header graphic
Connect with Onondaga County Like Us On FacebookFollow Us On Twitter See Us On Youtube
 
spacer
 
spacer
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
DAVID H. KNAPP
Chairman
KATHERINE FRENCH
Deputy Clerk

 

 

HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE MINUTES – DECEMBER 9, 2019

THOMAS C. BUCKEL, JR., CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Rowley, Dr. Chase, Mr. Bush

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Jordan

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp; See attached list

 

Chairman Buckel called the meeting to order at 10:06 a.m.  A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Rowley to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     CHILDREN & FAMILY SERVICES:  Damian Pratt, Director of Juvenile Justice; Richard Gasiorowski, Commissioner

        a.     Transfer from Children & Family Services, Account 641010 Regular Salaries to Children & Family Services, Account 692150 Furn, Furnishings & Equip, $18,178

 

Mr. Pratt: 

  • Cost savings for vacancies in 101 used to cover cost of washing machine and lockers for employees and general public
  • Current washing machine installed in 2005 - reached max lifetime; Hillbrook anticipating increase in beds from 32 to 50, so increasing capacity of machine; 40lb not sufficient for increase in residents; cost of new is ~$12,000
  • Lockers – tripled workforce in last year and a half, plus more residents; ~$6,000 transfer to install lockers in lobby area

Chairman Buckel asked if the cost of the equipment, maintenance and overhead is comparable to outsourcing.  Mr. Pratt responded that they have consulted with the Justice Center and Jamesville, and it was determined that this was the most cost effective way.  Dr. Chase asked if they have a dryer, and Mr. Pratt answered yes.  It is in working shape, and they did not feel it was necessary to replace both.  This will be the fourth washer at Hillbrook since 1976, and their lifetime is approximately 15 years.  The increase of poundage is 40 lbs to 65 lbs. 

 

Mr. Rowley asked if the County is required to bid, and Mr. Pratt replied that they did go through a bidding process.  Facilities found one for $20,000, and Purchasing was able to find a comparable washing machine at almost half the price. 

 

Mr. Pratt explained that the lockers should be 100% reimbursable by the state, because they are claiming that it is a necessary addition for the building due to Raise the Age legislation.  They will also make a case to the state for the washing machine, as it also needs to meet the increase of residents in the building.  Worst case scenario, the County will be reimbursed for the washing machine at the standard for all detention related costs (49%).  Mr. Rowley asked if they will be doing an accounting entry to recognize the revenue at the 49% level.  Mr. Britt answered that there is enough in the 2019 budget under revenue in these categories.  The purpose of this is for internal accounting as any item over $5,000 has to go to Furniture and Equipment, and they did not have that appropriation in the account. 

 

A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Bush, to approve this item.  Ayes:  3  Abstentions:  1 (Rowley); MOTION CARRIED.

 

Mr. Bush asked if other counties have a centralized laundry system for their jails and detention facilities, and Mr. Pratt responded that he’s not sure what other counties do.  Albany County has five partnering counties that share costs subcontracted through another organization.  Erie and Monroe County do their own laundry services internally.  There is a small facility in Nassau with eight beds that most likely sends out their laundry.  Mr. Pratt explained that they usually compare the County to Erie and Monroe counties, because they share a similar model on how services are delivered. 

 

Chairman Buckel stated that sometimes small expenses are pushed through without a second thought, but it seems that Mr. Pratt has really thought this out, which is appreciated.

 

Dr. Chase said if they outsourced, then there would be a time commitment to getting things back.  Would that involve needing to buy more clothes?  Mr. Pratt answered that they do contract some things out; i.e. towels.  The clothing is replaced when they’ve reached their maximum lifetime.  It is more cost effective to wash clothes and bedding internally, and to send the towels out.  Mr. Pratt replied to Dr. Chase that usually the overnight staff washes the clothes and bedding; a Senior Counselor or a Detention Home Aide.  A lot of Detention Home Aides fold clothes, as there is usually not a lot to do on the overnight shift.

 

2.     HILLBROOK:  Damian Pratt, Director of Juvenile Justice

        a.     INFORMATIONAL

 

Mr. Pratt:

  • Have census of 27 youth as of this morning; majority in Specialized Secure; Adolescent Offender population is an even balance of both in county and out of county residents
  • This time of year see fluctuation of census; residents going to other facilities or being released to community
  • Expecting more consistency this year, as the caliber of the offense of youth at Hillbrook is more severe than it was several years ago; population will probably stay stable over the next month and a half
  • Currently have 32 beds, which are designated for males
  • At times, a female has to be admitted; can keep 1 or 2 ladies separate from the population; i.e. a lady is going to arraignment today, and if she has to return, she will stay until they find a suitable detention facility to be transported to
  • Mandatory staffing ratios are based on the State Commission of Corrections and the State Child and Family Services
  • In process of hiring 12 additional Home Aides approved at budget in October; should be hired and starting the process by third week of December; 2 month training and shadowing; they should be live at the beginning of February
  • 4 additional Educators starting today; going through week of school for training; when school closes for winter break (mimics Syracuse Schools calendar), they will develop their own curriculum with the Director of Education Services
  • Recruitment happens in different ways – Personnel does recruitment (not sure how)
  • The home aides are CSEA positions; entry level grade 5 – recruitment is ongoing; not a civil service tested position
  • Relationships with colleges – Syracuse University doing handshake event; Hillbrook will have a table for recruitment; also post on Indeed.com
  • Try searching for candidates from a variety of different areas – research shows they should have a frontline population that is a reflection of the population served; variety of different variables
  • Minimum requirement – state mandates a high school equivalency, and 2 years work experience with young people
  • Work experience with young people includes a coach for sports, an education setting or detention setting
  • Educator requirements – certified NYS teachers
  • Hillbrook has 2 other individuals working as ancillary support that have to achieve NYS teaching certifications; it is also a requirement to have a Special Education Teacher on staff to assess and meet the needs of youth
  • Average hiring class of Detention Home Aides is 6 to 7; 12 is bigger than what they’d like, but gives opportunity to train them on different shifts
  • There are similarities shift to shift, but the 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. shift during the educational part of the day is different than the 3 p.m. – 11 p.m. shift with recreational activities; important to have staff exposed to all 3 work environments
  • Staff retention – fulltime staff are usually at Hillbrook a long time; low rate of turnover
  • Turnover is usually a group of (i.e.) Home Aides that come in, and not all stay, because it is a tough environment; skill set is not something they would know with a resume and interview; do not know how they will handle a stressful situation
  • Requested a floor supervisor (Detention Home Counselor II) in 2020 budget that was approved – hiring additional home counselor on, or after, January 1st; civil service test offered in October; waiting on test results
  • Feel the need for 2 fulltime floor supervisors during daytime shifts (7 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.) – they correspond with law enforcement, ensure transports are set up, security, observing staff and checking in on residents
  • Currently have 2 counselors on 7 – 3 shift, and almost always 2 on 3 – 11 (using part-time staff)
  • No need for a second counselor on overnight shift, as only 1 youth is permitted out of their room at a time
  • 3 Administrators almost always onsite; Mr. Pratt was at the building once at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. to ensure everything was operating smoothly; want to support staff on all three shifts to be successful

Chairman Buckel stated that it’s fair to say that the policy is to ensure the safety of residents and staff.  The Legislature’s job is give Mr. Pratt the resources to do it, and rely on his staff to use their best judgment to fulfill that.  If at any time there is a policy or budget issue, they are welcome to come back to the Legislature.

 

Chairman Knapp asked how many of the 27 offenders are out of County, and Mr. Pratt responded that the split is probably 60% in County and 40% out of County.  Chairman Knapp asked how the County gets reimbursed.  Mr. Pratt explained that it comes from the state for all residents in or out of County.  Currently, they have submitted the fourth quarter of 2018.  Mr. Britt commented:

  • Have not received fiscal cash yet, but have commitment to pay 4th quarter 2018 from NYS; first, second and third quarters of 2019 have also been submitted to state, who is currently reviewing it; hoping to finalize after the holidays
  • Trying to close out prior years quicker – previously NYS would give an estimated daily rate, then reconcile 3 or 4 years later, causing the County to be out the money
  • NYS trying to reconcile quarterly to finalize; will get money more timely, especially when population swings

Chairman Knapp said on January 1st there will be sweeping changes, and asked how that will affect Hillbrook’s population.  Mr. Pratt responded that the changes to bail reform should not affect Hillbrook at all.  Youth being held in the youth part of Criminal Court as adolescent offenders tend to have cases removed to Family Court in the first 30 days, or the seriousness of the offense will not cause any movement.  Bail reform should not affect Family Court, or its operations.  Hillbrook averages 1 County youth making bail every 3 or 4 months.

 

Mr. Pratt responded to Chairman Knapp that they have gone through the bidding process for the expansion, it was awarded, and currently, contracts are at the Law Department.  Once the contracts are executed, they will most likely break ground March or April (ground thaw).  Chairman Knapp asked what that will add to the capacity at Hillbrook.  Mr. Pratt answered that it is going from 32 to 50 beds.  They will continue to meet the needs of Onondaga County, as well as support the region on another level.  Dr. Chase asked if they will continue to add staff, and Mr. Pratt replied yes; as they get further into renovations, there will be a variety of areas to add staff.  It will not just be in frontline child care, because staffing ratios for social work and educational departments will change.  The capital project will take roughly one year to complete, so when they craft the 2021 budget, they will determine and plan what is necessary.  Mr. Britt responded to Chairman Knapp that the County will be reimbursed for the entire capital project.

 

Mr. Pratt responded to Mr. Bush that the new hires are a grade 5 starting in the ballpark of $37,000 - $38,000 per year for fulltime staff.  Mr. Bush said that this is for a person with a high school education and at least two years’ experience with youth, and Mr. Pratt agreed.  Mr. Bush would like his constituents in the 13th district to know there are positions open, and he is concerned about the outreach for the outlying areas.  Who would he approach?  Mr. Pratt responded himself.  The last recruitment resulted in 100 resumes, and they conducted 20 interviews.  Any additional assistance with recruitment is appreciated.  It’s important to find a variety of staff from all areas of the County with different experiences.  There are a lot of youth from urban and rural areas of the County.  Diversity is beneficial to the entire building.

 

Chairman Buckel thanked Mr. Pratt and Mr. Gasiorowski for coming in and providing the information. 

 

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

 

The meeting adjourned at 10:37 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.9.19_HS_1

JAMIE M. McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

12.9.19_HS_2

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE MINUTES – DECEMBER 10, 2019

MARGARET A. CHASE, ACTING CHAIR

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mrs. Tassone, Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, Dr. Chase

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Bottrill, Mr. Jordan

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chair Chase called the meeting to order at 9:04 a.m.  A motion was made by Mrs. Tassone, seconded by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mrs. Tassone, seconded by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED. 

       

1.     REGION 7 FISH & WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT BOARD:

        a.     Confirming Reappointment to the Region 7 Fish and Wildlife Management Board (Stephen Wowelko)

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

2.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:  Frank Mento, P.E., Commissioner; Michael Lannon, P.E., Deputy Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Approving the Increased Cost of Certain Improvements for the Baldwinsville Treatment Plant within the Onondaga County Sanitary District

 

Chair Chase said that Mr. Mento was here to discuss these items for the third time.

 

Mr. Mento:

  • Has been through this committee and Ways and Means twice and a legislative public hearing was held on December 3rd
  • Project and bonding resolution will go to the December 17th session

A motion was made by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     BOND RESOLUTION: A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of an Additional $31,280,200 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay the Increased Cost of Certain Improvements for the Baldwinsville Treatment Plant in and for the Onondaga County Sanitary District ($31,280,200)

 

Chair Chase asked if the title has always said approving additional costs.  Mr. Lannon answered that they previously received bonding approval three different times for a collective total of $6.3 million.  This amount will be added to a new collective total.  The amount has not changed since this item was originally presented. 

 

Mr. Mento said that they are seeking authorization for the full bonding amount but that doesn’t mean it will all be spent.  As they progress through the project they borrow chunks and cannot go over this amount.

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Tassone, seconded by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        c.     A Resolution Approving Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the CSO 029 Walton Street Abatement Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        d.     BOND RESOLUTION: A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $2,020,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Certain Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District in and for Said County ($2,020,000)

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Tassone, seconded by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Mr. Mento said that this is part of the CIP which has always been in place and is now becoming reality.  Chair Chase said that she does not recall anything coming before the committee this many times.   Mrs. Tassone said that it is because they hate spending that kind of money.  Chair Chase said the amount is overwhelming.  Mr. Mento said that it is needed.  Mrs. Abbott-Kenan said that you pay now or pay later.  Chair Chase said that it is not frivolous and definitely needs to be done.

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, seconded by Mrs. Tassone to adjourn the meeting at 9:11 a.m.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.10.19 Ep 1

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

12.10.19 Ep 2

 

 

* * *

 

COUNTY FACILITIES COMMITTEE MINUTES – DECEMBER 10, 2019

JUDITH A. TASSONE, CHAIR

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Holmquist, Mr. McBride, *Mrs. Ervin

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Ms. Cody

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp, Mr. Jordan; See attached list

 

Chair Tassone called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. McBride, seconded by Mr. Holmquist to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     ONONDAGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES:

        a.     Confirming Appointment by the County Executive to the Board of Trustees for the Onondaga County Community College (Paul Mello)

 

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

 

2.     FACILITIES DEPARTMENT:  Archie Wixson, Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing HVAC Renovations at the Courthouse in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $1,000,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,000,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($1,000,000)

  • Carnegie was pulled back; maybe next month will come back with more of a statement

Chair Tassone said they need something more from the City, and Mr. Wixson said the Executive’s Office is working on that.  This bonding is for the Courthouse, and it is perfect timing, because last week a unit heater caught fire with a fire department response. 

 

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

 

        b.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing LED Lighting Upgrades in Various Buildings in the Downtown Campus in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $535,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $444,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($444,000)

 

Mr. Wixson responded to Chair Tassone that they can sometimes change the light without changing the whole fixture.  The power sourcing has to change in some cases.  There will be incandescent bulbs replaced in the Courthouse with LEDs as a swap.  The current incandescent bulbs on the first and second floors are dimming, and it is causing the areas to be dark.

 

*Mrs. Ervin arrived at the meeting.

 

Chair Tassone asked if there is any guarantee, and Mr. Wixson responded no more than one from Home Depot. 

 

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

 

3.     PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT:  Lee Klosowski, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing Various Improvements to Parks and Recreation Areas in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $7,411,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $7,411,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($7,411,000)

  • Bond for $7.411 mil - Beaver Lake Nature Center $1.35 mil, Hopkins Road Softball $2 mil, Long Branch Park Improvements $1 mil, Oneida Shores $320,000 and variety of rehab items $2.256 mil

Chair Tassone stated that the committee will not be voting on this item today.

 

Chair Tassone asked for more details on the cost of the bathroom that needs to be rebuilt due to the fire.  How many contractors have been approached to bid this?  Mr. Klosowski explained that the Long Branch Park improvements totaling $1 million includes a restroom replacement and maintenance building.  The amount is based on an engineer’s projected cost of construction, and the restroom itself is probably $500,000.  The restroom at Sawmill Creek is smaller and projected to be $400,000.  They are comparable square footage.  Also, the area at Sawmill Creek has a flood problem, so that has to be addressed along with the building itself.  Mr. Holmquist asked if that is a major driver on why it is costing so much.  Mr. Klosowski replied that it is a contributor, but they have an engineer’s estimate of the cost of a restroom that’s a little bit bigger at $500,000 - $600,000.  It is not outside the range of reasonableness to expect it to cost this much.  Also, there have been a number of projects like the Veteran’s Cemetery Chapel renovation that came in over the original budget.  Mr. Klosowski is seeing higher contractor costs due to a combination of higher tariffs on materials and the lack of competition.  They are getting two or three contractors at pre-bidding. 

 

Chair Tassone asked if they have thought about using the people at Parks to do some of these projects, like Transportation has done, to save the County money.  Mr. Klosowski responded that they would have to work with Facilities.  The chapel did not even get bids on the mechanical or the plumbing piece, so Facilities will be doing the plumbing on that project.  Ms. Primo commented that not only are there fewer contractors out there, but also there are a lot more projects.  It is easier for contractors to work the private sector versus the government.  In regards to Facilities helping, they do look to Faculties when they can, but Mr. Wixson has a lot on deck.  Ms. Primo is not sure if they have the capacity to do more than what they are already planning.  Ms. Primo assured the committee that they try to do things as economically and efficiently as possible.  Material costs have gone up considerably, so there are projects coming in well above anticipated; which is an issue within all departments.

 

Mr. McBride asked what the square footage of the restrooms are.  Mr. Klosowski responded that one is 1,400 square feet, and the other is 1,200 square feet.  The restroom at Long Branch had nine stalls on each side for men and women with four or five sinks.  The one at Sawmill will be four or five stalls for each side with a couple sinks.

 

Chair Tassone asked if the plumbing was there.  Mr. Klosowski answered that there is nothing there but a concrete pad and drainage underneath.  The building was destroyed entirely.  Mr. McBride asked if the square footage is the same as it was previously, and Mr. Klosowski replied yes; they are not increasing the size.

 

Mr. Holmquist wanted to know the cost of the restroom if tariffs, contractors and other obstacles did not exist.  Mr. Klosowski responded that he is not sure how to give a good answer to the question.  Mr. Holmquist said it seems very expensive, and if this is ongoing, it will be a continual challenge.  Mr. Klosowski stated that they did not get bids for Sawmill, and Long Branch was based on an engineer’s opinion on two buildings totaling $1 million.  He reiterated that the pricing of the larger bathroom at Long Branch would be approximately $500,000.  The hope is that the bids will come in less than anticipated.  Mr. Holmquist suggested they encourage people to apply or make it easier to apply.   

 

        b.     Authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation to Accept Donated Items ($400,000)

 

Mr. Klosowski:

  • Donation from Friends of the Zoo to convert the Lion exhibit to an Amur Leopard exhibit; Friends had it designed and bid the contractor; paying for installation - $400,000; request to accept donation

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

 

4.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY:  Dawn Marmor, Interim Executive Director

        a.     A Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of a Bookmobile in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $260,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $260,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($260,000)

 

Chair Tassone stated that the committee will not be voting on this item today.

 

Mr. Holmquist asked if there were any changes from last month’s presentation, and Ms. Marmor replied that a portion of the CLDA (Central Library Development Aid) from the state will be used to purchase materials.  Mr. McBride asked how much it is.  Ms. Marmor responded that they generally get $200,000 in state aid, and about $7,000 will be available for the materials on the Bookmobile.  The estimate of the first year’s expense of materials would be closer to $10,000. 

 

Mrs. Ervin asked if Ms. Marmor had a budget for this.  Ms. Marmor explained that it takes at least ten months to receive the Bookmobile after ordering, so any staffing would not begin until 2021.  The largest expense would be staffing, and they would need one new Librarian 1 position; Bookmobile Outreach Services Librarian.  The position would be dedicated to the Bookmobile.  They would also need a Librarian Assistant, which they would unfund a position for, and two part-time Clerks.  Materials will be an ongoing expense, fuel varies based on cost, and maintenance on the vehicle is estimated at $5,000 based an existing model from Rochester.  The only other expense is the Wi-Fi for hotspots, which is estimated at $2,800. 

 

Ms. Marmor responded to Mr. McBride that the Bookmobile would be housed in the garage underneath the Galleries, where they house other delivery vehicles.  Mr. McBride asked what the insurance on the vehicle would cost.  Ms. Marmor answered that it is a County vehicle, so it would be under that umbrella.

 

5.     DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION:  Marty Voss, Commissioner

         a.      Amending the 2020 County Budget to Pay in the First Instance 100 Percent of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs at a Maximum Amount of $1,805,000 for the Construction and Construction Inspection Phases of the Old Route 57 Paving Project, PIN 3755.82, and Authorizing Execution of Agreements ($1,805,000)

  • Payment in first instance; federal aid on Rt. 57; Calder Court to State Rt. 31; 1.3 miles; local share in work plan

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

  • This will be one of the first projects in the new season

        b.     Amending Resolution No. 63-2019 to Increase the Authorization to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal Aid Eligible Costs by an Additional $1,600,000 for the Canalways Trail Extension Project, Phase II, PIN 3756.29, and Authorizing the Execution of Agreements ($1,600,000)

  • Loop the lake bridge - bids back in November; significant changes to testing and environmental remediation
  • Driving other costs with inspection and additional construction; evaluated bids, which were off by engineering design estimate, due to environmental changes that had to be made – EPA, DEC, CSX, OCISDA
  • Bids were all within a couple hundred thousand of each other, which means contractors looking at same things
  • Able to work with SMTC to identity other federal funding to offset overage; vast majority is federal funding; expires at end of year; approved at SMTC last Thursday
  • Loop the lake important to County, city (creek walk) and state (Empire State Trail); bridge next year will pull everything together, and make it possible to walk from Amphitheater to downtown Syracuse
  • Had lighting and seating included in design, but railroad will not allow colored lighting; only certain illumination for safety; also they require fencing that is not ideal to look at

Chairman Knapp asked if they can do this without interrupting CSX.  Mr. Voss replied no.  The federal government has to pay CSX for the period of time it takes to erect the structures, and Mr. Voss said they have to have flaggers on both sides monitoring the tracks.  CSX will not give a schedule of when trains are coming, or from where.  Next summer they have three weeks built in for this, which can be done in sequence or over time.  When it is built, it will be a great project with a ribbon cutting. 

 

Mrs. Ervin asked what the cost to the County is.  Mr. Voss responded the local share is $400,000, and the federal share secured is $1.6 million for the overage. 

 

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

 

Chairman Knapp stated that Mr. Wixson volunteered to come back and answer any questions regarding doing work for Parks.  Chair Tassone asked if Facilities could help with plumbing or building with the Park’s projects due to the amount of money they are costing.  Mr. Wixson responded that they will where they can.  Mr. Wixson explained:

  • Not having best luck with bidding market; lot of work out there; private work is less cumbersome to perform then governmental work; not all restrictions and financial burdens
  • Good economy, lots of work out there, so contractors more selective; square footage cost of construction have gone up almost $50/foot; 2 years ago it was $400/square foot now $450; cannot negotiate by state procurement laws
  • i.e.  Restroom that burned down to replace - additional costs to building anything on that location, because it is along Sawmill Creek, a feeder to lake (controlled watershed); same additional scopes of work with storm water protection plan and inspections as the trail work; ensure not to erode Sawmill Creek area or pollute it
  • If put 33’ x 33’ restroom at $450/square foot, then it’s $450,000 without design
  • Facilities willing to support any projects with their resources; currently Facilities has 5 plumbers, and 2 are dedicated to Veterans Cemetery Chapel, because they never got plumbing bid; $500,000 project, and no local plumbers bid
  • Hoping to have ribbon cutting in summer for Chapel
  • Have been asked to support Transportation projects, Jamesville projects - taking on work to reduce County cost
  • Facilities will work at no additional charge to help with any projects that need to get done, where a department runs into road blocks

Chairman Knapp said that was very helpful, and Chair Tassone commented that she appreciates the information.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.10.19_CF_2

JAMIE McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

 12.10.19_CF_1

 

 

* * *

 

PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MINUTESDECEMBER 10, 2019

CHRISTOPHER J. RYAN, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. McBride, Mr. Bush

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Rowley, Mr. Bottrill

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp, Mrs. Ervin; see attached list

 

Chairman Ryan called the meeting to order at 12:03 p.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Bush, seconded by Mr. McBride, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. McBride, seconded by Mr. Bush, to approve the minutes of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

1.     SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:  Captain Matt Kearney, Correction Department

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION: A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction/Construction of Improvements at the Corrections Facility in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $442,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $442,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($442,000)

 

Chairman Ryan said that the bonding resolutions have been previously discussed.  This bond is in reference to the road repairs at Jamesville and air conditioning for Housing Unit 3 so that dehumidifiers aren’t needed.  Captain Kearny responded that it is not just for dehumidifiers, there is a moisture problem with humidity. 

 

Captain Kearney:

  • Original facility construction, air conditioning was not installed
  • In the process of improving Housing Unit 4; Housing Unit 3 is next year’s CIP, want to keep moving down, 4 units total

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

 

Chairman Knapp said that the Sheriff’s department has a new member and asked that she be introduced to the committee.  Chief Andrews said he is retiring January 3, 2020, and Chief Susan DeMari is now the chief of the Civil Division.  The committee gave a round of applause to Chief DeMari.  Chairman Ryan welcomed Chief DeMari and asked if she had any comments.  Chief DeMari responded that there is a lot to learn.

 

Chairman Knapp said that Chief Andrews has done a wonderful job, and his years of service to the Sheriff, the county in general, and the Dewitt Town Board are appreciated.   Chief Andrews received a round of applause.  

 

2.     EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS:  Julie Corn, Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION: Resolution Authorizing Auxiliary Power Systems Replacement at E911 Main Center in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $688,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $688,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($688,000)

 

Ms. Corn introduced Ben Rinaldi as the new deputy commissioner of operations.  

Ms. Corn:

  • Bond to replace backup generator and UPS; provides generator redundancy, protects the no-fail mission - provides extra power needed in the event of an emergency

In response to Chairman Ryan, Ms. Corn said that the power supply is 25 years old and at the end of life.   This item may be covered with grants.

 

Chairman Ryan said that the state grant is $1.25 million.  Ms. Lesniak said that this is one of two projects that could be potentially covered by the state grant.  Ms. Corn said that grant funds would be used before bonding. 

 

Chair Knapp said that if the committee wants to approve this today the legal team will be asked to tweak the wording to add that grant funds be used before bonding or local dollars, which could then be reviewed at Ways and Means on Friday.  Ms. Lesniak said that the resolution also states that 2019 surplus funds be used before bonding. 

 

Chairman Ryan said that if grant funding is received part of that funding could cover the Maykes Radio Tower bond approved at the last session.  Therefore, they will consider tweaking the language or rescinding the resolution.  Chairman Knapp responded that this will be discussed with the Finance department to determine the best way to handle it.

 

Chairman Knapp said that more news will follow on the grant, and congratulated the team for their work.   

 

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

 

        b.     BOND RESOLUTION: A Resolution Authorizing Engineering and Bid Specification Work in Connection with the Next Generation 911 Telephone System Replacement/Refresh Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $212,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $212,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($212,000)

  • Step 1 of the project, hiring a consultant who will advise them through the process and determine the best system for Next Generation 911 (NG-911)
  • In later years will have to pay for the system itself, upwards of millions of dollars; includes all workstations at the center and backup center

Mr. Bush asked what the price tag for the project would ultimately be.   Ms. Corn responded that the project itself is between $3 and $4 million dollars and they will be coming back next year to ask for it.  They are looking to see to what degree the current system will be able to migrate to NC-911.  By next year, with the help of the consultant, they will be able to determine if the amount can be decreased.

 

In answer to Mr. Bush, Ms. Corn said that an RFP will be issued for the consultant after approval.  The figure of $212,000 is an estimate from years past.   Chairman Ryan said that the expectation is that it also includes workstation configurations and how it all ties into the configuration of the wider network.  There are a lot of moving parts.  Ms. Corn said that this is a major project.  NG-911 prepares them for ingesting information and how they communicate with first responders; allows adding pictures and different types of media.  They need to be ready to do this and it is based on the state; preparing for when the state says go.

 

In answer to Mr. McBride, Ms. Corn said that legislators would be provided with a copy of the consultant's report.

 

Chairman Ryan asked to be provided with a copy of the bid expectations prior to it being sent out.

 

Mr. Bush said that it would be easier to comprehend $212,000 if he knew what they were going to be doing for that amount of money.  Mr. Spraker said that NG-911 is big and broad and this would give some guidance.  The current phone system is up for replacement in 2021.  Therefore, 2020 would be the main year for the consultant to provide a roadmap before the system goes off contract.

 

Mr. McBride asked if “NG-911” was 5G.  Ms. Corn responded that it was part of it.  Mr. Spraker said that it is really the sharing of multimedia.  Currently, pictures sent via text to 911 go through a clearinghouse so then 911 has to make a phone call to get the picture to then send to other agencies.  With NG-911 they will be able to receive and share media directly.   

 

Chairman Knapp said the backup states the consultant will help in the development of the RFP to ensure the right questions are asked to obtain the right specifications.  Ms. Corn said that the consultant will help them scope out the bid for when they actually come to pay for the project itself and paying for a consultant has worked well for other major projects.  Chairman Knapp said the hope is that this will save money on the backend.  Ms. Corn said that a consultant is also being used for item 2c; they are trying to make smart decisions.

 

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

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Ms. Corn confirmed that grant funds cannot be used for this item; those funds are almost exclusive to radios.  They receive another type of grant but the amount is much less. 

 

        c.      BOND RESOLUTION: A Resolution Authorizing the Replacement of Mobile Data Communications Network Infrastructure in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $3,600,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $3,600,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($3,600,000)

  • Upgrade system to communicate between 911 and first responders through vehicle communications network,  past end of life, critical
  • Allows E-911 to know where a first responder vehicle is located and allows first responders to know where they are in comparison to others, shares CAD data; currently at dial-up speed, need modem upgrades
  • Funds cover the modems; once completed will move to the next phase of the project with the paid consultant’s help

Chairman Ryan said that this will provide the ability to come into the next decade for a more efficient way to communicate with first responders   Ms. Corn said that it is moving into 5G wireless broadband that is equal to what is on cellphones.  Chairman Ryan asked how this will tie into the next piece.  Mr. Spraker said that with the use of 4G and 5G they hope to be able to share data directly with first responders.  Currently, they are supplementing dial-up modems with other MiFi devices, which makes it hard to share data. 

 

Chairman Ryan said that 5G phones and service is now available in the City of Syracuse.  Mr. Spraker responded that the bid will include modems that are upgradable to 4G or 5G. 

 

In answer to Chairman May, Mr. Spraker confirmed that the modems would be in first responders’ vehicles. 

 

Chairman Knapp said that this equipment is not just for us, it is being supplied to all departments.  Ms. Corn said that this is why it is so important.  The equipment is going into every first responder vehicle that needs one; volunteer and paid fire departments, police departments, and EMS vehicles.  A survey will be used to determine the need in order to save as much money as possible.  If this is not approved they risk being dependent on radio communication, which is not realistic in this day and age.  To keep responders and the community safe they must be able to communicate in a reasonable savvy way.

 

Mr. Bush asked the outlining cost to fire departments or volunteer ambulance services; how it was being coordinated and would funding be available for those with limited funds.  Ms. Corn responded that a written proposal has been presented to the county executive.  They are trying to determine the most cost-effective way to help agencies that need it.  This CIP is separate from that subscription part.  To be clear, this CIP will cover the modems for everyone with need but a subscription service is required to use the mode.  We need to come together and make a decision if this is something we are able to pay for and to what degree. 

 

Mr. Bush said that he can hear complaints coming in that the county is going to a system which will cost them money to be part of.   Ms. Corn responded that they hear the same thing.  In the past, oftentimes they paid for and rolled out the first iteration of a device, then over time those departments pay for it.   She inherited this budget and would have asked for this money in her 2020 operating budget if she had known sooner. 

Mr. Bush said that it will be a challenge for some of the smaller police departments to come up with the money.  Ms. Corn responded that she knows.  If an agreement to pay for this is determined it will go into the 2021 budget.  Mr. Bush asked how that would coordinate with rolling this out.  Ms. Corn responded that her team is ready.  They have the consultant to determine the smartest way to do the steps.  Having a survey, determining who needs the modems and distributing them needs to come first but a plan has to be in place for who is going to pay for them before turning them on.  Mr. Bush said that he is concerned that the system could be up and running but there is no concrete proposal to get other agencies to tie in for the operation of the equipment.  Ms. Corn reiterated that there is a proposal but she does not want to promise anything until there is an agreement.

 

In answer to Chairman Ryan, Ms. Corn said that the cost to agencies should just be the subscription, which is about $34.00 per month/per device.  Mr. Spraker that this cost is for unlimited.  Pooling data might bring the cost down but it is so new that they don’t know which plan to use.  The first year would almost have to be unlimited and tailored from there.

 

Chairman Ryan asked if agencies currently pay monthly subscription costs.  Mr. Spraker responded that most police, some ambulance, and a few fire departments pay for service on some of their vehicles, i.e. Sheriff’s department uses current radio system running on dialup technology, supplements with MiFi devices through Verizon at $34 per month/per vehicle for most of their fleet.  It is the same for SPD and some of the bigger agencies.  Some volunteer and ambulance organizations buy MiFi devices for a few vehicles but it is not their entire fleet. 

 

Mr. McBride asked the number of devices.  Ms. Corn responded that there are 800 total vehicles; will get back to with the number currently paying.  In answer to Mr. Bush, Ms. Corn confirmed that there is no additional equipment for individual officers outside of the car. 

 

Mr. Bush asked if all were good with this plan.  Ms. Corn responded that this is critical, they are currently hanging on by a thread.  Chairman Ryan said that it is a lot of money, $2.6 million with then additional costs passed on to small agencies but technology continues to pass us by.   We are now 2 years beyond the curve and don’t really have a choice.  Ms. Corn agreed.  The biggest choice is the next phase, how do we help those that need it most and find a way for everyone to get onto this system. 

 

Mr. McBride asked the lifespan.  Ms. Corn responded that the RFP will be for 10 years; it doesn’t mean it will last 10 years but the bidder must supply the parts for that length of time.

 

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

 

        d.     BOND RESOLUTION: A Resolution Authorizing the Repaving of the E911 Center Parking Lot in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $344,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $344,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($344,000)

  • 30 years old, deteriorated, effects employees, visitors, and first responders
  • Gate relies on sensor below the pavement to operate - security risk each time it fails to function; power, telephone, and natural gas lines all run through the length of the parking lot, all at risk; defiantly needed within the 2020

Chairman Ryan asked where the estimate of $344,000 came from.  Ms. Corn responded that I was before her time but she will find out.  

 

Mr. McBride asked if it could be patched.  Ms. Corn responded that Facilities has been patching it when they can; this is how they are getting by.  Mr. McBride asked to be provided with an estimate for patching the parking.   Mr. Rinaldi said that they have been patching it for a few years.

 

Chairman Ryan asked to be provided with the bid specifications.   

 

Chairman Ryan said that a conversation needs to be had with DOT as to the best option, and there is also the gate issue.  Ms. Corn said that the pavement has had to be repaired for the gate to operate; she will get back with the answers.

No action was taken on this item.

 

Chairman Ryan:

  • Memorialized support and received a Firefighter Cancer Registry a couple of years ago; firefighters both volunteer and professional are developing cancer at an alarming rate above and beyond many other professions
  • Approached by Syracuse Fire Department to potentially provide free cancer screening for Onondaga County firefighters
  • Initiating the conversation; Health department needs to be part of it, hopes the committee wants to take this up
  • In full disclosure NYS Firefighter Cancer Foundation is a great organization, the president is located in Syracuse
  • Inclusive for all firefighters

Mr. McBride commended the Chair and said that this is a great idea.  He agrees that it must be all-inclusive so that volunteers and professionals are included in any kind of initiative rolled out.

 

Chairman Ryan apologized to his colleagues for the lack of notice in adding this to the agenda; spoke with Chairman Knapp but has not had a chance to speak to Chair Burtis of the Health Committee.

 

Chairman Ryan said, “For the record, letting them know adds value that we are out looking to help.  I think this is something we should do.”  Mr. Bush said that it is a good idea.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Bush, seconded by Mr. McBride, to adjourn the meeting at 12:41 p.m.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.10.19_PS_1

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

12.10.19_PS_2

 

 

* * *

 

 

HEALTH COMMITTEE MINUTES – DECEMBER 11, 2019

TIMOTHY T. BURTIS, CHAIRMAN

 

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Bottrill, Ms. Williams

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chairman Burtis called the meeting to order at 9:40 a.m.  A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

1.     HEALTH DEPARTMENT:  Dr. Indu Gupta, Commissioner; Dr. Carolyn Revercomb, Medical Examiner; Kristie Barba, Toxicologist; Dr. Kathleen Corrado, Director of Labs

        a.     Create L108067, Forensic Records Coordinator at Grade 10, $54,012 - $59,762

                Create L108068, Forensic Records Coordinator at Grade 10, $54,012 - $59,762


Dr. Gupta:

  • Introduced her team; special request for MEO and Forensic Lab each seeking a forensic records coordinator to manage expected volume and timeframe for new discovery law effective January 1, 2020
  • The law is part of the criminal justice reform for NYS, increases the amount of material for discovery and reduces the timeframe for providing evidence and documentation, requires automatic discovery, eliminated need for the defense attorney’s written demand, requires the prosecutor to turn over all material within 15 days; very short turnaround considering the number of items
  • Lab quality assurance manager is handling about 100 discovery requests per year, will increase to 800 a year

Dr. Chase said that this is for Onondaga County and the other counties that we do this work for.  Dr. Gupta responded that it will primarily be for Onondaga County but the ME will be handling other counties too; mainly Oneida which is contracted. 

  • MEO handling 40 discovery request per year, increasing to 150; positions requested based on estimated volumes of work, think 1 position for each department will be able to handle the volume, may need more

Dr. Burtis welcomed Dr. Revercomb, thanked her for coming and asked where these positions would fall under the structure of their department.  Dr. Corrado responded that the Center for Forensic Sciences is broken into two units.  Dr. Revercomb oversees the MEO and Kristie Barba is the toxicology director, which is under the MEO.  The rest of the building is under her, which is the crime laboratory.  The crime laboratory annualizes the evidence from all the police agencies within the county; all criminal work.  Dr. Revercomb said that the MEO’s work involves postmortem work.  Ms. Barba said that the toxicology lab does postmortem work as well as police agency cases, i.e. driving under the influence and drug-facilitated crimes.  Dr. Corrado said that in the laboratory this person will be under the quality assurance manager but they are anticipating this person to be somewhat independent because their role will be coordinating all of this to ensure that they are meeting all deadlines for the five disciplines.  This provides a big push to move toward electronic records; recently approved CIP to upgrade the laboratory information system which they hope will help.  This position will help to coordinate that. 

In answer to Chairman Burtis, Ms. Barba said that one position will be shared between the MEO and toxicology and the other position will be in the crime lab.  

 

Dr. Chase asked if the positions could be interchanged due to volume for the crime lab versus the MEO.  Ms. Barba responded that the estimated number of 150 for the MEO does not include toxicology cases.  Plus there is much more information associated with a toxicology case; going from 5 to 200 with a large amount of data required.  Dr. Corrado said that the positions will not be interchangeable due to the specific knowledge needed for each organization.  Dr. Gupta said that there is collaboration under the Health Department but the division of labor will be significant in both, though they will be supportive of each other. 

 

Dr. Chase asked if there were qualified people to fill these positions.  Dr. Corrado responded that this is a new title so there isn’t a list.  They will start advertising once this is approved, and she believes there are local people available.

 

Chair Burtis asked for the job description:

12.11.19Health1

 

12.11.19Health2

 

In answer to Mrs. Julie Abbott-Kenan, Dr. Gupta said that they are not unfunding any positions.  Chair Burtis said that this is 2 creates that are not currently in their budget.  In answer to Dr. Chase, Dr. Gupta confirmed that they did not talk about these positions for their 2020 budget because they did not have enough information at that time.  Dr. Corrado said that the bill was passed very quickly and goes into effect January first; all are struggling with this. 

 

Chairman Burtis said that the challenge is how to fund $119,000, plus $40,000 for benefits.  Dr. Gupta responded that they can find money in their budget for now and will come back and ask for more appropriation if it is needed in the latter part of 2020.

 

Dr. Chase asked if there would be reimbursement from other counties for this type of service.   Dr. Gupta said that Dr. Revercomb is the chief MEO for Oneida who has contracted with us completely.  Autopsies are also done for others.  This will be required so there will be a continued conversation with them. 

Dr. Chase said that they need this.  Chairman Burtis responded that the question is how to pay for it; he now understands why two are needed.

 

Chairman Burtis asked if they would be using the new software and if it was ready.  Dr. Corrado responded that it is an upgrade to what they already have, which will likely be in next year.  There will be a long implementation as everything is migrated from the old system to the new; probably mid to late 2020.  All are concerned that these estimates could be much worse.  The biggest change to the crime lab is people cannot plead unless they have this information.  In the past, only about 10% of drug cases were worked due to pleas.  This could expand the number of new cases a lot.  They will be using the new system but it will not be the end-all-be-all, other issues need to be addressed.

 

Mrs. Abbott-Kenan said that there are so many unknowns with this new mandate that it is very scary to be representing the shareholders.  At the same time, she is sympathetic to their issue.  Having just received the job description she does not want to put their office into a position where they are unable to comply but at the same time, she is concerned about not knowing where the funds are going to come from. 

 

Mrs. Abbott-Kenan asked what Dr. Gupta would do if they took some time to mull this over.  Dr. Gupta responded that there will be significant implications for law enforcement who will want this information.  Dr. Corrado said that they need this; they don’t want someone to go free because they weren’t able to provide the information.  Right now they are asking to create the position; may be able to fund with salary saving until it is put into the budget.  Having a position in place is a start.  Ms. Barba said that this starts January 1 but getting ready to provide this data has been a huge burden and it has affected laboratory turnaround times. 

 

Ms. Mignano said that they take a Health Department view on this and feel that they have the capacity to build this in.  There is recognition between the DA and their work from a Public Safety point of view.  The burden on them in terms of their everyday work, additional paperwork and documentation requirement is something that cannot be absorbed so they have prioritized creating these positions to support that.  As they start 2020 they feel very confident that they can keep this within their operating budget.  They have been fiscally prudent so that they are not burdening the legislature.  Dr. Chase agreed that the Health department has always been very prudent in handling its budget.  Unfortunately this year the legislature ended up with so many unfunded mandates across the spectrum that it makes everyone stop and think about how much we can deal with.  From a public safety standpoint, this has to be done in a reasonably expedient manner. 

 

Dr. Gupta said that this is supporting what has been approved for other departments in the budget.  It is the connecting dot that comes from two divisions of the Health Department which will support continuous protection of the community and people by providing the right evidence at the right time as required by law.  Chairman Burtis said that it is important and a big unknown.  While he doesn’t agree with the law, he thinks public safety is going to be in question and he doesn’t want to get in the way of that.  However, this has to go to Ways and Means and he does not want to have challenges or unanswered questions. 

 

Chairman Burtis said the question is if one or two positions can be created without funding to get things started, and suggested creating a job description for the position in the crime lab and the MEO/tox so that everyone can understand the need for both.  Dr. Gupta said that each division is very prudent and they feel confident that they can support the position at this time without funding.  They won’t be able to hire anyone right away and the work is going to start so they need to get these positions created. 

 

In answer to Dr. Chase, Chairman Burtis said that unfunded positions can be created and paid for out of their 101 or they could come back and ask for more money, which would give legislators more detail and time, and would not be holding things up.  Ms. Mignano said that this is exactly when they were hoping for; they weren’t asking for additional funds.  Dr. Gupta said that if there is a need they will be back but creating the positions is what they are asking for at this point.

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve creating these two unfunded positions. 

 

Dr. Corrado said that this gives them the opportunity to do the best they can.  It is possible that they may be able to make this until next year.

 

Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chairman Burtis thanked everyone for attending.

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Abbott-Kenan, seconded by Dr. Chase, to adjourn.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

The meeting adjourned at 10:10 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.11.19Health3

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

12.11.19Health4

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

PLANNING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MINUTES – DECEMBER 11, 2019

JOHN D. McBRIDE, CHAIR

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Holmquist, Mr. Burtis, Mr. Buckel

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mrs. Abbott-Kenan

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chairman McBride called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Mr. Holmquist to waive the reading of the minutes of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIEDA motion was made by Mr. Holmquist, seconded by Mr. Burtis to approve the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     ONONDAGA COUNTY CIVIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION:

        a.     Confirming Appointment by the County Executive to the Onondaga County Civic Development Corporation (Mitchell Latimer)

 

Chairman McBride stated that Mr. Mitchell Latimer is replacing Mr. Ben Dublin.

 

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

 

2.     TRUST FOR CULTURAL RESOURCES:

        a.     Confirming Appointments to the Trust for Cultural Resources of the County of Onondaga (Kathy Dwyer, Leslie Gracea)

 

Chairman McBride stated Ms. Kathy Dwyer is replacing Ms. Ann Clark, and she is a constituent of his who is very well respected.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Buckel, seconded by Mr. Burtis, to approve Kathy Dwyer’s appointment.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chairman McBride stated Ms. Leslie Gracea is replacing Mr. Greg Tripoli.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Mr. Holmquist, to approve Leslie Gracea’s appointment.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

3.     INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY:  Kevin Sexton, Chief Information Officer

        a.     Authorizing the Execution of an Inter-Municipal Agreement with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

  • Work with Department of Homeland Security, specifically the Cyber Information Security Agency (CISA) to engage in a number of exercises; further protecting network and information assets; work with agency that does this for living
  • (1) Fishing campaign assessment – send out legitimate looking emails (have done) to educate users on risks of clicking links and attachments from people they do not know; will get statistics off that
  • (2) Vulnerability scanning exercise - software will run against external facing IPs (public facing servers); ensure no vulnerabilities; typically some findings (most patch levels); anything external facing trying to get in is tightened up
  • IT Department has internal testing software that works well, but good to get another set of eyes
  • (3) Risk and vulnerability assessment – series of questions looking at different aspects of network and security posture to identify and rank areas of risk to address in future
  • Agreement goes over scope and what deliverables are
  • Zero cost engagement

Mr. Buckel said that the Syracuse City Schools and another local government were held hostage by a ransom attack, and asked if any County agency has been held hostage by a cyber-thief.  Mr. Sexton responded that the Syracuse City School District got hit with ransomware, as well as the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL).  IT assisted with recovering their data and rebuilding their network.  Mr. Buckel asked if the County paid anything, and Mr. Sexton answered no.  That is the only thing that has hit the County. 

 

Mr. McBride asked if OCPL is separate, and Mr. Sexton responded that they manage their own domain and IT; but the IT Department is managing it now.  There are DNS services, tools and new protection software with zero day threat detection.  OCPL is much stronger and more secure now, than they were. 

 

Mr. Burtis asked if IT has done fishing exercises in the County.  Mr. Sexton replied yes; IT does four to five programs a year targeting 300 – 400 people with an email from (i.e.) UPS or Amazon.  If the person clicks the link, there’s a friendly reminder about the risks of clicking links.  The click rates can be as low as 6% and as high as 25% on some campaigns.  Mr. Burtis said they have a baseline now of how the employees are doing, and Mr. Sexton said it is a good point having a baseline that they can then compare to CISA’s results.

 

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

 

4.     ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:  Travis Glazier, Director of Office of Environment; Ben Yaus, Deputy County Attorney

        a.     Authorizing the Execution of an Agreement with the City of Syracuse, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of the State Comptroller – New York Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund, and the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation Regarding Environmental Liability for Acquired Properties

 

Mr. Glazier:

  • Resolution to enable County Executive to sign multi-party agreement with City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, NYSDEC and NYS Spill Fund
  • Purpose to protect County - good faith effort to take problem properties and make them more productive
  • MoonBeam started making payments; also DMI, who owns 56 Industrial Ave. off Willis, started paying their taxes
  • These payments were made because the County Executive said he would foreclose and take properties
  • When beginning process with Mr. Yaus, Real Property Tax Office and himself, they discuss potential liabilities exposing County to in a foreclosure - this agreement rectifies some of those
  • County does not want to hold contaminated properties; want to turn them around to make them positive
  • NYSDEC recognizes what was done in Suffolk County; built agreement based on that; NYSDEC on board
  • NYSDEC saw what happened with Roth Steel, and how the County came in and took an active roll
  • Agreement makes threat of foreclosure legitimate
  • This will help the County collect more property taxes with a legitimate threat, will protect the environment (getting properties in some control), and protect human health
  • (i.e.) Roth Steel – put up fencing to keep people out, because of the condition of the property
  • Agreement allows County to take actions to take properties and collect back taxes from negative property owners

Mr. Glazier responded to Mr. Buckel that the City, County and Landbank are agreeing to not be sued by the NYSDEC and Spill Fund.  Also, they’re agreeing not to sue any of the other parties.  Mr. Buckel clarified that the Spill Fund will not sue the three entities, and Mr. Glazier said yes.  Is that enforceable under the Federal Superfund.  Mr. Yaus responded yes.  The federal authority is delegated to NYS, which is usual in these matters.  Occasionally the EPA will run a superfund site, but by far it is the DEC handling the sites and incurring the costs.  Mr. Buckel said if any entity acquires a property subject to potential superfund liability and how extensive that is, would the County lose the right to go back to prior polluters due to this covenant?  Mr. Yaus responded no.  The County would maintain all the rights with prior polluters.  Mr. Yaus answered Mr. Buckel that even though the County is not sued by the NYSDEC or Oil Spill Fund, it does not mean the County cannot be sued by a third party.  This agreement does not cover third party liability.  It deals with costs incurred by the NYSDEC and Spill Fund.  It is also a general covenant not to sue.  There is an issue if the County sues a past contributor, because they can third party the County in as well.  Mr. Yaus does not see the County seeking to go after a third party, because the County is not incurring any cleanup costs.  If the state wants to go after previous owners, the County would be immunized to a certain extent.  The County will ask the person that they are selling to, to take on the remediation, which is a requirement by the NYSDEC in the agreement. 

 

Mr. Burtis wanted clarification that the agreement does not force the County to clean it.  Mr. Glazier responded that there would be some measures to follow including no releasing of any additional hazard and protecting human health.  These are things the County will do as good stewards.  Mr. Yaus stated, in regards to hazardous material, that the definition of disposal can include passive migration.  For example, if the County buys a clean property with an underground tank that then starts spreading a hazardous substance, the NYSDEC can say that the County disposed of or released it, because of ownership at the time.  There are added protections in the agreement, as well as oil protection. 

 

Mr. Glazier said when Roth Steel was taken over, the IEA held the property for a period of time.  The NYSDEC said they can hold it until they find a buyer, but there are a few measures to ensure no additional releases and security for public health reasons.  This included barrels on site that needed to be classified and disposed of, and the security was ensuring an intact chain-link fence to keep people from going on the site.  The County’s approach is to take properties with a future recipient in mind.  Economic Development has provided leads for people interested in properties, because the owners are unresponsive.  Or the owner is unresponsive until the County threatens to take the property away.  (i.e.) DMI was not responding to any potential buyers who wanted to redevelop it.  Mr. Glazier explained to Mr. Buckel that DMI was in tax foreclosure, which gave the County the opportunity to go to them saying they are not paying their taxes and are striping the property of its value.  The idea is not to hold the property for a long period of time, so interim measures can be taken by the next owner. 

 

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

 

5.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:  Marty Skahen, Director

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

  • Approve taking houses on delinquent tax auction; 8 new properties to take and fix up
  • Lime Tree Lane in Bayberry, Allen Street in East Syracuse, North Street in Jamesville, Metro Road in Lyncourt, East Molloy in Mattydale, Watson Street (2 Family) by Shop City, and 2 properties in Seneca Knolls (problem for long time)
  • Will make money on a few, and may lose money a few; hope to come out even

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

 

Chairman McBride stated that this is Mr. Buckel’s last meeting with the committee, and it has been a pleasure and honor to serve with him on the Legislature.  He is a well-regarded and knowledgeable individual, and we will miss him greatly.  Chairman McBride thanked Mr. Buckel for his service.  Mr. Buckel said thank you, and he respects and admires the work the legislators have put into this, not just at the Legislature, but in their home districts as well.

 

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

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:53 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

12.11.19 Planning1

JAMIE McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

12.11.19 Planning2

 

 

* * *

 

WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES

DECEMBER 13, 2019

DEB CODY, CHAIR

 

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Ms. Williams

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp

 

Chair Cody called the meeting to order at 9:08 a.m.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mr. Rowley, to waive the reading and approve the minutes of proceedings from the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chair Cody took the agenda out of order.

 

*Mrs. Ervin and Mr. May arrived at the meeting.

 

12.   EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS:  Julie Corn, Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  Resolution Authorizing Auxiliary Power Systems Replacement at E911 Main Center in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $688,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $688,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($688,000)

  • Auxiliary power – back-up generator and uninterruptable power supply
  • Current generator almost at end of life – this will provide generator redundancy and prevent going dark in an emergency
  • Confident that it will be covered by grants, but not in the bank yet
  • Will not bond if the grants come through

 

Chair Cody asked when it will be known about the grants.  Ms. Corn said the 2018 grant was approved – it’s a matter of getting the funds; the 2019 grant was just approved. 

 

Mr. Rowley said that he understands that if the money comes in before we go out to market, the project account would be offset with that money.  Mr. Maturo said that the grant funds would come into the project account and then the borrowing would be reduced.  Mr. Rowley said that if the timing works out that we have to go to market to bond and then the money comes in after that it allocated for this project, then it goes to reserve for debt.  Mr. Maturo agreed.

 

Chairman Knapp said that he spoke to Mr. Durr and Mr. Morgan, who reached out to bond counsel, who said to do it exactly the way we are doing it.

 

Mr. Ryan said that if we get that if the grant funds are received, it can go back to the Makyes radio tower also.  Chairman Knapp agreed.

 

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

 

        b.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing Engineering and Bid Specification Work in Connection with the Next Generation 911 Telephone System Replacement/Refresh Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $212,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $212,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($212,000)

  • Upgrade next generation 911 telephone system – replacement/refresh
  • Hire consultant for $212,000; the projects itself would be upwards to $3 million next year
  • Consultant to work through the process, set up an RFP – save money on the back end by going about this is a smart way
  • The state controls a lot of Next Generation 911 and need to be ready – doing everything possible for when it happens

Mr. Rowley said that this is a very small bond resolution, and he feels we should be using cash capital for it.  The county had a good year last year and anticipate another good year this year.  We have grant money coming in.  Mr. Morgan said that all of the bond resolutions include language that allows him to make decisions on using cash for projects.  As it gets towards closing 2019, he will evaluate the position and determine if that is what we want to do.  Mr. Rowley said that he understands; feels there should be a little tighter policy in what we authorize for bonding.  The small ones, unless something is awry fiscally, should be funded with cash capital.  Mr. Jordan said that he voices similar sentiments.

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to approve this item.  AYES:  4 (Cody, May, Ervin, Ryan); NOES:  2 (Rowley, Jordan); MOTION CARRIED.

 

        c.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Replacement of Mobile Data Communications Network Infrastructure in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $3,600,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $3,600,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($3,600,000)

  • Mobile data communications network – most expensive; important because it impacts the 911 center and all first responders; network that allows communication with all first responder vehicles
  • Automatic vehicle location data and CAD cross this network
  • Current systems are old and at dial up speed; this will be wireless broadband
  • 800 modems for all vehicles that need them
  • Once passed they will survey to see who needs them so not buying more than needed

Chair Cody asked if this was 2 years past end of life; Ms. Corn agreed.

 

Mr. Rowley said that there was an engineering study done and asked if it is all still valid.  Ms. Corn said that it is.  She has met with them, kicking this into gear, so they can help through the life of this project, which will be about a year.  She said that the committee will hear from her again when it comes to subscription fees.

 

Mr. Ryan asked if subscription fees go out to all first responders’ vehicles.  Ms. Corn agreed noting that it is how we go about paying for those.  Mr. May asked if it is “how everyone goes about paying for those.”  Ms. Corn agreed.  Mr. May said that it is a broad consideration.  Ms. Corn agreed – whether we are funding some or funding all, etc.  

 

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

 

        d.     PULLED

 

1.     COUNTY CLERK:

        a.     Mortgage Tax Apportionment

 

No one was present to address the resolution.

 

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

 

2.     PURCHASE, DIVISION OF:  Dan Hammer, Deputy Director

        a.     Transfer from Division of Purchase, Acct. 666500 Contingent Acct. to Division of Purchase, Acct. 668720 Transfer to Grant Expenditures, $75,000

  • Transfer of funds to a project account to conduct a disparity study

Mr. May asked if the study is being conducted, or just moving the money to a project account so the money is there when it is needed.  Mr. Hammer said it is moving the money to have it when it is needed.

 

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

 

3.     LAW:  Robert Durr, County Attorney

        a.     Transfer from Law Department, Acct. 641010 Total Salaries, to Law Department, Acct. 694080 Professional Services, $165,000

  • For outside counsel fees
  • This past year lost two attorney’s, who have not been replaced because of anticipation of needing these funds because of extensive litigation related to Shoppingtown – now in bankruptcy court in Pittsburgh – have outside counsel for that as well as local counsel in Pittsburgh
  • Have a new environmental at Ley Creek, DMI and an action against Great Northern
  • Outside counsel fees have been driven up – specialized areas; right now it is better to use outside counsel instead of trying to hire somebody in a specialized area and paying benefits and salary
  • No fiscal impact

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

 

4.     LEGISLATURE:  David Knapp, Chairman

        a.     Amending Rule 37 of the Rules of the Onondaga County Legislature to Change the Structure of the Standing Committee (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)

  • Did an experiment two years ago by creating the stand alone Human Services Committee
  • They did some good things, but met 3 times this year
  • Proposing that committee be combined with the Health Committee to create the Health and Human Services Committee

Mr. May said that Health Committee was also very light with content through the course of the year.

 

Mrs. Ervin asked if it was by design that they did not meet, or there was nothing to meet about, or was it the chairmanship of the two committees.  It was separated out because it’s a large area.  She said she doesn’t know that the experiment failed because there wasn’t much to talk about; it might have been something to do with the chairs of those committees.   She said that she is not really in favor of this.

 

Mr. May said that the formation was on the heals on how they departments were moved together financially.  Maybe there was some more anticipated demand that didn’t happen. 

 

Mr. Ryan asked if the jurisdiction of the departments that fall under Human Services Committee will go to this committee.  Chairman Knapp agreed – they would go to Health and Human Services Committee.  Mrs. Ervin said that was how it was before, and even then it didn’t meet that much.  She said you have to look at who is leading; there were a lot of things that we could have been talking about in both committees over the past two years.  She asked how many times the Health Committee met; Chairman Knapp said quite a bit, but a lot was informational.  Mrs. Ervin said a lot them were cancelled. 

 

Mr. Jordan said that it is not just up to the committee chair; any member of the legislature can develop an initiative and bring it forward for consideration.  It’s not just dependent upon the chairman of the committee to bring matters forward on the agenda.   

 

Chairman Knapp said that hopefully this will make it a more robust committee; and it can always be changed.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Rowley, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to approve this item.  AYES:  4 (Cody, May, Jordan, Rowley); NOES:  2 (Ervin, Ryan).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

5.     PERSONNEL:  Duane Owens, Commissioner

a.    Accepting and Approving the Contract Between Onondaga County and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Captain’s Association

  • Total cost of the contract is $254,000 through duration
  • Longevity gap – was a cleanup – individuals that were promoted to the next rank lost their longevity and had to start over; this continues them on with what they already earned
  • Equity stipend – some years where the captions took some zeros and the patrol unit continued to get raises – trying to bridge that gap
  • Attendance premium $15,965 is the maximum – may not cost that much
  • Overtime – time and a half after working 10 hrs.

In answer to Mr. Ryan, Mr. Owens said that the term of the contract is 3 years.

 

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

 

        b.     Personnel Resolution:

                Advance Step Employee Relations Officer from Grade 31 G, $53,556 to Grade 31 R, $62,797

  • Opportunity to receive an employee who was previously with the department and has employee relations experience
  • The person is another department – asking for advance step to move the person back to Personnel and not lose any of their current salary

In answer to Mr. Rowley, Mr. Owens confirmed that there is money in the 101 to cover the position.  Mr. Rowley asked if we are losing aid by moving this position from DSS.  Mr. Morgan said that it depends on the role of the employee and it could be charged back.  He said that typically that position was solely dedicated to supporting human services – there could be some aid on it.  If that role of responsibilities is taken on in Personnel, then it is charged back to the department.  Mr. Owens said that the roles and responsibilities are staying in DSS; this person is taking on new roles.

 

Mr. Rowley asked what the plan is for the position in DSS – will it be filled.  Mr. Owens said that he couldn’t speak to that.

 

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

 

6.     HEALTH:  Dr. Gupta, Commissioner; Dr. Corrado, Director of Labs

        a.     Providing for Various Personnel Change: 

                Create L108067, Forensic Records Coordinator at Grade 10, $54,012 - $59,762;

                Create L108068, Forensic Records Coordinator at Grade 10, $54,012 - $59,762

Dr. Gupta:

  • To manage increased volume of material in expedited time frame for discovery due to new Bail Reform and Discovery Law that goes into effect on 1/1/2020 – will affect work load in ME’s office, including toxicology lab and criminal lab
  • Criminal lab:
    • current load that the quality assurance manager is handling is approximately 100 discovery requests per year; new requirement per new law will increase that 8 fold – 800 requests/year
    • additional work requires managing the volume of incoming requests, gathering multiple records that includes chain of custody, submission requests, communication logs, case material for all 5 technical sections, analytical data in multiple formats - very complex work – quite sophisticated
    • also the law requires the lab to provide data proficiency tests for each analyst for the last 10 years
  • Medical Examiner Office:
    • Currently getting requests for 40 discoveries; will increase to 150
    • Toxicology lab DUI requests will go from 5 to 200 lab requests
    • Also have to track, compile, provide information, including chain of custody, submission requests, communication logs, etc., the same way
    • Instrumentation logs have to be provided 6 months prior and 6 months after the analysis of a DUI case
    • A lot of it is paperwork – have to put things together, gather all of the information for defense attorneys
    • Credentialing information for medical examiners, who are doing the evaluation, has to be provided also

 

Dr. Gupta noted that she was asked the question previously if she had information, as some other department had made a request.  She said that she did not have enough information at that time to put it forward.  She said that they have to be very diligent and look back and see if they can fulfill this based on the staffing they have.   She said they have examined what their current case load is, and what the current staffing is, and it seems it pretty much impossible to do that.  Also, based on discussions with other jurisdictions of the same kind, it seems apparent that we need one staff in each to fulfill the requirements in a very timely manner.   

 

Chair Cody referenced the huge increase in request being 800.  Dr. Gupta said that if you think of that 8 fold and then also ME’s, being more than 3 times and also the DUI going from 5 – 200.  On top of that all of the personnel and instrumental data has to be provided – there are a lot of moving pieces which have to be very precise.  

 

Mr. May asked if item 6b could be discussed in tandem.  He said that the reasons to expand are very compelling and something that we probably need to do.  There has been good debate in committee and within caucus about the necessity.  Within the discussion a lot of parallels were identified similar to experiences that we had last year with Raise the Age.  Criminal Justice Reform is driving the demands of Onondaga County government with respect to staffing and overtime.  In this case, it is the records and capabilities with respect to Criminal Justice Reform within the two divisions within the Health Department.

 

Mr. May said that one thing that was successful for the members of the legislature last year was to approve based on very compelling information that helped us understand the requests that were being made.  While at the same time, it allowed us to build a mechanism for oversight during the process, and determine exactly what demands are being placed on the county.  Not only financially, but from a manpower standpoint – what is driving overtime, what needs are being funded from the state, what things slipped through the cracks – which happened with Raise the Age – and become a burden to the county through these mandated program services capabilities and requirements.  Mr. May said that the proposal, which very quickly gained consensus within our caucus, takes the same strategy and applying it here.  Approving the positions, with an eye toward the contingency approach to enable us to have visibility to progress, demands, and keep an eye on how things are going.  Ultimately, the money will have to be released.  It is not an objection to what we need to do here; it’s a mechanism for us to have some oversight within the process.  Dr. Gupta questioned if she is being asked to report back to the committee.  Mr. May explained that releasing the money from contingency will give members a picture at that point in time as to what is needed and what is going on with respect to committee.  Chair Cody suggested coming back to the Health Committee and providing an update.  Dr. Gupta said that transparency is the key and there is a dedicated staff who can provide the information needed and provided detailed data.  She said it is learning for them also – how it is working as it is being implemented on the local level.  Chair Cody said that there is a lot of unknowns as to how this is anticipated, and this keeps everybody informed.  Dr. Gupta said that they have no idea if it could be more than this – these are speculations at this point – the best educated guestimates.  Mr. May said that with Raise the Age, and some of those demands, it turned out to be a lot less than forecasted.

Mr. Jordan agrees with this approach; it is an unknown and are hopefully planning for the worst and hoping for the best, and feels this is a good tool.

 

In answer to Mr. Jordan, Dr. Gupta confirmed that she is not asking for any additional funding.  He said the cost is roughly $108,000 to $120,000 in the 101 line.  He presumes that amount won’t be needed now, at least in the original positions.  He questioned where the money is coming from; will certain positions not be filled.  Dr. Gupta said that they have salary savings at times and can’t fill positions at times – it takes time.  She said they are very diligent about things and not wasting any money.  She said that she wants to fill the requested positions early in 2020, and will do their best to find money within their budget with the savings that they have.  When they don’t have it, they will come back to the legislature and the numbers will be in front of legislators.  Also, caseloads and what is happening will be reported on.  The legislature will have a much better perspective to say “yes, we are on the right track and have no other choice other than to fund it.”  It is one of those mandated things.

 

Mr. May said some things were caught during the budget process and other things are showing up now.  Dr. Gupta said that she wishes she would have known; she spoke to Dr. Corrado less than two weeks before (budget review), and they didn’t have that much information.  She and Dr. Corrado had provided what the information that they had at that time.  Dr. Gupta said that they wanted to come to the legislature with the specific numbers and data, not just because they want the dollars; need to have the support backed by data.  She stated that the legislature is being fiscally sensitive and so is she.

 

Mr. Rowley asked if there are any positions that can be abolished, since this is creating two.  Dr. Gupta said “no.”  Mr. Rowley questioned how it was developed to come to the conclusion that these two positions were needed.  He added that budget time the district attorney came over and was pretty upfront and had his hands wrapped around this, and asked Dr. Gupta if she worked with him to develop these positions.  Dr. Gupta said that in the beginning, the DA was at the forefront and things started to trickle down to other departments.  If they understood what they are going to do then they can explain to the other departments that it is going to impact, i.e.  medical examiner’s office and lab. 

 

Dr. Corrado said that the two positions are definitely needed – the medical examiner’s office and the lab are two separate entities.  The laboratories put out 3,000 reports per year and none of those cases overlap with the medical examiner’s cases or what the toxicology cases are, with the exception of homicides, which is a small number.  The medical examiner’s office is looking at completely different things than what the crime laboratory is looking at.  The records are different, the databases are different, instrumental information is different – they are completely different processes, so the two different positions are needed. 

 

Dr. Corrado said that part of the problem as to why it took so long to figure out what is going on is because the law is so complicated and also very vague.  It was really hard to interpret what it meant.  She said the crime lab, medical examiner’s office, and the law department met early on with the district attorney’s office, and have been meeting all along to try to understand what it means.  In addition, they have met with different lab directors in the state and with the State District Attorney Association.  She said they have all been working collaboratively to try to figure it out.  They have been working diligently and in the last two months have upped that and are meeting basically every other week.  A lot of different communication schemes have been set up; have special emails coming to the discovery team, which doesn’t exist right now because there is two of them - hoping to bring more people into that.  She said they are setting up a shared file server; the DA’s office has created a situation where things can be uploaded directly to a portal where the defense community can get into it.  Progress is being made, but she asked everyone to keep in mind of the differences from before – where they were providing very comprehensive discovery materials to the defense community, it was only for the cases going to trial.  Now it is any case that has an arrest.  Also, a plea cannot be accepted unless the lab work is completed.  That is where the numbers will increase tremendously.  Dr. Corrado said that there is a timeframe on the analysis – have to have the results to them faster.  Besides from these positions, which are critical right now, there is a possibility that more scientific staff will be needed as well.  She said that if they get inundated with thousands of cases that come in, they aren’t going to be able to handle them, but can’t come to the legislature and ask until she knows how it’s going to be.  This could get a lot worse – just don’t know.

 

Mr. Jordan said that it makes sense that the forensic side and the medical examiner side are separate, one involves criminal prosecutions, and with the exception of homicides, the Medical Examiner’s officer wouldn’t really be involved.  He is not sure why a records coordinator on the medical examiner’s side is needed.  Dr. Corrado said that is not accurate and clarified that they cases that they share are the homicides.  They have DWIs and other things.  Ms. Unger, Medical Examiner’s office, said they have motor vehicle accidents now.  She said that it had only involved those cases that were going to trial, and now have to be prepared for anything that involves an arrest.  That can be a motor vehicle case, drug over dose cases, etc. – it expands the case base for the ME’s office.  Also, the toxicology lab – it’s not only the post mortem toxicology cases and all the information that goes with that, it is also all of the DWI casework – from 5 times a year to a couple hundred.  Ms. Unger said that they are very separate in the types of systems that they use; have different databases, share a database, but have other systems.  The triage involved to fast track cases – they can’t just pick cases as they come – have to have someone to monitor and stay on top of it, with the deadlines that are expected in not just producing records, but getting the casework done.

 

Mr. Ryan said it’s not only through budget discussions with the DA’s office, it is law’s implications that will be coming back on us – for resources, for us to be compliant with the law.  Heard a lot from the DA’s office regarding the discovery, and turning over all of the evidence as part of the prosecution.  It’s a great amount of work and resources.  He referred to asking the DA to come back, as there was a great deal of disparity.  Other counties were looking for a lot more resources.  He referred to Richmond County, Staten Island, about the size of Onondaga County, who is asking for 6 or 7 additional district attorney’s – another $6 million in their budget.  There are a lot of moving parts to it and have to be very cognizant of it – have to be incompliance with the law and cognizant that enough money is appropriated to be compliant.  He said that we have to provide all the resources that are needed.  

 

Chair Cody said that it is an aggressive time frame; it is not just the increase in volume

 

Mr. Rowley said that he thinks this county’s approach to a new mandate has been measured.  Certainly the DA and now the Health Department coming in with these two positions, and the fact they are going to try to find salary savings is appreciated very much.  It has been well thought out, as much as it could be.  He said that compared to other counties, he is really happy that we are where we are in the process and taking such a careful approach to it. 

 

Mr. May said that he agrees with Mr. Ryan and Mr. Rowley.  On the expense side, the no cash bail, may create relief in other areas, which we need to gain a global perspective on overtime.  As we are increasing costs and demands, we may get relief in other areas – just need the time to see how the whole thing shakes out.  He also is glad that it’s a measured approach.

 

Mr. Jordan said that this is going to place great demands on the county.  It is obvious that whoever developed this legislation were not litigators.  Regarding normal discovery demands you have 20 days to respond to them, and 90% of the time you don’t get the information within 20 days because you can’t get together in 20 days, contrary to 15 days for every single case.  “No litigator would ever conduct such a ridiculous scheme.”

 

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

 

b.     Transfer from Health Dept., Acct. 641010 Regular Employees Salaries, to Health Dept., Acct. 666500 Contingency Acct., $108,024

                Transfer from Health Dept., Acct. 691200 Employee Benefits – Interdepartmental, to Health Dept., Acct 666500 Contingency Acct., $51,852

                (Sponsored by Mr. May)

 

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

 

7.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:  Marty Skahen, Director

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

  • For Home Ownership Program
  • Take homes from the tax auction; rehab and sell to low-income, first time home buyers
  • Use state subsidy, $30,000, to lower the cost of the mortgage to qualified people at 80% or less
  • 8 homes:  Bayberry, East Syracuse, Jamesville, Lyncourt, Mattydale, Shop City and 2 at Seneca Knolls
  • Try to get a blend of a couple houses that money can be made on, some houses will lose money on, and some will break even

 

Mr. Jordan said that this is a very beneficial program but there are people out that who support themselves and their families by buying properties and rehabbing them.  He understands that you want to get some good properties to make money on and maybe help subsidize the one’s that aren’t good, but feels that government shouldn’t be competing with the private sector and reaching into the pockets of people trying to support their families.  He said “if the properties went to auction and nobody bid on them, then I would say we would give them all to you, but I can’t support taking properties that somebody else might be interested in.”

 

Mr. Skahen said that of the last three closings:  one family gave birth the next day to their first child; one closed the day before Thanksgiving; and the next one will close the week before Christmas.  These are people that would never have the opportunity to have this experience if it just went to the highest bidder.  Mr. Skahen said that he hires flippers; does not have a staff to rehab a home; contractors are hired with staffs of 8 – 10 people that are making a profit.  He said he just does the paperwork to get the homes to where they need to be to get rehabbed. 

 

Mr. May asked if the pay is scalable for the flipper.  Mr. Skahen said that it is.  Mr. May said that he wrestles with this every time; the end game lands with a yes vote.  He said he wrestles with not what is being done, but the timing of how it is being done – choosing before it goes to market.  It is a great program and helps people in an incredibly meaningful way.  He said that he has never heard before that the folks actually doing the work are working in a scalable arrangement.  Mr. Skahen said that it is all put out for competitive bid and the bids are all reviewed; it’s all local employers.  Mr. May asked “if they make more if you make more.”  Mr. Skahen said, “no, they bid on the job and rehab the house.”  Mr. May said then that it is competitive bid and not really scalable.

 

Mr. Jordan said that he grew up in Bayberry and Limetree Lane is plum property for someone to flip.  Mr. May agreed.  Mr. Skahen said the Baker Blvd. and Northrup Blvd. in Seneca Knolls have been blights on their community for close to a decade and will lose a ton of money on both, but the neighbors are going to be happy.  He said one is being done now in Amblewood Lane, Clay, which is a nice neighborhood, Ryan Homes.  He said they will break even on it, but it needed a lot more work than they had thought.  In looking at these homes, the one on Amblewood looks just like the one in Bayberry – we get in there and the basement is all wet and have to rebuild the whole foundation and re-grade the whole back yard.  He said that private homeowners put up with issues that he can’t when trying to meet codes to sell it.  That house looked like some money could be made on it, and now will be lucky to break even.  He referenced 2 Homeland, N. Syracuse, where they saved two walls – will spend $240,000 to sell the home for $140,000.  He said he was able to make some money on a couple of other homes, and the revolving fund is available to live off of, replenish, and try to break even.

 

Mr. Ryan said to look at it from a different perspective is that the work initiates private sector contractors.  He thinks they wouldn’t bid if they felt they couldn’t make money; we are imitating private sector work.  Mr. Skahen said that it allows a family to break out of the poverty cycle.  The lien that is put on for the subsidy from the state is 10 years.  Once a family has been in there for 10 years plus 1 day, they gain $30,000 in equity on the property that is life changing for these people. 

 

Mrs. Ervin said that these people wouldn’t be able to buy these houses if someone flipped it and put it on the market.  The reason for the program is to help people get into houses.

 

Mr. Rowley asked if once we transfer these properties, the county eats the delinquent taxes.  Mr. Morgan agreed – the county would write them off.

 

Mr. Rowley asked Mr. Skahen to describe the difference between what he does and the land bank.  Mr. Skahen said that he is selling a finished product, and can only sell the homes to a low-income, first time home buyer.  He said that the land bank acquires a property and determine if it can be rehabbed or demolished, and take action either way, and come up with a plan for the house.  He gave an example – they have a house and will sell it for $18,400, the specs done to get it up to livable are another $65,000, so someone can go to a bank and get a loan for $80,000 and buy the house and have one year to bring it up to those specs, you can do more, but you can’t do less.  Anybody can buy those properties.

 

Mr. Rowley asked what the total amount of delinquent taxes are.  Mr. Weber said $188,265.  Mr. Skahen said that if those are auctioned off, you aren’t getting $188,000 – will get a lot less.  No matter what, a chunk will be written off.  Mr. Morgan clarified and said that it is obviously a case by case basis.  Some homes are sold for more than what is owed and a loss is taken others.

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to approve this item.  AYES:  4 (Cody, May, Ryan, Ervin); NOES:  1 (Jordan); ABSTAINED:  1 (ROWLEY)MOTION CARRIED.

 

8.     FINANCE, DIVISION OF REAL PROPERTY TAX SERVICES:

  

        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

  • A small hydrant district

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Rowley, to approve item 8a – 8c.  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

  • A small hydrant district

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Rowley, to approve item 8d – 8f.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

      g.     2020 Town Tax Rates, Fixed, Ratified, and Confirmed

  • Apportioned based on the assessed value of town
  • Hopefully get the bills out on January 1st.

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

 

9.     CHILDREN & FAMILY SERVICES:  Rich Gasiorowski, Commissioner

        a.     Transfer from Children & Family Services, Acct. 64101 Regular Salaries, to Children & Family Services, Acct. 692150, $18,178

  • Replace washing machine and lockers for the staff
  • Current washing machine broke – going from 40 lb – 60 lb capacity

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

 

10.  WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:  Frank Mento, Commissioner; Mike Lannon, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Approving the Increased Cost of Certain Improvements for the Baldwinsville Treatment Plant within the Onondaga County Sanitary District

 

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

 

        b.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of an Additional $31,280,200 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay the Increased Cost of Certain Improvements for the Baldwinsville Treatment Plant in and for the Onondaga County Sanitary District ($31,280,200)

 

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

 

        c.     A Resolution Approving Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District Consisting of the CSO 029 Walton Street Abatement Project in and for the County of Onondaga, New York

 

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

 

        d.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $2,020,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Certain Improvements for the Onondaga County Sanitary District in and for Said County ($2,020,000)

 

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

 

11.   SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:  Matthew Kearney, Captain

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction/Construction of Improvements at the Corrections Facility in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $442,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $442,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($442,000)

  • Air conditioning unit in housing unit 3
  • Repairs/pavement of facility roadways

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

 

13.    FACILITIES MANAGEMENT:  Archie Wixson, Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing HVAC Renovations at the Courthouse in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $1,000,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,000,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($1,000,000)

  • HVAC renovations in court house

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

 

        b.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing LED Lighting Upgrades in Various Buildings in the Downtown Campus in and for the County of Onondaga, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $535,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $444,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($444,000)

  • replace current light fixtures/lamps in 3 facilities:  Everson garage; Convention Center garage, Justice Center
  • Replace existing fixtures with LED elements; some will re-lamping, some will be new fixtures
  • More of the cost on new fixtures, but there are more lamps to be replaced
  • Don’t expect a lot of changes to the electrical distribution  - existing should be compatible
  • 2 properties have paybacks that are short – 3 – 4 yrs.; the longest is a 6 yr. payback

Mrs. Ervin asked if the Justice Center will include outside lights as well.  Mr. Wixson said that it could.  Mrs. Ervin said she has received complaints about the outside lights.  Mr. Wixson said that they have looked at the interior lights, but can look at the outside lights.  Mrs. Ervin said that some folks that work there have said that is difficult when leaving because the lights are so dim.  Mr. Wixson said that if it is parking lot lighting, that is not this project; can look at the separately.  It can be included on the building itself; haven’t firmed up the actual locations yet; have done an assessment and can include that.

 

Mr. Rowley said that there are always surprises once you get into this project and asked what happens if the wiring is shot in the Everson Garage.  Mr. Wixson said that he has an electrical staff, and can help support any condition of overage beyond the authorization that the legislature gives for the project.  He said that if the infrastructure in the electrical distribution is at such distribution or fatiguing, whether these get replaced with LEDs or not, that will fall on his plate soon enough – even the existing ones will fail if the infrastructure fails.  Mr. Rowley said that this would authorize the replacement of lights and fixtures, and asked what happens if we can’t do it.  Mr. Wixson said that he will use his staff to pull the conductors – it would sacrifice something else.  

 

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

 

14.   PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT:  Lee Klosowski, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     BOND RESOLUTION:  A Resolution Authorizing Various Improvements to Parks and Recreation Areas in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $6,700,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $7,411,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($6,700,000)

  • Supports 5 projects that are in the CIP:
    • Beaver Lake Nature Center boardwalk replacement
    • Hopkins Road Softball park rehab
    • Long Branch Park improvements
    • Oneida Shores shoreline line improvements
    • A number of different maintenance capital replacement items at various parks

 

Mr. Jordan asked about Loomis Hill Cemetery, $210,000 to do deepen/re-route a ditch and put in a flood retention.  He said that it is mostly excavation work which it would seem that the county would have its own equipment, and questioned why we can’t do that ourselves.  Mr. Klosowski said that within the Parks Department, they don’t have the equipment necessary to do the work – would have to look at some of the other departments.  It would be a matter of priorities.  He said that it hasn’t been fully designed – haven’t had an engineer; it is a general plan that is laid out and can see what needs to be done.   An engineer would need to map out the locations and size.

 

Mr. Jordan asked about the size of the Childrens Landing Sewer Pump building.  Mr. Klosowski said that it is a fairly small building lot; houses a sewer pump which pumps sewage along the whole lake shore to a final location at the end of the park where it goes into the main system.  He estimated that it is a 10’ x 10’ building. 

 

Mr. Jordan asked about the size the maintenance building at Beaver Lake.  Mr. Klosowski said that it is about 1,000 sq. feet.  Mr. Jordan asked about the garage.  Mr. Klosowski said that right now they have an excavator that sits outside, so the garage would be large enough to cover that one piece of equipment, which is 45’ – 50’.

 

Mr. Jordan asked what the size of the contact barn is at the zoo.  Mr. Klosowski said that it is a relatively large barn; houses the farm and domestic animals, probably 100’ x 40’. 

 

Mr. Jordan asked what the linear footage is for the fencing at the dog park.  Mr. Klosowski said that he has quotes for it, but didn’t know the linear footage.  Mr. Jordan asked to be provided with that information.

 

Mr. May explained the change to the resolution and why.  Within the caucus, it’s a matter of gaining consensus and when they looked at bond resolutions that have a long list of different items, with a lot of people in the room, different things come up, and it is hard to gain agreement on everything.  Consensus was gained by trimming back dollars.  There was debate on the cost of the bathroom reconstruction; on the fact that almost $1.5 million is being pulled in for Hopkins out of the 2021 CIP amount – the full amount is being pulled into this request.  Rather than pull an item out, it was thought best to pull out some dollars and have the department prioritize or see if everything can be done with less.  That is the theory of the change to $6.7 million versus the original request of $7.4 million.  Mr. Klosowski said that they will prioritize and work from there.

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to approve this item.  AYES:  5 (Cody, May, Rowley, Ervin, Ryan); NOES:  0; ABSTAINED:  1 (Jordan).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     Authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation to Accept Donated Items ($400,000)

  • Donation from the Friends of the Zoo – rehabbing what used to be the lion exhibit turning it into a Amur Leopard exhibit
  • Climate here is the same as where the Amur Leopards come from
  • Friends will construct the facility and donate it to the county

 

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

 

15.    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION:  Marty Voss, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2020 County Budget to Pay in the First Instance 100 Percent of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs at a Maximum Amount of $1,805,000 for the Construction and Construction Inspection Phases of the Old Route 57 Paving Project, PIN 3755.82, and Authorizing Execution of Agreements ($1,805,000)

  • Next phase of Old Rt. 57 from Caldor Court to Rt. 31, Clay for a approx. 1.3 miles
  • 1.4 miles was done this year

 Mr. Rowley said that the first phase was excellent; people are happy with the finished product.

 

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

 

        b.     Amending Resolution No. 63-2019 to Increase the Authorization to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal Aid Eligible Costs by an Additional $1,600,000 for the Canalways Trail Extension Project, Phase II, PIN 3756.29, and Authorizing the Execution of Agreements ($1,600,000)

  • Finished the component from the orange lot down to the Honeywell Visitors Center generally
  • Ends at the West Side pump station; there is a gate there
  • Honeywell is building the trail from the gate to Harbor Brook and over the existing bridge at Harbor Brook
  • County’s next phase will start this month from Harbor Brook over railroad tracks to the new bridge, come out on Hiawatha, which connects Empire State Trail to this trail, to the city Creek Walk
  • This pulls the City, State, and County all together
  • State is very motivated to get their pieces done
  • 80% Federal Aid project

Chair Cody asked if the trail will be lighted.  Mr. Voss said that they had creative ideas for colors on the bridge; there are a lot of coordination on this with CSX, Norfolk Southern, DEC, EPA, State DOT.  It is a very tricky site to work with.  There will be lights on the bridge; funding for trail lighting has not been identified yet.  The lights that County Facilities has been installing are all solar powered; no underground work has to happen beyond putting in the bases.

 

Chair Cody asked when this will be completed if all goes well.  Mr. Voss said that the contract end date ends December 31, 2020. 

 

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

 

Mr. Ryan asked where we are with the Roth Steel site.  Ms. Primo said that the Office of Economic Development is having some very good conversations with potential developers right now.

 

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

 

16.  PULLED

 

17.   FINANCE, DIVISION OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET:

        a.     Authorize the County Comptroller to Transfer 2019 Unencumbered Appropriations and Appropriate Revenue After Expiration of the 2019 Fiscal Year Upon Approval of the County Executive and the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee

  • Items 17a and 17b are traditional year-end authorizations
  • Allows movement of money after the year closes between direct appropriations and appropriate revenue
  • Transfers have to be approved by the county executive and Chair of Ways & Means Committee

       

      b.     Authorizing the County Comptroller, Upon Approval of the Finance Department Division of Management and Budget and the County Executive's Office, to Transfer 2019 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

  • Allows moving money between interdepartmental accounts

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve items 17a and 17b.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        c.     Refunding Bond Resolution Dated December 17, 2019 Authorizing the Issuance Pursuant to Section 90.10 of the Local Finance Law of Refunding Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to be Designated Substantially "Public Improvement Refunding (Serial) Bonds", and Providing for Other Matters in Relation Thereto and the Payment of the Bonds to be Refunded Thereby (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)

  • Refunding bond resolution; market is conducive to refund some bonds that are outstanding
  • Near $25 million; net present value savings of $2.4 million (estimate)
  • Budgetary savings spread over 10 years is $2.7 million (estimate)
  • RFP was put out; M&T was selected as the underwriter, a new partner

 

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

 

Mr. Rowley asked if the refunding has to be approved by the State Comptroller.  Mr. Morgan said that it does.   Mr. Rowley asked if they look at a parameter in terms of savings.  Mr. Morgan said that they don’t look at savings; he said that the county has a standard – present value of at least 3%. 

 

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

 

chart

 

  • There are a couple of new ones; one will be short term in nature
  • The one in the Comptroller’s office is the union president position – budget allows for Comptroller’s office to fill that position

 

Mr. May noted that the committee approved approximately $50 million in bonding today and did it rather quickly.  He said that it bears mentioning that the program committees did an extraordinary job working through them and applying the 2-bite rule.  There has been a lot of hours behind getting to where we are today at this committee, which also received full presentations on all of items at its last meeting.  There has been an extraordinary amount of due diligence on these items, and doesn’t want the time that it took to move through them today to be confused with anything.

 

18.   LAW DEPARTMENT:  Robert Durr, County Attorney

        a.     Settlement of Claim

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan to enter into executive session to discuss the matter of Noel Abboud V. County of Onondaga, seconded by Mr. Rowley.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, the exit executive session and enter into regular session.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chair Cody stated for the record that no actions or motions were taken during executive session.

 

A resolution was distributed entitled, Authorizing the Settlement of the Action Filed with the United States District Court, Northern District of New York, Noel Abboud V. County Of Onondaga, Timothy H. Cowin, Daniel B. Boyle, Randy W. Blume, Lieutenant Hawker, Sergeant Zabinski, Lieutenant Brush, Captain Tripoli, Corrections Officer Pritchard, Corrections Officer Riposa, Lieutenant Robert Burnett And Corrections Officer Brockway.” 

 

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

 

The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

signature

 

DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

 


 

attendance

 

 

 

 

attendance

 

* * *

 

 

SPECIAL WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES

December 30, 2019

DEB CODY, CHAIR

 

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Ms. Williams

ALSO ATTENDING:  Chairman Knapp, see also attached list

 

Chair Cody called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Rowley, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to waive the reading and approve the minutes of proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     PERSONNEL:  Brian Donnelly, Deputy County Executive

        a.     Personnel Resolution and Amending the County Budget (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)

  • Covers a variety of different personnel moves
  • Comptroller:
    • Request of incoming comptroller:  Create a Chief of Staff, gr. 27; abolish 2 positions:  Assistant Deputy Comptroller, gr. 35 and Chief Governmental Accountant, gr. 36
  • Finance:
    • Advance Step Sr. Admin Officer – Financial Operations – have a strong candidate for the positions and feel it’s appropriate to put that person in that position
  • Parks:
    • Create Deputy Commissioner, gr. 35
    • County Executive has been laser focused on capital projects and capital funding – this position will be solely focused on capital management for the Park’s Dept. – making sure projects are delivered on time and on budget
  • DSS:
    • Create Clerk 3--an admin. assistant retired who handled all of the personnel procedural functions, and will not be replaced – will promote a Clerk 2 to take care of those responsibilities
    • Will not backfill the Clerk 2 position
  • WEP:
    • A number of personnel modifications related to County Executive’s PIE platform intro component 
      • Create Financial Analyst, gr. 35 – manage the robust capital plan in WEP
      • Create Energy Management Analyst, gr. 35 – responsible for county’s overall utility and energy management structure; the person will be in WEP but have responsibility county wide reviewing utility rates, plans, structures and making sure that the assets we have are properly utilized when it comes to energy consumption

Mr. Donnelly said that Commissioner Mento will address the other positions being requested at WEP.

 

Mr. Mento:

  • WEP:
    • Create Management Engineer, gr. 35 – will be a cost saving measure down the road brings together the flow control operation and process treatment operation under one engineering umbrella
      • There are things done now in flow control piping and pump station systems that always don’t match up with the process treatment
      • To do so will abolish a position – net is small increase in dollars

Mr. Ostrum, Admin. Director:

  • Create Heavy Equipment Mechanic Crew Leader, gr. 11 – will be in charge of the tanker group:
    • 8 tankers run 24/7, 365 days – have never had a person responsible directly for that group; it has been usually added on to somebody else’s assignments
    • A lot of efficiencies to be built into that tanker group; with aging equipment and a large turnover in drivers, there needs to be additional focus in that department that will result in cost savings and efficiencies

Mr. Mento:

  • Will abolish 3 positions:  Sanitary Tech. gr. 7; WWTP Maint. Working (Mech.) gr. 7; Sanitary Engineer 3 gr. 32
  • A lot of this is to align resources and what the needs are of the county in terms of moving forward with consolidation efforts
  • Advance steps:  Instrumentation/Elec. Superintendent from gr. 34 step K to gr. 34 step P; Sewer Maintenance Superintendent from gr. 34 step P to gr. 34 step U
    • Levels the superintendents pay scales; a good pool of people reside under these superintendents; on call 24/7
  • In total, there will be a cost savings down the road; each one of the positions is intended to create some kind of outsourcing or some other kind of savings that we can accrue directly to the department

Mr. Donnelly:

  • Resolution includes 3 grade changes:
    • County Executive:  Chief of Staff from gr. 37 to gr. 38; Sr. Executive Assistant from gr. 32 to gr. 33; Parks:  Admin. Director from gr. 33 to gr. 35
    • Grade changes more accurately reflect responsibility that each of those titles have
  • Puts $134,048 in contingency based on the abolishments in the Comptroller’s office

Mr. May said that generally speaking he supports and respects the changes being made now.  Running the county day to day is the administration’s prerogative, and it’s not ours.  Who does it, how it’s done, and moving people around-- the accountability sits with the people that manage those budgets with the money conveyed to that department to run it.  He said that he respects the fact that these changes can be made now because they can be made responsibly and out into the future.  If things can be implemented for a relatively longer term, this is the time to make those changes, not 3 months ago when we were looking at a budget that we didn’t know what the future looked like.  Mr. May said that our job is the money, the roster overall, and the policies that we make.  

 

Mr. May said that there is a little bit of a problem today, something to take into consideration.  He said that he thinks there is more information that is needed.  He said that he has had the benefit of conversations by virtue of his position on the legislature that may advantage him in some of the deliberations.  Looking at big changes,   a big personnel roster switch, which is super last minute and short term, and it would be nice to have some backup and a little more perspective on the financial implications.  Mr. May said that as a legislator he doesn’t manage the departments, he doesn’t decide how things get done.  He said he loves the efficiencies portrayed through the changes in WEP and understands the reasons for all the other things that are happening.  He said it would be nice to know if the abolishes are funded or not funded.  With creating positions and/or salary – is it from anticipated salary savings; if so, how much salary savings is out there that is anticipated.  It is painting a fuller picture.  Mr. May said that the underlying theme of his comments is that when we have things like this that come up, we have to collaborate and communicate a little bit better to make sure we are considering the perspective of everybody on the legislature.

 

Mr. Donnelly said that those are very valid points.  He said the commitment of the administration is that these will be budget neutral; these will not have an impact; they will not be coming back for additional funding for these positions.  It is the administration’s responsibility to manage personnel, manage the positions and will make sure that they work within the means of the departments so that each one of these positions are budget neutral.  It may be through delaying filling positions, not filling positions, making a determination as to the merit and need at different times of the year on those positions.

 

Mr. May said that the reason the backup comes into play is because of sustainability of the funding of the position.  It is one thing to create and fund; it’s another to say “will this affect future budgets and if so how.”  He said he is comfortable with what is being done; there is a lot of give and take in the resolution and understands the reasons behind them, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more perspective on this.  Given the short timeframe, it was that much more necessary.

 

Mr. Rowley said that he doesn’t share Leader May’s thoughts on this.  He said this is too last minute for him.  He can get his hands around some of the personnel moves and understands some the strategy, but will push back on the Comptroller’s department.  He said that he is a big supporter of the Comptroller’s department – it is a critical function in county government, a key check on the executive, and would never support any resolution that would potentially diminish the roll of the Comptroller or take resources away.  The new Comptroller can staff as he sees fit.  He would never get in the way of that, but he can’t support taking money away from the department at this point in time and putting it into county general contingency.  He asked the Chairman if something could be done about that – if it’s put into contingency, he would like to leave it in the Comptroller’s office.

 

In answer to Mr. May, Mr. Donnelly clarified that the money is going into general fund contingency.  Mr. May said that Mr. Rowley is suggesting that it go into contingency within the Comptroller’s office.  Mr. Rowley agreed, noting that there is a contingency right now within the Comptroller’s office.  He wants to make sure that the new Comptroller has the funds that he needs to do the job that he would like to see done out of that office – would prefer to see the money left in his budget.  

 

Mr. Jordan said that he mirrors many comments already made; he has been very vocal about his concerns with the reductions that have occurred in the Comptroller’s office in previous budgets.  He has spoken numerous times to the Comptroller’s office about doing audits and investigating certain costs, and their basic response is that they don’t have sufficient staffing to do those things.  That is the reason that we have a Comptroller’s office – to make sure that we are doing things as efficiently and properly as possible.  He has had concern over the last 2 – 3 budgets, as we continually cut back on the department.  He sees the department as being really vital to the efficient operation of county government.  He said that he can’t support further reduction in the department; if anything it should be staffed more appropriately. 

 

Mr. Jordan said that he is also concerned, as it seems that at every session, we are having more and more advance step hires.  A number of positions were eliminated a few years ago, and every year there seems to be adding more and more positions to the roster.  They may be budget neutral this year, but next year the positions are still on the roster and will be a part of the new budget.  It is not only increases in standard wages, but also   potential funding of positions that were unfunded this year to pay for these new positions.  It is creating almost a snowball effect of creating increases in the future.  It is very unclear as to by doing this how we are avoiding those future, inherent pressures on the budget.  Right now, he said that he can’t support the resolution as it stands all together; perhaps some could be broke out.  Some things he can support, and some other ones he can’t.

 

Mrs. Ervin asked if the positions being abolished are strictly being abolished and won’t come back some time in the future.  Mr. Donnelly said that “the short answer is yes.”  He said to be cautious and not disingenuous, the fact is that every year the administration is going to make a determination about the appropriate levels of staffing and the titles that are needed, when the budget is being prepared.  There is a legislative process to do that and they can’t just create positions on their own – have to come back to the legislature to do that.  He said that they wouldn’t abolish positions that they felt there was an immediate need for, but would never say that there wouldn’t be a need at some time in the future.  He said “I can’t say that we would never come back for any of these positions ever.”  Mrs. Ervin questioned how this is going to be sustained, to the point that it may not be this way going forward.  Mr. Donnelly said that this is being done at the very beginning of the fiscal period based on what is seen as the new administration’s needs.  Making sure the County Executive has the positions and tools that he feels necessary to implement the vision that he had for the voters and what he told the voters he was going to do.  Mr. Donnelly said that looking forward, the budget process will start in May.  Through the summer will look at these positions and what their impacts are.  All positions in departments will be looked at and will try to make a decision as to what is most appropriate.  They work hard to maintain a level of head count; the county has reduced head count dramatically over the years and are not looking to grow county government again in size and structure, but want to make sure they have the right people in the right positions.  He said that it’s far too early for him to be able to contemplate if there will be growth in next year’s budget.  These positions will be reviewed in the 2021 budget, to make a determination of their effectiveness and appropriateness for moving forward.

 

Mrs. Ervin asked if there are people in the jobs that are being abolished.  Mr. Donnelly said that there are no layoffs with any of these positions.

 

Mr. Ryan noted that the legislature received the budget and went through the budget process.  At the end of the day, the legislature approved the county budget with “X” amount of money for departments.  He referred to the term “budget neutral”.  The only department not neutral is the Comptroller’s office; they are taking a hit.  Jobs are being created in Finance and Parks and a lot of other jobs.  Mr. Donnelly said that the job in Finance already exits – this is an advance step.  The Deputy Commissioner in Parks is a new position.  Mr. Ryan asked how it is budgeted for without an abolishment.  Mr. Donnelly said that they will make the determination throughout the year about staffing levels; not every position is filled immediately, and will line up salary savings based on that.  He said that they will work within the departments’ means to make sure that it is budget neutral.  Mr. Ryan said that it can be anticipated that when the legislature receives the executive budget, there will be an offset in salary savings to fund that position throughout the year and asked if it will be budget neutral at that time.  Mr. Donnelly said they will review it thoroughly before submission to the legislature.  The intent would be that this position not have an overall impact; if we are going to salary save this year, the intention would be to do that next year and not have organic growth in the salary line.

 

Mr. May said that, separate and apart from this, customarily after a budget is done, there is some personnel clean up.  He asked if it can be anticipated, or is this it.  Mr. Donnelly said that he has spoken to the Chairman and stands committed to reviewing the existing titles for things that may not be appropriate or may not have a particular need at this point in time – will be more than happy to discuss with the legislature about making those changes.  Mr. May asked when that will happen.  Mr. Donnelly said within the next month or two.  He cautioned saying “we want to be able to grow our work force; want to be able to have the ability.  We don’t want to just throw out positions and say ‘here, let’s get rid of these’.”  He said that they want to make sure that they do a very thorough analysis, and make sure those position are not going to impact ability to promote or impact ability for entry level hires.

 

Mr. Jordan referred to the Comptroller’s office, noting that he is not trying to question how the Comptroller’ runs his office, but his understanding is that there are two sides to the office – government accounting side and the audit side.  Now we are eliminating the Chief Governmental Accountant, which leaves one half of the department kind of leaderless.  Right now there is a chief that is managing that component of the office and is not sure how we can eliminate that position.  It doesn’t make sense from an organizational standpoint.  Mr. Masterpole said that he is very comfortable that the Chief of Staff has extensive financial background and that the job will get done.  He said that he may come back at a later date looking for that position or something similar.  He didn’t want to be an irresponsible, newly elected person, coming in looking for all sorts of additional budgetary dollars.  He said “believe me, that if you want to put more money in the budget, we are going to take it obviously.”  He said that he wants to be responsible and get the job done.  There will be a combination of existing staff staying as well as some new staff coming in and is very comfortable that we can get the job done.  He said that he not thrilled about the money going into contingency, but certainly wants to be responsible to make sure that we can get that job done.  Mr. Masterpole said “I plan on coming back to you at a later date when personnel issues change.  We are expecting some retirements, amongst some other things, and will say ‘look now we have to refocus and move forward because we had some very key components retiring’.”  He said that in conversations with the County Executive and Deputy County Executive Donnelly, it was a negotiation to have a Chief of Staff position because he felt it was very vital.

 

Mr. Masterpole said that he supports the resolution as it is, but would be disingenuous if he said that he’s not going to come back at a later date to make sure the Chief Governmental Accountant position and that funding is there because at a later date we will need that. 

 

Chairman Knapp said that there are still two deputy comptroller positions.  Mr. Masterpole said that the deputy of audit was a part time position, who is retiring and the position will be made full time.  Chairman Knapp said that this has been a negotiation.  He said that he will be incredibly frank, stating that the Chief Governmental Accountant position was not in the original resolution.  He said “unfortunately, our hand was forced on that and we had to put it in there – didn’t have a choice.”  He said that he will talk to members individually about the reasons for that.

 

Chairman Knapp said that last year at this time, the County Executive had just been appointed; was still getting his arms around things and we didn’t really look at any position changes on a grand scale.  Nor did we go through the roster, like was traditionally done in the past looking for the obvious outliers that could be abolished.  He said that we wanted to give a year to look at things; there was an election, and now the County Executive has four years.  These are the items that he has identified as things he needs going forward to govern effectively.  Chairman Knapp said that he has spoken to the County Executive and Mr. Donnelly about coming back in February.  He said that in the past few months, especially at Parks, we have seen the capital aspect of what is going on there.  It’s a big operation and we need somebody in there focusing on that so that we can really have a handle around the actual cost of things for construction, and have a better product coming to the legislature.  Regarding the energy positions, we have made huge investments over the past 10 years in solar and other alternative ways of acquiring and creating energy.  We had the position before; weren’t sure if we needed it or not; took it away; and found out we should have that position.   

 

Chairman Knapp said that he is not opposed to continuing the negotiation if we need to do a couple of tweaks between now and Thursday (session).  He said that he knows it is short, there were, which always make it difficult, but wanted to give the new comptroller the authority to hire somebody next week.

 

Chair Cody said that this has been considered today.  If there are to be any tweaks, they can be brought up at session, but can go ahead and vote on this as is if everybody is comfortable.   She asked the committee members if they are comfortable voting on the resolution today.  Mr. May said that even if it is voted on, it can be amended on the floor.  Mrs. Ervin said she wouldn’t want to see it voted down in committee and then sent to session on Thursday.  Mr. May and Chair Cody agreed.  Mrs. Ervin said that the other members need to weigh in as well; whatever decision is made today is tentative, as there could be a whole different dynamic on Thursday.  Since it has been considered, there is no real reason to vote.

 

Mr. May said that there are two business days (before session) and asked that if there are any tweaks, to get them proposed and not wait to bring them forward on Thursday.  Mrs. Ervin said that she is suggesting getting the information we need by the end of today or tomorrow at the latest.  Mr. May said that he is hearing that some people may want to make adjustments to this; if they do let’s decide how that will go and get it in the works as soon as possible.  He said that it is not going to be productive to wait until Thursday.  Mr. Masterpole said that he will be available if anyone wants to discuss it with him.

 

No vote was take on the resolution.

 

2.     FINANCEBrian Donnelly, Deputy County Executive

        a.     Requesting New York State to Amend Section 1202-a of the State Tax Law to Authorize Onondaga County to Impose a Hotel and Motel Tax in the Amount of 7% Percent of the Per Diem Rate for Each Room (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp)

  • Memorializing resolution asking NYS to amend NYS Tax Law that would authorize Onondaga County to increase the current room occupancy tax rate from 5% to 7%
  • 2020 budget for ROT is nearly $7 million
  • Each percent increase will yield approximately $1.4 million
  • A Home Rule resolution and local law will also be needed
  • County Executive is very committed, focused on sports tourism
  • In process of doing a feasibility study for multi-sport facility; rough estimate of $30-$35 million – additional ROT would address some of those costs
  • Looking at esport opportunities – possibility of building or modifying an existing facility
  • Esports is seen as a tremendous growth field
  • Looking for the funding to be used for more marketing of the area for sports tourism, esports
  • Multi-sport facility may work on some level of mitigation on Rt. 81 for certain areas of the county; possibility to be able to draw in more room nights, additional sales tax; some possibility of the state picking up some funding for it

 

Mrs. Ervin said that the Town of DeWitt has been looking to do something with Challenger Field situation.  They have talked to the County Executive about it previously.  She asked if this proposal will take care of that situation.  Mr. Donnelly said that this will address if for a county wide, as opposed to a community by community, situation.  Mrs. Ervin said that her question is – will some of the money generated by this be used to help the Town of DeWitt with their Challenger Field.  Mr. Donnelly said that a budget has not been assigned to this; is not in a position to commit that some of this funding will be used for “a, b, or c.”  They are stilling trying to find out what the costs will be on any of the County Executive’s initiatives.  He knows the County Executive has had discussions with the town, and certainly ROT funding is designed to be used for tourism.  Wherever there are definitive tourism opportunities, we would look for the possibility of applying ROT funding.

 

Mrs. Ervin said that is not the answer she would need to be able to support this going forward.  The answer has to be that these funds will be used to help out the request made by the town last year and the year before.  Unless there is assurance that it is being done, this is not something she is willing to support.  Mr. Donnelly said that the County Executive will continue to have discussions with the Town of DeWitt about funding needs, but he is not in position today to commit ROT funding towards that.  Mrs. Ervin said that it has to be an assurance.

 

Mr. May said that this has been kicked around for 2 – 3 years.  In early 2019 it became clear that this is the only way that we could come close to achieving consensus to invest in what has become a very significant aspect of our local economy.  The hospitality industry in general, the destinations that we have, and boast nationally about, to try to draw conventions, etc., generate sales tax.  Sales tax runs county government.  The alternatives considered   at this point have fallen short for several reasons as we try to vet them out.  He said that we need to invest in this capability.  The reason he is okay with doing this today is because this process enables us to look at a local law that has bugged him since he started.  There are some things that we can do to make ROT appropriations better; there are things that can be done to channel those appropriations in a way that generate the type of returns on an investment that we want and need to run county government better and to boost up this local economy.  The only way to do that is to start the process.  He said when we look at the local law, we can look at all of the things – whether or not it should be 2%, if that’s even an issue.  In the back up received, it’s interesting that it puts us on a dollar par with the markets that we are competing with across upstate New York.  That’s a good thing.  Within the law itself, and the stated purpose of room occupancy tax, there will be an opportunity to tighten up that definition a little bit, so things like what Mrs. Ervin is talking about can be a little more clearly defined within the purpose -- not necessarily a specific project in a specific town, but to be able to do those things and why.  Today, it’s not really there.  It’s time to update the law and ask the State to do so now.  There is a lot of work to do yet, but it starts with asking for permission to do the work.

 

Mr. Jordan said that right now our ROT is lower than surrounding counties dollar wise.  He said that if he were a manager of a hotel, he would look at it like we are at a competitive advantage because someone staying at our hotel is paying less in ROT than if they were going to stay at a hotel in another county.  One of the driving forces of this is the local hotel industry, which seems a little counter intuitive.  Except for they may be looking for sources for us to advertise more and promote the area more in hopes it will draw in more people to stay in hotels.  It seems like a gamble in a way.

 

Mr. May said that we have received correspondence form the Visit Syracuse Board which indicates that they want more.  That board is representative of that industry and industries that would benefit from convention type business.  It is puzzling, but he has learned to never to tell a private business person how to run their business or even question it.  Part of the dilemma is that this is a calculated risk in terms of our competitiveness.  The work has been done.  It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a budget for ROT, but that’s probably the 3rd phase in this process because ROT has always been a very territorial thing.  He said that his personal goal is to drive this purpose toward the things that will help us economically in the region.

 

Mrs. Ervin said that in general it is something that we need to do; her hesitation is how it will be spent once it is done.  She said Mr. Liedka has told her said that this is well past due; is should have been done before.  If we are in the market place, even if we are lower, someone is not going to stay at a hotel here if they are visiting from somewhere 100 miles away just because it’s cheaper to stay here.  She does not think that will be an issue for the hotels, and the hotels seem to be behind this.  She reiterated that she is concerned about what happens with the money once we are able to get this approved by the state.  She understands that will be part of the local law, but is on record that it has to happen.  Otherwise, we are abandoning the idea that has been talked about for a couple of years that we would help the Town of DeWitt with their situation.  That was supposed to be part of the reason to do this; if we aren’t going to do that, then we lied.

 

Mr. May said that he views that as step 3 in the process – it is our budget, and this legislature has always had an opportunity to do better with that aspect of our budget.  This will prompt that and make certain that it happens; there is a lot more at stake moving forward.  Mr. Jordan said that items have been included in past budgets, where we have funded initiatives with ROT revenue, and we could do the same thing in this situation.  Mr. May said it part of the budget process; we shouldn’t get too into the weeds with specific things, because everyone could put something on the table worth fighting for.  Right now, it’s principle, concept, and asking permission. 

 

Chairman Knapp said that this is a long process; this is just the beginning to get permission.  The urgency is because the state session starts one week from Wednesday, and we need to get this in.  Nobody likes increasing taxes of any kind.  This one makes us feel a little better because it is largely Canadians and other folks that we are going to be asking to pay this tax.  In discussions with the County Executive and others in this room, if we are going to do this, we are going to solve several problems, and not just concentrate on one problem.  Going with 2% gives us the ability to solve lots of problems.  Salina has a problem; DeWitt has a situation – we have had meetings with DeWitt, and there are 4 legislators in this room that represent parts of DeWitt.  Obviously, it is going to be something that we know we have to do.  We have talked about conceptual things, but we don’t know how much money we will have, and they are still trying to come up with a budget for what they want to do in DeWitt to finish the project out.  He said that this commitment is to do whatever he can to help DeWitt, Salina, and Visit Syracuse.  It has to be a county wide thing; not just for one community or two.

 

Chairman Knapp said that the folks in the industry seem to be behind it; the dynamics of the convention business has really gotten crazy over the past several years.  Back when we got the bowling conference, it cost us a couple million dollars to get them in here.  We more than made up for it in ROT, sales tax, and all the economic activity they generated, but at the time, the county had to come up with that out of general fund.  On a lot of these situations you have to pay to be able to bid for the business.  Right now we don’t have a fund to be able to do that; this will give us that ability.  He said that it solves a lot of problems – that is why he supports it and is sponsoring it.

 

Mr. May said that it is important to prioritize the levels as we go through the conversations.  If we start to get into the details, they could actually impact the process.  The process is what is going to matter right now to get us to a point where we can have those conversations.  He said that he appreciates Legislator Ervin’s priorities, but we have to keep thinking about the steps, what we need to do to get to the steps, and whether those things are appropriate for the stage of the discussion that we are at.

 

In answer to Mr. Ryan, Mr. Donnelly said that in the 2020 budget ROT is $6.99 million.  Mr. Ryan asked if with the additional 2%; the increase will be between $2.5 – $2.8 million.  Mr. Donnelly said that based on the 2020 budget, it is roughly $2.8 million.  Mr. Ryan asked, generally speaking, where it is contemplated to disburse that money.  Mr. Donnelly said that all remains to be seen – are at the preliminary stages of this memorializing resolution.  Based on the things the County Executive has talked about publically, we are looking at a feasibility study on a multi-sport facility, which would handle lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, possibly indoor field and track.  Opportunities are being explored in the esport area, which as seen huge growth over the last year.  It’s staggering the amount of growth seen nationwide in esports.  Mr. Ryan said that he understands that Albany has something.  There are a lot of things out there for us to be competitive with; with the phase of esport and doing this now, gives us the opportunity to be at a competitive advantage.  Mr. Donnelly said that they would want to see an additional marketing component if we are going to do these things – want to make sure that we are properly marketing the area to draw that tourism in.  He said that there are certainly other challenges that could be addressed with this funding.  Mr. Ryan referred to DeWitt and their undertaking of a facility out there – they collect a significant amount of that $7 million, $9.8 million going forward.  He said we should all be cognizant of that to make sure it is divvied up appropriately.  The macro part is to get this done, so we can get to the phase that helps all parts of the county. 

 

Mr. Rowley asked about the timing -- we pass a memorializing resolution that goes to the state – do we know how long that will take; he said that he is trying to understand when we might be able to implement the tax.  Mr. Donnelly did not; he said that it would get passed along immediately upon its adoption, assuming it is adopted, to our contingent on the state legislature.  They would introduce it; it would be debated, but can’t say for sure when they would consider it.  The hope would be that it would be addressed one way or the other in 2020. 

 

Mr. Rowley said that he will lend his voice with some others today in terms of how the money will be spent.  It seems there are a lot of hands out for $2.8 million.  Between Visit Syracuse and the proposed sports complex – it could speak to the $2.8 million quite easily.  He asked Mr. Donnelly for anything that he can do between now and Thursday to help members understand where that money might go.

 

Chair Cody stated that she appreciated members’ input on this, knowing that this is step one with all of the details to be worked out. 

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Rowley, to approve this item.  AYES:  4 (Cody, May, Jordan, Ryan); NOES:  0; ABSTAINED:  2 (Ervin, Ryan).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:14 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

signature

 

DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

 

attendance

 

 

 

To Provide Feedback About the Disability Accessibility of An Onondaga County Department's Website, Click Here to Access the Department's Contact Page

© 2001-  Onondaga County, New York  All Rights Reserved.   |  Ongov.net  |  Privacy Statement | Directions & Parking | Language or Disability Access Assistance