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Meeting Minutes Return to Committee Meeting Minutes

sEALOnondaga County Legislature


401 Montgomery Street * Court House, Room 407 * Syracuse, New York 13202
(315) 435-2070 * Fax: (315) 435-8434

Deputy Clerk






MEMBERS PRESENT:  Ms. Kuhn, Mr. McBride

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Rowley, Mr. Holmquist

ALSO ATTENDING:  Please see attached


Chairman Ryan called the meeting to order at 12:05 p.m.  A motion was made by Mr. McBride, seconded by Ms. Kuhn to waive the reading of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED. A motion was made by Ms. Kuhn, seconded by Mr. McBride to waive the reading of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


1.      EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS: Julie Corn, Commissioner of Emergency Communications

         a.      A Local Law authorizing the County to Sublease Tower Space and Transmitter Building Space at a Limeledge Road Tower Site in Marcellus, NY to Bell Atlantic Mobile System (“VERIZON”)

  • Purpose of lease is to operate a cellular transmission site – portion of the tower is not currently used nor is there intention to use it by Onondaga County (“OC”)
  • $23,000 per year with a two percent increase per year – provides revenue for OC – lease is written such that OC has to split any FCC fees with landowner - 50% of the lease will go to the landowner, Hanson Aggregates (“Hanson”) and 50% to OC
  • In response to Mr. Ryan’s question – Yes, the lease at fair market value and the term of the lease is five years with annual auto renewals
  • In response to Ms. Kuhn’s question - OC has an agreement with Hanson for the lease dated 2017 for $10 per year - the landowner has never collected from OC

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


2.      DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  William Fitzpatrick, District Attorney

         a.      INFORMATIONAL:  Update

  • Worse uptick in crime that he’s ever seen – violent crime is through the roof
  • Some increases as a result of the pandemic  - some areas are reduced because Destiny is not open and robbers are not hitting homes with people at home
  • Domestic violence is up and seen at a great cost
  • Number one reason for increase is Raise the Age –teenagers think they are not going to be punished harshly
  • Strathmore area - break ins are by teenagers
  • Prior to this 95 % of teens left without any criminal record
  • Family court is not equipped to handle these types of crimes
  • Second reason is Bail reform – should have been done – an individual should not be sitting in jail awaiting trial on a nonviolent offense because of their economic status
  • Mr. Johnson arrested 69 times, convicted 53 times, 5 felony convictions, failed to appear 23 times, arrested twice for petty larceny and let go – arrested 5 times and sentenced to 25 days in prison and will be out in time for the holidays – he steals packages from doors so great timing with holidays in the near future
  • Issue is people like Mr. Johnson are ruining the quality of life for the citizens in our community
  • Third reason - is an absolute utter disrespect for law enforcement as a result of a person being murdered 1,100 miles away
  • Huge fan of Chief Buckner – bringing structure and discipline to the department which was needed
  • Governor and Mayor Walsh have issued an executive order to reinvent policing – Committee includes himself, Mrs. Ervin co-chair, Chief Buckner, Helen Hudson, and Sheriff Conway
  • At some point committee will come to Legislature and Common council to discuss use of force policy, body cameras, de-escalation, and mental health treatment
  • Take quality of life crimes and put them into a community court that involves the members of the community and alternatives to arrest
  • Average 20 homicides per year  - YTD 26 of which 25 occurred after May 1
  • 14 homicide trials scheduled for 2020 now rescheduled for 2021 – involve the most time – back log is catastrophic
  • Average 65-70 felony trials per year – first trial since February was last week – tremendous explosion in the Spring
  • 250 felony indictments pending in County court – first jury felony trail last week in front of Judge Miller – involves three County court rooms - one for trial; one for video, public and press; and one for jury
  • 488 inmates in public safety building currently – half are awaiting trail – years of trials that are going to have to happen next year  - no major COVID outbreaks
  • District Attorney’s office staff worked every day – one individual infected and healthy now
  • October 1 we have indicted 22 individuals for illegal possession of handguns
  • Started grand juries a month ago – impossible to social distance in rooms
  • Down four Assistant District Attorney positions - intentionally not filled – would like them filled, but will wait until County is on sound financial ground
  • Every person has a lawyer at arraignment– historically if it was a 17 year old for stealing then 99% of the time would be released to their parents – no longer able to do that – have to be held in Justice Center
  • New York State has not provided any funding to cover these court days, nights and weekends – staff using their own transportation
  • Appeals are overlooked – everyone wants to file them and need people to handle them
  • Shooting incidents involving injury – 55 in 2019 and 122 in 2020
  • People hit by shootings - 65 in 2019 and 149 in 2020
  • Individuals killed by gun - 11 in 2019 and 20 in 2020
  • Need your help – recognize the reality of the situation – let him stay the course and maintain his budget
  • Optimistic person – been at cutting edge of social, progressive and criminal justice reform

Mr. Ryan:

  • Does Judge have authority to grant or deny an appeal?
  • Is there additional expense when a trial takes up three courtrooms?
  • Is there an increase in recidivism?

Mr. Fitzpatrick:

  • 440 motion appeal is before the case is heard - directed to the specific Judge that will be handling the case – the Judge makes the decision
  • Normal appeal is after a trial decision goes to Rochester and is heard by five Judges
  • No financial implications to the DA’s office – more work but not necessarily more cost
  • Will provide numbers on recidivism 
  • Goal with the executive order is to come up with a plan, come before City and County and then roll out to all the Towns and Villages – deadline is April or will lose State aid
  • Goal is consistent and uniform policies in the future regardless of location of arrest

Mr. Ryan:

  • Agrees with consistent and uniform policies - having all police agencies prepare their own policies is inconceivable

Mr. McBride:

  • Will you fill ADA positions, and is four adequate?

Mr. Fitzpatrick:

  • When OC gets back on solid ground, he will come and request an approval to fill positions; four is adequate

Ms. Kuhn:

  • How does our increase in crime compare to the rest of New York and nationally?
  • Schools being out and no one watching children – are juvenile crimes consistent with other communities?


Mr. Fitzpatrick:

  • Worst is Buffalo, then Rochester, Albany, Syracuse – any city involved with GIVE (Gun Involved Violence Elimination) has seen an increase in crime
  • Chicago is having their worst year
  • Raise the Age was done with the best of intentions, but didn’t put a lot of money into Family Court
  • Not a criticism of Family Court –was not designed for criminal justice
  • Message is out to young kids that going to Family Court isn’t that bad

Mrs. Ervin:

  • Clearly we aren’t different from other municipalities but what we are working on will help and be a great asset in the future; How can we improve today?
  • Are municipalities still sending out forces for non-violent situations?

Mr. Fitzpatrick:

  • Chief Buckner is a friend and cannot say enough good about him
  •  He had issues when he took over – police are not trained to deal with nonviolent situations
  • Syracuse Police Department (“SPD”) are not getting involved as often – currently SPD is DAs #1 client – advocate of mental health training of the force versus sending out mental health people – train a group of officers in mental health and addiction
  • Six fatal officer shootings in 2020 - historically 1 or 2 – every incident victim had mental health or addiction issue except for Sunoco station on James Street incident – jury will hear that this week
  • Should have district courts – every time you bring up consolidation – people like their own police departments
  • There is a reason we give officers guns and batons – not there to deal with garbage

Chairman Knapp:

  • Share your views on Family court
  • Status of 2020 extra positions for bail reform
  • Concerned there are cases out there that are not getting recorded

Mr. Fitzpatrick:

  • Positions were filled
  • Discovery reform is horrendous – 8 cops all have body cameras – all has to be stored and reviewed at $75/hour
  • Appreciates being given the tools to do his work
  • Recalls a Judge saying no parent would ever do that to a child; learned over the years that the parent or caregiver would do those things
  • Without school a child is locked in with the offender
  • Times have changed over past 20 years – encourage people that see or suspect something to let us know

3.      EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT:  Dan Wears, Commissioner

         a.      INFORMATIONAL:  Update

  • 2020 described as interesting – never imagined what EMS has gone through and what has been done
  • Appreciate office staff that have stepped up – without them we would not be where we are today
  • COVID started January 29 with the first meeting to say what is it and what do we need to do
  • Shortly thereafter involved community organizations to get feedback and concerns
  • Learned early on the importance of PPE
  • Activated EOC March 9 for 88 days
  • Coordinated with long list of other groups to include DOT, WEP and County Legislators to deliver meals and help with testing sites
  • PPE distribution to date – one million pieces to over 750 organizations
  • Testing site at NBT Stadium is still open - 100-200 tests per day
  • Syracuse Community Health Center drive through test site was open before first known case in OC
  • Mobile test sites throughout OC with over 400 per day
  • Tested assisted living centers and schools upon request
  • Support homeless shelters in transporting clients with positive results
  • Delivered 300,000 meals, toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies
  • Manley Field House hospital plan was ready to go – not implemented
  • Coordinated day care and hotel accommodations for essential workers
  • Recognized early on mental health was a critical issue with isolation
  • Planning an assessment of EMS operations – what went well and what needed improvements
  • 2020 budget – operation is almost entirely COVID – small amount of time spent on daily operations
  • Anticipate involvement in COVID vaccinations
  • Heavily Federally funded so austerity budget does not have a large impact
  • Concerned about other risks and hazards that EMS is not focusing on
  • In response to Mr. Ryan’s question on daily operations that are not a current focus – hazmat and active shooter

Ms. Kuhn:

  • 100% appreciative

Dr. Chase:

  • Thank you for what EMS has been doing
  • Question on funding –testing resources are great – cost is prohibitive – (ie)a hair dresser without work for months with no symptoms incurring $300 per month on testing – same with nurses aids  – asymptomatic so insurance denies coverage
  • Seems vaccinations will be the same issue; Who is going to pay? – Testing or vaccinations should not be based on income

Mr. Wears:

  • Insurance changed what they are willing to pay for – will not reimburse for testing asymptomatic cases– significant part of the cost is the lab testing – collection is the cheaper part of the test
  • Because we are under the 500,000 population threshold, OC did not get Federal Stimulus
  • Federal government is picking up cost of vaccination – need monies to inoculate

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


The meeting was adjourned at 1:05 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Melanie Vilardi


Onondaga County Legislature







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MEMBERS PRESENT:  Dr. Chase, Ms. Cody, Mr. Bush, Mr. Kinne

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp; also see attached


Chair Abbott-Kenan called the meeting to order at 10:33 a.m.  A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Ms. Cody to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  


1.     HEALTH DEPARTMENT:  Dr. Gupta, Commissioner

        a.     Transfer from Health Department, Account 641010 Regular Employee Salaries, to Health Department, Account 694080 Professional Services $75,000

  • Transfer will support the medical examiners work due to current vacancies; last year successfully recruited one pathologists - still looking for a second
  • Fully support Oneida, Madison and Cayuga Counties
  • Increased number of investigations and autopsies
  • Balancing act between salaries and outside professional services

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


        b.  INFORMATIONAL: Update

  • Important to keep masks on and show others we are doing our part
  • Please continue to look at data on the County website, 4,812 cases yesterday
  • Cases vary from day to day ranging from 20-40
  • Restaurants, schools , colleges, and worship places are making adjustments
  • Employers are supportive and have made changes in the workplace
  • Health Department contacts employers to find out what methods are being used and adjust accordingly - plexiglass, separation, stagger schedules and educate sick staff to stay home
  • Sick employees are going to work – exposure maybe one to two days – do not think the intent is malicious – most times tired, feeling low, stress
  • Encouraging employers to do temperature checks
  • Encouraging community to make sure if you are not feeling well get checked – mind will be at ease
  • Also asking people to move back plans to 2021 after there is a vaccine
  • Holidays are upon us so be protective of your family – do the right thing for yourself and your family
  • Halloween has a lot of questions – do not want to take away childhood and fun; but be creative and safe
  • Families and parents have a significant role in this pandemic – find a balancing act for the greater good
  • Colleges and schools are open and cases have decreased after the big outbreak at SU that was on the news
  • Continuous, real time conversations with school districts – ongoing and regular basis to include weekends and evenings
  • Contact tracing provides information on quarantining requirements – so many variables to include age, teacher, student, inside, outside
  • Congregate settings refer to large populations which include schools and colleges
  • Contact tracing is much different for spread - congregate versus a family
  • Testing has been significantly available in our community as County Executive has been at the forefront
  • NBT testing site continues to be open
  • NYS DOH is in the process of providing extra testing machines from Abbott - the County and medical providers within our community are applying
  • Two types of rapid testing –antigen and molecular (which is preferred) – both are work in progress
  • Vaccination is a popular topic and there are none available at this point – some are at stage three trials
  • NYSDOH released a vaccine guidance via the Governor’s website – many sections on how that plan will work
  • Unknowns regarding availability of the vaccine – worth waiting for a good vaccine versus introducing prematurely; will result in controversy and public will not embrace
  • After approval by the FDA there are two options – Feds send to State versus Feds send to pharmacies – last method creates chaos because no accountability
  • Hoping State to localities - could easily track who has been vaccinated
  • Priority will be health systems, direct care, essential public health people – depends on vaccine availability – should be allotted in a very disciplined way to eliminate stampedes
  • In the meantime – face coverings, hand washing and staying home are crucial
  • Very unsure if by next July we will still be wearing masks
  • Even if vaccine is great, still will take time to work through the cycles
  • People have to take responsibility for our community success so schools and colleges remain open
  • Power is in our hands and that is important for each individual
  • In response to Mrs. Abbott-Kenan’s question regarding the time frame on receiving machines - EMS submitted the application last Friday – hoping within the next two weeks

Mr. Kinne:

  • Should you stay home if you have a headache?

Dr. Gupta:

  • Hard to answer but you will never be wrong to get tested – puts your mind at ease and do the safe practice

Mr. Kinne:

  • Have you looked at Taiwan?

Dr. Gupta:

  • No, but looked at China – success because of masks and disciplined communities
  • New Zealand is good example – people became very responsive to Prime Minister requests to stay home and wear masks
  • People get tired of wearing masks and want to get it over with – message has to remain we are still in a pandemic
  • Economics become a barrier - we have a market based system – people have to think about the cost
  • Insurance only covers if exposure – sad for a nation rich in resources
  • Very challenging times for everyone – because of a fractured system we will always see variations

Mr. Kinne:

  • Country of 23 million had 500 positive cases and 7 deaths -  never closed anything
  • Provided masks for everyone and sent emails to everyone about exposure
  • 99.9% are covered under health care

Dr. Gupta:

  • Other states are so different in the philosophy
  • Science does not differentiate - virus does not discriminate
  • China and Taiwan were chastised by wearing masks in US
  • People in other countries willingly provide information to keep others safe
  • Contact investigation – tracers get pushback as people do not want to share private information; sometimes have to subpoena both highly educated and those that do not understand
  • Distrust stays in people’s minds – public health does not share any information
  • COVID alert NY – find at the app store – would make a difference if 50% of people would download

Mr. Bush:

  • Ask for a written response regarding the email Eric Schepp, President of the Funeral Directors Association, sent to her department and copied the Committee

Dr. Gupta:

  • Mr. Schepp is known by the Vital Stats and Medical Examiner’s office
  • Dr. Revercomb, Chief Medical Examiner, has communicated with him in the past - a year ago
  • Claiming the body at any time of the day is literally impossible and disrupts workflow
  • There are established hours which include evenings, mid-day and morning hours
  • Dr. Revercomb discussed and resolved all his concerns
  • Upon receipt of email Dr. Gupta reached out and explained difficulties with the request to come any time of the day

Mr. Bush:

  • Email has to do with issuing burial permits and certifying copies of death certificates
  • Will provide a copy of the email to Dr. Gupta per Mrs. Abbott-Kenan’s request

Dr. Gupta:

  • Vital certificates and other concerns have been resolved directly with Mr. Schepp
  • Will provide a rebuttal in the next 24-48 hours
  • The date of email was September 16, 2020 according to Mr. Bush


        a.     INFORMATIONAL: Update - Mr. Damian Pratt, Director

  • Update since last six months - change in our behavior management system, large capital project and COVID
  • Responsible for County Youth Justice services – includes oversight of youth probation staff and subcontractors
  • Two confirmed COVID staff cases in April
  • Dr. Gupta and her department were very supportive through the process
  • Taking precautions – masks, screening questions, and temperature scans
  • All new residents have to wear a mask for 14 days per the Health department
  • Capital project on March 16, 2020 – only shut down for one day
  • Currently a 32 bed facility and expanding to 50 beds
  • Target completion date for the project is the fourth week in November
  • Phase one - admissions and eight beds for incoming patients – huge asset with COVID
  • Phase two (simultaneously) adding an additional five beds on two current housing units
  • Raise the Age has increased the age of the population
  • Modifications and upgrades to doors and hardware initially installed in 2005 - proposal for 39 new doors – 31 are complete - all should be complete by first week in November
  • Changes to behavior management system – currently utilizing Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (“TCI”) developed by Cornell University
  • Office of Children and Family services and State Commission on Corrections are two certified agencies
  • Changing what type of physical interventions are allowed - teach a different way of engagement
  • Training by January 1, 2021 – hoping to go live by April 1, 2021 which will be three months before State requirement
  • In response to Mrs. Abbott-Kenan’s question regarding the impact with courts being closed - did not see a change in volume in criminal cases
  • Family court still not doing appearances – arrests are down across the board
  • Also serve other counties so planned expansion is needed – revenue received helps balance the budget
  • March thru July did not take youth from other counties
  • Currently assess other counties COVID numbers prior to new client admittance
  • House more clients from Onondaga County than other counties

Mr. Kinne asked what Hillbrook charges other counties.


Mr. Pratt:

  • NYS Child and Family Services sets the rate and reimburses the County
  • Take quarterly expenses and divide by different pools of population – complex formula
  • NYS is six months behind on setting the rate
  • Rate is set through third quarter of 2019
  • Family rate pre 2018 was about $900 per day – exponentially higher now
  • Agreed to pull numbers/rates within the next few days
  • In response to Dr. Chase’s question about the age breakdown - today have 13 over the age of 16
  • Juvenile delinquents and offenders – within first 30 days may have cases removed from Family court
  • Stressed to State to allow Hillbrook to determine classification of youth based on age and maturity
  • Will provide age of current breakdown and past nine months
  • Primarily 16 year olds– not seeing as many 13-14 year olds

Dr. Chase asked if Mr. Pratt thinks it is because 12-14 year olds are involved in the mischief in the community but are not making it up Velasko Road?


Mr. Pratt:

  • We have reduced the time it takes to have first contact with Youth and Family Court
  • Probation officers have been amazing and remained in the field since COVID
  • Community concerned with youth with multiple offenses – such as murder 2 charges and robbery with a firearm
  • Youth Justice is focusing on areas with an increase in arrests
  • Discussions with Dr. Gupta continue about the medical model – probation writes prescriptions for unmet needs

Dr. Chase asked if there is anything you need from the Legislature.


Mr. Pratt:

  • Responded to Dr. Chase that Onondaga County is a blue print statewide for processes, and the strength revolves around collaboration including the Legislature

3.     VERA HOUSE: 

        a.     INFORMATIONAL:  Update – Randi Bregman, LMSW, Executive Director

  • Continue to provide emergency shelter and advocacy around sexual assault
  • World shut down but stay safe and stay home was not a reality for clients
  • Tried to figure out how to reach those that are in fear and harm
  • Shelters are essential services and continued to run 24/7
  • Early on two staff tested positive for COVID
  • Proud of the team at Vera House (“VH”) – shelter staff vs advocacy staff came together as a team
  • Silver lining - cross training of staff to maintain 24 hour help line
  • Skeleton crew of six to eight people maintained hotline through COVID
  • Set up chat function on the website – chats disappear within a few minutes - volunteers cover 8am-11pm 7 days a week
  • Struggled in the shelter with adequate number of rooms – have two shelters – one with 9 and one with 27 – small families have their own room – sometimes share which was not possible
  • Demand for domestic violence was up 30%
  • Call volume was not up 30% - but calls were unlike the calls over her 30 year tenure – increase level of distress
  • Personally works support line to keep grounded
  • Financial picture has brightened because of Payroll Protection Program – received a loan of almost $590,000 – expect to be forgiven
  • Two programs cut 15% by Onondaga County – Children who have experienced sexual abuse and Nonresidential domestic violence and elder abuse
  • Funding from State for 2021 is unknown
  • Impact of COVID has been disproportionate – poor people do not have same access
  • Moved therapists to zoom – HIPPA compliant plan within a week
  • Sought grants to help clients with limited funds to access hot spots and phones
  • Zoom enhanced accessibility with some groups – the older victims of domestic violence group benefitted – no transportation barriers - allowed socializing and better attendance for those isolated
  • Trying to provide therapy in person by building in distancing and masks
  • State law required Courts to provide emergency orders of protection during COVID
  • Produced a poster for food baskets and used social media to let people know about available services
  • In response to Mrs. Abbott-Kenan’s question on the impact on fundraising - greatly impacted – private donations have decreased, but still generous people out there shown by sending their stimulus checks to VH
  • White Ribbon Campaign which is promoted within the workplace was reduced by a third
  • Financially fine for 2020 – unknown funding for 2021 raises concerns – especially if there is a resurgence
  • In response to Ms. Cody’s question about the recent resignations from the Board - VH has been looking at different ways to reach out – recognizing people are unable to get services in the same way – anti racism work started three years ago with a strategic plan
  • Looking at origins of VH founded in 1977 based on women’s movement of the 70s – which did not always include the voices of black and brown women
  • After 1994, VH realized a lot of women that were arrested for defending themselves – primarily women of color
  • Committed to addressing some of the systemic racism that exists within VH
  • Encourage 21 day equitable challenge movement – 10 minute video and 8 minute podcast
  • Some Board members have been uncomfortable with systemic racism language
  • One board member resigned – current Board is 100% supportive with VH efforts

Mrs. Abbott-Kenan asked how the chat function is promoted and how many use it.


Ms. Bregman:

  • Media is important in continuing to promote this chat feature
  • Several hundred have used the service - very important means of reaching people
  • Challenge to staff from 8am to 11pm especially with the 24 hour hot line – hoping to use volunteers
  • In response to Dr. Chase’s inquiry –update on the lawyer that was hired a year ago - as of October 1, VH restructured, so no longer have the lawyer – subcontract two lawyers
  • Legal services are free and feedback is positive
  • Year three of a five year grant – Federal funding that comes through the State – guaranteed for the next three years



Mr. Kinne:

  • Express disappointment regarding an email that was sent to the Committee by a Legislator asking to put a subject on  the agenda and it was not– a taxpayer asked for something and we did not comply – the answer from the Executive of the department was a good answer but still feel it was a mistake not to let the group come before the Committee
  • Elected representatives should allow someone’s request to present

Mrs. Abbott-Kenan:

  • Respectfully agree to disagree – do not believe it was appropriate for this Committee – talked to Peggy and we both agree – and concerned with a potential conflict of interest with the Legislator that brought up the item
  • County Executive’s office did prepare a response – Dr. Gupta’s response will be helpful

Mr. Kinne For the record, “I’m not sure which year it was but there was a Legislator that was in the funeral business and that Legislator just had to excuse himself from the discussion/vote.  You have to trust that the Legislator would not create a conflict of interest”


A motion was made by Ms. Cody, seconded by Dr. Chase, to adjourn the meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:56 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature






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MEMBERS PRESENT:  Ms. Kuhn, Mr. Bush

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mrs. Tassone, Mrs. Ervin

ALSO ATTENDING:  Dr. Chase, Mr. McBride; please see attached


Chair Cody called the meeting to order at 10:37 a.m.  A motion was made by Ms. Kuhn, seconded by Mr. Bush to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


1.       DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION:  Marty Voss, Commissioner

          a.   Authorizing the Discontinuance of a Portion of Churchill Road, C.R. No. 246, in the Town of Spafford Pursuant to Section 131-b of the Highway Law and its Removal from the County Road System

  • Thank you to Legislator Abbott-Kenan for help in brokering understanding with DOT, NYSDEC and Spafford, setting up meetings and being instrumental to bring everyone to consensus; assertive to get things accomplished in her district
  • Started ~1 year ago; DEC put new boat launch on West Valley Road on Otsico Lake (did not have public access before)
  • Otisco Lake fishery fantastic; previously more private and now open to public; boat launch has been widely successful
  • Always aware of issues on West Valley and Churchill roads; crew sent in 2017 due to floods in southwest suburbs; spent better part of summer replacing southern end of West Valley and Sawmill to maintain access
  • This year repaved West Valley Road; what’s left is Churchill Road – seasonally used, very steep and dangerous road
  • Worked with DEC; came to realization they need to shut this down; used mostly by kids on motorbikes and 4 wheelers
  • No homes on Churchill Road except one camp on northern end; proposal today will not impact that camp; will maintain roadway past that property driveway
  • From driveway down, will put temporary permanent barrier saying road closed; at bottom of hill, there will be similar barrier saying no through traffic; ample room to get around on West Valley Road
  • Utilities only other interested parties - talked with Mr. Hooker; they own 90 acres north of Churchill Road; do not want to remove their access, but OCWA said they are trying to sell the parcel; not opposed
  • Other utilities are National Grid and Spectrum - both have polls; none are subterranean; would have access via West Valley Road; utility companies do not want to use Churchill Road
  • (i.e.) DEC about to open boat launch in middle or end of July; contractor has delivery of mulch coming, but guy not there for 4 hours; DEC calls company; GPS says he’s 1 mile away; truck was in ditch with full load of mulch, because GPS told him to use Churchill Road; driver trapped in vehicle for 4 hours and could not reach his cell phone
  • Fortunately no one seriously hurt; not safe road to be traveled
  • Plan to offer road to adjoining property owners for whatever Law Department feels is appropriate compensation
  • Has not been considered a highway in 20 years; last time tried paving was 20 years ago and paving truck got stuck
  • Resolution the cleanest way to do this and to make it safe for everyone
  • Next spring will put up steel barriers; if there’s a gate with lock, then will give keys to utilities

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

Mr. Voss thanked the committee and Legislator Abbott-Kenan for the help on this.


2.       DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION:  Brian Kelley, Acting Commissioner

          a.   Veteran’s Cemetery - Tour


Chair Cody stated they talked about field trips, and this location was on the list to see the beautiful work in the chapel. 


Mr. Kelley:

  • Thank you for coming to this beautiful new building; about a $650,000 renovation project
  • Most are familiar with what the old chapel looked like; great improvement and also décor; ribbon cutting yesterday
  • Veteran’s Advisory Board was here and instrumental to the project; they are thrilled about the building
  • Could not be prouder of the service that can be provided to the veterans
  • Project started and moved quickly; Facilities Department fantastic - Mr. Wixson and his team
  • Yesterday was the first group in after the ribbon cutting, and they were very happy with the new facility

Dr. Chase asked if this will only be used for funerals, or will it be open to veterans for meetings.  Mr. Kelley responded that it is a possibility and said the original intent was for services.  They now have a system online for reserving burials, so Mr. Kelley said they can see the schedule in advance.  With this new set up, if it is a veteran based gathering, they would be open to it.  


A motion was made by Ms. Kuhn, seconded by Mr. Bush, to adjourn the meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:51 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature






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MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. May, Mr. Rowley, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Jordan, Mrs. Ervin

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Williams 

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp, Ms. Kuhn, Mr. Kinne, Mr. Bush; also see attached


Chairman Burtis called the meeting to order at 9:40 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Ryan, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to waive the reading of the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Mr. Ryan to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED. 


1.     HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION:  Monica Williams, Chief Diversity Officer

        a.     Confirming Reappointment to the Onondaga County/Syracuse Commission on Human Rights

                (Mia G. Wade)

  • Recommending Mia Wade; comes with wealth of experience and knowledge; this is what is needed to get Ms. Wade on the Commission and get the Commission moving in the direction the local law requires

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



        a.     Reappointing Two Directors to the Onondaga County Tobacco Asset Securitization Corporation (Tim Burtis, Casey E. Jordan) (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)


Chairman Knapp:

  • Very important body; few years ago, with the help of Legislator Jordan and Mr. Morgan, they were able to save County couple million dollars with refinancing; very important to overall operation
  • Traditionally Chairman of Ways and Means is a member, but Legislator Jordan has offered to remain on the board

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



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


Chairman Knapp:

  • Very important organization in community; both Legislator Cody and Legislator Kuhn are doing great job on this board; recently voted on 4 new members including Mr. Durr; thanked him for stepping up to volunteer

Chairman Burtis stated he served on the board and found it very interesting.  They do good work.

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



        a.     Confirming Reappointments to the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District Board (Ken Bush, Jr., Julie Abbott-Kenan) (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)


Chairman Knapp:

  • All these appointments are usually done at end of year, but with budget and Dec. being busy, getting out of the way
  • Another great organization; important work for community
  • Both Legislator Bush and Legislator Abbott-Kenan serving for several years; doing great job and want to remain

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



        a.     Reappointing Michele L. Sardo as Republican Commissioner of Elections

        b.     Reappointing Dustin M. Czarny as Democratic Commissioner of Elections

                (Sponsored by Mrs. Ervin)


Chairman Burtis stated there will be no vote on either of these items. 


Chairman Knapp said both the County Democratic and Republican Committees have nominated these two individuals who are currently serving in these positions, and this will be brought up at session next week.



        a.     A Local Law Authorizing the County to Sublease Tower Space and Transmitter Building Space at a Limeledge Road Tower Site in Marcellus, NY to Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems (“VERIZON”)  (Sponsored by Mr. Ryan)


Mr. Ryan:

  • County owned cell tower; agreement for 5 years with Verizon; $23,000 charged to Verizon, with a 2% increase each year; one stipulation - half lease monies goes back to landowner; as written in previous agreement - FCC mandates
  • Tower on Limeledge Road in town of Marcellus

Chairman Knapp stated that Hanson Aggregates owns the property, and their agreement with the County calls for $10/month (or year), but they have never billed the County.  Appreciate Hanson letting the County use the site for E911.  This is a nice revenue generator for the County.


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


7.     HEALTH DEPARTMENT:  Steve Morgan, CFO

        a.     2020 Transfer Resolution

                From Account 641010 Reg. Employee Salaries to Account 694080 Prof. Services, $75,000

                (Sponsored by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan)

  • Ongoing issues with recruiting Pathologists in Medical Examiner’s Office; approach used previously to transfer surplus 101 into contractual services as result of position not filled; contractual pathology services to fill function

Chairman Burtis stated it is a zero net transfer to continue to support contract forensic pathology services.


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


8.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:  Frank Mento, Commissioner

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

                (Sponsored by Mr. Jordan)

  • Seeking resolution to call for a public hearing in connection with adoption of amended sewer rents
  • Commercial and industrial users measured on water consumption every year; units derived by that for revenue
  • Past year 125,000 gallons was 1 unit; this year suggesting to bring down to 120,000 gallons for 1 unit; end result is an increase of 2,600 – 2,700 units, or $1.2 – $1.3 mil revenue for WEP
  • Water usage down for commercial and industrial business during pandemic; trying to bring WEP back to neutral and be able to continue with budget in good way; public hearing to explore this - slated for Dec. 1st session

Mr. Rowley asked how water usage is measured, and how the units are provided to assessors to properly bill districts (i.e. car wash in Clay being under billed, but others are over billed).  Mr. Mento responded:

  • Every residential customer or user within sanitary district charged 1 unit; does not impact residential
  • Industrial and commercial users get water bills from OCWA, town of Dewitt, village of Baldwinsville or town of Clay, which are transferred to WEP; WEP calculates 125,000 gallons to 1 unit, then work with assessor to get on tax rolls
  • This year created internal task force to look at the over or under bill issues with all towns; evaluating and looking at how they categorize properties in terms of use - less intensive to more intensive; able to capture right reading and units
  • Finding some pluses and minuses of doing this; town of Clay has been vocal on this

Chairman Knapp asked what the County’s number is, and how does that compare to the national average.  Mr. Mento responded that on a national level it is between 70,000 – 85,000 being one unit for residential, as well as industrial and commercial.  This is an attempt to slowly bring the gallons down for more parody between residential and industrial or commercial users.  Mr. Mento restated that this does not impact residential users. 


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


9.     INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY:  Brian Donnelly, Deputy County Executive

        a.     Adopting Retention and Disposition Schedule for New York Local Government Records

  • New retention schedule for government records; 411 pages long; process of going through it; has to be adopted by the Legislature January 1st; put together matrix for departments
  • Impression that retention schedule is shorter, which would be good; Records Retention Officer is CIO Kevin Sexton

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


Mr. Rowley responded to Chairman Knapp that this does apply to the schools as well.



        a.     Standard Work Day


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


        b.     INFORMATIONAL:  Rescinding Resolution 77-330 and Disbanding of the Vehicle Use Review Board (VURB) and All It’s Powers (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)

        c.     INFORMATIONAL:  Establishing a Vehicle Purchase Policy for All County Departments (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)


Chairman Knapp:

  • VURB around for almost 30 years; original intent to oversee use of county vehicles and take home cars; over years it’s morphed into something different; got to point where it does not serve much function at all
  • Working on different solution; 10b to rescind the original resolution; 10c is instituting a new policy; still working on with administration; not looking to change power structure
  • Want to fulfil oversight responsibility and let various departments do what they need to do
  • Between now and next month’s Ways and Means committee, should have something to move forward

Mr. Ryan:

  • Policy speaks to summary of take home vehicles; previous Comptroller’s Office did a comprehensive audit by request of Legislature and sent information gathered reference take home vehicles
  • Resolution says 30th day of June annually to report take home - maybe do twice a year; do not want redundancy; can work with Comptroller to get audit and take home report; think it is important
  • Not questioning or micromanaging, but Legislature needs to have – maybe twice a year

Chairman Knapp said everything is on the table.


11.   MISC.:

        a.     Providing Continuous Individual and Family Dental and Health Insurance Benefits through December 31, 2021, at County Expense for those County Officers and Employees During Their Active Military Duty (Sponsored by Mr. McBride)

        b.     Authorizing Onondaga County to Pay the Difference in Pay Between Military Base Pay and Base County Salary to County Officers and Employees while Performing Ordered Military Duty (Sponsored by Mr. McBride)


Chairman Knapp:

  • Both items are very small ways to try and help support members of the military reserves that may be county employees; it makes sure they are not being punished financially, or in a health insurance standpoint, by serving our country

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve items 11a and 11b.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


12.   PERSONNEL:  Mary Beth Primo, Deputy County Executive Physical Services; Brian Kelley, Acting Commissioner

        a.     Confirming Appointment of Brian Kelley as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation      


Ms. Primo:

  • Pleasure to be here to talk about County Executive’s appointment of Brian Kelley to serve as Commissioner of Onondaga County Parks
  • Mr. Kelley has been a County Parks employee for over 18 years; starting as a Recreation Supervisor, then moving up the ranks until he was appointed as Deputy Commissioner of Parks in January
  • Couple months after, Mr. Kelley in thick of pandemic; worked closely with administration and staff to continue to make parks available for community; operated in safe manner; many adjustments went into doing that
  • Mr. Kelley has done a fantastic job; wonderful relationship with staff; good relationship with public; knows how to interact with public; earned respect of County Executive and myself; urge confirmation of appointment

Mr. Kelley thanked everyone and said he has worked together with many of those present, and he looks forward to working with those he has not yet worked with.  This has been his career goal, and his degrees are in this as well.  Mr. Kelley believes the County has a unique Parks Department for the size of the area, which provides wonderful opportunities for the community.  Mr. Kelley said he and the staff work hard and are dedicated.


Chairman Knapp:

  • Known Brian Kelley for many years; very excited when resolution came down at the end of last week
  • For many years Brian Kelley ran parks in 12th district including Highland Forest, Pratt’s Falls and Jamesville Beach
  • Ran 6 parks at one time, when job description was to run 1; he has developed a great relationship with constituents; Veterans Chapel under Mr. Kelley’s watch; did wonderful job; Veterans very happy with it, including Gordy Lane

Mr. May requested to be added as a cosponsor.


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


13.   OFFICE OF DIVERSITY & INCLUSION:  Monica Williams, Chief Diversity Officer; Montanette Murphy, Human Rights Specialist; Amir Gethers, Contract Compliance Officer

        a.     INFORMATIONAL:  Update


Ms. Williams:

  • Working well within austerity budget; nothing foreseen going over; difficult being down a staff member; quite challenging, but able to get job done; do not see anything on the horizon that would go outside current budget
  • Currently working with team and Undersheriff Jason Cassalia in regards to coming up with training due to the Governor’s Executive Order 203; collaborative effort; making great strides there
  • Training for current staff, as well as oncoming staff, or those potential to be on staff
  • Police Chief Winn from Camillus reached out; met with last week in regards to same thing; he wants to develop training on Executive Order, and make sure they are doing things correctly; also what they can do better
  • Had backlog of cases from Justice Center Oversight Committee (JCOC) – glad to report they are now current; worked very hard to get there
  • Challenge to date is Human Rights Commission - previous administrator no longer there, which gave opportunity to look at their functions, what they could be doing better and what things local law requires; they will continue to do work for community that they are supposed to do

Mr. Rowley asked how the Contract Compliance Officer plugs into contracts.  Mr. Gethers said that the contracts they have with MWBE (Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises) are conjoined with Purchasing as well as the Office of Diversity.  Mr. Gethers explained that the Contract Enforcement Officer, Herman Howard, and the Contract Compliance Officer, himself, were in the Purchasing Department before being moved to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.  Mr. Rowley asked if there is a waiver process if people cannot meet the requirements, and Mr. Gethers’ responded that if they cannot find a way to meet the state requirements, there is a good faith effort that allows the vendor (or contractor) to post a publication in various media to look for the help.  If they have tried, but failed to find help, then a waiver is supplied to allow them to work on the contract.


Mr. Ryan thanked Ms. Williams for the work with the JCOC.  It is a really important commission that does great work, and it is a collaborative effort with the department, Marissa Mims and Chief Gonzalez.  There were a couple years with backlogs to get through, but the impression is that they are moving forward.  


Ms. Williams wanted to mention their part-time Compliance Officer, Mr. Herman Howard, who is phenomenal.


Mrs. Ervin thanked Ms. Williams and her department for coming in.  Mrs. Ervin asked if Mr. Howard will be staying on, or if he will be replaced.  Ms. Williams responded that he did retire, and he will be staying on part-time through part of next year.  Mrs. Ervin asked if they will be filling the vacancy on Human Rights, and Ms. Williams replied yes.  It is challenging at times, but the team is working collectively to get the job done.  She understands, and they will do the work.


Chairman Knapp echoed what Mr. Ryan said and stated that Ms. Williams and her team are doing a great job.  When the entire department budget is staff, there is not much that can be done.  


14.   DIVISION OF PURCHASE:  Daniel Hammer, Director

        a.     INFORMATIONAL:  Update

  • Operations and processing things has been smooth; almost all operations on PeopleSoft, whether staff at work or home, they are seeing same screens; smooth transition
  • Public bids – set up YouTube channel for public bids to be recorded and broadcast on the internet; no transition when had to go digital, because already set up
  • Biggest challenge was supply chain disruption - supplies not there, price changes and fluctuations
  • Austerity and staffing – down 3 buyers (2 took ERI and 1 previous retirement not filled); 1 voluntary furlough
  • Operating at basic core function; slow, but not bending on compliance; would like to build back up as soon as possible

Chairman Knapp thanked Mr. Hammer for his efforts and asked him to talk about tracking down PPE.  Is it any better now?  Mr. Hammer replied:

  • COVID affected all departments; tons of pressure to meet needs of public; started daily meetings with Emergency Management right away on site, then offsite had conference calls to make sure they were getting what needed
  • Thank you to staff working nights and weekends; certainly challenging; great guidance from Mr. Donnelly
  • Never going to pay for anything until they received it (lots of pressure to do that); made sure to receive and inspect all goods to ensure quality before paying; no bending on payment terms

Chairman Knapp said the past several years the Legislature authorized modernizations with electronic bidding and asked if they have utilized those during the pandemic.  Mr. Hammer answered: 

  • Everything that they have done the past few years has helped the department; very much set up for this environment
  • Vendors can submit bids online; almost entirely digital; purchase orders coming in digitally; every record is in PeopleSoft; broadcasting bids online; do not have to print contracts, can do electronically through system; good situation

Chairman Knapp stated that Mr. Hammer and his team have done an outstanding job.  Looking at other counties, the work Onondaga County did to secure PPE for nursing homes, fire departments, hospitals and farms was great. Thank you.


A motion was made by Mr. Ryan, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to adjourn the meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:23 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Onondaga County Legislature




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