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Meeting Minutes Return to Committee
Meeting Minutes
Office of the Onondaga County Legislature
Court House, Room 407 * 401 Montgomery Street * Syracuse, New York 13202
(315) 435-2070 Fax: (315) 435-8434

DEBORAH L. MATURO
Clerk
J. RYAN McMAHON, II
Chairman
KATHERINE FRENCH
Deputy Clerk

 

FISCAL WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE – DECEMBER 2, 2014
DAVID KNAPP, CHAIRMAN

 

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COUNTY FACILITIES COMMITTEE MINUTES - DECEMBER 10, 2014

JUDITH A. TASSONE, CHAIR

 

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Dougherty

ALSO PRESENT:  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. Ryan to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED

 

1.     TRANSPORTATIONBrian Donnelly, Commissioner

        a.     Amending Resolution No. 018-2006 by Increasing the Authorization to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs by $104,500 for the Design (Scoping I-VI) and Right-of-Way Incidentals of the Velasko Road Reconstruction Project, PIN 3753.29 ($104,500)

 

  • On all three projects, increased scope on County end to accommodate additional factors for design
  • Velasko Rd. – repaving project between Glenwood in City of Syracuse and Rt. 173 in Town of Onondaga
  • State asked them to look at more on preservation basis; re-scoped intersection, and reduced what doing
  • Also had to address other concerns; do additional tree cutting; take some additional right of way for drainage
  • Split on design originally 90/10; but looked at it the way the state wanted, from preservation, kicked in 5% on design
  • Cost going up, but costing County less - total was $38,000 for local share, brought down to $23,000; savings $14,500

 

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

 

Mr. Ryan commented that the project looks really good.  When traveling Velasko Road down the big hill before Glenwood, will DOT put in a guardrail on the last part where there is a little subdivision?  Mr. Donnelly commented that they put in additional drainage.  Mr. Rauber responded that they widened the road and put a ditch in; it does not require a guardrail.  Mr. Ryan said going uphill on the right by the golf course there is a guardrail, and when going downhill there is a pretty significant ditch.  If someone goes off the road, it could be bad; probably a six or seven foot dip down.  Mr. Donnelly commented that they can send someone out to look at it, take measurements, and see if it warrants a rail.  They will make sure it is within the realms for reasonableness with or without rail. 

 

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

 

        b.     Amending Resolution No. 457-2011 by Increasing the Authorization to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal Aid Eligible Costs by $32,000 for the Design (Scoping I-VI) and Right-of-Way Incidentals of Old Liverpool Road Safety Project, PIN 3754.66 ($32,000)

 

  • Old Liverpool Road safety project; remove current slip ramp on Old Liverpool that goes to northbound Electronics Pkwy; high accident location; project originally just to remove slip ramp

 

*Mr. Shepard arrived at the meeting.

 

Mrs. Rapp asked what a slip ramp is.  Mr. Donnelly said it is an area that comes up, and is not controlled by a signal.  Because of the signalized intersection, there is traffic coming in with just a yield, which causes a weaving pattern to get to the right.  They will be taking out the slip ramp.  One thing that was not scoped for in the project was pedestrian accommodations, so they re-scoped the design to include this.  Mrs. Rapp asked if that means sidewalks.  Mr. Donnelly responded no, but it does mean crosswalks and pedestrian signals.

 

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

 

        c.     Amending Resolution No. 457-2011 by Increasing the Authorization to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal Aid Eligible Costs by $40,000 for the Design (Scoping I-VI) and Right-of-Way Incidentals of Jordan Road Bridge over Skaneateles Creek Project, PIN 375477 ($40,000)

 

  • Town of Skaneateles - replacing Jordan Road Bridge over Skaneateles Creek; pedestrian issue; bridge to be closed between 3 - 4 months
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHA) asked DOT to look at pedestrian accommodations during construction
  • There are some pedestrians walking in the area; unfortunately, because over creek, it would have been expensive to cantilever a sidewalk off the side of the bridge during construction
  • Coincidentally, 10’ away from bridge is an old rail line DOT planned on removing during construction because abutments of bridge would have caused problems
  • Because of need for pedestrian accommodation, will rehab small bridge to accommodate construction
  • Town of Skaneateles ecstatic, because it will connect a trail system they have, allowing them to get over the creek
  • Not a Taj Mahal of pathways, but it will be passable and safe, and the town can do more later if they want

Mr. Donnelly replied to Chair Tassone that CSX abandoned the rail line to the town years ago. 

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if there was a federal rebate.  Mr. Donnelly replied yes.  They were able to increase the scope on all of the projects because there was additional federal aid available.  Mrs. Rapp asked if DOT was receiving the same extra five percent.  Mr. Donnelly responded no; these are both 80/20 splits.  Mr. Donnelly would like to be able explain why the state kicks in on design projects, when in general they do not.  The NYSDOT may have been in a situation at the end of their fiscal period making a determination of whether or not they have expended their Marchiselli funding.  If they have not, they look for projects that are eligible and ready to go, and will attribute in that situation.  Mr. Donnelly replied to Mrs. Rapp that it is more spending, it has already been appropriated, and it is under federal funding (so they get additional federal funding for it).

 

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

 

2.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARYSusan Mitchell, Executive Director

        a.                   Create R.P. 01-406510 7619 Administrative Assistant Grade 9 $44,522-$49,246 effective January 1, 2015

                Abolish R.P. 01-406510 7229, Grade 7 $37,685-$41,650, upon completion of the probationary period by an incumbent of the newly created title, Administrative Assistant

 

  • Effort to retain person in position; been on promotion list and offered other positions; library going through transition as they consolidate departments; budget, personnel and facilities departments are being consolidated
  • Budget position open; need to create new title between budget and personnel; personnel administrator retiring in a few months
  • Need to retain Gail who is probably the only other one that knows all deadlines for state mandated reports, etc.
  • Does fantastic job; has been working for a title that she does more work than title requires

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if she was talking about leaving.  Ms. Mitchell responded that she was offered another position, and wants to move on to the next level.  She would prefer to stay in the Library, and was willing to turn the position down to allow Ms. Mitchell to try to change the position; otherwise she will move on to another position if she is offered.  She does qualify for that position. 

 

Mr. Ryan asked for an estimate of how much work she performs out of title.  Ms. Mitchell answered quite a bit.  Gail does a lot of work on behalf of the Library Board in terms of resolutions that go forward to the board, and she took on work with the finances.  With the budget consolidation, the budget office cannot and should not be managing the board funds, so some of that work was shifted to her.  Ms. Mitchell responded to Chair Tassone that they did review the duties that were submitted, and felt the grade 9 position was accurate.  Mrs. Rapp said they are losing top staff, and Ms. Mitchell agreed.  Ms. Mitchell said Gail does a fantastic job, and she spoke with the administrative team about it before coming forward.  The consent was to retain her, and that she was working at a level higher than what she was being paid for.  Mrs. Rapp asked what it means for their budget.  Ms. Mitchell replied it would mean a $3,000 increase on January first.  They can leave some positions open longer to make it work.  Also some people will be retiring out of positions at a much higher rate of pay because they were working for twenty years or more.  Ms. Mitchell does not see this as a problem.

 

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

 

3.     PARKS AND RECREATION:  Bill Fisher, Deputy County Executive; Nate Stevens, Administrator

        a.     Providing for a Facility Use Fee to be Imposed on Tickets for Events at the NBT Bank Stadium, and Establishing a Project Account to Fund Stadium Improvements and Repairs ($949,000)

 

Mr. Fisher:

  • Chiefs only tenant at NBT Bank Stadium; completed 3rd year of lease; Legislature approved lease almost 3 years ago
  • Amended it once; had extension with option to buy; 2nd amendment to consider
  • Explain piece of lease approved, and how it works; lease has rent of $130,000 (or so); been paying monthly; first didn’t pay monthly, got into debt with County, and far behind; digging out from past due debt
  • Also owed money when switched over to new lease; National Grid bill switched from County to baseball club; 1st quarter the County paid, and they didn’t pay back at first
  • They’ve been working down the rent for the last year, keeping current on the new rent, and making steady payments
  • Recently paid off everything including past due rent, past due utilities; current on rent
  • May have seen in news reports, they reported revenue increase of more than 50%
  • 2013 baseball season generated revenues of less than $2 mil; 2014 more than $3 mil in revenues; one million increase is greater than 50% increase in top line revenues in one year; best the Chiefs have ever had; good story
  • Balances Park’s budget when people pay revenues forecast; can’t balance without
  • Pleased with progress, but they are not out of the woods; lost money; last year lost over $1 mil; this year lost $300,000; shrinking with more than 50% gain in revenue; great sign, but businesses can’t lose money

Mrs. Rapp asked if they have a fund balance.  Mr. Fisher responded they do not have a lot of working capital.  Syracuse First loaned them $500,000, because banks will not loan them; they are not credit worthy.  Investors loaned $500,000 in addition to revenue, which reduced their loss.  Mr. Fisher stated they had other debt.  The International League was very upset with the Syracuse Chiefs, because they have baseball related debt.  If they owe the County, it is considered baseball related debt.  To remain a franchise, they cannot have any baseball related debt.  There are some small payments that go to the league.  Mr. Fisher responded to Mrs. Rapp that they are current, but it is not only the County Legislature and the Parks Department pushing to remain current with the County; it is also the International League.  They cannot continue to be a franchise if they do pay the County rent.  Chair Tassone asked if they pay the International League a fee.  Mr. Fisher said yes, there is a small fee.  The players are provided by Washington Nationals.  The Chiefs brought in about $3 million and spent about $3.3 million.  That’s one baseball player in the major league on average.  If they had to bear the cost of the employees, they would never survive.  The players are on Washington’s payroll, and there are fees that go to the International League. 

 

Mr. Fisher: 

  • Making tremendous progress; Jason Smorol was hired as the General Manager; has done great work in Auburn with Double Days, and has done terrific things here
  • In lease have opportunity to give list of capital projects they would like the County to do; County doesn’t wait for them to give list if roof caving in, because that will come to Legislature directly; passed Dec. 2nd to fix roof
  • Still own property – have to keep structure and major energy systems going; as tenants, the Chiefs need to say what needs to be repaired and improved; our obligation is to come back to them with response; County sole discretion
  • Came to County in summer with list of projects; Chiefs said the projects designed to be revenue generating, so if they can get them, then revenue could go from $3 to $3.5; they would break even or make profit
  • Only way to keep AAA baseball in Syracuse is to have viable club; cannot have them financially going out of business and still play in stadium; there are 8 years left in lease, and would like to see the Chiefs there for those 8 years
  • In 8 years, the Legislature and County Executive will figure out what the County should do - extend the lease, put more repairs in stadium, build a new stadium; stadium currently in good shape
  • Roof going to cost money over the years; cannot anticipate other major capital expenses that will result, but as owner need to be aware will going to pay significant dollars; still putting $300,000/year in budget for NBT
  • Used to be $800,000; Jim Rhinehart, during tenure at Legislature, demanded a way to reduce spending on stadium by $500,000; new lease and changes put in place by Mr. Lansley accomplished that; balance with $300,000/yr
  • Could be a year when something big happens and have to repair things
  • In lease, rent has portion that says $25,000 is taken out for infrastructure fund; in lease approved, $25,000 already in hand to go to HVAC system for offices; approved and signed
  • Also in lease, County’s responsibility to respond by Oct 31st with proposal in response to list; Chiefs supposed to give list in April but in April, not current on rent; wisely didn’t ask County to spend money; August catching up and gave list

 

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  • Lease says Chiefs can give list; County has to respond but County doesn’t have to do; doesn’t say how to pay
  • Will talk about what the Executive’s Office would like the response to be and how they propose to pay for it
  • Good news - no tax dollars or budget change; propose to fund some out of the projects out of their own revenues not County property tax or sales tax

Mr. Fisher stated the first project is the Hank Sauer room, where they would like to create multiple function decks.  The Hank Sauer room is used for events, and the Chiefs believe they are leaving money on the table.  They have gone to other AAA baseball, and there is a lot more money generated by groups who want to rent space for parties.  The Chiefs want to build a patio off the Hank Sauer room, and take out some seats.  They do not sell the stadium out (and there are too many seats there), so they will take out about three hundred seats to build a walk out area, which will be sectioned off so only those renting can get to it.  The Chiefs think they can generate a significant amount of revenue.  Mrs. Rapp asked if it would be covered.  Mr. Fisher responded the outdoor part would not, but the Hank Sauer room would be.  There will be doors on the front they can walk out onto the patio, and back into the room.  They have done projections, and feel this will be a significant money maker.  Mrs. Rapp asked if there will be tables, and Mr. Fisher said yes.  Mrs. Rapp asked about umbrellas.  Mr. Fisher said the Chiefs hired a firm for the design, and are proposing the County spends $755,400 on the improvement.

 

Chair Tassone stated the Hank Sauer room currently holds one hundred people, and the proposal shows three hundred to five hundred.  Chair Tassone asked where they will have room for all of that.  Mr. Fisher guesses that it will be the removal of the seats, because the seats accommodate three hundred sitting down.  There will be room inside for one hundred, and the seats accommodated three hundred people, so maybe there’s more standing room.  Mr. Fisher thinks the Chiefs did their homework and hired a reputable design firm, so he trusts three hundred to five hundred people could fit (the Hank Sauer room seating one hundred and the seating area that accommodated three hundred).  They are asking for $755,000 for that capital improvement.

 

Mr. Fisher continued:

  • Next would be premium seating area on 3rd baseline; not covered space; in other AAA there are VIP areas - can charge extra amount per ticket; they can charge $50/ticket which includes all you can eat and drink
  • There are also high end fan experiences; proposing put $420,000 into hospitality railing, four top tables and chairs
  • Charge extra money - third baseline not many people down there; provide good amenities, then people will come
  • $10,000 to remove seats for third base project; also Picnic Party Deck, Family Fun Zone in right field stands
  • Chiefs asking for $1,285,400
  • Started to talk with Chiefs, Finance and Parks; how can the County approve the finances
  • First thing they believe Legislator Holmquist came up with in 2007 which are use facilities fees; seen at War memorial; small facility fee on ticket, then County generates significant dollars to reinvest in things like a scoreboard
  • Chiefs agreed to impose facility fee; not the upcoming season; work in progress with fans; fee on last seven years of lease beginning in 2016 – 2022; facility fee on tickets should generate $107,000 per year

 

Mrs. Rapp asked how much they were thinking.  Mr. Fisher said it would average less than a buck.  Paid tickets this year reported were in the neighborhood of $200,000, or $160,000.  Mr. Fisher responded to Mrs. Rapp that it would be fifty, sixty or seventy-five cents; somewhere in that range.  Maybe a higher price for game tickets versus season tickets, but that will be their job to figure out.  It is the same with the County’s facility.  Mrs. Rapp asked if it was a standard amount.  Mr. Fisher replied no.  They work with the Symphony or the Crunch, and try to figure out what they will need, then work backwards. 

 

Mr. Fisher stated the facility use fee will generate $107,000 per year, so if they do that for seven years, then that will be $749,000.  Mr. Fisher mentioned previously about the $25,000 in the lease already, and the money that was already there for the HVAC system.  The Chiefs agreed they will not do that because it will not generate any money, so there is $25,000 sitting there.  The Executive Office is also proposing that the $25,000 that comes in as rent fees (and is put aside for infrastructure) for the next eight years, is put towards these projects.  There will be $749,000 in facilities fees, and $200,000 in rent.  The $25,000 is deducted from rent over the next eight years, so the County would front the money, and the Chiefs would pay back through rent.  It is rent dollars and facility use fees, and there are no appropriations of local dollars.

 

Mr. Ryan does not want to see the price of tickets go through the roof, and the $107,000 seems low.  Mr. Ryan thinks the County will be on the hook for more than that.  It would be nice if the Chiefs could sustain that, and not come back to the County, but that is not going to happen.  Mr. Fisher said they suspect that, and said there will be County dollars that have to go into the budget every year.  Mr. Fisher stated that today there is a roof that needs fixing, and the County is the landlord so they have to fix it.  There is no way to look to the club for any assistance with that.  The County does not share in any of the revenues there.  The idea is straightforward.  The Chiefs have identified projects to generate revenue, and improve the fan experience.  It will make it more fun for large groups, and those that want to pay for a premium ticket to come to the ballpark.  They will retain that revenue except for the facility use fees.  The Chiefs agreed if there was any more than $107,000 per year, then it will go into the new account the County is going to set up.  It will be used to fund the list, and will be the source to do the capital repairs or improvements requested.  Mr. Ryan asked if the Chiefs were using some of their revenue for this.  Mr. Fisher responded that they are not proposing to fund the full amount.  They asked for $1.285 million, and what Mr. Fisher described totals $974,000.  Mr. Fisher replied to Mrs. Stanczyk that there is $25,000 already there; $949,000 plus $25,000 is $974,000 total.  Mrs. Stanczyk stated the resolution reflects $949,000.  Mr. Fisher said they do not have to move any money because it is already there.  When the Chiefs make the rent payments, the County takes $25,000 out and puts it into an account.  That is already sitting there, so all they need is the $949,000.  There’s $309,000 that is not funded.  This means they cannot complete the third base project, so the Chiefs will have to find the rest of the money; which they cannot do before opening day.  Mr. Fisher said the Executive’s Office is proposing to fund the Hank Sauer room at the $755,000, and if it makes sense to remove the third base seats now, do the $10,000.  They would also propose to do the Picnic Party Deck and Family Fun Zone out of this, and try to get the Hank Sauer project and picnic project done before opening day. 

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if the County will continue the $300,000 budgeting (i.e. fence falls down).  Mr. Fisher responded yes, and said the County budgets based on the lease.  On the lease, the County used to pay for the grounds keeper, supplies, chemicals, and all kinds of things.  This has been scaled back ($500,000 reduction), but still have obligations from the lease that cost money.  Mr. Fisher thinks the County is at a pretty steady state on costs of what it is to carry out the lease, and it is unlikely the budget will go down anytime soon.  Mrs. Rapp said the money cannot be used for these projects.  Mr. Fisher said correct. 

 

Mr. Shepard said if the County sets the money aside, and it takes the Chiefs time to cover the gap, then the revenue trend goes the other way, will the County be able to back track.  Mr. Fisher responded they would have to talk to them about changing the lease, and unless they are real bad business people, they will not do that.  The next lease is in eight years, so that will be the next opportunity to change it (if they are starting to do really well).  Realistically the County is in the lease for eight years, and it will be hard to change it.  They have reduced the spending more than half.  Mr. Shepard asked if there was a way to set the money aside without obligating the County in the lease.  This way the Chiefs can go out and look for the other $300,000, since the County’s portion is set aside.  Mr. Fisher responded that the County is not giving them the money, the County is hanging on to the money.  Mr. Shepard said the County is obligated to spend it.  Mr. Fisher said no.  Mrs. Rapp said if the Legislature goes forward with this, and it is done by opening day, then the County has committed the money without getting any club fees.  The County is committed.  Mr. Fisher commented that the County is not committed to the third base project.  Mrs. Rapp said not that project, but the $750,000, and Mr. Fisher agreed.  Mr. Fisher said the lease says the County gives the Chiefs a list of what the County will undertake, and the County will have to give them a tentative schedule of when it will get done.  The Chiefs seem optimistic that they can get it done by opening day. 

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if the Chiefs think the return will be better with the Hank Sauer room versus the third base project.  Mr. Fisher answered that they are optimistic that both will be money makers.  The Chiefs did their homework by going to other AAA ballparks to see how party areas (like the one they will have) performed, and got the numbers.  They looked at the VIP areas, and got the numbers.  The board stepped up, and got people like Jack Webb (President of Alliance Bank who sold to NBT Bank) on their executive committee.  They are very good with plans, numbers and found a way to stabilize the ball club; which is based on revenue.  The Chiefs are not asking the County to reduce the rent.  They are asking for a difference in the timing of the rent.  They currently pay a monthly rent, and they are asking to wait until the baseball season; then double up the rent.  From April through September they would pay twice as much, so they would not pay from October through March when cash is tight.  It is the same amount of rent, but it would change from twelve payments to six payments. 

 

Mrs. Rapp said it is half as much outlay for the third base thing, and asked if the Chiefs anticipate twice as much revenue from the other.  Mr. Fisher responded that they see more revenue from the Hank Sauer room.  They can sell one group at a time (i.e. 250 people from one company to use the Hank Sauer room on a certain date), and the sale is closed.  The VIP area might take some time to build.  They would need another winning team, and people would need to get more excited about baseball (like the Crunch); then they can upsell the tickets.  There would be two or four tickets at a time.  They have to watch their dollars, and seem to know what they are doing.  They have a track record of a fifty percent increase in revenue in the first year under new management.  The County Executive’s feeling is that they are not asking the Legislature to take property tax dollars or sales tax dollars.  This is for rent that they will pay in the future, and facility use fees that they will agree to put on their tickets.  It’s essentially coming from the revenues they are generating, not revenues the County is taxing for. 

 

Mr. Ryan said when the County negotiated the agreement, the Chiefs had to have an x amount of community use projects.  Mr. Ryan asked if Mr. Fisher could speak to that, and if it’s generating revenue.  Is it good, bad or indifferent?  Mr. Fisher responded that it seems to be successful.  The County and the ballpark collaborate on dates when the events can happen.  The Chiefs have scheduled them all so far, and Mr. Fisher does not think the County has used it.  Community use events are for things they do not charge rent for, and they have to make thirty days available to groups.  There are able to cover costs for labor or food, but they do not charge for rent.  There are thirty days available, and Mr. Fisher’s understanding is that they are well into the twenties in terms of dates used.  Mr. Ryan thinks they did come close to target this year.  Mr. Fisher commented that Parks has not had to do those anymore.  Parks used to take reservations, collect money and staffing for the community use events, but they do not do that anymore.  That expense is all on the Chiefs, and it is their responsibility to cover their costs.  Mrs. Rapp asked which events have been there.  Mr. Ryan said there were a bunch of different walks.  Mr. Fisher said Challenger Baseball, Pro Showcase for scouts come to town, high school baseball games, and maybe some college baseball games.  Mr. Ryan interjected that there are charity events.  Mrs. Rapp said it is a great model to keep investing in the business to move forward, and using revenues coming in should work. 

 

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

 

        b.     A Local Law Regarding the Lease of NBT Bank Stadium by the Community Baseball Club of Central New York, Inc.

 

Mr. Fisher stated they worked with Law and the Chairman of the Legislature to amend the lease.  Mr. Fisher then read through the numbered items on the lease that were amended.

 

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Mr. Fisher said (reference item number five) the money above the $107,000 will only go towards the improvements mentioned, and the County cannot spend it on operating.  It must go back in the stadium.  The County has to do that when facility use fees are instated.  Mrs. Berger said it can only be used for capital improvements.  Mr. Fisher said the project account is under the County’s control, and the Parks Commissioner will ensure it is only used on what it should be used for (same as SMG).  The terms are straightforward.  

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to approve this item. 

 

Mrs. Rapp stated if they charged a dollar, they could really start to generate some cash to the capital fund.  Mr. Fisher agreed, and said if there is other things they want to do, then they can ask the County.  They can ask to make an improvement that will boost revenue, and will pay for it with their revenue.

 

Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        c.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Make Room Occupancy Tax Funds Available in the Tourism Promotions Project Account ($35,000)

 

Mr. Stevens:

  • 2014 budget directed to produce a Fish Onondaga County website

 

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  • Responsive - website will adjust to the screen size appropriately; referenced competitor which is poorly formatted
  • Focused on making this improve lives of Onondaga County citizens and businesses; focus on connecting businesses and showcasing businesses that serve the fishing community; has grown quite a bit in Onondaga County
  • Can see all bodies of water, lists all marinas; put in Liverpool in hotel list - whole page of hotels; helping them
  • Oswego County does not do a whole lot for the hotels; want to focus on helping Onondaga County business
  • Excited and live on phone; go to fishonondagacounty.com

Mr. Stevens responded to Chair Tassone that the website became live in the last month.  Chair Tassone asked about doing the website for fishing.  Mr. Stevens replied that they have the Onondaga County Parks website which they’ve improved, and have seen a great response on making it more responsive.  They learned from that, and incorporated that into the fishonondagacounty.com website.  This is the first website County Parks has produced that is purely for the fishing industry.  Chair Tassone commented that a lot of people like to fish.  Mr. Stevens stated they are excited about it, and Onondaga County has one of the best bass fishing lakes in the world in Oneida Lake (which hosts tons of tournaments every year).  Every now and then there is an ESPN tournament launching from Oneida Shores County Park.  They come once a year, and it is all top bass fishermen from all over the world.  It is not just bass fisherman, but they also produce over seventy thousand rainbow, brook, and brown trout from the fish hatchery (where Parks stocks their streams with).  Mr. Stevens answered Chair Tassone that it is live. 

 

Chair Tassone asked what the $35,000 was for.  Mr. Stevens responded it is for the fishing website, improvements to the Parks website, and printed literature (scaled back to ensure what they are doing is relevant). 

 

Mr. Shepard asked who the contractor was that made the site.  Mr. Stevens believes their official title is Syracuse Design Group. 

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if the $35,000 is money that is already appropriated.  Mr. Stevens said yes.  It was appropriated in the 2014 budget in a contingent account.  Parks wanted to come back once they had a product to show.  Mrs. Rapp said they’ve been working on this for years, and she is excited to see it. 

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Mr. Shepard, to approve this item. 

 

Mr. Ryan asked if they can plug in any area to find a place to stay, and Mr. Stevens agreed.  Mr. Ryan asked if they can put in coordinates to find a spot.  Mr. Stevens replied they can put in any town or village and it will show the hotels and shops.  Parks is always looking for ideas.  They built the site to be very interactive, and this includes a fishing photo section.  People can send pictures, it goes through a review process, and will get posted to the website.  They have also discussed a hashtag for Fish Onondaga County on Twitter, so if fishermen are out on a Saturday, they can talk amongst themselves.  Searching this hashtag will show the most current updates and live tweets. 

 

Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 11:31 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

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Jamie M. McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

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PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MINUTES - DECEMBER 10, 2014

BRIAN MAY, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Jordan, Mr. Holmquist, Mr. Ryan

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Dougherty

ALSO PRESENT:  See attached list

 

Chairman May called the meeting to order at 12:07 PM.  A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to waive the reading of the proceedings of the previous committee and approve the minutes.  MOTION CARRIED. 

1.     SHERIFF:  Dick Carbery, Chief–Civil

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Homeland Security Funds for the 2014 Bomb Squad Initiative Grant Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($103,333)

 

Chief Carbery:

  • Funds split 4 ways:
  • $4k for equipment maintenance
  • $40k for purchase and replacement of rapid response vehicle, Chevy Tahoe – includes cost of vehicle and equipment for placing into service
  • $22,833k for training; bomb squad needs continuous training to maintain certification
  • $36,500 for quick deployable robot – virtual ball with camera, can be thrown into area of concern and see what is happening via the camera

In answer to Chairman May, Deputy. Eames said that the robot was an addition with a different purpose; more personal, looks at a situation to see what is going on.  The other robots are used for opening packages and things of that nature.  Chief Carbery added that the other robots are more like an actual robot itself.

 

Chairman May said that they have worked through the contingency strategy and have had some decent results this year, as far as overtime and things of that nature.  Through grant funding and these kinds of initiatives, they are picking up items that would otherwise be an expense to taxpayers.  He likes the fact that they are replacing a vehicle via the grant, which helps in many ways and probably provides an opportunity to get a vehicle better suited for the type of things they are doing.  Chief Carbery agreed.

 

Mr. Ryan asked if this was the same Tahoe that they were taking in on a federal asset seizure.  Deputy Eames said that he thought the asset seizure cars were a Cadillac and an SUV, but not a Tahoe.  Mr. Ryan said that the county share for asset seizure cars was much less than $40,000.  Chairman May said that his understanding was that those particular vehicles have other purposes that are less descriptive in their operation.  Mr. Ryan said that he asked this for clarification as this would have been a large increase over what was approved for those vehicles.  Chief Carbery said that it was totally different. Chairman May said that this was a straight up operational vehicle.

 

In answer to Chairman May, Chief Carbery confirmed that the vehicle will be outfitted to meet their needs within the $40,000 price.

 

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

        b.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Funds for the 2014 Tactical Team Grant Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($100,000)

 

Chief Carbery:

  • $1000k for SWAT body armor, 32 pieces, addition to normal body armor used by deputies on regular basis

In answer to Mr. Jordan, Deputy Eames said that the SWAT body armor provides a better level of protection; neck protection and additional arm protection compared to bull proof vests.  Chief Carbery confirmed that these funds would cover everyone on the SWAT unit.

 

Mr. Jordan asked what the members of the bomb and SWAT units do when not on specialized calls for their unit.  Chief Carbery said that they all have “day jobs” so to speak; patrol, detectives.

 

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

 

        c.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Funds for the 2014 Bullet Proof Vest Program ($37,614)

 

Chief Carbery:

  • NYS Attorney General funds used to replace a portion of bullet proof vest expiring soon 

In answer to Mr. Jordan, Ms. Fricano:

  • Funds half the costs for 88 vests; 50% match
  • 2015 budget allows for replacement of half the vests set to expire in 2015, approximately 113; additional 88 vests brings them closer to replacing all expiring vest
  • Sheriff requested stronger concentration of ballistic vests, which are exposed to elements as opposed to Corrections controlled environment

 

Chairman May asked if there were vests expiring on the Correction side as well.  Ms. Fricano said that 32 of the vest would be for the Correction’s side, 56 would be on the Police side.  On the Correction’s side, they are taking care of those that transport, which are also exposed to outside elements.  

 

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

 

The meeting was adjourned at 12:16 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Katherine French

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

* * *

PLANNING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MINUTES - DECEMBER 11, 2014

KATHLEEN A. RAPP, CHAIR

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Liedka, Mr. Plochocki

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Corl, Mr. Knapp

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

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

 

Chair Rapp took the agenda out of order.

 

2.     LANDMARK THEATREJim Albanese, Board President; Paula Deckman, Board Vice President; Thomas Kazmierczak III, Executive Director

        a.     INFORMATIONAL:  Budget Request - Jim Albanese, President

 

Chair Rapp said that there was a funding request from the Landmark during budget, which was to be paid out of 2014 residual room tax (ROT).  The Legislature decided to hold the request until they knew what the 2014 ROT balance was going to be.  Therefore, this was a good opportunity for Mr. Albanese to update the committee on the Landmark’s successes, challenges and most importantly, where they plan to go as they move forward.

 

Mr. Albanese:

  • Introduced Paula Deckman, Vice President - immediate pasted president, and CPA with Teston, Marshall & Discenzal; Thomas Kazmierczak, Executive Director - almost 2 years at Landmark, from historic theatre in Ohio, Buffalo native
  • Distributed landmark history (on file with Clerk)
  • Main question – why support this entity; held meeting of 200 representatives 1 year after stage expansion reopening, billed as “A Conversation with the Arts on Salina Street”, tracked Jersey Boys ticket sales, learned 14,100 plus tickets sold in tri-county CNY area, 13,000 tickets sold out of Canada, SU professor, Armory Square business owner and representative from SCVB spoke at meeting, professor said question is no longer can they afford to support not-for-profits but rather how can they afford not to support them
  • Everyone views non-for-profits as do-gooder’s with hands out, must realize many entities are economic engines, Landmark huge economic engine to downtown, CVB estimates $2.6M into local economy from Jersey Boys show, $103k local sales tax
  • One of 2 or 3 theatres in US with this kind of ambiance and Indo-Persian design; Thomas Lamb designed Landmark and over 300 others, wrote book about his designs, sited Landmark as the best, opened as the “cure-all, kill-all of theatres” - remains so today
  • Strongly committed to maintaining jewel and important community resource for future generations
  • Part of mission has changed, drawing new blood to the theatre, playing shows for younger generation; get same amazed reaction when anyone walks into the theatre for the first time, NYC Broadway shows can’t hold a candle to the Landmark
  • Has a passion for the Landmark, started as County Executive representative to the board under Nick Pirro, remained representative for 18 years, ran for regular board position once retired, been there since; president for past 18 months, putting in more hours than when he worked for the County, trying to get back up to speed, were offline 14 months minimum 2010-2011 for $16M stage expansion - pushed stage back and wings out, added dressing rooms, green room, all types of space touring Broadway shows need, now able to handle Miss Saigon with helicopter on stage
  • Upgrade required to exist, changed infrastructure to accommodate equipment, scenery, etc. for Broadway tours and larger concerts, backline space for some concerts unbelievable, plus instruments, risers and everything else necessary to put on shows; 18 dressing rooms, huge green room, a lot of office space for stage manager, production manager, lighting technician, etc., all need their own space, created wig room for wig redesigns; Beauty and the Beast here for tech end, rebuilt all performers wigs before going on road for 50 city tour
  • Need to keep theatre lit as much as possible, are above national and state median for sister theatres across the US
  • Support the Landmark because of payback they bring to the community, also a national historic treasure

Ms. Deckman:

  • Closed 2010-2011
  • 2012 gang buster yea - 3 week Jersey Boys run, 11 day Wicked run sold more tickets than Jersey Boys, very helpful financially 
  • Number of events decreased in 2013 - touring Broadway brings 2 longer run shows every other year, had 2 shows in 2012, only 1 week show in 2013
  • 2014 much better - 192 events projected threw year end, originally hoped for 200 nights per year minimum, aggressive but needed to pay their bills    

In answer to Chair Rapp, Ms. Deckman confirmed that this would mean lights were on four nights per week.  Mr. Kazmierczak added that they have been working diligently at this. 

 

Mr. Kazmierczak:

  • Landmark both a national and Syracuse treasure
  • Recently highlighted in New York Times, The Post and Playbill announcing theatre as perfect fit for Broadway tech ends; Beauty and the Beast used every inch of space, actors here 8 days or more, ate in restaurants, stayed in hotels, welcomed community members to see previews then publicly opened
  • Electricity, vibrancy and foot traffic on streets is what this is all about; newest approved board addition – becoming mini Time Square, keeping marquee lit, animate windows for holidays, worked with CVB to drive attention to the street even when closed; are anchor and big proponent of bringing people downtown

Mr. Albanese:

  • Tech ends occur with new touring shows or Broadway shows returning to touring, generally select theatre outside of NYC, bring in all technicians – lighting, sound, wardrobe, makeup, etc., plus talent and scenery, show takes over theatre from 1 to 6 weeks
  • Asked to put theatre on hold 4-6 weeks late 2015, show being developed, will occupy stage daily from 7 AM to midnight, fine-tune entire show for touring production;

In answer to Chair Rapp, Mr. Albanese confirmed that the production company rents the theatre, for the entire time, at a reduced rate.  Chair Rapp noted that they were not getting food and beverage.

  • End of rehearsal, generally go into full dress rehearsal, put on 1-5 actual shows, community benefits from show, then pack up and hit the road touring
  • Had as many as 12 tractor trailers load in for 1 show – scenery, customs, wigs, equipment, etc., all must come in and be unloaded; provides work for local IATSE Labor Union, most are part time positions, supports local economy

Chair Rapp asked what they see as their biggest challenge and what the plan was.  Mr. Albanese:

  • Over simplifying need to cut expenses and pump up revenue; priority on projects with immediate or significant payback
  • Setting debt and staffing aside, electricity large portion - theatre has rooftop unit operates exhaust air for entire auditorium, 40hp motor, original 1928 equipment, have repaired and fine-tuned, needs replacement, approximately $25,000 project; National Grid reviewed project, offers significant savings, estimate 12 - 14 month payback period, will replace as soon as funds are available
  • Over 4,400 interior light bulbs, energy company estimates savings to be over 834,000-kilowatt hours per year, significant project, takes time to plan replacement, each bulb has IP address, would allow them to cut their bottom-line and become more efficient    

In answer to Chair Rapp, Mr. Albanese said that requested funds would likely be earmarked for some of the savings projects mentioned.  This was where their focus was and where their priority was going to be.  Ms. Deckman reiterated that they need to reduce their expenses going forward.  

 

In answer to Mr. Liedka, Mr. Albanese confirmed that the light bulbs were older technology, which could be replaced with LED’s.  Mr. Liedka said that a local company replaced the lighting for the War Memorial.  Mr. Fisher said that Ephesus Technologies handled the lighting upgrade for the Ware Memorial.  Mr. Albanese said that there was a rebate for the bulbs, in addition to the savings.  Ms. Deckman said that the bubs have a 5-year life, 50,000-kilowatt hour guarantee.  Mr. Liedka said that he had a contact at Ephesus and could have them look at the project.  Mr. Albanese agreed, adding that they are at a very early stage.  They need to identify the funds first.  Chair Rapp said that the Legislature likes to fund one-time capital projects that are going to pay them back.  They become an investment. 

 

Mr. Albanese said that they will never be self-sufficient and will always need assistance beyond their normal operations.  They will always be seeking grants, working with foundations and looking toward government.  He asked that they view this as an investment as there was a payback.  Mr. Plochocki asked why he thought they would never be self-sufficient.  Mr. Albanese said that the venue was a very large piece of property and a lot that went along with it; utilities alone are phenomenal.  They have to turn on heat and air conditioning and will always have that huge nut.  Part of the problem is that they can put themselves out of the marketplace if they charge to high a rent.  Ms. Deckman said that the theatre is predominantly a rental house.  They started doing some self-production, but with self-production comes the ability for profit as well as losses that they cannot.  As a rental house, the rent is standard at $1,800 to $2,400, depending on whom they are dealing with and how long they will be there and based on operations the rental fees will never cover the expenses of the facility.  Mr. Kazmierczak added that research completed by the League of Historic American Theatres shows a high percentage of private sector and government run theatres have continual subsidies, whether membership or grants.

 

In answer to Chair Rapp, Mr. Kazmierczak said that they are excited to announce that they now have memberships, i.e. 3 people immediately joined after entering theatre for the first time last night.  They are currently pushing to get new memberships.  Ms. Deckman added that the people joining were downtown residents.  Mr. Albanese said that the theatre serves as support to the idea of revitalizing downtown, provides a very important venue and service to a growing number of residents.  As Mr. Kazmierczak mentioned, one wouldn’t imagine anyone going out last night, if they didn’t have to, yet they had people come to see “It’s a Wonderful Life”, which they could have probably seen at home.  It is an experience to see a movie on that size screen and in that theatre. 

 

Mr. Albanese distributed brochures (on file with Clerk) used for programs they are starting to roll out, i.e. naming opportunities, membership, corporate sponsorship, etc.  They are now embarking on a capital fundraising effort and have a committee in place.  Chair Rapp asked if they would use the funds to pay off the $16 million debt or for new projects.  Mr. Albanese responded that it would be a mix.  Ms. Deckman said that they no longer owe $16 million – are down to about $7 million.  Chair Rapp said that this was good to hear.

 

Mr. Kazmierczak:

  • There is a connection to beauty, within 14 days of entering building, people donate assisted listening device for Broadway shows - asked what theatre could use and donated device
  • Added theatre workshops, changing demographic and looking toward the feature; held 2 sold-out children’s theatre workshops, doing “Little Mermaid Jr.” summer of 2015, people already clamoring to join
  • Gala held on the 16th, traditional gala demographics, just under 200 attended with 50% 40 and under - unheard of for gala’s in Syracuse, a new energy

Mr. Albanese, Mr. Kazmierczak and Ms. Deckman:

  • Names of some performers and shows that appeared listed in background on cover and back of brochures – ask that they take time to review the names, may be surprised, i.e. Pavarotti - the history is unbelievable
  • Diversity of the theatre another item they bring to the community
  • Legislature always supportive of culture, arts and quality of life issues, ties into business locating here and best of the best talent residing here, important facet of economic development
  • Provides community with touring Broadway shows, major concerts, children’s theater programing, play readings, dinner theater, movies, proms, weddings, annual meeting spaces, i.e. AXA launched brand from theatre, televised in Paris, NY & here, over 800 people for dinner and meeting announcing brand change
  • Working with local hotels, many in Armory Square without banquet space, i.e. Jefferson Clinton Hotel – click on hotel website and Landmark banquet facility appear – directly working in partnership, huge change in view, very visionary

 

Chair Rapp suggested that they telecast the NCAA finals at the Landmark for those that cannot get seats at the dome.  Mr. Albanese said that they are currently working on that.  Ms. Deckman added that last year during a big game, they had 300 people in the Landmark watching the game and cheering their heads off.  Chair Rapp added that they also have the bar on site. 

 

In answer to Mr. Plochocki, Chair Rapp confirmed that they were asking for $50,000 from ROT.  Mr. Plochocki asked if there were other funds given beyond this.  Mr. Albanese said that they received approximately $24,000 as an authorized agency for the year.  Mr. Fisher said that during the budget process the Legislature took $50,000 from CNY Arts and directly appropriated it to the Landmark, so there is $50,000 already in the 2015 budget on top of the $24,000.  Mr. Albanese said that their operating budget was between $1.1 and $1.3 million, to give them an idea of scope.  In answer to Mr. Plochocki, Mr. Fisher said that over the last few years about $24,000 has gone through CNY Arts and been regranted to the Landmark.  Based on the County Executive’s 2014 budget $100,000 was proposed.  Allen Naples and Rob Simpson asked the County Executive to seek legislative approval for an additional $100,000 per year, for 5 years.  Allen Naples and Eric Mower agreed to lead a capital campaign, thought they could raise $100,000 - $150,000 per year and said that it would be helpful for the County to add $100,000 for the next 5 years.  The County Executive agreed to try to make this happen and in 2014, it did.  For 2015, the Legislature adopted the first $50,000 but chose not to act on the second $50,000.  Mr. Plochocki said that essentially the amount is $125,000.  Chair Rapp said that all of the funds were coming from ROT, as the Legislature gives ROT funds to CNY Arts for regranting.  

 

Mr. Plochocki asked if they anticipated their request to drop back down to about $25,000, after the next three years.  Mr. Albanese said he would be uncomfortable giving a rock-solid answer as he would like to see the result of some of the investments they are about to make.

 

Mr. Plochocki said that the Landmark is quite literally a landmark.  Aside from all the shows, there is an argument that if the building were empty and used only for tours, there would be value in that.  He and his family have been availing themselves of some of the shows each year, took his nephews to the music of video games and believes they loved the theatre even more than the show itself.  Mr. Albanese said that he could show them a direct quote from the meeting with 200 leaders in the community where an economics professor from SU said exactly what Mr. Plochocki just said, if the Landmark did not have even one show, it would still be a magnet for this community. 

 

Chair Rapp said that ROT money was supposed to be used to market the community, bring people in from outside and the Landmark is one of their more significant venues.  Mr. Albanese asked that they call if anyone had further questions.  Chair Rapp said that there would likely be a resolution coming forward for the January session but she wanted an opportunity to flush out who they are and what they are doing.

 

Mr. Albanese thanked the committee for the opportunity.

 

1.     GREATER SYRACUSE LAND BANK:  Katelyn Wright, Executive Director

        a.     Authorizing the Transfer of Tax Delinquent Properties to the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation

 

Ms. Wright:

  • Distributed Land Bank brochure (on file with Clerk) and the following letter:

Landbank Letter

  • Shorter list, many paid their taxes; 1 additional property added to resolution, expect board to authorize acquisition next Tuesday – vacant lot adjacent to property on Cold Springs Rd.
  • Land Bank bridge between public and private sector, mission - eliminate vacant and abandoned properties, acquire properties, make available to investors who develop in manner consistent with communities long-range plans
  • Board adopts goals each January, eager to expand services into towns and villages
  • Primarily acquire properties through municipal tax foreclosure, also accept donations, received many bank donations during past year

Chair Rapp asked if any of the donated property was located outside of the City.  Ms. Wright said that they were about to take one donation in Solvay.  To date everything donated by banks has been in the City, as they are more inclined to donate very low value foreclosed assets.  

 

  • Also receive private donations; always encourage those inheriting a home to try listing with real estate agent
  • Work to get property in hands of responsible people

 

Chair Rapp asked if these were the first properties outside of the City.  Ms. Wright:

  • Previously acquired 2 vacant lots in the Town of Geddes - conveyed to group for low income housing tax credit project affiliated with Saint Camillus, are applying for competitive tax credits, lengthy process, now assembled contiguous site for the project, makes them more competitive, construction has not begun
  • 1 in East Syracuse – conveyed to Housing Trust Fund run by Mr. DeMore for use of grant funds; mostly take properties and get into private investors hands to leverage private monies, occasionally get grants – received large grant from Office of the Attorney General - Mr. DeMore’s program, renovating 10 houses using those funds 

 

Mr. Liedka said that the home referenced in East Syracuse has been a huge transformation for the block.  The home sat idle and was in rough shape for a long time.  It now looks like a brand new house.  Chair Rapp said that they had seen pictures. 

  • County utilizes auction each year outside the City, eager to apply their process to tax foreclosed properties - don’t auction properties to get them into productive use, list with real estate agents and have application on website, applicant must supply information on experience and qualifications, most properties are fixer-uppers, ensures construction experience or are hiring licensed contractors, renovation plans adequate for needs and have financing to complete the project
  • Other communities found their process provides better results, does more to enhance the value of the property and surrounding properties

In answer to Chair Rapp, Ms. Wright said that when the property is foreclosed all taxes as extinguished and there are no more leans against the property.  The Land Bank can then market it free and clear.  They try to set the listing price at market value, but is often hard to determine given the condition of the properties.  Real estate agents pull comparative sales data and then deduct the anticipated amount of investment needed for renovations.

 

Chair Rapp said that the resolution today was to approve the properties.  

 

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

 

  • Contact information on brochure, call with any questions, advise them of properties that may be appropriate for the Land Bank, want to expand operations

 

Mr. Liedka said that the perception was that this was for homes but they can go beyond that.  Ms. Wright responded that they could take any kind of abandoned property, including commercial and industrial.  They even have some abandoned churches.  Mr. Liedka said that it was a great program. 

 

3.     CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU:

        a.     INFORMATIONAL:  Contingency Release - David Holder, President

 

Mr. Holder:

  • Distributed Syracuse Pocket Guide and monthly budget spreadsheet (on file with Clerk)
  • Distributed 2015 program & payment schedule (See Attachment A), CVB began planning for 2015 in June 2014, final details added after budget, full account of all anticipated 2015 programs and expenses, shows funds availability confidence date - need to know funds will be available to move forward, x indicates when funds actually occur, most relates to registrations and publication space reservations, must plant everything out, made plans in October 2014 for 2015 publication space
  • Two contingency accounts associated with CVB - $350k fund with CVB recognized as receiver and $230k Tourism Incentive Fund; nervous about $230k, want to know fund will be available for 2015 expenses when needed

 

Mr. Liedka questioned what $25,000 to the Syracuse Crunch in January was for, adding that he noticed a big SCVB presence at the game.  Mr. Holder said that per discussions with the County Executive and the Chairman they used the event as a sales tool; hosted 30 convention and sports planners, invited over 250 planners from across the country.  Their investment in the event was $50,000 - went in knowing $25,000 would be coming out of the 2014 budget and $25,000 would be coming out of the 2015 budget. 

 

  • Legislature asked for details, form shows everything planned for 2015; will likely structure future budget presentations in this manner to avoid contingency
  • Plans in place based on huge level of industry input, many conversations leading into budget and a few after based on direction they are headed, firm plan in place, are making smart investments to represent community

Chair Rapp said that the contingency was in place partly because they wanted some level of detail, to know what they were buying.  The information provided was good but she would like the Legislature to have a chance to review it.  The committee will likely discuss the release of the first contingency in January, as there is $80,000 in convention shuttling costs alone.  They cannot say they are going to be at a trade show and not know if the money is going to be there. 

 

Mr. Plochocki said that this was a great way to present the information and wishes that any organization or department requesting funds from contingency would provide as much detail.  Chair Rapp added that drilling down to this level was difficult during budget, when everything else was coming at them.  Mr. Holder said that they typically go into each year with a calendar version of the spreadsheet, knowing when programs play out.   However, because of the budget process they now put in the date they need confidence that dollars will be available.  This has become a management tool for them.  Chair Rapp said that this has to be making things easier for him as everyone knows what is expected of them and when.   Mr. Holder agreed. 

 

  • Distributed Chinese sales sheet (on file with Clerk); Mandarin translation for Syracuse – City of Snow, more recognition for that than the name Syracuse, pushing presence in China under City of Snow, similar city in China called Harbin – known as City of Ice, may look at exchange operations with Harbin; just returned from sales mission in China with tour director from Destiny USA, pushing for 4 programs next year, market ready to explode for our area - interested in Destiny and want to send their child to universities in the area

In answer to Mr. Plochocki, Mr. Holder said that they budgeted for three trips to China in 2015.  If they aren’t there, they will be missing out because they are in a building phase.  They are looking at ways to continue the marketing with NYS, NYC and Niagara Falls.  Two of the three sales trips are in conjunction with other representatives in NY.  Syracuse would never standalone but the location between NYC and Niagara Falls, the university population here and the sixth largest shopping mall in the country makes them standout.  

 

Chair Rapp said that they are predicting two million visitors will be coming from China to visit NYC and if they can get 10% to come here…  Mr. Holder interjected saying that if they can get even 1% to come here they will be doing really well.  Their goal is to start seeing 10% of what NYC receives.  Chair Rapp said that this would mean 200,000 people coming through with 10,000 hotel rooms, making a nice addition to ROT.  

 

  • Distributed 2017 World Canals Conference brochure and Syracuse Visitors Guide Holiday 2014/Winter 2015 (on file with Clerk); World Canal Conference will bring 300 to 350 canal enthusiasts from around the world to Syracuse-Sept 2017; developments with Hotel Syracuse and Inner Harbor will fold perfectly into this event

 

In answer to Chair Rapp, Mr. Holder said that he wanted to hold off on presenting branding information until January.  

 

4.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTRobert DeMore, Director

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

 

Mr. DeMore:

  • 2 houses became available after auction, owner didn’t pay taxes as previously indicated
  • 1st house 207 Abell Ave., Solvay, single family

1   2

    

  • Nice aluminum siding, can be painted, all lead windows, replacing with grant funds, needs work but can breakeven, nice location on hill with off-street parking   

4   5

5

 

In answer to Chair Rapp, Mr. DeMore confirmed that the home was located within the Solvay Redevelopment District.

  • 2nd house 602 Second St., Solvay, 2 family, person living in home knows he has to leave

6  7

8  9

  

  • Biggest problem boiler covered with asbestos, $20k for removal and installation of 2 new furnaces, hardwood floors, good siding and roof, needs windows, will replace using lead funds, don’t have to pay back, access to attic will be divided for separate storage, can breakeven; able to go through these houses before taking them

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

 

The meeting adjourned at 11:48 PM.                                      

 

Respectfully submitted,

Katherine French

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

* * *

WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES - DECEMBER 12, 2014

DAVID KNAPP, CHAIRMAN

 

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

ALSO:  Chairman McMahon, see attached list

 

Chairman Knapp called the meeting to order at 9:10 a.m.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. May, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee minutes.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

CONSENT AGENDA

 

1.     TRANSPORTATION:

        a.     Amending Resolution No. 018-2006 by Increasing the Authorization to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs by $104,500 for the Design (Scoping I-VI) and Right-of-Way Incidentals of the Velasko Road Reconstruction Project, PIN 3753.29 ($104,500)

        b.     Amending Resolution No. 457-2011 by Increasing the Authorization to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal Aid Eligible Costs by $32,000 for the Design (Scoping I-VI) and Right-of-Way Incidentals of Old Liverpool Road Safety Project, PIN 3754.66 ($32,000)

        c.     Amending Resolution No. 457-2011 by Increasing the Authorization to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal Aid Eligible Costs by $40,000 for the Design (Scoping I-VI) and Right-of-Way Incidentals of Jordan Road Bridge over Skaneateles Creek Project, PIN 375477 ($40,000)

 

2.     GREATER SYRACUSE LAND BANK:  Katelyn Wright, Executive Director; James Corbett, Board Member

        a.     Authorizing the Transfer of Tax Delinquent Properties to the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation

  • 7 properties the County would foreclose on and transfer to the land bank
  • Last year – funding contract with the county, $150k was designated for the redevelopment of properties in the Villages of Jordan, Baldwinsville, and Elbridge
  • Some of these properties would be redeveloped with the fund allocated by the County
  • Excited to get to work outside of the City, in towns and village – landbank has a lot to offer regarding blighted and abandoned properties in villages with older building stock throughout the county
  • Process – diligently screens buyers of properties; don’t want to come in and replace what private investors might do.  View themselves as a bridge between public and private sectors, assembly abandoned properties, stabilize them, market them, and get them in the hands of responsible, private investors
  • An allocation for $500,000 in 2015 budget currently in contingency -- eager to come back and discuss getting it out of contingency and under contract
  • Last year it took until June to get under contract; want to hit the ground running earlier in 2015

Mr. Corbett:

  • The $500,000 will help the landbank leverage other monies; it could turn around and be $1 - $1.5 million, depending on how it is used
  • All legislators have areas that need something; he asked legislators to think about it – it can be done with attorney general money, and other money that is leveraged
  • The landbank is the largest landowner in the City of Syracuse; are working well with Community Development and Home Headquarters
  • Thanked the legislature for its support

Mr. May asked about leveraging details.  Ms. Wright said that is partly through grant applications, but also leveraging private investments.  Mr. May asked if that isn’t allowed to happened with the fact that the money is in contingency.  Ms. Wright said that they don’t have access to the 2015 funds.  Mr. Corbett said that it isn’t shown that they actually have the money.

 

Mr. Knapp referred the great job that Community Development does in leveraging funds, and asked how the two entities coordinate to make sure they are not competing with each other.  Mr. DeMore said that they speak ahead of time before property is acquired.  Mr. DeMore said that Community Development tends to keep the properties and fix them up; the landbank may sell them as is.  Mr. Corbett said that the landbank does not develop properties.  He noted that everything is on their website, including criteria to purchase.  The mission is to get the properties back on the tax roll with full ownerships with people that want to live there and contribute to the neighborhood.  They have found, particularly on the near west side, with some if the houses that the land bank has done and Community Development has done, that the the owner takes pride in ownership.  Suddenly, the people around them start to also, for example -- pick up their yard, fix their porch, plant, etc.  It is making a tremendous difference in the quality of the neighborhoods.

 

3.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:

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

 

4.     SHERIFF:

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Homeland Security Funds for the 2014 Bomb Squad Initiative Grant Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($103,333)

        b.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Funds for the 2014 Tactical Team Grant Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($100,000)

        c.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Funds for the 2014 Bullet Proof Vest Program ($37,614)

 

5.     PARKS AND RECREATION:

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Make Room Occupancy Tax Funds Available in the Tourism Promotions Project Account ($35,000)

 

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

 

REGULAR AGENDA

 

1.     CHILDREN & FAMILY SERVICES:  David Sutkowy, Commissioner

        a.     Transfer from Acct. 649130 Maint., Utilities & Rents to Acct. 692150 Furnishings & Equip., $13,738

  • Request for Hillbrook Detention Center – secure facility with a smoke and fire detection system
  • Level of technology today provides for an incipient fire detection system – an early warning system, higher level of sophistication, allows sensors to begin to detect how smoke is forming before it hits the smoke/fire detection system
  • It affords them more time; doesn’t want to take chances
  • Current system is broken, too old to repair

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Sutkowy said right now there are about 8 local children, and 6 out of county children at Hillbrook.

 

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

 

2.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARYSusan Mitchell, Executive Director

        a.     Create R.P. 01-406510 7619, Admin. Assistant, Grade 9 $44,522-$49,246 effective January 1, 2015; Abolish R.P. 01-406510 7229, Administrative Aide, Grade 7 $37,685-$41,650, upon completion of the probationary period by an incumbent of the newly created title, Admin. Assistant

  • Consolidation approved last year – Facilities was moved, the budget and personnel office will be moved also
  • Budget position is currently empty; head of personnel will be retiring in a few months
  • Gail Cox does a lot of administrative work; has been on administrative assistant list for a while; was offered a job recently.  She is the one person in the organization that knows all grants deadlines, NYS report deadlines, etc., and has taken on a lot of increased responsibilities with trustee funds.  She has worked out of class for a long time and would like to retain her
  • $3,000 increase on January 1st
  • Can delay some positions; seeing a lot of retirements of librarians at top of pay scale.  In replacing those positions, it will free up the the money to pay the difference in the salary

 

Mrs. Ervin asked if the position is to retain her or is the position needed.  Ms. Mitchell said that the position is needed.

 

In answer to Mr. May, Mr. Troiano said that the Administrative Assistant is a grade 9 and applicable to all county departments with employees doing that level of work.

 

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

 

3.     PERSONNEL:  Peter Troiano, Commissioner

        a.     Transfer from Acct. 694010 Travel/Training to Account 694100 All Other Exp., $4,000;

                Transfer from Acct. 694080 Professional Services, to Account 694100 All Other Exp., $4,000

  • Make payment to State for county’s share of Civil Service exam fees
  • Collect the exam fees and split them – keep half and send half to the State
  • Uptick in candidates taking exams this year
  • Budget neutral

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

 

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

        a.     Southwood-Jamesville Water District – General Apportionment

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

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

  • Small water district – predates the consolidated county water district
  • Approx. $7,000 – hydrant maintenance and rental fees

A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Mr. May, to approve items 4a – 4c.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        d.     Warners Water District – General Apportionment

        e.     Warners Water District, Town of Camillus Apportionment

        f.      Warners Water District, Town of Van Buren Apportionment

  • Similar to Southwood Water district –
  • Approx. $2,500  - hydrant maintenance and rental fees

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Kilmartin, to approve items 4d – 4f.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        g.     2015 Town Tax Rates, Fixed, Ratified, and Confirmed

  • Approving tax rates to levy county taxes and town taxes

 

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

 

5.     PARKS AND RECREATION:  Chairman McMahon

        a.     Providing for a Facility Use Fee to be Imposed on Tickets for Events at the NBT Bank Stadium, and Establishing a Project Account to Fund Stadium Improvements and Repairs ($949,000)

  • Chiefs organization wants to repurpose some of the space under the Hank Sauer Room and 3rd base line towards outfield
  • Would be able to have more events and parties
  • Put in seating that is more event and family friendly on the 3rd base side
  • Idea is to drive more revenue  - had a successful year compared to past recent seasons, but need to do better
  • Overall cost of project is $1.2 million; Senator DeFrancisco has a grant request in for approx. $200,000-$250,000
  • Legislation allows a facility use fee (FUF) at the stadium – money would go to pay the county back, as it front loads the cost for the repairs over a 7 year time period
  • Lease includes a provision for capital improvements – Ball Club can look and pick which ones would be done each year.  County would frontload those improvements over the time period of the lease.
  • Project will get going quickly

In answer to Chairman McMahon, Mr. Fisher said that they would like to have the 1st base line project done for opening day.  The third base line project would probably be done between next season and the fall.

 

Mr. Holmquist asked if the $749,000 is what the county would be fronting; Chairman McMahon confirmed that it is.  Chairman McMahon said that because there is a revenue stream behind it, it is a cash flow item.  Mr. Morgan said it would be set up in a project - $200,000 collected over 8 years, $5,000/year base rent; FUF will accumulate over that time.  Mr. Maturo said that is the same theory used for the naming rights when the stadium was built.  Over a series of years, the county gets the naming rights money.  The county’s pooled cash will fund the expenses in the first instance and then is paid back over a period of time.  FUF can’t be used for anything else – it can’t go into operating. 

 

Mr. Holmquist asked if the Ball Club is assessing fees on all tickets or special events – do they have latitude to decide.  Mr. Fisher said that they are likely to put it on all of their tickets.  Mr. Holmquist asked if the legislation allows the set up to assess a FUF.  Chairman McMahon said that the Ball Club would assess the fee.  In answer to Mr. Holmquist, Mr. Fisher said that beginning in 2016 and 7 years after, earning $107,000/year at least.  Anything above the $107,000 that they collect, also has to be remitted to the County.  It has to go into an account that is used for the purpose of repairs and improvements.  It will be the County’s discretion to say what it will do from the list that they prepare.  The County is saying it will do $949k of the list totaling $1.2 million.  Anything over the $107,000 will be decided by the County Legislature and County Executive, but it can’t be used for anything else. 

 

In answer to Mr. Holmquist, Mr. Fisher said that the Ball Club is likely to put the FUF on all tickets.  They have to work out if a higher fee will be put on a single ticket vs. a season ticket.  They will look at other baseball clubs and see what they do.  The fee will probably be less than $1 per ticket. 

 

Mr. May said that they have a bill for $107k every year; with this agreement they have the latitude to raise that through a fee any way they wish.  Mr. Fisher agreed.  He added that they have to remit it to the county during the baseball season; county puts it into a segregated account.

 

Mr. Holmquist asked if any decision on how to spend it would come back to the legislature; Mr. Fisher said that it would.  There will not be enough in there to fix everything that breaks.  There is an annual budget, $300k; a lease will cost $300,000 or more to carry out obligations.  This will help and will help improve the fan experience.  The Ball Club lost money this year, but less than last year. 

 

Mr. Fisher noted that lease payments will start in April.  It was found to be a hardship to come up with the lease payment in the off season.  Instead of 12 payments monthly, there will be 6 payments doubled up during baseball season.

 

Mr. May asked if the 3rd base amenity is only going to be open when a group comes in or will it be open for anybody.  Mr. Fisher said that it will be a VIP area.  They will pay an amount for an all you can eat/drink experience.  The Hank Sauer Room, reserved for parties, will remove 300 seats and replace with space in front of Hank Sauer Room so that groups of 300-400 could rent it.  Studies showed that the revenues they were missing out on were the parties and VIP areas.  The suites, where corporations used to spend a lot of money, is not where the money is anymore.  A family picnic area will be put in right field, $100,000, which will be open to the public.

 

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

 

        b.     A Local Law Regarding the Lease of NBT Bank Stadium by the Community Baseball Club of Central New York, Inc.

 

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

 

6.     FINANCE, DIVISION OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET:  Steven Morgan, CFO

        a.     Authorize the County Comptroller to Transfer 2014 Unencumbered Appropriations and Appropriate Revenue After Expiration of the 2014 Fiscal Year Upon Approval of the County Executive and the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee

  • 6a and 6b are traditional year-end authorizations – allows them to fix deficits and transfer funds within appropriation accounts
  • 6a – added the ability to appropriate revenue in between account s
  • Allows Comptroller to transfer the funds only after the County Executive and the Chair of Ways and Means have approved the transfers

Mr. May said that this allows the $7,500 threshold to be pierced.  Mr. Morgan agreed and said that historically it has been used very sparingly; does not want to abuse it and circumvent what could be viewed as circumventing the legislature.  It has been used for DSS programs, judgments and claims, certiorari, etc.., core items.  Chairman Knapp said that they review them line by line, and there is oversight.

 

Mr. Maturo said that the Comptroller’s office reports back to all members of the Ways and Means Committee with regard to all the transfers that were made.

 

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

 

        b.     Authorizing the County Comptroller, Upon Approval of the Division of Management and Budget and the County Executive’s Office, to Transfer 2014 Unencumbered Appropriation Account Balances in Excess of $7,500 Into, Between, and Among all Interdepartmental Chargeback Appropriation Accounts and Adjust the Corresponding Interdepartmental Revenue Accounts

  • Interdepartmental appropriations and revenues

 

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

 

7.     LEGISLATURE:

        a.     Standard Work Day and Reporting Resolution

 

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

 

        b.     Reappointing Two Directors to the Onondaga County Tobacco Asset Securitization Corporation (Legislators Jordan and Knapp) (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

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

 

Chairman Knapp said that it was a pot of money that was used to retire a lot of debt from the county.

 

        c.     Confirming Reappointment of Robert J. Andrews as Chairman and Presiding Officer of the Onondaga County Metropolitan Water Board (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

Chairman McMahon said that this was voted on earlier in the year.  The previous Chair, Mr. Picardi, passed away, and that term has expired.  This is confirmation for the next term.  Chairman Knapp noted that all reports indicate that Mr. Andrews is doing a great job; also serves on OCWA Board.

 

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

 

        d.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Release Contingency Funds for Distribution to the Syracuse Chargers Rowing Club, $45,000 (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

Chairman McMahon:

  • First piece of an initiative; will probably take on again in 2015
  • During budget process there was discussion with CVB about bringing a regatta back to Onondaga Lake
  • One partner would be the Syracuse Chargers and in order for it to happen two things have to be addressed:
    • Plans for expanded boat house addressed
    • Purchase the course, through the Parks Department, on the lake
  • Money in legislature’s contingency

 

Mr. Jordan asked when the first event would be.  Jeff Mickle, CVB, said it would depend on when the process gets started and course gets completed.  As soon as the course can get approved and built, they will start regional events and the Chargers would already run; they would then cycle the US home events – which usually have a 3-year bid out process.  They would start right away in making the Charger’s events larger, go after some regional/collegiate events and the go from there. 

 

Chairman Knapp asked about the economic impact from one of these events.  Mr. Nickel said that the US Rowing Association has 3 major events – Club championships, youth, and masters.  They are all about 5 days and estimated from $1.5 - $2 million.  Other cities report approximately the same numbers.

 

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

 

        e.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Release Contingency Funds, $75,000 (Sponsored by Mr. Liedka, Mr. McMahon)

Chairman McMahon:

  • Butternut/Grant Boulevard area on the north side has had a lot of investment from the landbank
  • Demolished some properties, site control, and rebuilding of properties
  • Butternut corridor – a lot investment form the State of New York and City of Syracuse for new development by St. Joseph’s Hospital
  • On the other side of Butternut there is a business façade grant initiative - Legislator Liedka has been deeply involved in the project
  • To finish the facade project, the revenues fall a little short from the City of Syracuse,
  • Advance money in contingency account to see the project through

 

Chairman Knapp asked who the primary sponsor has been up to now.  Chairman McMahon said that the City of Syracuse came in with the majority of the funds for it.  NEHDA has been managing the whole process.  A lot of their funding is federal, and there were certain requirements that they weren’t aware of that were attached to the money; it led up to a funding gap.  In looking at those funds, the work being done by the landbank, and state funds going in, that area has a great opportunity to have some quick progress.  It is where a lot of our refugee population is now settling.  Basically the businesses on that stretch will get uniform facade improvements, similar to what the county offers.  Chairman Knapp referred to success with some programs where the business owners contribute; Chairman McMahon said that they are

contributing in this process. 

 

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

MOTION CARRIED.

 

        f.      A Local Law Authorizing Programs of External Repairs and Improvements to be Made on Privately-Owned Property within Onondaga County

Chairman Knapp noted that this local law is the companion for item 7e, but local law day has passed, so this item can’t go the the December 16th session. 

 

Mr. Jordan said the he was under the impression that county money couldn’t be used to improve private properties.  He has been told for years that it couldn’t be done, and referenced a sidewalk project in the Village of North Syracuse that he has inquired about having done.  Now there is a resolution to provide facade repairs for private businesses.  Mr. Fisher said that these are state dollars, not county; state and federal dollars are spent on business facade improvements through Community Development.  This is part of a $30 million grant from NYS.  Law Dept. has advised that a local law should be in place to protect the county, to make it clear that it can be spent for the purposes that it was authorized for.  Mrs. Berger said that up until this point there has not been authority to do improvements on private property; this local law allows for certain improvements.  Mr. Jordan said that he wished that he would have known that it could have been done with a local law all along, and that when he asks a question, would like a complete answer.

 

Chairman Knapp said that item 7f is more than just a reference to item 7e; it is general. 

 

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

 

        g.     Local Law Providing for an Increase in Compensation for Certain Onondaga County Elected Officials

 

Chairman Knapp said that this is a new item; will not take a vote on it, but will discuss it.

 

Chairman McMahon said that this is always a tough item for elected officials to discuss, as there is no perfect way to deal with this issue.  The legislature has been collectively, internally struggling with this item to figure out an equitable way to address it and not politicize it.  He noted that the State Legislature tries to get a deal done after an election, hoping the electorate will forget about it in two years. 

 

Chairman McMahon:

  • District Attorney is tied to judicial raises – no issue to address pay– when judges pay increases, DA will also
  • Sheriff, County Clerk, Comptroller, County Executive – not tied to anything – puts the decision into legislators hands
  • Have looked at other larger counties:
    • Comptroller average is $144k, Onondaga County Comptroller makes $99k
    • County Clerk average is $129k; Onondaga County Clerk makes $78k
    • Sheriff average is $140k; Onondaga County Sheriff makes $110k
  • Struggling with how to address this and figure out a process going forward that is not political – get salaries at a point where they make sense, are reasonable
  • To get candidates to run for public office, there needs to be wages that represent the fiduciary responsibility of the job
  • The County Executive is the CEO of Onondaga County with a $1.2 billion budget; a CEO in the private sector would make a lot more money
  • County executive has not had a raise in 8 years
  • Comptroller is the elected Chief Financial Officer or the county – there are county employees, not elected, who do similar duties that make more money
  • The County Executive and Sheriff have employees that make more money than them
  • Received ideas from many colleagues – put some things on paper to start the discussion
  • Local Law Proposal: 
    • 2015 provides 10% raise to Comptroller, Clerk and Sheriff – gets them closer to average -- they are different than County Executive, as the positions have had raises and the County Executive has not
    • County Executive – brings salary up to par with District Attorney – in othe counties the County Executive typically makes more money than anyone else 
    • Legislators – would be addressed for the next legislative body; there has been no increase for 8 years--at the same time the CSEA and M/C have had increases of 18%–20%
    • Legislators - $3,000 increase in 2016
  • Average legislators pay is a lot higher in other municipalities
  • Legislature has shrunk in the last 8 years; legislators representing larger constituencies
  • Legislators do not get mileage reimbursements any more
  • Collected mindset in bipartisan fashion
  • Wants to take political process out of it going forward so future legislators don’t have to deal with this issue
    • Legislation ties any future raises to CPI
    • Every 4 years an average of the CPI would be taken – it will go up or down
    • Can’t decrease an elected officials pay during their term; it would have to be done on a 4 year basis
    • Doesn’t know of any model anywhere where the pay goes up or down with the economy

Chairman McMahon noted that not everyone has agreed with every piece of this, but everybody has agreed with most of it.  He looked at a possible Ways & Means Chairman stipend and other stipends, but was told by the Law Department that a referendum would be needed to do that. 

 

Mr. May said that he would like to approach it in more statistically valid way – would like know what the averages look like position by position, with taking out the highest and lowest.  What is done in Suffolk County is an anomaly, and based a very different cost of living than here. 

 

Mr. Holmquist said that he likes the the effective date of January 1, 2016 for the legislators.  It is appropriate for any compensation that they be done during the new term.  He is not comfortable raising anyone’s compensation in the middle of the term.  All ran for the offices knowing what the pay was.  To raise pay in the middle of the term is wrong, particularly for the legislators.  Chairman Knapp said that the Sheriff would start in January, as it is a new term.  Mr. Holmquist said that he would have to think about the Sheriff, as he just ran and knew what the pay was when he ran.  At first glance, feels it should be addressed four years from now.  Mr. Holmquist said that he is not sure about the dollar amounts, will need a chance to look them over.  He appreciates that the legislature’s increase would start in 2016, but has a problem with the County Executive, Comptroller and Clerk starting in 2015.

 

Chairman McMahon said that an approach is to piecemeal them at different times.  Another approach can be taken to realize that there is probably an issue.  Whether it is because of the allowance of staff of some of the elected officials to make too much money, where they have less of a fiduciary responsibility; or, it should have been done before hand.  The legislature did do it before hand with the district attorney.  When the district attorney was tied to the raise, the legislature decided to give a very large raise on what the judicial pay was going to be. 

 

Chairman McMahon said a lot of different things go into this; are trying to come to a balance; tackle a tough issue and then take it out of our hands--put them at a fair level, and going forward, let the CPI drive it.  It would be very inappropriate for the legislature to vote itself a raise; we are not doing that here.  It is our job to look at the compensation of the other electeds. 

 

Mr. Holmquist agrees with the CPI type of situation.  If then there is a year like 2008, where a debacle hits, then presumably the legislature could vote that year to not have an increase or make it a decrease.  Chairman McMahon said that California basically does the same thing, they set a rate and it can go up.  It is better than having politicians make decisions on their own pay, like the NYS Legislature.  They have a very large, part time job, a very large salary, they get stipends, reimbursement per diems, and mileage.  The do represent more people.  Legislators used get mileage per diems and it was taken away, and county legislators are now representing more people.  There is a lot of different reasons why it makes sense to adjust this and take it out of the politicians’ hands.

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that it it is a good point that someone knew what the pay was when they ran for the office.  However, if that person runs again and wins, does it mean they are tied into what they knew 12 years ago when they first ran.  It is relevant, but not necessarily the only issue.  The goal with this has been to right size the pay for an office, not the pay for the person, and take out some of the arbitrary nature that has happened in the past.  It has been 3 years since some officials received raises, 6 or 7 for others.  Sometimes it is based on an official’s request, based on an average, or based on other counties.  This is the best foot forward that can be made to make certain that the legislature doesn’t get a raise now, but whoever is in the seat in 2016.  For the other officials, it is trying to find some happy medium based on other counties, looking extremes, averages, populations, and then have a standard going forward.  Probably the best calculation is in using the CPI, as opposed to a fixed sum or other officials.  It is a uniform look back that will hopefully provide some consistency going forward and eliminate a lot of the arbitrariness of it.

 

Mr. May said that he doesn’t feel that piecemeal is a bad thing.  Coincident with the next term of each position avoids changing pay in the middle.  Chairman McMahon said that one way to look at it is that in making the changes now is acknowledging the fiduciary and vast responsibility that they have, and acknowledging that their staff under them is making more than them.  Mr. May said that he is not saying that making the changes no is the wrong necessarily; he is saying that the language could specify when those changes occur.  Chairman McMahon said that it doesn’t change the fact that these people have a very high fiduciary responsibility, and it doesn’t change the problem.  It acknowledges the problem -- and saying that going forward we are going to fix it.  Or, we could just acknowledge it, make a tough decision, and fix it.

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that the points that Mr. May and Mr. Holmquist make are relevant criteria, but it might be basing an officials pay very much on that candidates knowledge as to what it was when they started the job, as opposed to the responsibilities of the job.  It tips the scale quite a bit on one individual’s knowledge, as opposed to more about what is appropriate – responsibilities, budgets, people underneath them, and what they do on a day-to-day basis.

 

Mr. Holmquist said that any time a term comes up, all candidates running know what the pay is.  Whether they were an incumbent or a new person, they are still running for a public office and know each time what the pay is.  If they feel the pay at that time isn’t high enough, perhaps they should go to a different vocation or maybe they can’t continue on in that public position.  He does not feel it is right to change a pay in the middle of somebody’s term, when the public knew what the pay was and the candidates knew what the pay was. 

 

Chairman McMahon said that the public doesn’t have the ability to decide what the pay is.  If the public looked at it in a way of attracting other CEO’s of CFO’s – look at what do other CEOs and CFOs make - they make a lot more.  The public wants the best and brightest to run for the offices.  If the right wages aren’t there, it is not what they may get.  The legislators are the only people who can change it.  It can be changed next term or look at the facts – the CEO of this company hasn’t had a raise in 8 years – how many CEO’s in other companies can say the same.  The public has the ability to put people into these office, but not to set the wages and benefits. 

 

Mr. Holmquist said that members should take a look at the numbers and think about what makes sense.  He asked what the time line is on this.  Chairman McMahon said that it cannot be voted on at Tuesday’s session.  

 

Chairman McMahon said that he didn’t come up with all of these ideas; his name won’t be the only one on the legislation going forward.  It will be bipartisan so that the politics are left out of it.  If there are other changes that come forward, it is a work in progress.  At the end of the day, if there are different philosophical approaches, we will have to wait and see where the votes line up. 

 

Mr. Jordan said that he is not in favor of voting for raises for ourselves.  If the resolution goes forward, he would fall on the side of having the raises occur when the new term starts for each of the offices.

 

Mrs. Ervin said that she agrees that the changes should be made when the term starts.  The idea of decreasing the salaries based on the CPI doesn’t appeal to her. 

 

8.     PURCHASE:  Sean Carroll, Director

        a.     A Local Law Amending the Onondaga County Administrative Code in Relation to Procurement

 

Chairman Knapp noted that this item will not be going to the December 16th session.  It has been discussed for some time.  He asked for an update on electronic bidding.  Mr. Carroll said they are working through the technology – not all in place - will be keeping the legislature in the loop as it moves forward.

 

Mr. Carroll said that has presented answers to questions from members and provided educational materials to legislators.

 

Chairman Knapp asked what type of situation would this be primarily used for and the advantage for the county.  Mr. Carroll:

  • It is a methodology of competitive bidding – still publically advertised, sealed bids, all bidders on notice n what they would receive additional points for
  • Low bid tends to be a race to the bottom – i.e. technology/manufactures:
    • they have no incentive to tell the county there is a new model, that is awesome and meets all needs, coming out
    • No incentive to tell that the computer they are selling will be outdated in a year

He referenced the example of computer printers – used to buy ones that would last 15 years, when they needed a repair it was a $4 pin to do so.  It is a high quality value item – the expenditure in year one was spread out over the lifetime of the item.  Now, under a low bid model, desk top printers are essentially throw aways.  To repair the drum, costs more than to replace it.  We do not get high quality, local craftsman, able to compete with box store or national companies, who are creating less quality work.  Being able to look at lifecycle cost of an item, and technology – being ahead of the curve, are opportunities.

 

  • Have not presented a set of criteria to the Law Department yet
  • State law does not allow it to be used on public work for construction
  • Not looking to do everything this way – looking at public bids, finding an opportunity where maybe having a vendor available in an emergency situation has value
  • Doesn’t want to limit it to one type of commodity
  • There is a human capital/intelligence sense of looking at a bid specification – i.e. – have done a bid every year for 5 years and gotten hammers where the heads fall off – would like to include a qualification where vendor can show an independent consumer report that their product has a 5-year lifespan
  • Would like to get out of the business of doing some of these bids every year and seeing the line items appear in the budget every year
  • There will have to be a real opportunity on the commodity class to make it valuable – not a window to do everything just value - Will have to run through the Law Dept. to make sure there is an apparent value (i.e. pencils are pencils)
  • Will have to be documented very clearly – vendors will know what the advantage points are; vendors will have to show in the proposal that they have a documented approach in order to be awarded the points
  • Vendors will know exactly how it is scored, will show on comp sheet; will be with the same transparency as any other public bid
  • Standards will be put together in working with the Law Dept.; will have a cap so that price is still the driving factor

Mr. Kilmartin referred to a Q&A sheet in the packet:   Q - How will this effect contracts that include labor.  A - Best value includes services such as janitorial and security guard services cover under Article 9 of NYS Labor Law, but NO public work (Article 8), including construction will be affected by Best Value. Mr. Carroll explained that anything that is construction is specifically carved out of the state law.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if it includes water treatment plants, reconstruction, bridges, etc.  Mr. Carroll indicated that it does – major construction will still be bid out the same way.  Under $100k would be done with one single prime; over $500k would be done with 4 primes – all would be selected by the lowest responsibility bidder.  He referenced security guard services and asking questions up front – they will not necessarily be best value.  Information from the State Comptroller says that the county has the right to consider past performance, but a numerical criteria would have to be put on it.  There would have be be a packet of what the written complaints were, what the attempts were to resolve it, etc. Mr. Carroll said that it is potentially more difficult for the staff, as there are so many very ridged details to pay attention to. 

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Carroll said that Orange, Madison, Rockland, and Clinton Counties have adopted this.  The State and NYC has used Best Value on their contracts for a very long time.  The Syracuse City School District, City of Syracuse, Town of Cicero are the only 3 municipalities in Onondaga County that have passed it so far.  There are discussions with the municipalities about their process, their hurdles, challenges, and to get advice, etc.

 

Mr. May asked if this introduces opportunities for downstream type incentives, creativity, on the parts of the vendor,  i.e. printers cost a lot more, but will also provide paper for life, where performance may be an issue.  Mr. Carroll said “yes and no”.  There would have to be a way to score it.  If they said things like give us a proposal to reduce costs; show us end of life opportunities for the equipment; show us how they would reduce the net cost of them.  If they came back and said …yes our printers are high, but we will give you all the paper you are going to use, or will warrantee it for life and continue to replace it.  Those are are things that would have to have a cost value on them and incorporate it.  There has to be room in the best value solicitation for the response, otherwise it doesn’t appear in the score.  A separate issue is that after an award is given to a vendor, they can negotiate and attempt to achieve some of the other goals and bring the price down.  The total net cost can always be looked at.

 

Mr. Kilmartin asked if someone comes forward with a creative concept, and it is unusual in the bids that are received, can the Purchasing Dept. say that it looks like a good idea and then ask for new bids.  Mr. Carroll said that there is always that ability – can always rebid it.

 

Mr. Jordan supports this, and sponsored a resolution about 5 years ago to implement life-cycle budgeting.  He has always complained about why we do business with people that low ball us and then sue us because they start coming in with extras – they are not responsible bidders.  This makes perfect sense; it should be done in every aspect of county government.  Mr. Carroll referred to life-cycle budgeting, they really need the vendors to make an investment in it to help track them.  Best Value is a way to incentivize them to do that.  He would rather spend a little bit more in 2015, then spend in 2015, 2016, and 2017 – as the 2017 dollars are probably destined to be more expensive dollars, even if it is the same product.

 

Chairman Knapp referred to a feed store in LaFayette that had a contract with a county agency 10-12 years ago.  It was a long term relationship.  A bid came up, out of state, and underbid them.  It basically put them out of business.  He asked fi the Best Value allows anything for a local vendor.  Mr. Carroll said that it is an important issue – spending money locally is the best way to get most of our money back in tax dollars or investments in the community.  The law states that that “buy local” cannot be a form of criteria.  There are some provisions and State Comptroller opinions where there are advantages, and some of those things can be taken into account.  His office spends a lot of time and some money making sure that as much of the work as possible either goes to a local firm or a firms that employs local people.

 

Chairman Knapp feels this is the way to go.  Once it is in place, he would like a report provided monthly regarding the types of things it is being used for.

 

Mr. May said the supports this, but questions how we get design build in some of our procurement to tighten up.  An extraordinary amounts of money is dedicated to separate engineering, when it could be contracted and get some of these jobs done.  It is frustrating to see the number of dollars used to plan a project, and are falling into a pattern that doesn’t allow us to be be good stewards of taxpayer money with those types of projects, i.e. roofs, HVAC.  Mr. Carroll said that the Purchasing Department spends a lot of time separating design and then build pieces.  They are charged with a compliance component under General Municipal Law, and it is not an option that they have been afforded.  Construction is even carved out of best value.   Mr. May said that Best Value and design/build are different things.  We can do design/build for a $50 million stadium, with a sweeping hand of the state.  Mr. Carroll said that the State carved out that project.  There is no authority state municipal law for a municipality to do design/build on their own.

 

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

 

        b.     Revenue Contract Report

 

TO:                              David Knapp, Chairman, Ways and Means

Committee Members, Ways and Means

FROM:                       Sean Carroll, Director

DATE:                        December 12, 2014 

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

 

Revenue Contracts

 

14-5100-001 Parking Lots Management Services.  We received two proposals (Syracuse Parking and Cheyenne Realty) and one letter notifying us that the vendor would not be proposing (LAZ Parking).  Cheyenne Realty was determined to be the most responsive and responsible vendor – restoring parking lots to a revenue generator instead of a cost center for facilities.

 

14-7500-001 Various Vending Services.  This RFP consolidated all of the vending contracts across the County including customer oriented machines at various parks and employee directed machines at 24-hour operation centers such as Emergency Communications/ 911.  This consolidated contract will allow us to add vending machines at additional locations and make other operation changes without having to reissue an additional contract.  It also consolidates 5 existing solicitations eliminating the need to issue multiple RFPs.  American Food and Vending and Coca-Cola are the only respondents and have been determined to each be the most responsive and responsible for portions of the contract, Coca-Cola for all of the Parks Facilities and American Food and Vending for the other locations. 

 

Mr. Carroll:

 

Parking Lot Management:

  • Had problem with previous vendor; put an RFP out
  • Committee identified responsible vendor in Cheyenne Realty
  • Contract has been resorted to a revenue driver

Vending Services:

  • Have had an exclusive relationship with Coca Cola at Parks Dept – worth additional value in cooler, equipment for Harvest Fest, etc.
  • Coca Cola has come back with alternative proposal   - still negotiated for Parks Dept.
  • American Food & Vending has offered the highest opportunity for return on all other vending
  • Advantage that not every vendor wanted every piece of the operation
  • Received a call from another vendor yesterday who may want to be competitive
  • Biggest advantage of doing it all together, gave the ability add a machine or facility and have flexibility in the contract,  and issue 5 less RFPs in a 3 year cycle.

Chairman Knapp said that the State changed providers of diesel fuel, fuel oil, and gas for the towns, but neglected to tell anyone who the new provider was.  He thanked Mr. Carroll and his team for getting the word out to the towns.

 

Chairman Knapp announced that Mr. DeMore, Community Development, just found out that the County received $200k to restore facades on Main Street in the Village of Jordan.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:55 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

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DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

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