the initial adopted budget was used, with the various modifications throughout the year, with a plan to use $15 million of fund balance, but ended up using $3 million of fund balance.  It was drawn down over the previous 2 years –no fund balance was used to balance the budget.


Mr. Fisher said that the County Executive has emphasized trying to match up the recurring expenditures with with recurring revenues.  To commit that to something that comes back year after year, becomes a real problem from a structural standpoint.  They are trying to use a little bit of fund balance every year to get to the 10%.  However, if $5-$15 million is used all in one year, then in essence is it committing it in GAAP, and it wouldn’t be more than a couple of years before the 8% is 6%.  Mr. Morgan said that for a few budget cycles there were fund balance resolutions that accompanied the budget, that were attempting to identify one-time expenses that need to be addressed with one time revenues.  Mr. May said that is exactly how it was approached the last two budgets.  Mr. Morgan said that in 2014 they accepted the amount appropriated and didn’t bring over any additional fund balance resolutions.  Mrs. Ervin said that it bothers her that there is such a large rainy day fund.


Chairman McMahon noted that in 2013 there was a much larger rainy day balance – a lot of one time shots have been used to bring that down.  This is a product of budgeting responsibly through various departments, which came in under budget over the course of 18 months.  We would have been at the 10%, but because of those savings there is a little bit more money.  There is probably about $1 million structurally that could be used to lower the tax levy.  The rest of it should be utilized for one shots – debt type reductions.  This is doing what we should be doing – trying to save every year; there are some options on the table.  Mr. Morgan added that if the fund balance set aside in 2013 was used; we would be near the goal.  Mr. May agreed and noted that it is an 11% reserve instead of a 10% reserve.  It’s not a bad thing – the real issues are addressing how we reserve in terms of the prepaids, and/or the interdepartmentals.  Mrs. Ervin noted that if the formula changes, then it is even more money.  Chairman Knapp said, to the Comptroller’s point, the time to do it is when we are over, not when it looks like we are in trouble and trying to cover ourselves.  Mr. Jordan said that this is certainly a preferable situation; it is better to be better off than projected than worse off.  He agreed that that things could be tweaked a little bit on the estimates to be more on the number.

Mr. Kilmartin asked if Mr. Morgan sees any extraordinary concerns for the remainder of 2014 and going into 2015, 2016.  Mr. Morgan referenced the federal inmate issue – it is $2 million recurring problem – will have to address it in the 2015 cycle.  Van Duyn is transferred; have to support the legacy costs.  Sales tax/economy will be monitored closely – have been fairly conservative when budgeted sales tax; it has worked and will continue budgeting that way.  Mr. Antonacci added that with Van Duyn no longer a county property, and the mandates starting to become hard costs, the county is really not in a bad spot going forward. 


Mr. May asked if there is anything on the horizon from a facilities standpoint.  Mr. Morgan said that the projects have been vetted through the legislature.  Mr. Fisher referenced Onondaga Lake, noting that the judge has been cooperative, but it could change – there is a lot of work that still needs to get done.  The size of our overall debt, significantly is because of the cleanup of the lake.  Mr. Morgan said that debt service costs are inching up and taking more of a chunk out of the operating budget.  It will put pressure on the budget from year to year.


Mr. Jordan asked how long the county will be incurring legacy costs for Van Duyn.  Mr. Morgan said that it will be a while because of retiree health care costs.  Legacy workers comp costs – tried to be aggressive and settle in cases where it made sense.  New ones won’t be incurred, which is a positive.  He estimated 15 -20 years for legacy costs.  There is potential for IGT for 2012-2014 – the feds are behind.  A decision will have to be made about pulling that money down – he is analyzing it now.  It would help offset the legacy costs going forward.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Morgan said that if IGT funds for 2013-14 are approved, the county would be eligible for a portion - County owned Van Duyn through the end of November last year.  Half of the money has to be put up to receive the payment – the estimate right now is $14 million. 


Mr. May asked if there is a pension liability with Van Duyn from a reserving standpoint.  Mr. Morgan said “no” – the bill for pensions is based on salaries.  Once salaries are off the books, they are no longer in the pension calculations.  The bill was paid when they were employed; their active salaries were part of the calculation.


Chairman Knapp noted that the Affordable Care Act has been good for the county—he asked about it sunsetting.  Mr. Morgan said that the federal government has increased their participation for childless and single couples for Medicaid.  Part of the ACA is to use Medicaid to expand coverage to certain income-eligible individuals.  Most states chose to expand that and the federal government paid for 100% of those costs.  NYS had already expanded for that population; the federal government agreed to go from a 50% federal matching rate up to 90% over a 5-year period.  Savings of $4.5 million was factored into the 2014 budget and continued to monitor that and factor the appropriate amount of offset.  It will stay at 90% for the foreseeable future.  The Medicaid cap is a hard cap, $105 million.  Chairman Knapp asked if the $4.5 million will stay the same; Mr. Morgan said that it builds from 50% up to 90% over another 5-year period.  The population will drive the amount of money received.


3.     COUNTY CLERK:  Chris Plochocki, Deputy County Clerk

        a.     Mortgage Tax Apportionment

  • Total amount distributed is $2,850,863
  • Number is down 36% from previous period; 27% from the same period last year

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Ms. Williams.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


4.     DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION:  Chris Rauber, Civil Engineer III

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Fund in the First Instance 100% of the Federal Aid Eligible Costs at a Maximum Amount of $2,960,000 for the Design (Scoping I-VI) and Right-of-Way Incidentals of Various Federally Aided Local Projects and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Agreements to Implement the Intent of this Resolution ($2,960,000)

  • 7 new DOT projects
  • First instance – covers federal aid cost for design and ROW incidentals
  • Local share $750,000 – in previous work plans – Benson Rd. in 2013 work plan; the rerests in 2014 work plan


Mr. Rauber distributed the following project list:


Project Summary

  • Old Route 5 (CR 98) and Warners Road (CR 63) Paving Project          

          Project Limits: Old Route 5 from Westlind Avenue to Warners Road; and Warners Road from Old Route 5 to Milton Avenue.

  • Fremont Road Bridge over Butternut Creek

          Project Limits: 200-feet north and south of the bridge, which is located 400-Feet north of ESM High School on Fremont Road.

  • Electronics Parkway (CR 148 & 45) Paving Project

          Project Limits: 330-feet northeast of Old Liverpool Road to Hopkins Road.

  • John Glenn Boulevard (CR 81) and Kirkville Road (CR 53) Paving Project

          Project Limits: John Glenn Boulevard from I-690 to Buckley Road; and on Kirkville Road from Kinne Road to Roberts Street.

  • Morgan Road (CR 46)  at Ver Planck Road (CR 141) Safety Project

          Project Limits: Morgan Road at the intersection with Ver Planck Road, including the approaches.

  • West Taft Road (CR 48) Paving Project

          Project Limits: Buckley Road to South Bay Road.

  • Benson Road Bridge over Dutch Hollow Brook

          Project Limits: 200-feet north and south of the bridge in the Town of Skaneateles.


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


5.     HISCOCK LEGAL AID SOCIETYSusan Horn, President/CEO

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services Grant Funds for the Upstate Quality Improvement and Caseload Reduction Project, and Authorizing the Execution of Agreements to Implement this Resolution ($299,529)

  • Approval to  accept grant awarded by NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services for the county and Hiscock Legal Aid Society
  • Enable hiring of an additional appeals attorney and covering a portion of costs for a support staff person
  • Hiscock Legal Aid Society is the appellate defender for Onondaga County – assigned to all criminal and family court appeals by the Appellate Courts –
  • Have large backlog of cases – currently handling criminal cases that date back 3 years

Ms. Williams asked what happens to the positions when the grant expires.  Ms. Horn said it is a 3 year grant; approximately $100/year.  Hoping there will be additional aid from NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services after the 3 year grant.  If not, the positions will go away.  Mr. May noted that this was discussed at Public Safety Committee and passed unanimously; Ms. Horn agreed at that meeting to eliminate the position if the funding goes away.


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


6.     PROBATIONPhil Galuppi, Principal Probation Officer

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Grant Funds to Support an Initiative to Reduce Youth Gang-Related Activity and Violence within the City of Syracuse, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Agreements ($48,063)

  • Accept $48,063 grant – over 3 year period
  • City of Syr. awarded to implement Syracuse Comprehensive Gang Model, which Onondaga Co. is a partner of
  • Used primarily to pay for overtime for probation officers and supervisors

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


7.     CNY ARTSSteve Butler, Executive Director

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Make Funds Available to CNY Arts for Distribution to Musical Associates of Central New York, Inc. ($70,000)

  • Moving contingency funds, $70,000, for Symphoria
  • Sent a financial update last week to legislators
  • Have done a remarkable job for a symphony less than is less than 2 years old – have hit most of their income targets; keeping $50,000 surplus on books; paying living wage to artist, renting Oncenter; hopefully generating sales and ROT tax for county

A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Ms. Williams, to approve this item.


Mr. May congratulated the symphony on a good job; he believes the symphony and arts and culture is important to the symphony.  His issue is how the county is funding it. 


AYES:  5 (Knapp, Jordan, Kilmartin, Williams, Ervin); NOES:  1 (May).  MOTION CARRIED.


8.     PURCHASE:

        a.     Revenue Contract Report – NONE


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


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature

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