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

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

 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE MINUTES - JANUARY 15, 2014

MICHAEL E. PLOCHOCKI, CHAIRMAN

 

Members Present:  Ms. Chase, Mr. Corl, Mr. Shepard, 1Mrs. Rapp

Also Attending: see attached list

 

Chairman Plochocki called the meeting to order at 9:12 AM.  A motion was made by Chair Plochocki, seconded by Mr. Shepard to waive the reading of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Chair Plochocki, seconded by Mr. Shepard to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION: Tom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing the County of Onondaga to Enter into an Intermunicipal Agreement with the City of Syracuse for the Incorporation of Green Infrastructure into the City of Syracuse Greener Parks Program ($411,620)

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Reimbursement of park assets made during green infrastructure projects within the City
  • Bundled projects are more efficient

In answer to Chair Plochocki, Mr. Rhoads confirmed that no new green infrastructure was being built with these funds; simply a means of recovery for investments made on the City’s behalf.

 

In answer to Mr. Corl, Mr. Rhoads stated that most of the projects are completed.

 

Ms. Chase questioned the different amounts for each location.  Mr. Rhoads responded that the Barker Park reimbursement was for basketball courts and stripping of the court.  Lewis Park was for basketball hoops, poles and stripping of the court.  The Magnarelli Community Center had a green roof installed, therefor there was probably some other ancillary roofing done at the same time.

 

Mr. Shepard questioned what budget the items came out of initially.  Mr. Rhoads responded that they came out of the ACJ budget.  The same project accounts will be reimbursed with these funds; no new money.  Mr. Corl questioned if it would be fair to say that these funds have been expended and are now being reimbursed by the City.  Mr. Rhoads agreed, adding that there may be some final work to complete, unsure if $200,000 is the final number for the Magnarelli Community Center. 

 

Mr. Corl asked if recovery was typical, as opposed to receiving the funds prior to work beginning.  Mr. Rhoads responded that we have a relationship with the City for green infrastructure and DOT projects; working together and in partner with the City.  

 

 A motion was made by Chair Plochocki, seconded by Ms. Chase to approve this item.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     Authorizing the Purchase of Certain Permanent and Temporary Easements from Onondaga County Industrial Development Authority (OCIDA) the Legal Owner, and Syracuse, Binghamton & New York Railroad Corporation, the Beneficial Owner, for the Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of the Harbor Brook CSO 063 Conveyances Project ($15,300)

  • Will convey combined sewer into new Lower Harbor Brook storage tank; currently overflowing  into Harbor Brook during wet weather events, more than 50 times per year
  • Large conveyance pipes  are used to replace some of the collection sewers; new pipe to be installed under the railroad, easement required; railroad easement procurements complex and expensive as the railroad has special real property rights
  • Pomeroy Appraisal Associates provided market value study;  railroad likes to charge a fee for easements with annual renewals subject to their discretion
  • Railroad proposed annual renewal fee of $1,200 per year – subject to future escalation, plus easement fee    

In answer to Chair Plochocki, Mr. Rhoads stated that the renewal fee applies, as long as we are there and adds up to significant dollars.  Once the pipe is in place, we will not be moving it.  We  have pipes that have been in place for over 100 years.    

 

  • Negotiated with railroad for lump sum easement purchase, came back at $19k, reduced to $15,300;  falls within market value per Pomeroy study; funded via the Harbor Brook budget, part of ACJ compliance

Chair Plochocki asked what the appraisal amount was.  Mr. Capozza stated that generally it is $15,000 - $30,000.  He doesn’t believe this easement was on the high side.

 

In answer to Ms. Chase, Mr. Rhoads confirmed that there isn’t another option; need to cross the tracks in one way or another.

 

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

 

2.     SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT:

        a.     Confirming Reappointments to the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District (David H. Knapp, Derek T. Shepard, Jr.)

 

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

 

3.     METROPOLITAN WATER BOARDI. Holly Rosenthal, Executive Director

        a.     Confirming Appointment of Robert J. Andrews as Chairman and Presiding Officer of the Onondaga County Metropolitan Water Board

 

Ms. Rosenthal stated that the recently retired Chairman, Mr. Picardi, will leave Mr. Andrews with really big shoes to fill.  Mr. Andrews is up to the task from everything she has heard.  They are excited to have him come on board.  Chair Plochocki added that Mr. Andrews was an excellent legislator and he has every reason to believe that he will do an excellent job as presiding officer.  While he doesn’t have experience on the board, he sees this as a good thing.  Mr. Andrews is a man of great integrity, very hard work and brings an interesting prospective to the MWB.

 

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

 

4.     LAKE IMPROVEMENTTom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     ACJ Update – (On file with the Clerk)

 

Chair Plochocki stated that the ACJ updates are presented quarterly and encouraged the members to review the update for detailed information.  The projects are not going away and will be coming back up.  These reports keep everyone abreast.  Mr. Rhoads provides highlights and is available for questions at any time.  In addition, this report is a yearend review of 2013.

 

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Cover photo of County Executive greeting Bob Perciasepe of the EPA at the National Green Infrastructure Summit; 30 leadership communicates invited, 27 attended immediately after government shutdown,  national leaders from the top programs in the country were in Syracuse to collaborate on taking green infrastructure to the next level
  • Save the Rain project important; 770 communities in the US had stormwater sewer systems to remove rainwater from the streets for traffic and merchants 100-150 years ago, prior to indoor plumbing stormwater was conveyed to nearest receiving water – generally a creek; invention of  the toilet caused plumbing to come indoors, had to be removed to a sewer
  • Putting unsanitary materials into receiving waters is no longer acceptable; County was sued and lost – consented to correct many of the problems that festered due to the combined sewer system and  its impact on the lake
  • Have amble sewer capacity during dry weather; storm flow needs relief, flash floods of stormwater will cause sanitary materials to enter receiving waters; Save the Rain Program looks at resolving overflow issues; 2 decades ago had RTF technology with swirl concentrators, 5 RTFs were proposed within the sewer system, via County Executive’s leadership alternate methods of green and gray storage were used in place of the proposed RTFs within the ACJ –  storage via gray structures, rooftops, bioswales, rain gardens and rain barrels; rain barrel became the symbol for the Save the Rain but is used to prevent I&I; don’t need to treat stormwater, want to keep it out of our system and prevent overflows

 

Chair Plochocki stated that the Save the Rain program used to be a microcosm of what Mr. Rhoads has presented.  Over time, the Save the Rain program has been rebranded to include all projects relating to Onondaga Lake, the ACJ and stormwater.  Mr. Rhoads reiterated that the program focuses on keeping inflow and infiltration out of the sanitary system. 

 

Report from Commissioner

  • Progress reports required for parties in ACJ:  EPA, DEC and Atlantic States Legal Foundation
  • 2013 Top 10 List includes 2 honorable mentions, 13 Intermunicipal Agreements signed and launched $2m suburban Save the Rain projects keeping I&I out of suburban sewer systems; intermunicipal agreements key to preserving sewer system for growth; over $1.5B in assets to maintain, 2k miles of sewers and 150 pump stations, some over 100 years old
  • Asset Management system is used to determine where capital investments and maintenance should be utilized to reduce risk and maintain high service level

 

1Mrs. Rapp arrived at the meeting.

 

  • No. 10:  Great projects around Metro, digesting waste and harvesting methane for  combined heat and power system, funded by NYSERDA;  received $236k rebate for 2.3M kilowatts of energy not purchased from power grid; solid win
  • No. 9:  Compliance rate > 99%; monthly reports for each parameter required by the DEC, e.g., Oak Orchard plant reports on 4,101 parameters in typical year; 6 plants in the system permitted by the NYS, permits are part of the federal system
  • No. 8:  NYS 2013 Environmental Excellence Winner for the Save the Rain program, most prestigious state award for environmental projects
  • No. 7:  Oak Orchard WWTP, northern suburb treatment plant serving portions of Cicero and Clay; exceeded BOD limits, rerouted Gaskin Road pump station to Wetzel Road treatment plant reducing BOD load below regulatory threshold since July; asked NYS for rerating, parameters recently received will be heavy lift but are asking engineering consultant if this is feasible for them; ongoing $12.4M rehabilitation project launched prior to 2011, plant built in 1981, electrical components start to wear out in 20 years,  mechanical in 30 and structural in 40; project not designed to add additional treatment capacity, design launched in 2013; made application for solar array to power treatment process 
  • No. 6:  I & I progress - very good year; flow control includes all conveyance systems – all pumps, manholes, and pipes maintained; I & I stands for Inflow and Infiltration, another form of extraneous flow; WEP acronyms  listed on final 4 pages of report;  maintaining relationships with towns and villages produced steady progress with I & I reduction; large industry in Solvay wanted to grow but didn’t have additional flow capacity at Westside pump station, Village of Solvay,  WEP and the industry got together, removed over 200k gallons per day of extraneous flow by fixing a manhole, making room for additional growth; our 100 year old infrastructure needs fixing, when it breaks water leaks inward causing pumping, storage and treatment of clean water, expensive and takes away growth capacity

Mrs. Rapp asked if there was room for I & I improvement at Oak Orchard.  Mr. Rhoads responded that Oak Orchard has I & I issues but the regulatory issue is BOD load, not flow load.  Mrs. Rapp stated that fixing those sewers wouldn’t solve or help the problem.  Mr. Rhoads responded that it helps with treatment of the BODs.  When we have wet weather events, the biology, mechanical and physical systems have to treat ten times the normal amount of flow, hampering our ability for proper treatment.  With the addition of the Agrana plant in Baldwinsville, we have two big industries adding a different type of load, not flow constraint but BOD constraint.

 

In response to Mr. Corl, Mr. Rhoads stated that they had asked GHD, to prepare the documentation for the rerating of Oak Orchard.  They also did a pilot project to evaluate additional BOD capacity additions or improvements to Oak Orchard; information is listed on the Oak Orchard web page.  In answer to Mr. Corl, Mr. Rhoads stated that GHD used to be known as Stearns and Wheler.  Mr. Corl asked the timeframe.  Mr. Rhoads stated that they only recently posed the question to them.  It may not be feasible, as I & I issues make treating the BOD load difficult, with the existing infrastructure.  There is no agreement at this time.   

  • No. 5:  Onondaga Lake Exhibit at NYS Fair - WEP big part of a team of public and private entities exhibiting the transformation of Onondaga Lake, entitled “Onondaga Lake:  A Fresh Gateway to the New, New York”, showcased remarkable environmental transformation via green infrastructure and the results of the Save the Rain program in our sanitary system; lake was seriously damaged by industrial and municipal programs; a poorly rated natural resource is now a stellar resource, due to Onondaga Lake’s history education continues to get people to understand what a great resource it is; Legislature need to consider what this resource could be as county and/or public property surrounds most of the lake, with some of the best water in our region; Cazenovia and Oneida Lakes experienced blue green algae blooms in 2013, Onondaga Lake was the cleanest lake in the group; exhibit showcased this resource to the  community; highly successful exhibit, ranked number 1 nationally for all state fair exhibits
  • No. 4:  National Green Infrastructure Summit – dovetails with cover page discussion;  community representatives attended from  Seattle, Portland, Milwaukee and Cleveland; combined sewer system overflows occurring in 770 communities nationwide, number of communities going through huge projects, Cleveland Cleanup project $1B; leadership communities now using green infrastructure to prevent stormwater overflow; green infrastructure can occur in a different scale than gray,  green assets are part of community development; summit provided for dialogue with other communities for issue resolutions,  also measuring and monitoring of successes; mid-event press conference included EPA’s release of its 2013 green infrastructure strategic agenda   
  • No. 3:  National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Peak Performance Awards  - received by 5 of 6 WWTPs; 100% compliance at Oak Orchard and no more than 5 exceedances within 1 calendar year at other plants; national recognition for tremendous performance  of old assets is a tribute to the operations team working around the clock and doing their best to preserve the environment
  • No. 2:  U.S. Water Prize – reflects America’s spirit of diversity, creativity and collaboration in resolving serious clean water issues; Freshwater Trust was the non-governmental program of excellence winner, Miller Coors was the private sector winner and Save the Rain program was the governmental winner; over 300 water leaders from across the nation participated in this earth day event, County Executive received recognition for the number 1 public sector program in the nation for 2013
  • No. 1:  ACJ Milestones Met at Clinton and Lower Harbor Brook Storage Facilities -  penalties if milestones were not met, 2 large projects roughly $70M and $30M had to receive wet weather flow by 12/31/13; projects were full of challenges, difficult and  complex construction; together projects will capture 11M gallons  of unsanitary flow in a wet weather event, with 76 events or partial events per year this adds up to hundreds of millions of gallons per year, flow will be stored and pumped back into our system for high level treatment after the event; storage capacity is improved because of green infrastructure in balance with gray; gray storage is in lieu of RTFs; Armory Square trolley lot will be a parking lot, new community assets could be built right on top of this, now have  invisible underground storage larger than 3 football fields instead of a RTF;  construction lasted until December 31,  2013, 6:30 PM, due to heavy snow and rainstorms during the last few weeks of 2013; rainy wet weather the very first weekend after completion resulting in both facilities having flow

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if everything worked.  Mr. Rhoads responded that it was all good.   

 

Gray Projects

  • Clinton and Lower Harbor Brook CSO storage facilities fact sheets and photos; as discussed the conveyance under the railroad will convey another CSO into the Lower Harbor Brook project

Green Projects

  • Summary and pictures of all the projects accomplished in 2013; photograph of NYS Environmental Excellence Award from the DEC; shows how green infrastructure is used in various ways, provides snapshot of where the project is, runoff reduction amount, costs, prime contractors and final construction information on closeouts; all information is listed on the website

GIF

  • Public–private relationship; investing in green infrastructure for commercial spaces, owner responsible for maintenance; capturing rain water before it enters the sewer via the use of porous surfaces and rain gardens
  • Key component of Save the Rain program; discussed with others at the National Summit
  • Fact sheets supplied for 2013 key projects

 

In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Rhoads stated that we would be taking on more of these projects.  Around this time of year, the program stops while we look at the capture in each CSO district to determine how much work remains.  Some of the CSOs have been abated, according to the ACJ, and will not overflow in a typical year.  Additional investment is needed in other areas between now and 2018.  Certain areas will no longer be eligible for GIF funds or the reimbursement rate will be changed in areas where we don’t need a lot of infrastructure.  We are only applying these resources to areas where it is needed most.  Mrs. Rapp added that GIF funds are only available in ACJ areas.  Mr. Rhoads stated that over 180 projects have been launched between the GIF and Save the Rain programs. 

 

WWTP

  • Metro plant treats flow from Salina, Dewitt, and Syracuse; not all areas are in the ACJ, but flow from Metro goes into Onondaga Lake
  • AMP measures the quality of Onondaga Lake and tributary receiving waters; seeing tremendous improvement
  • Phosphorus information is included, nutrient is starting to overwhelm waterbodies throughout the world, vital element in order for DNA to replicate – can’t have growth without phosphorus; too much growth in a water body causes algae bloom, thick mat of algae then dies and absorbs all the oxygen out of the water body causing the death of fish and other good organisms
  • Under order to measure phosphorus and bring levels down; graph provided shows lower levels and correlates with algae blooms
  • Able to avoid up to $700M in additional treatment, convinced DEC and EPA that the work currently being done will meet levels required
  • AMP program cost $200k per year; must capture water quality during rain events
  • Work with Honeywell and others to capture additional information on the lake; dissolved oxygen level going up, good health of the lake contributes to great fishery
  • Onondaga Lake is one of the premier natural resource  rehabilitation stories in the world

Legislation & Media

  • Synopsis of committee actions for DEC and EPA
  • Includes Save the Rain news stories and public education

Financial Update

  • Includes all contracts and budgets; 3 ACJ CSO budgets each over $100M, information transparent for all

Mr. Millea stated that he and Chair Plochocki went to Albany in April, and hopes to go again this year, to lobby for federal money for water quality projects.  One of the key items lobbied for was to maintain funding and restore the NYS revolving fund.  We will likely borrow upwards of $100 million with subsidized interest rates from the state, which will save us close to $20 million in interest costs over thirty years.  The president prosed $1 billion dollars for the clean water state revolving fund and $700 million for the drinking water revolving fund.  Yesterday, Congress announced that they are proposing the final budget of $1.444 billion for clean water and $900 million for drinking water.  These are national programs, so we are not getting a big amount but we can benefit from this program and the Green Innovation Grant program.  These funds will refund the Green Innovation Grant program and will give us the opportunity to chase grant dollars for some of our more innovative projects.  It is remarkable to see Congress increase funding above the president’s recommended budget.  It is a clear sign that we have collectively been effective in letting Congress know that water infrastructure is a critical element.  They are cutting the EPA’s budget, but funding these programs heavily.

 

Mr. Millea stated the committee will be formally briefed when we know more, but Mr. Rhoads is aggressively working to get three gray projects and close to a dozen green projects through the EFC pipeline.

     

Chair Plochocki stated that when Mr. Millea testified before Congress a congressional representative stated that perhaps they shouldn’t fund any of these items as they can’t make a difference.  It’s nice to see that we have made progress.   

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Signature

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

* * *

COUNTY FACILITIES COMMITTEE MINUTES - JANUARY 15, 2014

JUDITH A. TASSONE, CHAIR

 

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

ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list

 

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

 

1.     PARKS AND RECREATIONBill Lansley, Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation to Accept Donated Items

 

  • $15,000 from Friends of the Zoo; replace vintage lighting in banquet rooms; Friends control catering
  • High efficiency LED, dimmable; different lighting options for banquets, events, wedding; not fixtures, just the bulbs

Mr. Dougherty asked to be added as a co-sponsor.

 

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

 

2.     TRANSPORTATIONBrian Donnelly, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget and Authorizing the County to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs at a Maximum Amount of $1,330,000 and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Agreements for the Jordan Road Bridge Replacement Project, PIN 375477 ($1,330,000)

 

*Mrs. Rapp arrived at the meeting.

 

  • Replacement of Jordan Rd. bridge over Skaneateles Creek; aging concrete structure; entire structure to be replaced
  • Tentative construction schedule beginning in summer 2014; federal aid job with 80-15-5 split; $70,000 appropriated in previous work plan; reimbursement on back end
  • If there are no issues, Jordan Road project will be 3 months; Willis Ave. will be an entire construction season
  • Jordan Rd. will be a detour; Willis Ave. will have staged construction with lanes of traffic open - more traffic volume
  • State funds cover 75% of non-fed; 5% is County money; total $1.4 mil and $70,000 is local
  • Bonding will be left to Mr. Morgan; cash flow situation; rarely ask for bond authorization for project of this size
  • Just have to have approval of Legislature; pay first instance, and get reimbursed
  • Fed years ago used to pay up front and had numerous problems with paperwork - things were going to non-reimbursable expenses; so took risk out; all users pay for entire invoice, then submit for reimbursement
  • Reimbursement usually 90 - 120 days out; relatively timely

**Mr. Ryan arrived at the meeting.

 

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

 

        b.     Amending the 2014 County Budget and Authorizing the County to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs at a Maximum Amount of $6,175,000 and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Agreements for the Willis Avenue Bridge Over CSX Project, PIN 3754.26 ($6,175,000)

 

  • Superstructure replacement of Willis Ave. over CSX bridge; from City of Syracuse to Town of Geddes
  • Originally a deck replacement, but structural steel needs replacement also; everything but piers are being replaced
  • More extensive project and larger structure; more traffic; will stay open

Mr. Ryan asked if they will be doing any road resurfacing.  Mr. Donnelly responded they will do the bridge itself, and then repave the approaches to the bridge.  It will not be a repaving of the road to the City of Syracuse.  Mr. Ryan stated there is a complaint that he hears often because where the railroad tracks are there is a dip in the pavement.  Mr. Ryan assumed it will be done, but wanted to cover because there is a person who complains about driving over it.  Mr. Donnelly replied that there were some railroad crossings that the City was able to convince CSX to fix.  Mr. Donnelly will check with City DPW to see if they have any coordination plans with CSX.  Mr. Dougherty commented that CSX fixed four railroad crossings in his district; took one day.  When they want to do it, they can.

 

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

 

        c.     INFORMATIONAL - A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction and Construction of Improvements to Various Bridges in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $800,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $800,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay the Cost Thereof ($800,000)

        d.     INFORMATIONAL - A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction and Construction of Improvements to Various Highways in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $6,000,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $6,000,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay the Cost Thereof ($6,000,000)

 

  • Proposed work plan; would like to button up in April; hoping for an early winter and nice construction season

Mrs. Rapp asked how the department ended up in 2013 for salt.  Mr. Donnelly responded they used more salt then they intended, but had savings in other areas to offset that.  In 2012, November and December, the plows were out six or seven times, and in 2013 the plows were out forty times.  It was challenging and remains challenging with the swings in temperature.  This morning the roads were salted at 4 a.m. but the temperature fluctuates.  People forget that it costs the same to salt as it does to plow ten inches of snow; same manpower, overtime, and product.  The winter used to start, stay and stop, but the last couple years the temperatures have been all over the map.  The floating between below freezing to above freezing on a daily basis is a challenge.  The department was fine for budget overall, but there were overages in salt. 

 

Mr. Dougherty asked the same about fuel costs.  Mr. Donnelly replied that they were within the fuel budget.  The budgeted rate was higher than the actual in 2013.  The rates did not get as high for diesel which is the bulk of the expenditures on the fuel side.  There were savings in that line.  Mr. Ryan asked if they are locked in to that price.  Mr. Donnelly stated it fluctuates on a monthly basis, so the budget department comes up with an estimated per gallon cost.  That is what they use for the operating budget.  Prices are still dependent on the volatility of the market, so prices can change dramatically good and bad.  DOT has been fortunate the last couple years because the budgeted price was higher than what the actual got to. 

 

Mr. Donnelly:

  • Biggest change in work plan is how they are looking at resurfacing with hot and cold mix; bonding a concern
  • Percentage of debt service has gone up considerably in past few years; up $2 mil in 2015 over 2014, etc.; with current CIP, it is scheduled to peak in 2018; increase of $2 mil each year to that point; puts on operating pressure
  • $800,000 for bridge; $6 mil for paving
  • Using pavement preservation model from State - take roads in decent paving condition, and keep them in decent shape; look at roads as systems not individual segments:  how much traffic on road; interconnectivity to other parts of County; not saying one road more important than another, but roads taking most traffic will be focus
  • Instead of deep mill and fill of 3” hot and 3” cold mix, will do 1” of hot and 2” of cold mix; keep pavement in good condition; prevent it from wearing to a point of very expensive repairs; will effectively treat more miles than standard
  • It will not last as long; won’t have durational period, but will put in situation to get back to a point where debt will not be as extreme as it has been within operating budget          
  • Preventative maintenance – still paving but not as deep; will go longer rather than deeper; it will hold road in decent shape and get debt service to more manageable level
  • CIP has debt staying at $6.8 mil for issuance on annual basis; propose that cash stay at $1.2 level, do pay-as-you-go, and get away from long term borrowing

Mr. Dougherty stated it seems that they are pushing the problem down the road.  If there were one hundred miles to treat the way described, it would decay faster, which means they would have to come back to that stretch of road sooner to do full depth construction.  Mr. Donnelly responded:

  • Treatments should keep from full depth reconstruction - saving surface layer, limit water penetration into base and sub base (that’s when they get into full depth reconstruction); theoretically may not have to do full depth
  • Empirical models are not fundable - would have to do 50 miles of hot mix and 20-25 miles in cold mix on annual basis; County has never funded those levels and disruption would be staggering; only thing people hate more than the road falling apart is someone coming to fix it; there would be non-stop paving that would lock down community
  • Onondaga County continues to be good stewards of system; nowhere has funding to maintain systems
  • This is not long term solution; this to bridge gap until debt service more manageable; focusing on those more systematic of importance, and connectors as opposed to isolated paving – segments
  • Using State’s model - connector points and where traffic being carried; what type of treatment; what to do to keep in good condition without falling into worse state
  • In situation where within a 4-6 year period this will be manageable; not many roads crumbling, and not ignoring but good stewards
  • Worst first has been the way to go but doesn’t get it done; preservation instead of straight fix; for short period and won’t hold up as much but will keep system in good working condition
  • Won’t ignore low volume - cold mix for low volume; all will be treated and addressed. but look at different ways; surface treatments; keep in good condition

Mr. Ryan asked what NovaChip is, and is it something that has to be done often.  Mr. Donnelly responded pavement preservation has always been a part of their program.  NovaChip is relatively thin (1/2” – 1”), and it is more of a hot mix.  Mr. Ryan commented the Town of Geddes did not have the money to do what they needed, and Cornell came in to do a big study on the roads.  They put NovaChip down in three to five block sections.  Mr. Ryan drives it every day and wondered how long it would last.  In Mr. Ryan’s opinion, it has held up very well for the price.  Mr. Donnelly stated the State has done some experimenting paving I-81 North from the Airport to Cicero (481).  The idea was to hold the pavement instead of reconstructing it, and it’s held up very well.  Will it last ten to fifteen years?  No.  It was an interim effort before there was a situation. 

 

3.     FACILITIES MANAGEMENT:  Matt Millea, Deputy County Executive; Duane Owens, Commissioner

        a.     INFORMATIONAL - A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction of the Carnegie Library for County Use in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $3,420,000, and Authorizing the Issuance of $3,420,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($3,420,000)

 

Mr. Millea:

  • Carnegie building - working with NYS DOT to help facilitate I-81 discussion; priority to make sure watching situation proceeding; critical issue is that people can’t make public meetings and want to get involved
  • Idea to create space to facilitate on-going meetings; happen to have empty facility suitable for I-81 to occupy for brief period of time to wrap up process’s; use of Carnegie building for next 4-5 months; community gathering place
  • Will still do community meetings; public comment closes this week and will schedule more community meetings and meetings with state holder groups; displays and info at Oncenter will be transferred to Carnegie building
  • Regular office hours during the week for people to come in and view materials, possibly work at computer kiosks for additional comments
  • Ensured with NYSDOT that the facility is open to all views and perspectives; different groups forming; if ask, they can bring materials and present as well; not exclusive to NYSDOT
  • Have to heat anyway, so why not use as venue for this critical discussion; moved stuff in this week; Facilities worked to ensure elevators inspected, bathrooms ready, handicap accessible
  • Good near term use of building and wanted to make sure the committee was aware of it

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if they worked things out with legal.  Mr. Millea responded that they did not delve into the big legal issues as it is an informal partnership with NYSDOT and the County.  It will be a pro-bono exercise for the County, and not a tremendous amount of additional cost to absorb. 

 

Mr. Millea responded to Chair Tassone that there will be hours posted for when it is open to the public.  People can go in, review the materials, and have discussions with the consultants.  The comment period is ending this week, but the process is far from over.  They are in the early stages of the process, so people should still feel welcome to come in and participate in the dialogue.

 

Mr. Millea answered Mr. Dougherty that the annual costs for the Carnegie building is $20,000 for utilities.  They do not anticipate any additional costs.  NYSDOT has moved everything, and any additional effort anticipated is helping with the janitorial services; during regular work day hours.  Mr. Dougherty asked if the minimal cost is zero.  Mr. Millea responded the heat and electric may go up a little, but the building is as is. 

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if this is saving NYSDOT from having to lease space.  Mr. Millea replied they are creating a venue that is open longer and will be more accessible than anything NYSDOT would have done.  NYSDOT was not anticipating opening a store front facility like this, but the County asked them to use it, because people cannot make the meetings.  Mrs. Rapp stated they discussed doing this last summer, and hoped it would have been happening all fall.  Mr. Millea commented that NYSDOT pushed back their process.  Fortunately with some pressure from the County Executive’s office, pressure from the Legislature and pressure from Federal Highway, they have expanded the process to take a much longer time.  Mr. Millea does not believe NYSDOT will wrap up the scoping process until the summer; they expected scoping to be done by now.  The scoping process will determine which alternatives are prescribed in the environmental study; limiting to one or two.  

 

Mr. Millea stated in the short term that is good news, and in the long term they would like to begin discussions with the Legislature about the future of the Carnegie building.  Mr. Millea said Mr. Owens provided information at Ways and Means, and they will be more than happy to provide the committee members with copies.

 

Mr. Millea:

  • County Executive’s office preference is to maintain ownership and use it for public use
  • Would like to discuss the options and alternatives for use; no set-in-stone plan or hard deadlines
  • Thorough appraisal and marketability – given current market conditions and the glut of office space in central business district, would receive considerably less than what building is worth
  • Tax assessment - $2.7 mil; appraisal in 2012 suggests at most could get $19/sq. ft.; market at $500,000 - $700.000
  • Remarkable historic structure that private sector could do something with, but at end of day would be selling at bottom of market instead of height; also adding sq. footage of office space into market where private sector has made investments in the community – this would impact their ability to market, and the County would be competing
  • i.e.:  HSBC tower - people put in good money and investment to restore to commercial liability
  • i.e.:  Excellus Building sold for $900,000; massive building with class A office space; 1,000’s of workers; probably worth $10s of millions; County contributing to issue not advantageous
  • Historic building paid for by Carnegie Foundation; open floor pan – could put County work force in there; no extra room as it gets used very quickly
  • County Executive office would be appropriate to put there; 14th floor not a welcoming head of government
  • Carnegie has seat of government feel to it; appropriate to have Executive’s office on second floor
  • If Executive office at Carnegie building, would also bring DMB, Counsel’s office, Law Department (some or all)
  • Open floor plan is critical with high ceilings; cube seating for offices; private meeting rooms but otherwise open
  • Keep infrastructure as is now; Purchasing Dept. another potential; Carnegie offers an opportunity to bring SOCPA together - City Zoning, City Planning, County Planning and GIS services
  • Economic Development would make sense but depends on who moves in; if SOCPA there, then would make sense to move Economic Dev. there; cease to pay rent at Pioneer building (Pioneer could fill quickly with commercial tenant)

Chair Tassone stated she asked Mr. Antonacci to do an audit on all of the buildings the County owns, any open space and any Departments that are renting to someone else.  It will have costs and contracts.  Chair Tassone said they want all of the numbers together before any decisions are made.  Mr. Millea commented that they are meeting with Mr. Antonacci on Monday, and the report should be very helpful in making a decision on this.  The Human Services side has $600,000 a year in revenue payment currently.  Mr. Millea stated they would back fill into the Civic Center.

 

Mr. Ryan commented that he agrees the County does not want to get into a position to lease back.  There are a lot of people making investments, and there is talk about the City taking back the Washington Street building.  If something can go in there, it would be fantastic.  There are people willing to do these things.  Mr. Ryan would hate to have a developer willing to take on these buildings, and back out because the County is going to undercut.  Mr. Ryan commented there are talks about the towers going in, which he thinks will happen.  Mr. Millea responded to Mrs. Rapp that they believe the attorney that bought that has big plans for it.  The attorney needs to find out what is happening there; roof compromised for some time.  There is talk of a smaller banquet facility and coffee shops.  The gentleman that bought the Excellus tower has already sold it or is trying to sell it; paid $900,000 for it.  Mr. Millea gives the City a lot of credit as they prohibited the buyer from turning it into an office storage building.  The big plan was to turn it into storage.  This is on a main street in a main commercial area.  The City did not want an office building turned into storage. 

 

Mr. Ryan commented Carnegie may good for the 14th floor, but what goes into the space on the 14th floor.  After they move, there would be empty spaces everywhere else.  Mr. Ryan stated in a perfect world, they would move them to Carnegie, and whoever is being paid third party could come back over here.  That would be a good utilization of space.  The County is paying $20,000 per year to heat the space regardless.  The question is will the County save money.  Is this a good expenditure?  Mr. Millea replied that the audit will be helpful.  What they are presenting today is to save money, which means the County needs to spend money.  They estimate about $3 million to accomplish what Mr. Ryan was saying; get the building up to speed, move the people, buy the furniture, fix the facility and make investments in the Civic Center to pull the business units back into the Civic Center.  They can make a business case that will pay for itself over time.  Hopefully they can show a payback within seven to ten years. 

 

Mr. Millea:

  • The committee is welcome to tour or have a committee meeting there
  • Beautiful building (besides carpets, paint and HVAC improvements) – in great shape; open floor plan
  • Giant rooms and curved big rooms
  • Propose the second floor big oval room for County Executive office; senior staff with open floor plan and cubes
  • DMB on either side with Counsels; board room meetings set up for private meetings

Mr. Millea agreed with Mr. Dougherty that the cubicles would be for people like himself and Mr. Fisher.  Mr. Dougherty stated it seems like a mistake.  Mr. Millea said they are not cubes but partitions (similar to what Mr. Owens and Mr. Wixson work out of) that do not go to the ceiling.  Mr. Dougherty said the nature of the business they do requires a certain amount of privacy that they cannot get with partitions.  Mr. Millea commented that ties into the third floor option.  The County Executive has a secure office, and there are private meeting rooms available on the third floor open to everyone in the building.  They can be used for those types of private conversations.  The everyday work can be done with the open floor plan. 

 

Mr. Millea stated this is a brainstorming exercise they wish to include the Legislature in on.  They intend to work with Comptroller to get the report.  The report will help in decision making, and will help the Legislature give input on who they think will be suitable tenants for the facility.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 11:26 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Signature

Jamie M. McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

* * *

PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MINUTES - JANUARY 15, 2014

BRIAN MAY, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Ryan, 1Mr. Holmquist

MEMBERS ABSENT: Mr. Jordan

ALSO PRESENT: See attached list

 

Chairman May called the meeting to order at 12:10 PM.  A motion was made by Mr. Dougherty, seconded by Mr. Holmquist to waive the reading of the minutes of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Dougherty, seconded by Mr. Holmquist to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

       

1.     EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT:  Kevin Wisely, Commissioner

        a.     Confirming Appointments to the Position of Deputy Coordinator and Authorizing Reimbursement for Expenses Incurred in the Performance of their Duties

  • Annual confirmation of deputy coordinators; work in the field as an extension of Emergency Management
  • Same individuals as last year, less one

Mr. Dougherty asked to be listed as a co-sponsor.  

 

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

 

        b.     Accepting Homeland Security Funds from the FFY 2013 Emergency Management Performance Grant Program for the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Management, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($172,376)

  • Annual grant program

Mr. Dougherty asked how these funds were utilized last year.  Mr. Wisely stated the funds go toward the operation of the Emergency Management office; used for EOC upgrades, training and planning services, can also be used to offset 101 salaries.  In response to Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Wisely stated the funds would be utilized in a similar way this year.   

In answer to Mr. Ryan, Mr. Wisely confirmed that funds are part of a federal grant, but are coming to us from the state.  Chairman May noted that there was no local match.

 

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

 

2.     EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONSWilliam Bleyle, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept New York State Department of State Funds for the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Communications, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($96,390)

  • Adopted a memorializing resolution in 2012 supporting participation in a study regarding shared Public Safety center services with various CNY counties
  • Applied twice for the grant – successful with the 2nd application; allocated $87,627 to conduct the study
  • 10% match required, total of $8,763 for 6 counties; Onondaga’s match of $1,460 will come from the 413 account if needed - may be able to take in-kind services for the initial grant, as grant administrator

In answer to Chairman May, Mr. Bleyle stated an RFP will be put out.  They will be looking for a consultant with considerable technical expertise in this area.  Currently they have combined radio system maintenance, but would be looking at possibly combining telephone systems, computer aided dispatch systems, and potential consolidation of one or more centers.  They would need someone with significant expertise in conducting regional shared services consolidation studies.     

 

Chairman May stated he imagines that there would be a breaking point if part of that study includes a recommendation to consolidate a center or two.  Mr. Bleyle responded that they would be looking for a service and cost benefit.  The County has saved considerable money by sharing its radio system master and maintenance agreement with four other counties.  If they can share, save money and provide better service, they are hoping the consultant could provide a road map for implementing the suggestions. 

 

Mr. Ryan stated that 911 system upgrades are going to be forced onto other municipalities as the ability to text becomes mandatory.  Other counties may not have the resources to be able to provide this service and asked if Onondaga County was going to be the lead for the six county region, with everyone coming online.  Mr. Bleyle:

  • Onondaga County would be the lead agency for the study, each county is their own entity - working together as a consortium of equals
  • Technology  is changing rapidly, becoming increasingly more expense; future technologies allow for more sharing with cloud computing and voice of internet protocol
  • Other counties may consider building their own system; might be a service advantage, not sure if there is a cost advantage, looking for our consultant to tell us
  • Don’t have the expertise and/or time in house, looking for someone who has seen this and has a better perspective of where the technologies are headed; looking for hard number dollars - is there a benefit and would it improve service
  • Onondaga’s CAD system capable of being a hub; at least one county is interested in determining the costs of becoming a spoke to the hub

In answer to Mr. Ryan, Mr. Bleyle confirmed that the study will show if merging will cost Onondaga County money.  Mr. Ryan stated that sometimes Public Safety services are provided to counties, that don’t reimburse Onondaga County for those services; want to be helpful but don’t want to lose money on this.  Mr. Bleyle:

  • Has to make since for both Onondaga and participating counties to do this
  • May not be cost effective for smaller counties to become a spoke to our CAD system; Onondaga County system is significantly larger in terms of systems in place, call volume, police and fire activity;  looking for expertise to guide us    

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

 

3.     ONONDAGA COUNTY JURY BOARD:

        a.     Confirming Appointment to the Onondaga County Jury Board (J. Ryan McMahon, II)

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

4.     Resolution Denying the Use of the Onondaga County Seal or any Other Marks Identifying the County by the State of New York Without the Consent of Onondaga County (Sponsored by Mr. Jordan)

 

Chairman May stated the resolution before us is modeled after several of the resolutions that have already passed; Allegany and Schoharie Counties are two examples.  The purpose of the resolutions is to deny use of the Onondaga County seal in reference to permit recertification or for any other purpose pertaining to the SAFE Act.  As a legislature, we voted against support of the Safe Act law.  This resolution states that Onondaga County doesn’t want to be misrepresented in any communication from the state. 

 

Mr. Holmquist stated he strongly supports the resolution.  All Upstate NY Counties, other than Tompkins, voted not to support the SAFE Act.   The Clerk’s Association and Sheriff’s Association in Onondaga County have been great, with everyone on board.  This is a good opportunity for the Onondaga County Executive to make a single statement of her support, as most other county executives have done.  Our County Executive has been silent and this is pretty disappointing. 

 

Chairman May stated that there was a strong internal effort to find samples, to make sure this wasn’t an unwarranted reactionary move.   There were no samples, but there has been a concerted effort by NYS to obtain authorization to use these seals, in a variety of different venues.  This resolution is being preemptive – saying a resolution was passed denying support of the SAFE Act and our seal can’t be used for this purpose.    

 

A motion was made by Mr. Holmquist to approve this item.   

 

Mr. Dougherty stated this resolution restricts the states usage of the county seal only as it pertains to the SAFE Act and questioned if we would be inundated by request for use with other issues.  Ms. Berger responded that this should be limited to the SAFE Act and the recertification process.       

 

Mr. Ryan stated that he couldn’t support this item.  He is not a huge fan of the SAFE Act as he believes that could have been a little better and was prepared to quickly.  However, provisions such as Mark’s Law, Kendra’s Law, reclassification of offenses with guns near school zones, and reclassification of crimes passing along guns for gun violence are provisions that he liked.  Mr. Dougherty interjected referring to the second to the last resolve clause on the first page.  The resolution restricts the states use of our seal as it pertains to the recertification of the Save Act, not any of the items Mr. Ryan has described.  Mr. Ryan stated this was true, but what we are doing is the same as when we voted not to support the SAFE ACT.  At the end of the day this meant nothing to the state - was merely a statement to them.  We willfully except the states grant money, but don’t want to support them here.  

In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Ms. Berger confirmed that this resolution is not memorializing, it is actual action.  Mr. Dougherty noted that memorializing and action resolutions are not the same.  Mr. Ryan agreed.    

Mr. Holmquist asked what recourse the County would have if the state used the seal after passage of this resolution.  Ms. Berger responded that they would to look at different options for enforcing use of the seal as this is really untested. 

Seconded by Mr. Dougherty.  Ayes:  3 (Holmquist, Dougherty, May); Noes:  1 (Ryan).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

5.     SHERIFFChief John Balloni – Civil, Chief Ted Botsford - Police, Assistant Chief Wasilewski - Custody

        Monthly Update on Status of:

        a.     New Mental Health Unit at Justice Center

Chief Balloni:

  • Have been told they will have an architect engineering firm to choose from effective 1-17-13; RFP has been reviewed by Purchasing but not awarded

Chairman May asked if the same architect would apply for the special operations facility and asked if both were part of the same RFP process.  Chief Balloni responded the RFP for architecture was countywide.  They will assign different projects based on expertise.  They will want an architect with previous jail construction experience for the Mental Health unit, as this is very different from general construction.  There are horror stories from counties that have hired local firms without this experience.  The special operations facility will be more general construction – probably won’t be the same architect for both projects.   

 

        b.     Special Operations Facility

Chief Balloni:

  • In desperate need for the facility; costing money in terms of overtime and outsourcing people from the Justice Center
  • Needs assessment draft report from architectural firm being tweaked
  • Starting the process for possible sites, looking at 2 county owned property sites, most cost effective solution – doesn’t take private property off the tax roll   

Chairman May stated that at this point it is fair to call this a prospective countywide arrangement, understanding that everyone needs to see the numbers and the location, particularly the City.  Chief Balloni agreed, adding that they have reached out to everyone and have letters indicating interest.  Everyone is waiting to see where the facility is going to be, what it is going to include and the responsibilities relative to it.

 

In answer to Mr. Ryan’s questions, Chief Balloni responded:

  • Project space must be scalable up or down, depending on who comes in, also looking for enough space for future expansion,  people may to wait to see a successful operation before becoming involved
  • Village and town requirements for evidence are not major,  the City is the big consumer  - more than doubling the size of the project in terms or square footage; going forward with the project assuming the City is on board
  • Makes since to go to one property and evidence processing location for a number of reasons - not just financially; procedures would be the same for all, evidence booked and released properly and easily located
  • Already work together in many areas, much of the preliminary items necessary are already in place - work from one set of numbers, can identify and separate evidence easily because of agency identifier, already use the same tracking software; makes since to share property and evidence service
  • Hope to move forward as quickly as possible, horrendous facilities need to be replaced    

        c.     Pistol Permits

Chief Balloni:

  • Lines no longer growing - though not substantially shortened
  • New software being installed and tested on servers, will be implemented in segments, won’t have immediate effect, hope to have substantial effect by full implementation; project should be fully implemented by fall

Chief Balloni provided the following update on the NY SAFE Act:

  • 3 provisions were scheduled to go into effect; background checks for ammunition sales did not go into effect - state computer system is not ready 
  • NICS check for private sales goes into effect today; citizens selling a legally registered handgun most go to dealer along with the buyer for a NICS check, most be presented to the pistol permit bureau before transfer, dealer can charge up to $10 for the NICS check; NICS check could have been done by the Sheriff’s office if the state had asked
  • Suspended pistol permits now requires all long guns to be confiscated, currently handled by the civil division; major unfunded mandate, could go to collectors house with 50-60 guns, each has to be booked into evidence, don’t have property and evidence facility equipped to handle this; pistol permits are generally restored, must  go through the same process to return the property

 

Chairman May asked if the magazine component kicked in also.  Chief Balloni responded that part of this has already kicked in and part of it has been dealt with by the courts.  Currently there is a stay on part of the ten round magazine issue.  However, there is a question as to whether the stay is enforceable in this part of the state as it came from a federal judge in another portion of the state.  They have reached out for advice from the State’s Sheriff Attorney and he stated there are different interpretations.  The Onondaga County DA has interpreted that the stay is not enforceable in our area. 

 

In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Chief Balloni responded that there is no room for storage in the gun locker at property and evidence.  Chief Botsford added that there is significant flooding there also - items could be damaged by water.  Chief Balloni stated there could be a question of liability, as these guns would not be held as part of a criminal act.

 

In answer to Mr. Holmquist, Chief Balloni stated that the appointment time for a new pistol permit is still over one year but they have stopped the time frame from expanding.  He promised to report that they are in much better shape, before his term is complete; may see some contraction prior to September as segments of the software are implemented.  

 

Chairman May took the agenda out of order, noting that the update on Correctional Health would be addressed with the transfer resolution.  

  

        e.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Homeland Security Funds for the 2013 Bomb Squad Initiative Grant Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($111,668)

Chief Botsford:

  • 1 of 3 regional bomb teams; deal with live devises, need to continue training and upgrade equipment as time passes
  • Grant provides for upgrades of wireless control systems and new x-ray  equipment; currently using fiber optics which can catch inside a building

Mr. Dougherty stated that this is a recurring grant and asked how the funds were spent last year.  Chief Botsford responded that a vehicle was purchased for dealing with bomb devises and allowed for all bomb equipment in one location.  It was also used for ongoing training and upgrades to their robot.  Mr. Dougherty asked if we spent all the funds.  Chief Botsford responded that the contract wasn’t approved until late last year - all funds will be spent for the purposes stated. 

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

 

        f.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Receive Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Funds ($54,525.24)

Chief Botsford:

  • Grant funds to be utilized for patrol vehicle upgrades; Ford stopped making Crown Victorias and safety equipment isn’t compatible with new vehicles
  • Will purchase and install steel bars for window protection, replace standard rear seat with molded ABS plastic seat - can be easily cleaned, often dealing with people who release body fluids
  • Also used for security services at the Oncenter and headquarters, per diem employees making much less than police officers  

Mr. Dougherty asked if money was already allocated for this type of equipment when police cars are purchased.  Mr. Botsford responded that they try not to spend this money out of their budget.  Mr. Dougherty stated that he understands they are offsetting this.  Chief Botsford added that they are using grant funds, rather than local dollars.  

Chairman May stated that in some cases this equipment was transferred over, when they were still buying new Crown Victorias.  Chief Botsford responded that they did everything they could to be able to transfer over.  They weren’t able to buy this equipment for all the cars at once - have been buying about 10 sets per year.  This grant will allow them to move closer to having the equipment in all vehicles.

In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Chief Botsford stated that the cost will not be reoccurring, unless a car is in a significant crash or the car design changes. They should be able to take the equipment out and install it into a new vehicle, resulting in additional cost for installation only.  In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Botsford stated that the equipment generally outlast the car.

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

        g.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Accept State of New York Highway Safety Program Funds ($109,500)

Chief Botsford:

  • Provides for personnel costs - employee deals specially with highway traffic safety in Onondaga County; moved to the Sheriff’s department from Health
  • Provides funds for child education classes, promotional items, car seat check points, and bike helmets for low income families; some training involved for maintaining certification on car seat inspections
  • Reoccurring grant

In answer to Chairman May, Chief Botsford confirmed that this is not a new position.  It is something that has been going on forever - goes into schools and teaches children about traffic safety.  Chairman May added that resources for this are getting smaller and smaller.  

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

        i.      Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Agreements with Other Municipalities to House Overflow Onondaga County Inmates and Amending the 2013 County Budget to Pay for these Services ($100,000)

Assistant Chief Wasilewski:

  • Currently housing 8 female inmates in Wayne County @ $85 per inmate per day; females must be housed separate from male; female numbers spiked in December, brought 18 males back and moved 8 females
  • Population monitored on a daily - insures inmates are not left in overflow housing without need

In answer to Chairman May, Chief Wasilewski confirmed that this resolutions balances out overflow costs for 2013 - starting sending inmates out in October.      

 

Chairman May asked if there was a fluid ability to house male and female inmates.  Chief Wasilewski responded that Wayne County currently has the ability to provide 30 beds in 2 different housing areas, they are pretty fluid.  Onondaga County doesn’t have enough flex areas to house increased female population - has a set 60 bed unit and Jamesville has a set 60 bed unit.     

 

Chairman May stated that these costs are not going to go away and the bills will have to be paid.  One issue is that the funds are coming from safety net.  Legislators need to understand the availability of the safety net dollars and the extent of that ability, as 90% of funds requested for transfer are coming from the surplus in safety net.  This needs to be understood by Ways and Means, if for no other reason than benchmark knowledge of where these transfers are coming from.  This is not necessarily a conversation for Public Safety, but the money has to come from someplace to pay the bills owed.  This translates out to overtime expenses and other items that will discussed with the transfers.

Mr. Ryan asked if they are currently housing inmates that state is unwilling to take.  Assistant Chief Wasilewski responded that there is a timeframe in place for moving out state inmates.  The state needs to get beds available in their reception housing.  Mr. Ryan stated that in the past they have had inmates sentenced to state facilities and the state wasn’t ready to take them, causing us to send our inmates to overflow housing.  Assistant Chief Wasilewski responded that inmates are generally sent out on Mondays or Tuesdays and again on Thursdays.  The state contacts them and tell them when and where to bring them, either Elmira or Auburn.  Auburn has a small reception area of 20 beds, with Elmira being the main reception point for this region.  Today there are about 20 inmates that are sentenced and waiting to go to state prison and we aren’t their only customer.  Mr. Ryan stated he understands this, but this is a problem.  The county is incurring overflow costs because state prisoners are being housing and asked what could be done about it.  Chief Wasilewski responded that back in the 1980’s, County Sheriffs took the state to court.  The state has to pay the County $33 per inmate per day, if they are housed longer than 10 business days, though generally they are moved within this range.  Chairman May added there is also the loss of opportunity costs for inmates that they could have housed for others at a fee.  Chief Balloni noted that the state cut the money they used to pay the County from their budget - no longer pay anything.  Mr. Ryan stated it is costing the County $85 per inmate per day and it is costing the state nothing.       

 

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

1Mr. Holmquist left the meeting.

 

        h.     2013 Sheriff’s Transfer Resolution:

Chairman May stated the transfers would be discussed categorically.

 

POLICE/CIVIL:

 

                                      TO:                                                            FROM:

                            1.       Org. Code 7920000000                       Org. Code 7920000000

                                    Sheriff Police/Civil                                Sheriff Police/Civil

                                    Speed Type #410001                           Speed Type #410001

                                    Acct. 641010                                          Acct. 641020

                                    Regular Salaries                                    Overtime Wages                                       $6,000

                   

                            2.       Org. Code 7920000000                         Org. Code 7920000000

                                      Sheriff Police/Civil                                  Sheriff Police/Civil

                                      Speed Type #410001                             Speed Type #410001

                                      Acct. 693000                                            Acct. 641020

                                      Supplies & Materials                               Overtime Wages                                     $10,000

 

                            3.       Org. Code 7920000000                       Org. Code 7920000000

                                      Sheriff Police/Civil                                Sheriff Police/Civil

                                      Speed Type #410001                           Speed Type #410001

                                      Acct. 694130                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Maint, Utilities, Rents                            Overtime Wages                                     $10,000

 

                            4.       Org. Code 7920000000                       Org. Code 7920000000

                                      Sheriff Police/Civil                                Sheriff Police/Civil

                                      Speed Type #410001                           Speed Type #410001

                                      Acct. 694080                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Professional Services                          Overtime Wages                                     $10,000

 

                            5.       Org. Code 7920000000                       Org. Code 7920000000

                                      Sheriff Police/Civil                                Sheriff Police/Civil

                                      Speed Type #410001                           Speed Type #410001

                                      Acct. 692150                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Furnishings & Equip                             Overtime Wages                                       $6,536

 

                            6.       Org. Code 8130000000                       Org. Code 7920000000

                                      DSS Programs                                       Sheriff Police/Civil

                                      Speed Type #430108                           Speed Type #410001

                                      Acct. 661010                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Safety Net                                               Overtime Wages                                  $857,464

 

CUSTODY:

 

                            7.       Org. Code 7930000000                                         Org. Code 7930000000

                                      Sheriff Custody                                      Sheriff Custody

                                      Speed Type #410027                           Speed Type #410027

                                      Acct. 641010                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Regular Salaries                                    Overtime Wages                                  $160,000

 

                            8.       Org. Code 7930000000                       Org. Code 7930000000

                                      Sheriff Custody                                      Sheriff Custody

                                      Speed Type #410027                           Speed Type #410027

                                      Acct. 693000                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Supplies & Materials                             Overtime Wages                                     $10,000

 

                            9.       Org. Code 7930000000                                         Org. Code 7930000000

                                      Sheriff Custody                                      Sheriff Custody

                                      Speed Type #410027                           Speed Type #410027

                                      Acct. 694130                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Maint, Utilities, Rents                            Overtime Wages                                     $20,000

 

                            10.    Org. Code 7930000000                       Org. Code 7930000000

                                      Sheriff Custody                                      Sheriff Custody

                                      Speed Type #410027                           Speed Type #410027

                                      Acct. 641030                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Other Employee Wages                       Overtime Wages                                     $20,000

 

                            11.    Org. Code 7930000000                       Org. Code 7930000000

                                      Sheriff Custody                                      Sheriff Custody

                                      Speed Type #410027                           Speed Type #410027

                                      Acct. 694100                                          Acct. 641020

                                      All Other Expenses                               Overtime Wages                                     $15,000

 

                            12.    Org. Code 8130000000                       Org. Code 7930000000

                                      DSS Programs                                       Sheriff Custody

                                      Speed Type #430108                           Speed Type #410027

                                      Acct. 661010                                          Acct. 641020

                                      Safety Net                                               Overtime Wages                                  $225,000

 

                            13.    Org. Code 8130000000                       Org. Code 7930000000

                                      DSS Programs                                       Sheriff Custody

                                      Speed Type #430108                           Speed Type #410027

                                      Acct. 661010                                          Acct. 695700

                                      Safety Net                                               Contractual Expenses                     $1,366,679

 

The following handouts with revised numbers were distributed to the committee:

 

Sheriff

Sheriff 2

 

Chief Botsford:

Police/Civil

  • $825k over budget on overtime account; handout details amounts coming from each account to cover deficit
  • $722,464 needed from safety net,  high estimate - hope to have final number at $700k
  • Chief Botsford started implementing extreme management controls in 2005, came within budget for overtime costs; couldn’t continue controls due to insufficient personnel - terrible to work for years to change overtime culture, be successful and then unable to continue due to staffing shortage
  • Primary goal is to ensure there are enough personnel to keep each other safe at all time; handle calls as efficiently as possible

Mr. Ryan questioned the year in which Chief Botsford started implementing the controls.  Chief Botsford responded that he believes it was right around 2005.  In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Chief Botsford stated they had about 249 Sheriffs at that time.  In answer to Mr. Ryan, Chief Botsford stated they currently have 7 deputies in the academy and 9 deputies that are out with significant injuries.  As of yesterday there were 212, including those mentioned. 

 

Mr. Ryan stated that in 2005 they were managing with 249 people and are now trying to manage with 196.  Chief Botsford agreed, adding that he doesn’t know if the high number was in 2005.  On top of this, they are also managing a majority of the police calls, in the Town of Clay, as they no longer have a police force.  They expect to make some progress by lower requirements for minimum staffing; can’t get below a point where they don’t have people to back each other up, when things go bad.  They will do everything they can to stay within budget.

 

Chairman May asked what they are going to do to lower minimum staffing.  Chief Botsford responded that they have already done it – at times they only have 9 patrol cars for the entire county.  From 3AM to 7AM, 9 people are working, 11 people from 7AM to 11AM, 13 from 11AM to 3PM, and then it goes up to 18.  They have moved personnel around so that they can have a reduction of staff during those hours of the morning when the majority of people are sleeping.  There are fewer calls for service from 3AM to 7AM.  The number increases with the morning traffic and then peaks later at night when they have domestics, bar fights, armed robberies and such.  When these emergencies happen, they start eating man hours very quickly.  The officer involved shooting, in the Town of Onondaga, had multiple people on call and firing shots.  The man was shot, resulting in the need for multiple investigative personnel.  This eats up manpower very quickly.  

 

Chairman May stated that in his short tenure with the legislature, the Sheriff’s department has done a good job of explaining the dilemma of prospective staffing and safety.  There is an understanding that those things need to happen.  One side of this issue has been working toward a common goal, the other side is that they have a budget and they need to stay within it – we are dealing with facts and realities.  They have financial limitations and public and personnel issues which are what they are.  Finding the common ground and understanding in great detail is very important.  Much of this discussion applies to virtually everything to be talked about in the next few minutes.  Legislators need a better understanding of how they work, from an operational and financial standpoint, so that finding that middle ground makes since for everyone. 

 

Chairman May stated he had a variety of questions and doesn’t expect them answered today but would like answers by Ways and Means.  There is no getting around the fact that these bills have to be paid.  However, because of budget measures taken this year, it is imperative to gain as much understanding of the process as possible, so that they are better able to find that middle ground next year.  Obviously they are not there yet, as this transfer request has more than $2.5 million dollars coming right out of fund balance, at the end of the day.  This mitigates a lot of effort to create taxpayer savings, which was one of the goals in this process.  

 

Chairman May stated that the final number is below the projection from the overtime report.  While he views this as a plus, at the same time, he wonders why they went from the original ask of $10,000 to $60,000 for maintenance, utilities and rents.  As mentioned, everyone needs a better understanding of why the DSS safety net is available; it may need to be but they need to understand why.  There is no documentation as to why any of the funds being used are available.

 

Chairman May asked to be supplied with an explanation for each surplus account and to note any large items that the legislature needs to know about with respect to what was asked for during budget and what is needed today.  In addition, he would like to know what was budgeted in 2012 for these accounts and what the surplus was for the accounts prior to any transfers being made back then. 

 

Mr. Dougherty stated that these are small numbers compared to what was budgeted in these accounts.  Chairman May stated that he understands this.  He is making a single request and wants the information.  They went through extraordinary steps in the budget process to ensure that they gain a good understanding and avoid the drama of rehashing things that they should have understood.  Mr. Dougherty stated that he might have misunderstood.  He doesn’t know how much the supplies and materials budget was but it was large - to have $10,000 left at yearend is pretty good on our behalf.  Chairman May stated that he doesn’t doubt the numbers or how the money was spent, but wants to understand how.  Next he has to sit in on Ways and Means, thereafter he will sit in on the budget process and the more he and other legislators know about making this decision, the better off they will be in the process.  Chairman May reiterated that he doesn’t need the answers today - just thinks it would be good to fill in some of the blanks on these items, so that the information is known going forward.

 

Chairman May asked if the operation of Air 1 was causing staffing issues elsewhere or issues within the accounts that fund the salaries of everyone in the operation.  Chief Botsford responded that there is some overtime for items such as search and rescue; doesn’t have the exact numbers but can get them.  Mr. Ryan noted that they must budget some overtime for Air 1.

 

In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Chief Botsford stated the academy is close to 6 months long - current academy will finish at the end of this month.  They will then move onto the more difficult and important part of field training.  It is a standardized program, done in every police agency in the country, whereby they are doing hands on police work under direct supervision of a training officer.  They are evaluated on 36 different areas every day.  While they go through this process there is an attrition rate, just like there is in the academy.  Some people will do fine academically but cannot perform as a police officer on the street.  They don’t know how many they will end up with and won’t get them until summer.  In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Chief Botsford stated that if they get five, it will equal 1.5 persons, as they are a 24/7 operation.

 

Mr. Dougherty asked if they expected overtime to be less this coming year, as a result of the academy.  Chief Botsford responded that he does and added that with an additional 10 people, they believe that they could be much more successful in managing overtime.  Mr. Ryan stated that salaries and fringe then increase.  Chief Botsford responded that he understands but this isn’t a choice that they make.  Mr. Dougherty stated the truth is that they have needed people for years. He has been listening to people from the Sheriff’s office say that overtime will go up, unless they have more people, since he came on the legislature.  Then the legislature says that they aren’t going to fill the positions of those retiring and leaving, but then beat up on the department for overtime being too high.  Mr. Ryan agreed.

 

Mr. Dougherty stated that it is much easier to manage salaries verses overtime, understanding that disasters happen and people have to be brought in.  It is frustrating to hear over and over that they are over budget on overtime because they don’t have enough people and then during budget we don’t supply the personnel.  The Sheriff’s department is doing everything perfect because but.  Mr. Ryan interjected saying that there are different issues for civil and custody. The road patrol is willfully understaffed.  The circumference of the county is not decreasing, the jails are full – sending inmates to overflow housing, and people are committing more crimes.  The academy attrition rate needs to be built in but at what point do they get to the balancing act.  Salaries go up and overtime goes down or overtime goes up and salaries go down – they are still going to have an operating budget; wishes he could give them more people. 

 

Mr. Dougherty stated that last year the County paid a lot of money for a study showing exactly the number of people needed.  This is not being made up, as Mr. Ryan stated they are willfully understaffed - dreads the day that an officer gets hurt or killed because of inadequate staffing.  Chairman May stated this was dead, and is the reason for his earlier statements.  This is not an exercise to bust anyone’s chops.  The legislature set aside a lot of discretionary money from the Sheriff’s budget into contingency to understand and come to conclusions that make since for taxpayers.  The only way to do that is to work through these issues. This is a matter of education.   

 

Mr. Dougherty stated that they are talking about a lot of money - not sure that they would be talking about less if they hired more people but believes it would be much easier to plan and deal with.  Chairman May responded that this is certainly one of the arguments across the legislature.  Some argue that if they hire more there will still be overtime and some of the numbers actually bare this out.  Chief Botsford stated that in some ways they are absolutely correct.  They don’t know when or where crimes will occur and major crimes are very labor intensive - will never be able to eliminate overtime.  However, a significant amount of our overtime was due to minimum staffing of patrol.  If they just staff road patrol at a higher level, they believe that they could significantly reduce overtime and wouldn’t be sitting here today. 

 

Mr. Ryan stated that they have 212 officers with 196 active.  If we add 12, salaries would go up and overtime would go down.  However, if they are truly using people on overtime to avoid minimum staffing, they are always going to have someone on overtime in patrol.  If they had a lot more people overtime would decrease considerably because that person would be on start time instead of overtime.  Chief Botsford agreed, adding there are additional costs for salaries and fringe.  Mr. Ryan stated this would still offset overtime.  Chief Botsford responded that there is added value for the legislature in knowing what the cost is going to be.  Mr. Ryan stated this was Mr. Dougherty’s point - knowing the fixed cost.  However, they don’t know how many officers they will have this week, it might go down to 194.  Chief Botsford responded that there are some unknowns, they can’t plan for everything.

 

Mr. Dougherty stated that 9,140 hours of overtime works out to 1 person, 24 hours per day, for a little longer than 1 year.  Just as described, they are talking about putting one extra person in the car all day and year long.  Chairman May stated that if you put this in perspective with the budget, whole salaries are a small amount of money.  The problem is that in comparison it is a lot of money on the tax levy, as it is all local dollars.  This hits hard and right between the eyes.  

 

Assistant Chief Wasilewski:

Custody

  • Good news is that $300k is coming from other parts of their budget
  • Overcrowding has significant impact on some of the overtime
  • 6 vacancies in budgeted positions as of yearend; lost 10 people to retirement, resignation and termination
  • Budget managed on daily basis, scrutinize overtime; constant observation and hospital details - things that cannot be scheduled or controlled put us over budget
  • Have academy starting in February, will have significant effect on future overtime budgets

 

Chairman May stated this is a vast improvement over last year, adding that Chief Gonzalez came in and went over the manual measures undertaken to better control and understand how overtime is allocated.  These results speak to those efforts, to some extent.  While this wasn’t discussed, there is interest in a software component that would be compatible with PeopleSoft and would enable everyone to do a better job with respect to scheduling.  Having that ability would enable some of the manual processes, such as binders and so on to be taken away, adding a level of sophistication to the process and providing a better result.

 

Chairman May stated from his prospective, he has the same set of questions for Custody, all though he does have a comment.  At one point, Chief Gonzalez forecast something like $150,000 in overtime; 99% sure that he was speaking to the level of overtime, without holiday pay, which brings it back in line to where the forecast was.  The last forecast they received had the final ask coming in at $450,000 and this new one is asking for $500,000. 

 

Chairman May asked that they speak to the change in forecast numbers in the backup to be provided, unless they had a general answer now.  Mr. Schuster responded that overtime was made much worse at the end of the year for a number of reasons.  Back in July it looked like they would be within $100,000 of budget.  Then a lot of things change, yearend there were a lot more hospitalizations.  September was a very bad month and the population caused a huge spike in overtime through the fall. 

 

Assistant Chief Wasilewski stated that they have a variance that allows them to put 64 inmates in the housing units.  Once they go over 60, the state mandates that they have 2 staff members for both the day and evening watch.  There were times when they had 64 inmates in a unit before they could be moved to overflow housing, causing 16 hours of overtime per day for only 4 inmates.  This preceded the October move of Jamesville inmates to Wayne County so that Jamesville could make room to move the Justice Center inmates to Jamesville.  Overtime spiked during this timeframe.  Then in November there was a spike in constant watch, which compounded things.  There were a couple of additional hospitalizations as well.  They spent much more on our constant watch and hospitalization this year, as compared to last year. 

 

Chairman May stated that he has heard and is hopeful that the new Correctional Health vendor has better performance in the way of constant watch, hospital trips and things of this nature.  Perhaps this will have a positive effect on other items as well.  Assistant Chief Wasilewski responded that the new provider has a better turn around with Mental Health, getting providers in to see inmates and stabilizing them quicker than the previous provider.  They are now taking steps to increase their services - providing services that have not been provided in the past, which will get inmates back from the hospital days quicker.  Each day is 3 overtimes, not to mention the other expense of keeping them in the hospital.

 

Mr. Ryan stated that he is very interested in the new contract for Correctional Health.  As discussed at our last meeting, they will be able to handle more things onsite, which will be a good thing.  Mr. Ryan asked to be provided with feedback and anything that could quantify savings as they go along.  Last year there was a very large transfer because of Correctional Health.  Chairman May added that it is even bigger this year.

 

Ms. Buck stated that under the new contract the infirmary will be providing new services beginning in March.  Many of the services inmates are on constant watch for will now be provided in house.  They could look at last year’s costs and compare it with what will now be treated in house, demonstrating the savings that are available because of this service.  Chairman May responded that this was good news and will obviously help. 

 

Chairman May stated his number one question for Correctional Health pertains to backup.  They have a final cost increase of $1.367 million but they don’t have any kind of detail.  He understands that they have had a terrible time getting information from the prior vendor.  With a lot of effort, last year they were able to get information with respect to the types of claims that occurred and actual cost to the County; the information he is requesting doesn’t have to be as detailed, knowing that there are limitations from the previous vender.  Chairman May asked to be provided with some type of documentation showing where they were and where they finished up.  This information will provide a better understanding of where the cost overruns came from and the types of issues that they face.  It will also provide a benchmark for referencing purposes and comparing vendor performance.  The new contract has a cap but they still need an understanding.

 

Chairman May stated that the committee was down to three people and he wasn’t included to vote on this item.  They might have a little homework to do with regard to understanding the safety net piece and why this amount of surplus available. 

 

In answer to Mr. Ryan questions, Assistant Chief Wasilewski stated:

  • Some of their support staff includes classification, programming, and custody administration; all are mandated by the state
  • 4 staff members assigned to MIS, not mandated; handle multimillion dollar computer system, need people that know security and the system to manage it, trouble shoots computer problems; works for the entire Sheriff department – not just custody; manages  all computers, over 100 in the Justice Center alone, at headquarters and in cars; handle video and audio systems for the Justice Center and in cars
  • Grants manager is a custody deputy, not mandated
  • 1 person handles inspections for both custody and police, all internal audits; not mandated
  • 40 transport personnel – take inmates to court, doctor appointments and such
  • Training personnel are mandated
  • Have civilianized as much as possible

 

Mr. Ryan stated he would like to know anyone that is doing non-custody work, if the function is mandated and how many hours are being appropriated to that specific job function.  Mr. Schuster stated whether or not the position is mandated, they still are required to have deputies in the position.  They had a civilian working part time in MIS - a retired deputy took over some of that function as a grade 1 and they had to replace him with a custody deputy.  There has to be custody deputies in those positions, as it is in their title.  In answer to Mr. Ryan, Mr. Schuster stated this decision was rendered by PERB.     

 

No action was taken on this item.

 

Chairman May made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Mr. Ryan. Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  The meeting was adjourned at 1:46 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Signature

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

* * *

PLANNING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MINUTES – JANUARY 16, 2014

KATHLEEN A. RAPP, CHAIR

 

Members Present:  Mr. Liedka, Mr. Corl, Mr. Knapp

Members Absent:  Mr. Plochocki

Also Attending:  Mrs. Ervin; see attached list

 

Chair Rapp called the meeting to order at 10:31 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Liedka, seconded by Mr. Knapp to waive the reading of the minutes of the previous committee.  A motion was made by Mr. Knapp, seconded by Mr. Liedka, to approve the minutes of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     COOPERATIVE EXTENSION ASSOCIATION OF ONONDAGA COUNTY:

        a.     Confirming Appointments to the Cooperative Extension Association of Onondaga County Board of Directors (Michael E. Plochocki, Margaret Anne Chase)

 

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

 

2.     CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU:  David Holder, President

        a.     Designating the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity as the Agency Authorized to Make Application to the New York State Department of Economic Development and to Receive Matching Funds therefrom Under the New York State Tourist Promotion Act

 

  • I Love NY matching funds program – $60,000; County to designate CenterState as official tourism promotion agency

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

 

        b.     1st Quarter Report - Marketing Study - David Holder, President

 

  • Follow up to October committee meeting - overviewed program for 2014; more details, opportunities and big priorities
  • Purpose to drive tourism; concentrate on 4 key overall markets:  conventions, leisure visitors, sports visitors and subsets around leisure visitors (i.e. international visitors, group tours, etc.)
  • Work with primary markets – center out of Albany, lot of statewide visitation, business in Canada (Ontario)
  • Destiny USA - seeing interest from international perspective
  • 2012 funded project called Destination Market Analysis – used to do in-depth research on visitation potential, where need to be to change program to go after potential markets; used in last half of 2012 and saw big payoffs in 2013
  • 2013 – DestiNY, leisure changing, business travel up for work National Grid was doing and work that St. Joseph’s was doing; in general a renewed sense of interest for sport travel, leisure travel and event travel
  • 2013 – best year seen in tourism ever; 5.5% increase in hotel performance; DestiNY numbers sky high; catalyst year
  • Keeping that momentum going is theme driving for 2014
  • Priorities in 2014:  massive concentration on branding - lack definitive brand as destination for Syracuse area (Syracuse and Onondaga County as hub, plus all counties around)
  • How to define what’s unique, compelling, and drive interest – skiing in Tully, sports travel, lake visits, etc.
  • Branding area is huge initiative for CVB; brand publicly launched in May 2014; had a great meeting with Conventional Visitors Bureau Executive Committee
  • Website, letterhead, etc. incorporated in Sept’s budget; new logo/approach -  complete change around customer POV
  • Utilizing company specializing in brand development; BCF develops brands for destinations; nothing in northeast
  • BCF has done brand development for Virginia Beach, Aspen (CO), Rapid City (SD)
  • Mr. Holder used when he worked in Fredericksburg, VA - saw leisure tours go up 3x, based on brand change and how it was introduced into marketplace
  • Database transition - creating database w/company (national reputation); database gives partners ability to make changes to their listings, see sales performance, and key instrument to change website (re-launch in Aug 2014)
  • Company is Simple (Touson, Arizona) - leading supplier of customer relation management systems for Conventional Visitor Bureaus; completely tied in w/different engines out there; takes existing systems and grows to a new level
  • Maintain sales effectiveness (w/bowling out of equation) results from 2013 - generated 2x as much business as 2012; want to make certain maintaining level; keep pace going
  • Great deal of that effectiveness came from the destination market analysis – gave ability to hone in on markets producing, drop those that aren’t producing, focus with collaboration; energized sales team

Mr. Liedka asked if they were offering any incentives.  Mr. Holder responded:

  • Incentive program close to being approved by leadership; awards on categories that are weighted – number of qualified bids, convention center bids, business booked and conversion rate; also team incentives; 3.5% of salary
  • Incentive won’t kick in until hit 10% above goal; another at 25% above goal; incentives for overachieving
  • Interest in area for international travel (overseas); targeting Germany, United Kingdom and China; driving visitors coming to NYC (#1 US destination), then going to Niagara Falls
  • Great new product international visitors love with outlet shopping, entertainment and restaurants all in one place
  • Funded this year - dedicated sales person handling international marketplace; hope in place before end of summer
  • Final item:  Visitors Center moved; increased communication; first floor visitors center (month out); pushing for a visitors center in DestiNY (CVB needs to be operator of that visitors center)
  • Aggressive year and a lot of priorities; branding alone is game changing
  • State awarded $370,000 Regional Economic Development Counsel Grant – marketing of brand into Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto; on top of what County gives; matching and going all out to drive tourism; investment not made before

 

Mr. Liedka asked what helps the CVB to understand what the best mediums are for those markets. Mr. Holder responded they work with established marketing agencies that are experienced in those areas.  They also research and talk to markets to find out what drives them.  Mr. Holder stated they have a handle on Ottawa, because it is a key marketplace; lots of promotion in that market.  Montreal is a different animal, as well as Toronto.  The product is coming together, and there is interest coming out of those destinations.  One thing the CVB will learn from the branding effort are some better ways to go into those markets with their message; right way to hit and touch them. Mr. Holder continued:

  • Example:  TV spot in Buffalo (buy through cable); things have changed, and they probably won’t do TV buys
  • Looking at different forms of media; using social media in a major way
  • Program waiting to launch that’s a winter based program called Snow on Syracuse - driving people to get interested in winter season; run through end of March; push outdoor recreation and things seen here during snowy weather
  • Push great outdoor assets and indoor assets for winter
  • Will make certain that buys in Canadian communities are as smart as possible; may hit more suburban versus the core of Montreal with the French culture
  • Canadian shopping visit destination was Woodbury Commons which is an hour further; start talking about what region has to offer (shopping, arts/culture/museums and affinity of outdoors) – game changer
  • Goal to incorporate everything the region has to offer into one hard hitting brand
  • Attachment No. 1 – 2014 Marketing Calendar; 2014 Sales Calendar; promotional schedules are constantly changing
  • Sales - conventions and sporting events; Marketing – everything else (last update in Nov., changes made)
  • Sales – updated as of January; constantly changing, new input from partners
  • Not shown is regional branding campaign; will send out calendars on regular basis (and can present); goals in place for all programs; finalizing all goals and incentive programs; 2014 will be a stressful year

 

Chair Rapp stated Mr. Holder talked about the impact of the ACC, and asked how that has come to fruition today.  Mr. Holder responded it continues to grow.  Everyone is talking about the Duke game, and the last Mr. Holder heard there were at least three other games in excess of 30,000 in 2014.  If they tack on the game with Villanova, and it has been a dramatic year. 

 

Mr. Holder replied to Mr. Knapp that when Clemson was here for football they took over the town.  When they left, they had a great feeling of how welcome they were in Syracuse.  The community will continue to see this, and Mr. Holder believes next year Florida State will have a game here.  When Florida State comes in, they will bring a huge contingency with them (National Champions).

Mr. Knapp asked about Hospitality Industry Speed Dating.  Mr. Holder responded:

  • Wanted to redo way to bring industry together for connections with each other
  • Need to create new ways for industry to connect with one another; ultimately want to come out with matchmaking and partnerships
  • Use time to let people know what CVB is doing and how to get more engaged with the CVB
  • Slated for next week to launch the yearend report for 2013; will have an every other month report (at least) to industry and stake holders to showcase results, what’s on radar and what’s coming in future
  • Will be a good sense of how industry is performing and what CVB’s role is in driving some of that

Mr. Knapp commented it was a very positive breakfast this morning.  Mr. Knapp stated there were over twenty-five million visits to DestiNY USA, and asked how they measure that.  Mr. Holder answered that it is anyone that walks through the door.  It is a standard measure for visitation for shopping facilities, so anyone that walks in is counted.  Mr. Knapp asked how they physically measure that.  Mr. Holder replied he does not know, but there are some places that have beams.  There is also technology that grabs a signal from a cell phone (not sure if DestiNY has this). 

 

Chair Rapp asked if the committee needs to release funding.  Mr. Holder responded the budget was constructed with contingency funds to be released.  The discussion in October was releasing the first contingency fund with this meeting.  Mr. Holder is at the committee’s call on how to proceed.  The CVB is still working with the County on the contract.  The money coming from the State is all reimbursement money, so they have to spend it.  They are trying to plan out what the year will look like.  Chair Rapp stated they need paperwork, and suggested Mr. Holder put together a plan or wish list based on the money coming in, and what the outflow will be.  Mr. Knapp responded to Chair Rapp that Ways and Means will be pushed back to the last week of January (28th or 29th).  Chair Rapp commented if Mr. Holder does not have something by then, then he would have to come back with a formal request for the March meeting.  Mr. Holder stated they should have it prepared by next week.  Mr. Knapp said if Mr. Holder can get that done, they can put it on Ways and Means (will bypass committee).  Mr. Holder stated he will have it done. 

 

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

 

Respectfully submitted,

Signature

Jamie McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

* * *

WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES - JANUARY 29, 2014

DAVID KNAPP, CHAIRMAN

 

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

ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman McMahon, Mr. Plochocki, see also attached list

 

Chairman Knapp called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. May, to waive the reading of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin; seconded by Mr. May to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

CONSENT AGENDA

1.     EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT:

        a.     Accepting Homeland Security Funds from the FFY 2013 Emergency Management Performance Grant Program for the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Management, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($172,376)

2.     EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS:

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept New York State Department of State Funds for the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Communications, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($96,390)

3.     PARKS AND RECREATION:

        a.     Authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation to Accept Donated Items ($15,000)

4.     SHERIFF:

        a.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter Into Contracts to Receive Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Funds ($54,525.24)

        b.     Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Accept State of New York Highway Safety Program Funds ($109,500)

        c.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Accept Homeland Security Funds for the 2013 Bomb Squad Initiative Grant Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($111,668)

5.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION

        a.     Authorizing the Purchase of Certain Permanent and Temporary Easements from Onondaga County Industrial Development Authority (OCIDA) the Legal Owner, and Syracuse, Binghamton & New York Railroad Corporation, the Beneficial Owner, for the Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of the Harbor Brook CSO 063 Conveyances Project ($15,300)

 

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

 

REGULAR AGENDA

 

1.     COUNTY CLERK:  Chris Plochocki, Deputy County Clerk

        a.     Authorizing NYS Reimbursement for 2014 Expenses of the Recording Offices for the County of Onondaga for Administration of Mortgage Taxes ($693,443)

  • State reimbursement of salaries and office expenses related to the County Clerk’s distribution and collection on the State’s behalf
  • $693,443 total reimbursement

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

In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Plochocki stated that over the past couple of years mortgage tax collection has been going up.  A lot is from luxury properties and refinancing.

2.     TRANSPORTATIONChris Rauber, Civil Engineer 3

        a.     Amend 2014 Budget and Authorize the County to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs at a Max Amount of $1,330,000 and Authorize the Co. Exec. to Enter into Agreements for the Jordan Road Bridge Replacement Project, PIN 375477 ($1,330,000)

  • Jordan Road bridge replacement project
  • County to pay in the first instance for federal and state funding, $1,330,000
  • $70,000 local share in work plan

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

 

        b.     Amend 2014 County Budget and Authorize the County to Pay in the First Instance 100% of the Federal and State Aid Eligible Costs at a Max Amount of $6,175,000 and Authorize the Co. Exec. to Enter into Agreements for the Willis Ave. Bridge Over CSX Project, PIN 3754.26 ($6,175,000)

  • Willis Ave Bridge over CSX – construction phase
  • County to pay in the first instance for federal and state funding, $6,175,000
  • Estimate locate share $325,000 in previous work plans

 

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

3.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTIONTom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     Authorize County of Onondaga to Enter into an IMA with the City of Syracuse for the Incorporation of Green Infrastructure into the City of Syracuse Greener Parks Prog. ($411,620)

  • Purpose is to fulfill partnership/relationship with City of Syracuse – doing a number of Save the Rain green projects
  • County does the construction; some elements in parks are not saving the rain, i.e. basketball hoops
  • City will reimburse the County for park related amenities

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Rhoads explained that the work has been done in Barker and Lewis Parks; Wadsworth and Comfort Tyler Parks have not been done.  The work will be done this coming contract season.

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

 

4.     HUMAN SERVICES: Steven Morgan, CFO

        a.     2014 Transfer Resolution

  • Transfers between the 3 Human Services Departments
  • Clean up to put the monies in the right place to spend it in the right place
  • $0 net affect; moving money between the 3 departments for travel & training; maintenance, utilities & rents; all other expenses; contractual expenses

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp; Mr. Morgan said it is revenue neutral.

 

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

        b.     Amend 2014 Budget to Make Funds Available for Distribution to Liberty Resources, Inc. ($425,000)

  • Request to move money out of contingency for contractual services in Children & Family Services
  • Request to release funds to compensate contractor for services provided

 

In answer to Mr. Jordan, Mr. Morgan explained that this is for child preventative services; working with children and families – trying to get them out of foster care and return them to their homes.

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

 

5.     SHERIFFChief Esteban Gonzalez, Custody; Asst. Chief Roy Gratien, Civil

        a.     Authorize the Co. Exec. to Enter into Agreements with Other Municipalities to House Overflow Onondaga County Inmates and Amend 2013 County Budget to Pay for these Services ($100,000)

Chief Esteban:

  • Transfer to cover boarding out of inmates to other municipalities for 2013

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Chief Gonzalez said that currently there are 8 females out in Wayne County; had 24; all the males were brought back.  It is a delicate balance; 90% if full – in violation if it goes to 100% because it is then mixing males, females, adults, and minors; this is the minimum they can do and stay in compliance with the State.  Wayne County is full now, so will have to look at Albany as the next closest facility.  These are sentenced inmates.

 

Mr. Kilmartin asked about trends.  Chief Gonzalez explained:

  • Trends have been tracked in the county and nationally since 1995.
  • Female population of incarceration has more than doubled
  • If they continue the trend with the female population and minor males, they will be full
  • Eagerly anticipating the creation of the mental health unit – will free up mental health beds and accommodate some overflow inmates

 

Mr. Kilmartin asked what the average number is that is being transferred per month.  Chief Gonzalez said that that it fluctuates wildly, literally day to day.  He tracks the bench, who is getting remanded back into custody, and watches the arrest rates in the county and in the city.  Many factors that get them to the tipping point.  When they get to that point, letters are received stating that “the population will be moved around quickly and assiduously or be found in violation.”

 

Mr. Kilmartin asked if the $100,000 is reconciliation for the cost for the total calendar year 2013.  Chief Gonzalez said it is to cover the overrun, which was not anticipated.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Gonzalez said that it has been inching up; however, the mental health population has exceeded the general population.  Minor males, mental health, and female populations are the three biggest obstacles to overcome.  Mr. Kilmartin asked what the projection is for the number of beds that might be freed up with the mental health facility.  Chief Gonzalez said that if they had 100 beds from the mental health unit, it would take 56 beds currently occupied in the older mental health unit, and free them up.  Those inmates would be put into the new, more elaborate area, where one officer will watch up to five inmates.  It is a much lower cost as opposed to one officer to two inmates.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if with freeing up approximately 55 beds, how long will it keep us under the threshold if the trends continue for the next couple of years.  Chief Gonzalez said that they have trended it out to 2020 – the 100 beds would probably get us to 2017 or 2018.  He would proposed that there be 200 beds.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if the 200 beds would be for mental health only or a split – some for mental health/some for regular, run of the mill incarcerations.  Chief Gonzalez said that the 200 beds would be to manage the classifications appropriately when crowded – it makes sense to prepare for the future now.

 

Mr. May asked about 5C (mental health) – managing classifications now and what is done to make it happen.  Chief Gonzalez said that it being managed right now because there are 638 inmates in the building today; 604 is full—90%.  They are doing it and not violating anything because they work with Tim Cowin at Jamesville every day.  Also, there are the 8 females that are boarded out to Wayne County.  They keep the lid on it by moving people around.  Sometimes the medical area is used for overflow.  If they don’t have protective custody; at any time that is 8 extra beds.  If there is a high profile inmate, they have to pull them out and put that one individual in there, wasting 7 other beds.  It is a balance every day of how to best maximize the use of all of the cells and not run into violations in classifications of the inmate population.  They meet every day and discuss it with municipalities, Jamesville, contiguous counties; Albany calls them every single day.

 

Chairman Knapp asked if using the 55 cells in the mental health unit would require a recertification from the State.  Chief Gonzalez said that all movement requires a sign off from the State; it wouldn’t be a re-certification; it would just be used as a step down unit for multiple uses.  The State would have to certify the new construction.

 

Chairman McMahon said that he understands that Chief Gonzalez has less discretion in the use of overtime than there is in road patrol.  Collectively it is a massive number.  When looking at the county budget, over the course of a year there are numerous departments with thousands of employees doing their best to keep the numbers under budget; at the end of day there was a $5 million surplus. After the Sheriff’s Department, that number will be cut in half.  He is trying to understand how these things can happen. He questioned, who internally, is responsible to come to Chief Gonzalez and say that there is a problem and they are going over their budget.  He noted that going into the 2013 budget, with the numbers that were finalized,  he was told by Chief Gonzalez’s higher ups, that if they were given that number, they would come in under budget – that they could live within their means.  It was $2.8 million.  He asked how the chain of command works; who gets alerted.  Chief Gonzalez said that the “buck stops with me”.  Chief John Balloni and he work together to manage the budget.  To look back on the overrun on the custody side, he made a comment in the last quarter that they were on budget, on track to perhaps exceed the budget by $100,000.  At that time, it was true.  Then they boarded out a cost of $100,000; transportation costs – the one on ones in the hospital details went up some, as did the length of stay.  All told, the statement he made would have been true; it was only $168,000 that they went over.  He apologizes for the $168,000.  The unanticipated costs caused them to go over.  When the go over, his lieutenants give him overtime reports every day.  The $2.8 million is broken down into daily use, hourly use, every shift.  He sees every shift; if they have gone over they have to justify why they went over – i.e. hospitals, sick calls, one on ones – it is all tracked.  Most of it are things that they don’t have control over. 

 

A motion was made by Mr. Holmquist to approve item 5a, seconded by Mr. May.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     2013 Sheriff’s Transfer Resolution:

Custody:

Chairman Knapp asked how the new health care contract will affect the overage on its line item as well as overtime.  Chief Gonzalez said that the first impressions are very good.  With CCS taking over (new contract); they are doing a better job of managing the hospital details out; getting a better relationships with the health care professionals in the community; looking at opening the old infirmary (5th fl – Justice Center) in March.  On average for a hospital detail, there are between 3–3.5 days that an inmate stays in a hospital.  If a day or two could be cut off of every hospital detail, and sutures and other things of that nature be done in the infirmary, it would drastically cut down on the medical cost.  The incentive for the current medical company is that now they have absorbed all of that – all of the responsibility is on them; they have an incentive to take care of it in house.  They are also looking at the one on one inmates much more effectively.  They look at them more quickly, the psychiatric staff are getting them downgraded much quicker, so there will be less time spent with on one on ones.

 

Mr. Morgan said that the key with this contact is the approach to managed care – CCS is paid a flat sum and they are all in.  The incentive is to keep outside medical costs down, but now it is on them.  Mr. Dean stated that there would be savings on the overtime side as a result.

 

Chairman Knapp said that now there is an incentive to not send someone to the hospital; how does the dollars and cents weigh against the inmate if he/she truly needs to do go to the hospital; getting pressure to not send someone to the hospital.  Chief Gonzalez said that they are a professional company and there is no pressure.  They understand that they have to do the right thing – have to provide the quality care necessary to keep a humane facility running.  There has not been in the past, or will there be any time envisioned in the future, where they will make a decision not to send somebody out in order to save money.  First and paramount is the saving of lives.  If it ever did come to their attention, it would be investigated and handled.  Chairman Knapp said that when the year is ending, and expenses have been high, he wonders if there is going to be pressure to not, and he wants to make sure someone is keeping watch.  Chief Gonzalez said that they are; are NCHC accredited -- evaluations are being done as we speak; the department is going through all of the paperwork with them.  It is a different day with this company.

 

Mr. May said that there is a contract manager that retrospectively monitors the activity; she is not involved in the day to day activity, but primarily is watching how the case manager is working and what their performance is along these lines.  In a few months from now, it would be interesting to hear a report on this – how things are going and any noticeable differences.  Mr. Gonzalez said that Karen Buck, contract manager, went to Westchester County and saw that they have a quality care model that CCS was running prior to Onondaga County hiring them.  The model that takes into account day-to-day routine and hospitals out there – they triage them on a wall so that the entire team can look at it (included the contact manager), and they do the business of the day in priority order.  They make sure that nobody falls through the cracks.  There was no model in the prior contract; there was no oversight like this going on.  Mr. May said that there was no data coming back to the legislature with the prior vendor.  Chief Gonzalez said that he will make sure that the legislature gets the data, as it is being tracked. 

 

Mr. May referred to the lag, which is tremendously long, in which we see what the actual expenses are.  There is nothing that can be done with that – we can’t change how hospitals bill.  Bills are being seen for expenses that were more than a year ago and are still coming in -- it is hard to plan.  Chairman Knapp said that we could be seeing these for a while; Mr. May agreed.

 

Mr. Jordan referred to overtime and noted that the explanation for why it exceeded what was anticipated seems to make sense, but it like “trying to corral water”.  Every year the legislature passes the budget and asks for projections for overtime.  Virtually right out of the box after the budget is passed, the legislature gets resolutions to amend the budget to accept grants.  Virtually every year it is millions of dollars in extra money above and beyond what was budgeted.  He has a hard time getting his arms around passing a budget that projects a certain amount for overtime; millions of dollars are then added to the budget every year, and then there is a resolution saying the department is $2.5 million over budget.  It seems like money is literally pouring into the Sheriff’s Department and they are still running over budget.  He doesn’t understand how some of these additional monies, which weren’t thought to be received, would somehow go against the overtime. 

 

Chief Gonzalez said that part of the overrun in Custody was the lack of hiring.  They did not have a 2013 academy.  In his tenure, there has been at least one academy every year for 20 years.  There were salary savings on the Custody side of the house.  They couldn’t have anticipated the boarding outs; the Commission is saying that they are in violation and force them to change it and board out.  They were on track between $100,000 and $150,000, which is still unacceptable.  They anticipate every year to stay absolutely on budget.  They do the best they can--tracking it every day.  He said that he shares the things that he can’t control openly with the committee. 

 

Mr. Jordan said that it seems like it is happening every year.  Chief Gonzalez said that they need $3.1 million for 2014, with 15 vacancies.  They are hiring 13 from the February academy.  In a perfect world if they could get two more vacancies filled, there would be no more overruns.  Anything can happen through 2014, but on paper with those numbers, it would fit the bill as it is standing today.  Mr. Casey said that it is fortunate, in a sense, that there is surplus from last year.  If we didn’t have it, or were in a deficit from last year, we would be in a much different situation.  No business can operate in this fashion and neither can this county. 

 

Mr. Kilmartin understands the Chief Gonzalez doesn’t have a lot of discretion – has obligations that have to be met every day in managing the facility; there isn’t control over the population that comes in and out of the facility.  He asked how overtime hours are allocated within all of the employees.  Chief Gonzalez said that they have an overtime tally daily tracking system.  They take the $2.8 million of the $3.1 million and divide it by 271 employees.  It is then divided by shift, by weekly, hourly, monthly, annual hours.  For example, today there may be 28 hours on the day shift allocated for the lieutenant to make sure he or she does not exceed those 28 hours of overtime.  When it goes over, they have to say why it did (i.e. sick leave, people suspended, etc.).  Almost all of the reasons are out of their control.  The information is taken to John Balloni, who takes it to the Sheriff and it is discussed how to proceed. 

 

Mr. Kilmartin asked how the number of overtime hours are allocated within all of the employees--is there a methodology.  There has been concern that there appears to be a trend where those nearing retirement are accruing many hours.  Then possibly every employee is maxing out their hours in their final years of service.  It grows the pension obligation and financial obligation for the County year in and year out with no end in sight.  Chief Gonzalez said that he doesn’t necessarily see a trend with that, but the bottom line is contractual – the top senior people get all of the overtime.  Those that are already making more money get first dibs on the overtime, whether they are at the end of their career or in the middle of their career.  The majority of the people in the building have medicals, and don’t want to work overtime.  There are literally 20 -30 people that bogart all of the overtime every year.  They aren’t people that are just strictly at the end of their career.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Chief Gonzalez said that the contract mandates it – there is an exclusivity clause and a seniority clause, which allows senior officers to get first dibs on all overtime.  There is no changing it, unless through negotiations.  Chairman Knapp asked when that contract expires.  Chief Gonzalez said that it expired in 2013.

 

POLICE/CIVIL:

Asst. Chief Gratien said that he police side has a $786,000 overrun on overtime; $652,000 of it has to be covered outside of the agency, the rest is covered with existing Sheriff’s Dept. accounts.  He noted that at Public Safety Committee, there were questions specific to the overruns and surpluses in certain accounts; answers were given to legislators in their packets.  Mr. May noted that the answers were given to legislators yesterday at 3:00 p.m.

 

Chairman McMahon said that there is a systemic problem.  We are not mandated to do road patrol.  He referenced a breakfast that he attended amongst village mayors, town supervisors, and trustees where many of the elected officials said that they didn’t want road patrol.  They would like to look at certain services regarding partnering with the Sheriff, but don’t feel like they get the road patrol.  They want money back from Onondaga County because they feel they are being taxed for a service that they are not getting. 

 

Chairman McMahon explained that when Mr. Morgan comes to him to saying that there is a problem with a department--they are over budget, the questions are “where else can they find savings; what can be done differently in order to deliver the services, or “can we afford to deliver the services”.  That conversation works because since he has been on the legislature, there have been surpluses countywide.  It is very lucky that there is, because the Sheriff’s Department year in and year out has eaten up those surpluses.  Because of that, less roads will be paved, less economic development will be done, because that surplus money is what is typically used to help supplement these issues.

 

Chairman McMahon said that in conversations, the total number was never $2.8 million over.  It was “we won’t be close to $2 million over our budget”.  He asked what conversations internally took place; who is doing the numbers and saying “we have a major problem”:  Which employees are saying “we are over our budget; I know that you are my boss, but Sir it is my job as your employee, to tell you that we have a problem because I have been at those legislative meetings month in and month out, and I know this is a problem.” 


Chairman McMahon asked what is happening internally regarding looking at the menu of services.  If the County didn’t have these surpluses, there would be a serious problem.  He would not look to the constituents to say that he would bond to cover a department because they can’t live within their budget.  He wants to understand what the problem is first.  Secondly, the Sheriff didn’t like what the legislature did with budgeting and micromanaging.  Clearly, when a department exceeds their limit year in and year out, it needs to be micromanaged.  Either the internal budget people aren’t doing their job and letting you know there is a problem; or, they are doing their job and are telling people, who are then not telling the Sheriff.  Or, someone is saying “screw the legislature, we don’t care… we’ll exceed our budget ... it doesn’t matter.”  He has read some of the outrageous quotes in the newspaper.  Chairman McMahon said that the buck stops here and today; we are not doing it any more.  Money was put into contingency accounts.  The Sheriff’s Department wants police cars – if they are going to be piercing their budget on personnel items where the legislature has no control, then they are not getting police cars.  The legislature is protecting the taxpayers – the budget went up this year in the Sheriff’s Department and he wants to know that the systemic issues are being fixed.  Clearly there is a communication breakdown – either internally or 1, 2 or 3 people are saying “don’t worry about the legislature; they don’t have a constitutional role to play in this process; we are an elected official and we can do whatever we want.  Whatever it is, there is a serious issue and we need to fix it.  He knows that the overtime lines are less in the winter months, and it heats up, but a cushion should be built going into the summer months. 

 

Mr. Gratien said that this start out with the basic premise that the funds that are provided are sufficient -- the Sheriff’s Department disagrees that it is.  He referred to a comment that Chairman McMahon made that said the Sheriff’ Department can live within that amount of money.  Chairman McMahon explained that he was told that by the elected and his top person.  Mr. Gratien said that he wasn’t privy to that and doesn’t know if it was the overtime number of the overall budget number.  Chairman McMahon said that it was the budget number.  Mr. Gratien said that from his perspective, they don’t have sufficient staff to do the job.  A study was funded; an independent review of the office, which said that they are 13 positions short in order to do an efficient job policing Onondaga County.  He disagrees that there is enough funding, but the message is there that they have to stay within budget.  Much of the overrun was due to minimum staffing – filling posts when someone calls in sick or vacancies.  The way to reduce that cost is to reduce minimum staffing.  The study said that they weren’t staffing enough, not even at night, to be safe.  They knew they were understaffing, but were trying to stay within budget.  The study said that 12 people are needed overnight, just so there can be people to handle a major incident, provide services, and keep each other safe.  The department never went to the number that the study showed. 

 

Mr. Gratien said that in December of 2013, they said they would staff to keep each other safe and count on someone to be there when things go bad.  Staffing has been reduced significantly. Chairman McMahon said that a fair assessment for minimum staffing would be not to just look in the Sheriff’s Department, but also look at who is on the beats, patrols, in local municipalities.  When there are so many law enforcement personnel in the field, he doesn’t know if the notion flies with him that we are putting public safety or one of the deputies at risk.  They may wear a different uniform, but are all covering the same territory essentially.  He asked if the study should have looked at what the minimum staffing for law enforcement personnel throughout Onondaga County is.  Mr. Gratien said that the Sheriff’s Department certainly takes that into account and knows who is out there and staff and assign people accordingly.  The study looked at what is needed to handle the Sheriff’s call volume; it didn’t matter what the towns and villages call volume is.  If the Sheriff’s Department reduced its staffing on patrol significantly; it will shift the responsibility and burden to someone else, and they will have to pay for it. 

 

Mr. Gratien said that Chairman McMahon said earlier that “people don’t want patrol”.  He said that people are protecting what they have.  Historically, the Sheriff’s office is the cheapest product that you can buy.  They can say that they don’t want Sheriff’s, but there is a motive for them saying that.  The Sheriff’s Department provides the best service for the best price – have the best-trained deputies, the best-trained officers, and get good people – they are trained well and do a good job.  In the long run, that saves the County money where they $1 million or $2 million lawsuits aren’t seen.

 

Mr. Kilmartin referred to data the legislature’s budget office has shown legislators regarding the staffing issue.  There is a claim that more people are needed, and if the Sheriff’s Department got more people, they wouldn’t bust overtime.  In all the data that he has seen – it is proven to be absolutely false.  When the number of personnel is high, the overtime is very high.  When the number of personnel dips down, overtime is very high.  In fact, in some years the overtime was worse when there was more staff.  The argument of the outside study, and the continuing argument that the Sheriff’s Department needs more people in order to push down overtime, has been proven false by the record of the Sheriff’s office.  There is no merit to it, as can be seen by the record of the historical data.  He doesn’t know how it can be a valid argument going forward.  The legislature doesn’t have any data to support that, and in fact it shows the exact opposite.  Mr. Gratien said that he would have to see it in order to comment – doesn’t have that specific information in front of him.  Numbers can be manipulated – there are always different points of view on it.  Mr. Kilmartin said that they have tried to focus on the barebones argument that has been made to the legislature from the Sheriff’s office of “give us more people and overtime will come done”.  He asked the legislature’s staff to look at the historical trend – showing just the bare bones – number of people and overtime.  It was shocking to see the numbers.  It worked the exact opposite way that Mr. Gratien and others have predicted that it would work in the future.  Mr. Gratien said that it is possible to look at things too narrowly--it takes out of account other factors.  He doesn’t know what the numbers are – would have to look at them, and it is a discussion for another time. 

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that he asked a question during the budget review process over the past couple of years and hasn’t gotten a good answer.  If the Sheriff’s office had to live within the fixed number that the legislature appropriates on an annual basis how would they do it?  He said that the Legislature tells the Comptroller, an elected official, what his budget is and he makes it work.  The DA is told to do that, and he knows he would like to hire more district attorneys, investigate more cold cases, more white-collar crimes, and a number of other menu items he would like to delve into, but he sticks to his budget.  The Clerk’s office would like to speed up the process – increase technology and have everything on line tomorrow, but they are not hiring people and spending money outside of their budget.  Mr. Kilmartin said the Legislature appreciates that there is an unpredictable nature of the Sheriff’s work, but have a hard time understanding that on an annual, re-occurring basis, there is a fixed budget and there seems to be a disregard for it in terms of regulating things during  the year.  The Sheriff’s office has to see the trend – if January and February are really bad for overtime, knowing the summer is coming – internal changes within all of the different levers have to be made.  It appears in looking at the data that when those red flags go off, it is just business as usual.  All the other elected officials and departments, that come before the Legislature, don’t have this problem.

 

Mr. Kilmartin referred to the monies being transferred from Safety Net and asked how the money was accrued; were these savings in Safety Net.  Mr. Morgan said that they are; they assumed certain caseload growth between 2012-2013.  The economy improved somewhat and the caseload stabilized.  They budgeted for about 2% caseload growth and the actual caseload was under that percentage.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if the monies would have been swept into fund balance; Mr. Morgan said that they would have been.

 

Mr. Schuster referred to the comments about historical data.  To just look at the numbers in the budget book for what the actual overtime expenses were for any one year, doesn’t show nearly the whole picture.  For example, in a particular year a contract was settled and there was a huge retroactive payment of overtime.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that more overtime was worked in that year.  A broader scope of things has to be looked at in order to get a better understanding of what is going on.

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that the problem is that there is a reason every year, an excuse every year, and a rationale every year.  The DA has come to the legislature and said he has an extraordinary item, i.e. has an extremely complicated homicide case and needs $5,000 to hire an expert witness.  He comes to the legislature and gives advance notice because he looks down his calendar and sees when it is coming to trial.  He explains it, gives the rationale, and lays it out.  Nine times out of ten he doesn’t come to the legislature because he finds a way to push down a lever to make up for the $5,000.  That is what is seen in other departments and feels that is not what is seen in the Sheriff’s office.  Captain Rinella noted that many of the other departments are not emergency service providers, and it makes a tremendous difference.  As the DA can prepare for trial when the judge schedules it; the Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have that luxury.  It can be 2:00 a.m., there is a suspicious death, double homicide, or a drowning… it is a little different.  To compare a Monday – Friday operation isn’t always an appropriate comparison.  Mr. Kilmartin said that he appreciates that, but the one thing that stays true throughout is the unpredictability of the Sheriff’s office every year; so, there should be some ability to manage that.  He referred to the menu of services…some have argued that we are one of the few counties that has an Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.  There is a resistance to change that menu of services.  It appears to be... “we are going to do what we want to do and live with it”.   Others in other departments say “we have to live under budget, and we might have to take serious steps to reduce other areas.”   During the fiscal crisis, Probation Department was decimated.  They could have kept the same menu of services – could have pushed overtime, could have people going out all night, but they didn’t.  Theirs is an unpredictable business – it ebbs and flows with the court system.  As unpredictable as the Sheriff’s office can be, there always seems to be a problem.

 

Mr. Gratien said he was in the fiscal office of 10 years; they got to the point where there was an understanding with the budget director and the legislature in seeing what they were going into.  When they have a vacancy, it is a year before that new person can impact overtime.  They get a salary savings in the budget and they try to hit it, so it means leaving positions vacant.  It puts out in the distance how long before someone is in place and impacts overtime.  Also, they had a terrible year in 2013.  In the last half of the year they averaged 10 people injured or with serious illness.  There are a dozen right now; and lost 4 people out of work last week.  If the budget shows that they have 3 vacancies and there are 6 people in the academy right now, plus 12 injured – that is 21 people.  Staffing has gone down significantly over the years.  At the same time they picked up the Town of Clay, which was handling 19,000 calls/year -- the Sheriff’s Department is now handling them with those people cut.  If you take a look at what has been absorbed and responsibility – are always behind the 8 ball – can’t catch up.  Mr. Kilmartin said that the Town of Clay is not a conversation that any of us want to have again – it is a disaster at multiple levels.  In terms of notices, and budget hearings – when the legislature found out from other sources that a contract was cut, and nobody from the Sheriff’s office told the legislature.  Mr. Gratien said that they found out the day before the legislature did.  Mr. Kilmartin said the legislature knows as a fact, in writing, that the notices went out from Clay to the Sheriff’s Office months in advance.  It is an absolute fact.  The Clay process within the Sheriff’s Office was an absolute disaster, and the legislature found out after the fact that more people were brought on than needed in order to provide the minimum level of service.  It was a net gain for the Sheriff’s office at the end of the day.  Mr. Gratien said “that it not accurate”. 

 

Mr. May said that early 2013, the road patrol side was pretty much true to form with overtime projections.  The last couple of weeks, there was some shifting to shore it up so it came out a little better than projected and finished pretty consistent with what the projections were.  He asked what specific steps were taken or attempted to try to mitigate that number.  Mr. Gratien said that they staffed to a level that they felt was appropriate.  As more vacancies occur, they aren’t filled because they try to hit the 101; they fall behind further.  As people get hurt, 10 -12 out at a good 3-6 months at the end of last year, it all starts to add up.  It was a 21-person deficit.  All 21 of those people would have been on patrol if they had those positions filled.   It would have affected staffing and therefore would have affected overtime.  There was nothing they could do to fill those 21 vacancies.  Towards the end of the year they went to the new minimum staffing – have a budget number and will do everything they can to stay in the budget number.  There are only 10 people out on patrol from 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.; 13 out from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; 13 out from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.; 16 out from 9:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., and 9 people from 3:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.  The staffing study says they should have 12 – haven’t had that many in the 30 years he has been there. They were already staffing below what somebody else says is a standard.  They have seen results.  At the end of last year, there was a pay period or two where these staffing levels were in place, a reduction was seen and it changed what the numbers would be.  So far this year, they are coming in much lower.  That is the goal – staff at this level and monitor the overtime as they go along through the year.  The problem is that it gets busier in the summer.  Regarding the idea that the department provides all kinds of services, nobody else provides waterway navigation services in Onondaga County anymore – State Police and State Parks are out of - they have all been cut.  The question is -- do we want no law enforcement whatsoever on the waterways in Onondaga County.  Right now, the Sheriff isn’t willing to make that change.  There was a significant problem in Skaneateles.  They came to the Department and said they need help there; people are out of control on the lake.  They found a way to do it with no cost to the County.  The Town of Skaneateles bought the boat; Sheriff staffed it but didn’t increase staffing in the unit; charged them for everything that wasn’t refundable through revenue sources with the State.  Mr. May asked if the department is looking in the mirror from a law enforcement standpoint for what they are going to do.  Mr. Gratien said “yes”.

 

Mr. May referred to the civil/administrative side, are there any measures being made to have helped the year-end circumstances.  Mr. Gratien said that there aren’t significant overtime dollars in those areas.  Captain Rinella said that the civil side has now taken on the responsibility of gun surrenders and gun suspensions as a result of the Safe Act.  They are now not only required to take the handgun, they are also required to take the long guns. They have an afternoon shift, with a deputy, in order to reduce costs.  These are added responsibilities from the State with no funds to pay for it.  Mr. Gratien said that costs in these areas spike when there is significant hiring.  They just hired the first class since 2008 so they haven’t had that expense.  When they hire, there are significant resources that have to be put into background checks, interviews, etc.  There will be a spike in the administrative part of the Sheriff’s office in years they are hiring.

 

Mr. Jordan said that the department is $2.5 million over budget and he sees things in the areas he travels.   For example, the tank being present at field days.  It gives an impression.  He see’s Air-1 at firehouses.  He understands there is a PR aspect to it, but there is also a cost associated with it.  He never sees a police car sitting with the engine off – if directing traffic or stopped for a cup a coffee, the engines are running whether someone is in the car or not.  With gas at $3/gallon, over the course of the year, it would add up to quite an additional cost.  The perception that it gives is that the department isn’t looking at the nickels, dimes and dollars – maybe a laissez faire attitude of watching these costs.  Especially if it is known that the department is  going over budget or is coming into the summer time – maybe should start finding ways of pinching pennies and reducing some of the other line items.  It doesn’t seem like that is happening.

 

Mrs. Ervin said that something has to be done about the overtime.  Every year that she has been sitting here, it is the same thing.  There has to be a change; there has to be something that the Sheriff’s Department can do to change this – there is no way this can be sustained going forward.

 

Mr. Holmquist agreed with Mrs. Ervin and believes it is a unanimous point of view that there is a tremendous frustration with the overtime issue.  He senses that that the legislature has an increasing willingness to do whatever it has to reign this in.  The legislature works collaboratively with every other department and has worked collaboratively with the Sheriff’s Department in the past.  This frustration is increasing to the point where the legislature is looking at every option it has from micromanaging, which nobody enjoys but thinks it’s imperative, cars, etc.  It is because of the feeling that there isn’t a cooperative effort.  He is sensitive to the fact that there are great people in the Sheriff’s Department, there are people that have all the responsibility and none of the authority, which is terribly frustrating.  It appears that there is a level of arrogance that the legislature just can’t tolerate.  There is a budget to run here, which is the legislature’s responsibility.  To be handed these bills year after year; there has to be answers.  If there aren’t, he thinks the legislature is certainly willing to do whatever it takes to reign it in within the legislature’s responsibility.

 

Mr. Plochocki said that like many of his colleagues, he is getting frustrated.  He doesn’t want to shoot the messengers; is really speaking about the Sheriff’s Department in general.  In just the few years he has been on the legislature, he has heard about this unpredictability.  It is funny, because things seem awfully predictable at certain times of the year and awfully unpredictable at others.  Things will get predictable again- will hear from the Sheriff’s Department that “you know what, this will never happen again”.  We heard it last year.  The two “top dogs” from the Sheriff’s Office came to talk to the legislature and said that things were under control.  That is a message that even with the unpredictability that is inherent, there is a certain amount of it that the Sheriff’s Office has a handle on.  Every year around this time, it is the same thing --- things are unpredictable; then they get predictable again--it is growing old.  There is true unpredictability in the Sherriff’s work, but at budget time the department needs to tell the legislature that they are being given millions of dollars too little; and will go way over budget.  He said this is a much larger problem – a Charter problem.  There is a reason the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t control its own budget.  There is a reason the Charter gives the legislature the power to operate the budget – there are checks and balances.  If the Sheriff’s Office goes over budget as much as it wants with impunity, then there is no check in the system.  If there comes a point where “bodies pile on the streets”, then the Sheriff’s Office can’t point the finger back at the legislature and say “see that happened because of you.”  Before hand the Sheriff doesn’t have the right to set its own budget because that might happen.  Mr. Plochocki stated “this is going to end; this ends now.”

 

Chairman Knapp said that this money has been spent; this is largely a bookkeeping operation to authorize the transfer.

 

POLICE/CIVIL:

 

FROM:                                        TO:                                             AMOUNT:

1.       Org. Code 7920000000         Org. Code 7920000000

Sheriff Police/Civil                        Sheriff Police/Civil

Speed Type #410001                      Speed Type #410001

Acct. 641010                                  Acct. 641020

Regular Salaries                           Overtime Wages                          $12,218

 

2.       Org. Code 7920000000         Org. Code 7920000000

Sheriff Police/Civil                      Sheriff Police/Civil

Speed Type #410001                    Speed Type #410001

Acct. 691250                                Acct. 641020

Employee Benefits                      Overtime Wages                          $1,811

 

3.       Org. Code 7920000000         Org. Code 7920000000

Sheriff Police/Civil                      Sheriff Police/Civil

Speed Type #410001                    Speed Type #410001

Acct. 693000                                Acct. 641020

Supplies & Materials                   Overtime Wages                          $10,000

 

4.       Org. Code 7920000000         Org. Code 7920000000

Sheriff Police/Civil                      Sheriff Police/Civil

Speed Type #410001                    Speed Type #410001

Acct. 694130                                Acct. 641020

Maint, Utilities, Rents                 Overtime Wages                          $57,537

 

5.       Org. Code 7920000000         Org. Code 7920000000

Sheriff Police/Civil                      Sheriff Police/Civil

Speed Type #410001                    Speed Type #410001

Acct. 694080                                Acct. 641020

Professional Services                 Overtime Wages                          $28,039

 

6.       Org. Code 7920000000         Org. Code 7920000000

Sheriff Police/Civil                      Sheriff Police/Civil

Speed Type #410001    Speed Type #410001

Acct. 694100                                Acct. 641020

All Other Expenses                     Overtime Wages                          $18,301

 

7.       Org. Code 7920000000         Org. Code 7920000000

Sheriff Police/Civil                      Sheriff Police/Civil

Speed Type #410001                    Speed Type #410001

Acct. 692150                                Acct. 641020

Furnishings & Equip                  Overtime Wages                          $5,536

 

8.       Org. Code 8130000000         Org. Code 7920000000

DSS Programs                            Sheriff Police/Civil

Speed Type #430108                    Speed Type #410001

Acct. 661010                                Acct. 641020

Safety Net                                   Overtime Wages                          $652,558

 

9.       Org. Code 7930000000         Org. Code 7930000000

Sheriff Custody                          Sheriff Custody

Speed Type #410027                    Speed Type #410027

Acct. 641010                                Acct. 641020

Regular Salaries                         Overtime Wages                          $145,136

 

10.      Org. Code 7930000000         Org. Code 7930000000

Sheriff Custody                          Sheriff Custody

Speed Type #410027                    Speed Type #410027

Acct. 693000                                Acct. 641020

Supplies & Materials                   Overtime Wages                          $13,323

 

11.      Org. Code 7930000000         Org. Code 7930000000

Sheriff Custody                          Sheriff Custody

Speed Type #410027                    Speed Type #410027

Acct. 694130                                Acct. 641020

Maint, Utilities, Rents                 Overtime Wages                          $117,946

 

12.      Org. Code 7930000000         Org. Code 7930000000

Sheriff Custody                          Sheriff Custody

Speed Type #410027                    Speed Type #410027

Acct. 641030                                Acct. 641020

Other Employee Wages               Overtime Wages                          $22,595

 

13.      Org. Code 7930000000         Org. Code 7930000000

Sheriff Custody                          Sheriff Custody

Speed Type #410027                    Speed Type #410027

Acct. 694080                                Acct. 641020

Professional Services                 Overtime Wages                          $389

 

14.      Org. Code 7930000000         Org. Code 7930000000

Sheriff Custody                          Sheriff Custody

Speed Type #410027                    Speed Type #410027

Acct. 694100                                Acct. 641020

All Other Expenses                     Overtime Wages                          $23,508

 

15.      Org. Code 8130000000         Org. Code 7930000000

DSS Programs                            Sheriff Custody

Speed Type #430108                    Speed Type #410027

Acct. 661010                                Acct. 641020

Safety Net                                   Overtime Wages                          $168,520

 

16.      Org. Code 8130000000         Org. Code 7930000000

DSS Programs                            Sheriff Custody

Speed Type #430108                    Speed Type #410027

Acct. 661010                                Acct. 695700

Safety Net                                   Contractual Expenses                 $1,366,679

 

A motion was made by Mr. Holmquist, seconded by Mr. May, to approve this item.  AYES:  4 (Knapp, Jordan, May, Holmquist), NOES:  1 (Kilmartin); ABSTENTIONS:  1 (Williams); ABSENT: 1 (Ervin).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

6.     PURCHASE: 

        a.     Contract Revenue Report – none

 

Chairman Knapp took the agenda out of order.

 

8.     ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:  William Fisher, Deputy Co. Exec.; Ben Walsh, Exec. Dir. - SIDA

        a.     Amend 2014 County Budget to Accept Grant Funds for the Acquisition of the Hotel Syracuse as the Onondaga Co. Convention Center Hotel ($1,100,000) (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

Chairman McMahon said that the developer, Ed Riley is here today.  Mr. Riley has signed a preferred agreement with the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency.  Over the past decade the State of New York has appropriated $15 million of State money for a convention center hotel.  This is taking $1.1 million of the $15 million and appropriate it for the acquisition costs so that Mr. Riley and his team can redevelop the Hotel Syracuse, which will become a Hyatt brand hotel.  The County would work a room block agreement with Mr. Riley for the convention center hotel.  This is a project that SMG feels is critical for the long-term goal of having a convention center district.

 

Mr. Fisher said that there has been a grant in the works for almost 10 years now.  Each year the State Legislature re-appropriates that money.  Onondaga County has been assured that $15 million is in the hands of Empire State Development – it is a reimbursement grant.  It can be spent to assist SIDA with the acquisition of this property and then be reimbursed for it.  Mr. Walsh will describe the steps that SIDA has taken, as a last resort, to use eminent domain to take the property away from the Israeli companies that have done nothing with it since 2006.

 

Mr. Walsh said that the City has twice tried unsuccessfully to foreclose on the property for back taxes due to one of the lien holders of the property paying just enough to stop the tax foreclosure process.  As a last resort, SIDA has decided to consider the use of eminent domain.  At their December meeting, the SIDA Board took 3 actions necessary to start that process:  1.  Authorized a public hearing on the project; 2.  Declared intent to act as lead agency for the purposes of SEQR;  3.  Authorized a preferred developer agreement with Mr. Riley and his company.  They are now in the midst of the SEQR process and expect it by the Feb. 18th meeting.  Action will be taken relative to the results of SEQR, likely a negative declaration, hold a public hearing, and then take the necessary steps and file paperwork to undertake the eminent domain proceedings.

 

Mr. Kilmartin asked for detail on the timeline going forward.  Mr. Walsh said that can become a little less certain depending on how the eminent domain proceedings go forward.  There is a possibility for the owner and/or lien holders of the property to negotiate a sale with OCIDA to cut the process short.  The best-case scenario is for the eminent domain process to move forward expediently and it could be dealt with as quickly as 60 days for title to transfer.  More likely, if there are legal proceedings that follow, it can drag out for a number of months.  They are hopeful that it will be by the end of the summer, as a realistic time to think that the project might be able to actually proceed.  Mr. Fisher said that when ready to proceed, they will have to come back to the legislature for the remaining $13.9 million if title is transferred to the developer.  Once the developer has title, they will be able to conclude the deal with Hyatt.  There is a tentative agreement to put a Hyatt Regency flag on it.  It is a great flag from the standpoint of meeting planners; a great thing for Convention and Visitors Bureau and Oncenter to sell.  To actually complete that deal with Hyatt, ownership of the property has to be shown. 

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that these funds are a State grant and Onondaga County is just a pass through; there is no County money.  Mr. Fisher agreed and said he met with the local delegation and there is still strong support from the Senate, Assembly and Governor’s office.  Empire State Development is part of the Governor’s operation.  Assemblyman Magnarelli has been instrumental in asking for the money that was for the convention center hotel to be moved over.  The County Executive has continued to support his request. 

 

Mr. Jordan asked if the County would be advancing the reimbursement money to SIDA for the acquisition cost for acquiring the hotel.  Mr. Fisher said that the County would be and then would submit a claim to NYS to get the money back.  Mr. Jordan asked if the $1.1 million will include the eminent domain proceedings if necessary.  Mr. Walsh said that it would; the actual value of the dollar amount is also somewhat unknown and will ultimately be decided by the court.  SIDA has an appraisal in hand that gives a sense of what the value of the property is.  Given the actual acquisition costs and the additional costs associated with legal proceedings, it is a number that they are as comfortable as they can be with understanding that there are a lot of unknowns. 

 

Mrs. Ervin asked if it will really be big enough to be a convention center hotel.  Mr. Fisher said that they have been told by SMG that it will be 261 rooms.  The rooms will be much larger than they were in the Hotel Syracuse – in essence two rooms become one with a new bathroom in the middle.  It will meet the standard for a Hyatt Regency; meeting planners are looking for that standard; believe it is the right brand for this marketplace.  SMG has said that they have a long legacy with Hyatt and have strong relationship with them.  They are excited about the room block agreement – can count on a certain amount of rooms whenever wanted for large events.  It would be a significantly improved offering when competing for business.  Mrs. Ervin remembers discussion from the past where it was said that a number of rooms were needed and proximity closer than walking around the corner to the Hotel Syracuse.  She is concerned that we might do all this and it will be great, but questions if it will do what needs to be done.  Mr. Fisher said that the CVB has gotten really good at taking the properties that exist and putting them into a strong package.  Hopefully, there will be a package with 261 rooms very close and then filling in with the rest should be a lot easier with that as the core. 

 

Mr. Jordan said that he thought the goal was to have a hotel that was attached to the convention center – where they can walk via a catwalk from the hotel to the convention hall.  Mr. Fisher said that the goal is to stop losing the business.  SMG has said that this would help us be far more competitive.  Compared to a limited service hotel next door, this is actually preferable because of the brand, lobby space, and the way meetings can be brought together. 

 

Mr. Riley said that they are looking at the 2nd floor, as well as a part of the floor above it, for conversion to break out meeting space.  It would not go in as rooms initially.  It would be used as flex space, hospitality suites.  Both of those are to service more of the convention and business needs that the hotel doesn’t have.  The hotel has excellent ballroom space and social catering space, but there is no break out space.  If at some time, those types of uses are somewhere else – built somewhere else or associated with the convention center in some other way - those floors could be converted back to rooms if there was demand and it was felt that it was needed.  A lot of convention centers that he has worked with (Baltimore area, Los Angeles—Ritz-Carlton, Marriott) where they are the convention center key hotel where meeting planners go and know they can get high end rooms for their senior executives.  They are supplemented with other hotels in the area – room block agreements.  This will become the key hotel for what they are selling and doing, but it is not going to serve everything that happens.  The convention center here is more of a drive in facility.  It is regional, not national; it is not getting a lot of fly in type business.  With that, a lot people are going to stay in outer areas because they have their cars with them.  The proximity to the convention center is not important here because of the type of business.  One reason to go with Hyatt is to change that - to get more business from out of the area and get fly in. 

 

In answer to Mrs. Ervin, Mr. Riley said that they are just talking about the historic parts of the hotel right now – the 1922 building.  Hyatt has toured it with their technical people and love it.  The issue has always been with the rooms; nobody has wanted to tackle them.  They are doing that – going from the corridor wall to the outside wall and getting rid of everything.  The small bathrooms will be gone – new bathrooms, new partitions, and new fixtures.  It will be a Hyatt room in a historic cocoon.  The rest of the historic spaces have to stay – are taking advantage of the tax credit.  The corridors and public spaces will be restored.  The rooms will totally be new – that is how you get a flag; a flag that comes with a national reservation system and the standard of quality.

 

Mrs. Ervin asked what will happen to the other side, the tower.  Mr. Riley said that he has been talking to the two parties of the 1980’s tower and are waiting for some final decisions from the court.  There is a bunch of alternatives – extended stay, apartments, or a combination.  Until the ownership issue is resolved, it just sits there.  It is more difficult because of how far down the road it went with the contractor, existing ownership, and existing lien holder.  He would like to see it as a compliment property to the historical hotel.

 

Mr. May asked when can the County make the claim for the $1.1 million.  Mr. Fisher said “after we spend the money” – it is a reimbursement grant; will spend the money on the uses that were approved by NYS and then submit a claim for reimbursement.  Mr. May asked if there is any scenario where that money could be at risk.  Mr. Fisher said that Law Department would have to advise on that.  There is a letter pending from Kenneth Adams, President of Empire State Development.  Law Department would have to make sure there was no risk before the County would be willing to present the claim to the Comptroller’s office for that money to be released.  Until they have that, the money will not be spent.

 

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

 

9.     MANAGEMENT & BUDGET:  Steven Morgan, CFO

        a.     Transfer from Acct. 694080 Prof. Svcs to Acct. 668270 Transfer to Grant Expenditures, $125,000

  • Moving the funds to a grant to allow the funds to carry forward to 2014 and potentially 2015, 2016
  • 2013 budget process – Legislature approved appropriation of $125k in fund balance to start the process of core service review mainly in the human services area
  • Goal of inventorying, analyzing, assessing the millions of dollars of internal and external resources invested in services children, families, adults
  • As developing RFP to bring someone in to assist with the review, the discussion was started about the physical restructuring of the departments, which took precedent
  • Review was ahead of its time – needed to get physical restructuring in place first
  • This money is meant to assist and supplement looking at the crux of why these departments were restructured to begin with – what are the invested resources; are they being recorded to the best extend possible

Mr. Morgan noted that they are still in the process of physically moving people, and dealing with all of the issues that come with restructuring of this nature.  Fiscally, things are moving ahead –looking at efficiencies from the work that is done.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin to approve this item.

 

Mr. May asked what a reasonable time is to execute this study.  Mr. Morgan said that he doesn’t know exactly when yet; that is why he wants to put the money into a project.  The goal has been to stabilize, just function, to begin with -- pay the vendors, pay our people, and provide the services.  It is more about stabilization right now, and then they can begin to dig into why they really did the restructure.

 

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

 

10.     SYRACUSE CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU:  Carol Eaton, CVB

          a.     Amend 2014 Budget to Make Funds Available for Distribution to the Syracuse CVB ($350,000)

Ms. Eaton said that Mr. Holder offered his apologies for not being present – on his way to a family funeral out of state.

  • Requesting to release of funds from contingency
  • In place to support programs and promotions for 2014

Ms. Eaton distributed the following:

 

 

2013 Programs

2014 Planned Programs

vertising

(General Canadian Leisure)

Target Market:  Ottawa

Message:  General destination co-op ad

1     2

Media:  Ottawa Citizen print and online

Schedule:  Two advertising flights

(March/April & September)

Target Markets:

Ottawa, Eastern Toronto Suburbs, Montreal

Message:  Regional brand building

(shopping, beautiful outdoors, fun for all ages, university vibe, sports, food and arts/culture)

 

Media:  Ottawa Citizen print and online

Schedule:  Two advertising flights

(March/April & August/September)

 

Media:  Ottawa at Home (2 page advertorial)

Schedule:  One ad (March/April)

$103,619 + $7,650 (Brand USA match)

$93,585 + $15,000 (Brand USA match)

Advertising

(Arts & Culture)

Target Market:  Syracuse Crunch attendees

Message:  Arts related coop program

Media:  Signage, online, in-person

Schedule:  Over 30 total promotions

(December through June)

3

Target Market:  Syracuse Crunch attendees

Message:  Arts related coop program

Media:  Signage, online, in-person

Schedule:  Over 50 total promotions

(October through April)

 

 

$22,500

$25,000

Advertising

(General)

Target Market:  NYC Rail Travelers

Message:  General destination ad

Media:  Print, online, consumer show

Schedule:  Annual publication & May show

Target Market:  NYC Rail Travelers

Message:  General destination ad

Media:  Print, online, consumer show

Schedule:  Annual publication & May show

$3,000

$3,000

 

2013 Programs

2014 Planned Programs

Social Media

(Leisure)

Key Initiative:  Completed social media competitive analysis and strategic plan with Sparkloft Media

 

Target Market:  Followers, Likes, etc.

Message:  General destination update

Media:  Visit Syracuse (Facebook)

@VisitSyracuse (Twitter)

Pinterest

Foodspotting

Schedule:  Year round

 

Target Market:  ACC fans

Message:  Visit Syracuse (Football)

Media:  Facebook, Twitter

Schedule:  September through November

 

Target Market:  Followers, Likes, etc.

Message:  Regional brand building

(shopping, beautiful outdoors, fun for all ages, university vibe, sports, food and arts/culture)

Media:  All Social Media outlets

Schedule:  Year round

 

Targeted Program:  #SnowOnSYR

Schedule:  December through March

 

Targeted Program:  ACC fans

Schedule:  Centered on key sports events and announcements

 

Targeted Program:  Regional brand building Facebook ad campaign

Schedule:  Varied topics from Jan. through Dec.

 

$5,000

$13,000

Travel Media Relations

Key Initiative:  Finger Lakes vacation region media relations program with Quinn & Co.

Target Market:  Travel media & journalists

Message:  Diversity of the Finger Lakes

Media:  All (online, print, broadcast)

Schedule:  Year-round

 

Initiative:  ONE Travel Conference

Target Market:  Shopping and culturally oriented travel media

Schedule:  February

 

Initiative:  NY Summer Media Marketplace

Target Market:  NYC based journalists

Schedule:  May

 

Initiative:  Public Relations Soc. of America

Target Market:  National travel media

Schedule:  May

 

Initiative:  NY Fall Media Marketplace

Target Market:  NYC based journalists

Schedule:  June

 

Initiative:  NY Fall Canadian Road Show

Target Market:  Canadian travel media

Schedule:  October

 

Key Initiative:  Finger Lakes vacation region media relations program with Quinn & Co.

Target Market:  Travel media & journalists

Message:  Diversity of the Finger Lakes

Media:  All (online, print, broadcast)

Schedule:  Year-round

 

Initiative:  NY Summer Media Marketplace

Target Market:  NYC based journalists

Schedule:  May

 

Initiative:  Public Relations Soc. of America

Target Market:  National travel media

Schedule:  May

 

Initiative:  NY Spring Canadian Road Show

Target Market:  Canadian travel media

Schedule:  May

 

Initiative:  NY Fall Media Marketplace

Target Market:  NYC based journalists

Schedule:  June

 

Initiative:  NY Fall Canadian Road Show

Target Market:  Canadian travel media

Schedule:  October

$17,511

$22,000

 

2013 Programs

2014 Planned Programs

Additional Marketing (Varied Media)

(Leisure)

Initiative:  Finger Lakes Fresh Air

Target Market:  NY and surrounding states

Message:  Abundant outdoor recreation

Schedule:  May through December

 

Initiative:  CNY Fresh

Target Market:  NY and surrounding states

Message:  Local food & beverage options

Schedule:  May through  December

 

Initiatives:  Brew Central

Target Market:  NY and surrounding states

Message:  Breweries, wineries & distilleries

Schedule:  May through  December

Initiative:  Finger Lakes Fresh Air

Target Market:  NY and surrounding states

Message:  Abundant outdoor recreation

Schedule:  Jan. through  December

 

Initiative:  CNY Fresh

Target Market:  NY and surrounding states

Message:  Local food & beverage options

Schedule:  Jan. through  December

 

Initiative:  Brew Central & Finger Lakes Beer Trail

Target Market:  NY and surrounding states

Message:  Breweries, wineries & distilleries

Schedule:  Jan. through  December

 

$13,800

$18,000

Travel Trade Sales

Initiative:  National Women’s Show

Target Market:  Ottawa & Montreal

Schedule:  March and November

 

Initiative:  Ottawa Travel Show

Target Market:  Ottawa

Schedule:  March

 

Initiative:  NY Fall Canadian Road Show

Target Market:  Canadian travel trade

Schedule:  October

 

Initiative:  OMCA

Target Market:  Canadian travel trade

Schedule:  November

 

Initiative:  WTM (Canal NY Coop)

Target Market:  UK & European travel trade

Schedule:  November

Key Initiative:  Hire Tourism Dev. Mgr. to focus on Canadian and overseas travel trade sales

 

Initiative:  National Women’s Show

Target Market:  Ottawa & Montreal

Schedule:  March and November

 

Initiative:  Ottawa Travel Show

Target Market:  Ottawa

Schedule:  March

 

Initiative:  IPW (Canal NY Coop)

Target Market:  International travel trade

Schedule:  April

 

Initiative:  China Travel Trade Sales Mission

Target Market:  Chinese travel trade

Schedule:  April

 

Initiative:  NY Spring Canadian Road Show

Target Market:  Canadian travel trade

Schedule:  May

 

Initiative:  NY Fall Canadian Road Show

Target Market:  Canadian travel trade

Schedule:  October

 

Initiative:  OMCA

Target Market:  Canadian travel trade

Schedule:  November

 

Initiative:  WTM (Canal NY Coop)

Target Market:  UK & European travel trade

Schedule:  November

$16,481

$28,000

Convention Marketing

Initiative:  Syracuse Re:Freshed sponsorship

Target Market:  Attendees of Collinson shows (Connect & Rejuvenate)

Message:  Chose a refreshed destination

Schedule:  August and October

 

Initiative:  Cvent sponsorship package

Target Market:  Event planners using Cvent

Message:  Oncenter incentives

Schedule:  June

 

Initiative:  Convention Planit emailer

Target Market:  Targeted event planners

Message:  Oncenter incentives

Schedule:  August

 

Key Initiative:  Customer Advisory Group

Target Market: Current/past/non customers

Schedule:  October

 

Initiative:  Syracuse Connection emailers

Target Market:  Planners in SCVB database

Message:  New options in Syracuse

Schedule:  Jan. through Dec.

Initiative:  Syracuse Re:Freshed sponsorship

Target Market:  Attendees of Collinson shows (Collaborate, Connect & Rejuvenate)

Message:  Chose a refreshed destination

Schedule:  June, August and October

 

Initiative:  Cvent sponsorship package

Target Market:  Event planners using Cvent

Message:  Oncenter incentives

 

Initiative:  Convention Planit emailer

Target Market:  Targeted event planners

Message:  Oncenter incentives

 

Initiative:  Canadian Society of Assoc. Execs.

Target Market:  Canadian based event planners

Message:  Syracuse is great for conferences too!

 

Initiative:  Syracuse Connection emailers

Target Market:  Planners in SCVB database

Message:  New options in Syracuse

Schedule:  January through December

 

Additional programming to be finalized through SCVB/Oncenter marketing alliance

$20,708

$28,000

Convention & Event Sales

Initiative:  ESPA

Target Market:  Convention services

Schedule:  January

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Annual Meeting

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  January

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  MEET Syracuse

Target Market:  Local planners

Schedule:  Feb./Apr./Aug./Nov.

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter

 

Initiative:  Experient Envision

Target Market:  3rd party planners

Schedule:  March

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter

Initiative:  ESPA

Target Market:  Convention services

Schedule:  January

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Annual Meeting

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  February

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  CSPI & Destination Showcase

Target Market:  National event planners

Schedule:  February

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter

 

Initiative:  MEET Syracuse

Target Market:  Local planners

Schedule:  February/May/August/November

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter

 

Initiative:  Experient Envision

Target Market:  3rd party planners

Schedule:  March

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter

Convention & Event Sales

Initiative:  Soc. of Ind. Show Organizers

Target Market:  Consumer show planners

Schedule:  March

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter

 

Initiative:  CSPI & Destination Showcase

Target Market:  National event planners

Schedule:  March

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Meetings Institute

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  March

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Client Appreciation Events

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  Mar./Aug./Oct.

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Meetings/Sales Calls

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  April/June through November

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Nat. Assoc. of Sports Commis.

Target Market:  Sports planners

Schedule:  April

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Nat. Assoc. of Consumer Shows

Target Market:  Consumer show planners

Schedule:  May/Sept.

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter (SMG booth)

 

Initiative:  ACES

Target Market:  Sports Executives

Schedule:  May

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter (SMG show)

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Annual Tradeshow

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  May

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Collaborate Marketplace

Target Market:  Corporate meeting planners

Schedule:  June

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Meetings Institute

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  April

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Helms Briscoe Partner Meeting

Target Market:  3rd party planners

Schedule:  April

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter

 

Initiative:  Nat. Assoc. of Sports Commissions

Target Market:  Sports planners

Schedule:  April

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Simpleview Summit

Target Market:  N/A – Customer Relations Management System conference

Schedule:  May

 

Initiative:  Nat. Assoc. of Consumer Shows

Target Market:  Consumer show planners

Schedule:  May

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter

 

Initiative:  ACES

Target Market:  Sports Executives

Schedule:  May

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Annual Tradeshow

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  May

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Collaborate Marketplace

Target Market:  Corporate meeting planners

Schedule:  June

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Destination Marketing Association International Convention

Target Market:  N/A – International destination marketing convention

Schedule:  July

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

 

2013 Programs

2014 Planned Programs

Convention & Event Sales

Initiative:  Connect Marketplace

Target Market:  National meeting planners

Schedule:  August

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Wellness Outing

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  September

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  NYS Business Council Annual Mtg.

Target Market:  Corporate meetings

Schedule:  September

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter

 

Initiative:  S.P.O.R.T.S.

Target Market:  Sports planners

Schedule:  September

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ACC (Re)MEET Syracuse Event

Target Market:  Raleigh based planners

Schedule:  October

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  TEAMS

Target Market:  Sports planners

Schedule:  October

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter (SMG booth)

 

Initiative:  Rejuvenate Marketplace

Target Market:  National meeting planners

Schedule:  August

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Holiday Party & Sales Blitz

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  December

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  IAEE Expo! Expo!

Target Market:  Tradeshow event planners

Schedule:  December

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter (SMG booth

 

$106,815

Initiative:  CESSE

Target Market:  Science-related planners

Schedule:  July

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Meetings/Monthly Sales Calls

Target Market:  Albany event planners

Schedule:  August through November

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  Connect Marketplace

Target Market:  National meeting planners

Schedule:  August

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Wellness Outing

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  September

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  NYS Business Council Annual Mtg.

Target Market:  Corporate meetings

Schedule:  September

Alliance Rep:  Oncenter

 

Initiative:  S.P.O.R.T.S.

Target Market:  Sports planners

Schedule:  September

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ACC (Re)MEET Syracuse Event

Target Market:  Location TBD

Schedule:  October

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  TEAMS

Target Market:  Sports planners

Schedule:  October

Alliance Rep:  SCVB & Oncenter (SMG booth)

 

Initiative:  Rejuvenate Marketplace

Target Market:  National meeting planners

Schedule:  August

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

Initiative:  ESSAE Holiday Party & Sales Blitz

Target Market:  Albany meeting planners

Schedule:  December

Alliance Rep:  SCVB

 

$98,000

 

  

2012

2013

2014

2013-2014

Actual

Budgeted

Requested

YOY Change

% Change

REVENUE - SCVB Sales & Marketing

 

 

 

County - CVB operations

 $ 1,450,000

1,650,000

1,250,000

-400,000

-24.2%

County Contingency - CVB program (Jan)

 

 

350,000

County Contingency - CVB program (May)

 

 

175,000

County (Fund Balance)-market analysis

 $     127,950

 

 

OCDC - Social Networking Plan

 $       12,000

 

 

County - Syracuse Nationals

 $       22,500

22,500

25,000

2,500

11.1%

SCVB Cooperative Marketing

 $       69,647

94,006

120,000

25,994

27.7%

Brand USA Match (30% inkind match)

 

7,650

94,000

86,350

1128.8%

State Support (I Love New York match)

 $       40,822

59,543

56,490

-3,053

-5.1%

State Support (REDC Market NY grant)

 

 

370,000

CenterState Subsidy

 $     146,769

68,888

84,000

15,112

21.9%

TOTAL REVENUE - Sales & Marketing

1,869,688

1,902,587

2,524,490

621,903

32.7%

 

 

 

EXPENSES - SCVB Sales & Marketing

 

 

 

Personnel (Sales & Marketing)

 $     730,269

        760,187

        779,435

19,248

2.5%

Employee Benefits (Sales & Marketing)

 $     163,256

        181,704

        203,693

21,989

12.1%

Equipment

 $       13,982

          27,612

          25,000

-2,612

-9.5%

Supplies and Materials

 $         6,740

            2,925

          12,500

9,575

327.4%

Contractual (Rent & Indirect Costs)

 $     234,909

        238,888

        240,000

1,112

0.5%

Programs (see below)

 

 

 

Industry Activities

 $       27,213

          34,247

          30,000

-4,247

-12.4%

Mailing / Delivery

 $       20,512

          15,376

          22,000

6,624

43.1%

Telephone / Cell Phn

 $       19,670

          17,275

          19,000

1,725

10.0%

Dues & Subscriptions

 $       18,887

          17,801

          18,000

199

1.1%

Video / Photography

 $         8,500

          13,850

          20,000

6,150

44.4%

Regional Programming

 $       12,750

          13,800

          18,000

4,200

30.4%

Marketing Contracts

 $       23,463

        130,769

        121,585

-9,184

-7.0%

Branding Development and Outreach

 

 

        492,000

Visitor Center & Services

 $            300

                395

 N/A

Auto Transportation

 $       12,015

            6,611

            8,000

1,389

21.0%

General Bid Assistance

 $       50,000

          55,000

          60,000

5,000

9.1%

Convention Marketing

 $       28,239

          20,708

          28,000

7,292

35.2%

Online Promotions

 $       20,952

          40,063

          78,277

38,214

95.4%

Collateral Development

 $       33,000

          33,177

          40,000

6,823

20.6%

Convention Sales

 $     105,580

        106,815

          98,000

-8,815

-8.3%

Customer Relations Mgmt. System

 $       31,631

          14,000

          48,000

34,000

242.9%

Tourism Research/Market Analysis

 $     122,779

          58,000

            8,000

-50,000

-86.2%

Convention Services

 $     131,108

          56,892

          80,000

23,108

40.6%

Event Services  - Syracuse Nationals

 $       22,500

          22,500

          25,000

2,500

11.1%

Group Tour Sales

 $         8,854

          16,481

          28,000

11,519

69.9%

Public Relations

 $       22,579

          17,511

          22,000

4,489

25.6%

Total Programs

720,532

691,271

1,263,862

572,591

82.8%

TOTAL EXPENSES - Sales & Marketing

1,869,688

1,902,587

2,524,490

621,903

32.7%

 

Mr. Jordan stated that the money was put into contingency for a reason, why are all of the monies being asked for release virtually right away.  Ms. Eaton said that a lot of it is because CVB received a Regional Economic Development Council Grant.  It supports their entire year of programming.  CVB has to front the money and then will be reimbursed through Empire State Development.  It is integrated through every component throughout the year.  Mr. Jordan asked if these monies will be spent now or throughout the year.  Ms. Eaton said that a lot of work for many of the programs is spent many months out.  All of the registrations for the trade shows have to put up front; have to reserve the space up front for a lot of the advertising contracts, and have the funding available.  Often times, most of the expenditures are in the first half of the year and then the programs fall into place.

 

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

 

11.   ONONDAGA COUNTY TOBACCO ASSET SECURITIZATION CORP.

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

 

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

 

12.   ONONDAGA LAKE WEST REVITALIZATION PROJECT: 

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Appropriate Funds Generated from the Room Occupancy Tax for Purposes of Furthering the Onondaga Lake West Revitalization Project ($500,000) (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

Chairman Knapp explained that this money is coming out of ROT excess from last year.  There is $750,000 surplus; this is taking $500,000 to get the process rolling. 

 

Mr. Morgan said that the $500,000 ROT revenues are being requested to start the preliminary process of site investigation and an engineering study for an entertainment venue on that property.  There is a lot of environmental and geotechnical work that has to be done regarding in terms in order to put a structure on that site.  ROT fund balance is projected to end the year at roughly $800,000. 

 

Mrs. Ervin asked if this money is just to investigate.  Mr. Morgan said that the funds that the Governor spoke of is predicated on the budget being approved with these funds in it.  This is moving ahead, with the assumption that the funds will be there, with site review.  It is not saying we are starting construction; it is very preliminary – need to understand traffic patterns, utility and sewer needs, etc. before any design would be contemplated.  Mrs. Ervin said that her concern is that money was spent for FOCUS to do a study about the lake.  The study said that most did not want something to be built around the lake.  She questioned why we are abandoning the study that we commissioned a couple of years ago with a greater sentiment that development was not wanted.  Mr. Morgan said that the crux of the report was for no private development.  This would be a publicly owned facility operated by the Parks Department.  It is not private development – it is State funds and County funds that would support this project.  Mrs. Ervin said that it will lead into more development and she is concerned about it.

 

Mr. May asked how much, if any, of the $500,000 is recoverable through the State appropriation.  Mr. Morgan said that it remains to be seen in terms of what strings are going to be attached to the $30 million – how it will be issued.  Potentially part of the $30 million can be used to offset those costs – in preliminary stages as far as  how the County piece will fit with the State money, etc.  Mr. May said that if what we know very superficially about this whole initiative hold true, then it could be a great investment for our community – both economically and from a tourism standpoint.  It is really important to try to see what can be done to recover those dollars because every dollar we spend on tourism related marketing out of ROT fund tends to give some very high returns on investment. 

 

Mr. Jordan asked if there is any sense as to whether there is risk that this could be removed from the State budget. Mr. Morgan said that he doesn’t have a read on it – the budget just came out – there is other economic development initiatives in the Governor’s budget for other parts of the State.  He feels it is a sound proposal and has a good chance of making it past the goal line.  Mr. Jordan said if it gets pulled from the budget then some other source would need to be found for funding the development.  Mr. Morgan agreed and added that the process could be intentionally ceased.  Depending on how long it would take to actually get someone in place to start the preliminary site work – we wouldn’t be too far out of the gate, if we decided to pull that back.  There is a stable of vendors at disposal that can be used, that went through competitive process, to try and reduce the amount of time to get projects rolling a little quicker.  Even with that, there are logistics; it is a fairly large undertaking and there aren’t engineering firms sitting around with idle resources.

 

Mr. Kilmartin added that it will mitigate the time issue.  If the recent history holds true – with a budget in place April 1-15, there is Feb, March and half of April to deal with it.  The time it takes to vet the contract might reduce the exposure the County has for timing.

 

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

 

7.     CORRECTION:  Ann Rooney, Deputy Co. Exec. – Human Services

        a.     Amending the 2014 County Budget to Provide for the Construction of a Dog Shelter Facility on the Grounds of the Jamesville Correctional Facility, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Agreements ($325,000)

 

Ms. Rooney distributed the following: a list of questions from Mr. Kilmartin and corresponding answers; program financial information sheet; letter from Cuse Pit Crew:

  • Who will run the operation on a 24/7 schedule? How many county employees? How many inmates? How many county employees supervising the inmates? How many veterinarians, from where?  Will the veterinarians be paid or volunteer?

The shelter will be run by the Department of Corrections with “24/7” responsibility.  There is already precedence for the care of animals at the facility, namely the pheasant program.  Like this program, the shelter concept will be a combination of county employees, inmates and volunteers.  The coordination of the shelter operations will be incorporated into the daily activity of the facility with no plans or intention to hire additional personnel. Like the pheasant operation and the Parks clean-up program, one officer will be assigned to oversee a small contingent of inmates (2-4) during the times that they are caring for the dogs.

 

Veterinary care is planned to be as needed, and on a voluntary basis.

 

  • What will the shelter do and why? (take in dogs, take in dogs from where, treat the dogs, treat for how long, offer for adoption, to whom, keep the dogs for how long, likelihood of adoption of dogs, why might we be better at it than others) How many dogs do we think we will keep, treat, or put up for adoption on an annual basis, 20 or 220?

The planned shelter will alleviate overburdened facilities at both the Dewitt Animal Hospital (City dog drop off) and the SPCA (town and village dog drop off).  In so doing, it will allow more time for the volunteer agencies (Cuse Pit Crew, Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse, etc.) to arrange for suitable adoptions, thereby reducing the overall number of euthanizations in our community.  Only dogs that are in good health will be taken in at the facility.  The above-named organizations will assist and arrange adoptions, as well as work in the shelter with the inmates to train and care for the dogs.  With the collaborative approach that it being designed between the county, inmates, volunteer agencies and veterinarians the likelihood of adoption will be maximized.  The inmates provide a steady pool of on-site care givers for the dogs which reduces the cost of shelter operations. The shelter is planned for a capacity of 20 dogs.  It is envisioned that each dog could potentially be at the shelter for approximately one month with total adoptions between 200 and 250 per year.

 

  • Where exactly might it be on the Jamesville property? Please provide an overhead or aerial shot, so that someone can visualize where it will be located? How will this location effect the operation of the jail?

An aerial picture of the location is attached.  This area was chosen because while still inside the fence, there is the capability for entrance and exit by volunteers, veterinarians and those seeking to adopt the dogs.

 

  • When will it start, when will it be operated 24/7?

Assuming construction of the shelter will be completed in 2014, the facility will become operational within two months after the build-out.

 

  • Why? This most likely goes to need. Why is there a need now more than ever?

For several years, local animal shelters have expressed their concern about their shortage of capacity. This problem has resulted in the premature euthanasia of many dogs that would otherwise be adoptable if the space existed to temporarily house them while suitable adoptees were found. On average, Syracuse dog control puts down over 60% of the dogs they take through the Dewitt Animal Hospital, in large part due to a lack of capacity. While some dogs are not adoptable, the proposed shelter would serve solely as a stop gap for those dogs that have been screened and are suitable for adoption, but additional time (past the current twenty day window) is needed to find an adoptee.

 

  • What to the towns, city and villages do for dogs?  Is there code enforcement and dog catchers? How do they handle stray dogs? Have they been consulted, is it a duplication of service or lifting a burden from them?

The Towns, City and Villages all have the capacity to remove dangerous and stray dogs from their communities.  The Towns and villages use the SPCA as the repository for captured dogs, while the City of Syracuse has a contract with the Dewitt Animal Hospital for the same purpose.  Typically, both facilities screen the animals for health concerns and then provide basic shelter while the owner is attempted to be contacted or a new owner identified. Both the SPCA and Dewitt Animal Hospital have been consulted.  Since we will not be the “first stop” for captured dogs, this is not a duplication, but rather an effort to prevent the premature euthanization of otherwise healthy dogs.

 

  • Cost:  How can a dog shelter for 20 dogs cost $350,000, knowing you can build a 4,000 square foot house for the same amount?

The figured arrived at for the cost of a dog shelter takes into account two main components: First is the design of the shelter and second is the actual construction. The SPCA was consulted regarding cost due to their recent construction efforts. A full remodel of one of their facilities cost them over $150,000. This renovation, however, was an interior remodel only.  It did not include the construction of the facility itself, laying plumbing and electrical lines, or the access to the facility that will be needed. As a result, the $350,000 figure is anticipated to be a reasonable estimate.

 

  • Other facilities: Have you consulted with other facilities and jails who do the same thing? Have they given you insight as to the good, the bad, etc.?

We have consulted with several local groups including the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse, Cuse PIT Crew, DeWitt Animal Hospital and the SPCA. Each has offered their research and expertise on the idea of building a shelter in cooperation with a municipal correctional facility. All agree that we have a significant problem of overcrowding and unnecessary euthanization.  Additionally, independent research has found several correctional facilities across the country that have implemented a similar program with much success.

 

  • Inmates: Any insights, commentary from people who say this has a positive impact on inmates?

 All research has pointed to the positive impact a sheltering program has on inmate behavior and recidivism.  Similar to the experience we have had with the pheasant and the Parks program, we can expect that inmates will improve behavior while incarcerated in order to be selected to work in the program.  The companionship of animals has proven to be a positive influence on all populations, including inmates.

  • Operational Costs:  What will be the cost of dog food, cleaning, and supplies?  Will there be overtime for county employees?  Who is going to watch inmates while some of the staff are monitoring the dog shelter? Vet expenses, prescriptions and surgeries for the animals?

Typical operational costs such as food and supplies are anticipated to be approximately $12,000 per year.  Cleaning will be undertaken by the inmates and volunteer staff.  There will be no planned overtime for county employees assigned to the shelter.  As a 24/7 operation, the correctional facility is always staffed.  It is anticipated that only dogs that have been pre-screened by a veterinarian will be admitted to the shelter.  While we can’t plan for every occurrence, there are no funds being set aside for surgeries.

  • Has a committee been formed for this, even if it is strictly volunteer (almost like the Friends of the Zoo) Will someone from the zoo be available to consult and provide expert advice?

An informal committee has met several times since this past summer.  It consists of local advocacy groups such as the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse, Cuse PIT crew and representatives from the Dewitt Animal Hospital. This committee will continue to evolve as the plans for the shelter become more concrete.  The expertise among staff at the zoo will absolutely be utilized as the dog shelter program becomes a reality.

  • Albany County program

The program that exists in Albany County calls for dogs to live with inmates 24/7 and go through an approximate 6 week training program.  This program only accommodates two to three dogs at a time. This model does not fit with our community’s desire to maximize the number of dogs saved from unnecessary euthanasia that can be achieved through the construction of a shelter with a capacity of 20 dogs.

  • Hard to place dogs

All dogs housed at the shelter will have been pre-screened for suitability and adoptability.  Potentially hard to place dogs will not be considered for sheltering.

  • Liability

Similar to the above answer, it is envisioned that only non-violent, domesticated dogs will be sheltered.  In doing so, the potential for harm by the animals will be reduced.

  • Shelter regulations

The regulation of animal shelters is controlled at the state level by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.  Similar to all operations of Onondaga County, we will comply with all regulations as set forth by the State of New York.

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Ms. Williams asked if this will create on overtime opportunity for the deputies that oversee inmates or can this be done with the staff that is in place.  She wants to make sure that this is not creating an overtime situation.  Ms. Rooney said that they are not anticipating that this will create overtime.  The inmates will be inside the fence and will have to be overseen by Correction officers anyway; Commissioner Cowin is building it into his work plan and there are no plans for overtime.  At night the dogs go to sleep, so someone doesn’t have to be there around the clock.

 

Chairman Knapp referred to the current, successful pheasant program and asked if there has been any investigation of synergies between the two programs.  Mrs. Rooney said that they have been running the successful pheasant program for years, so they have a good handle on how to operate a program like this.  The pheasant program is not 365 days/year.  A lot of inmates who are identified as being suitable to work in the pheasant program could quickly switch over and help out with the shelter program.  They have learned a lot about raising animals, so there are synergies.

 

Chairman Knapp said that a big concern is veterinary care for the animals, which can get very expensive very quickly.  He asked if there are commitments in place from veterinarians or veterinary groups to help out.  Ms. Rooney said that the dogs that will come to Jamesville will be screened; there is no anticipation of taking an unhealthy dog to be housed at Jamesville.  The full intention is to take dogs that are otherwise healthy, who haven’t had enough length of time to be adopted.  There have been overtures from several veterinarians to volunteer if there are medical issues.  Also, there is an ongoing relationship with the Dewitt Hospital, where the majority of the dogs will come from.  In order for the us to take the dogs and alleviate their overburdening, assistance will be needed on the veterinary side.  Discussions have started with them. 

 

Mr. Holmquist said that in November when first presented, the question was asked “why $350,000?”  The answer was that it was known to be over $200,000 and less than $500,000.  A whole bunch of questions were asked; there were no answers.  Subsequent to the meeting in December, legislators, individually and together, reached out to people with a vested interest in this at various dog groups, Sheriff’s Department, etc., to educate themselves..  At that point, there was not support in committee at all.  It did go to committee and passed with 3 people.  At best, there was a limited appetite.  He asked if the questions summited today are the same ones submitted in December.  Ms. Rooney said that they are.  Mr. Holmquist said that he read those questions before and found them to be pretty hollow, with no backing or detail.  Today legislators received a letter from the Pit Crew, which are advocates.  People lobbied asking legislators to vote for this--there is nothing to vote on; there are no specifics, no details.  There are no county run facilities like this in the USA.  There are some State and Federal ones.  Obviously, everyone is empathetic, and supportive of reducing recidivism, and very interested in helping the plight of the dogs.  However, in the past two decades with getting the County out of things it never should have been in, here we are rushing into something that sounds good that has not been well thought out.  To use the County Executive’s word of “sustainability”, he would hope everyone here would want to create something that is sustainable.  The County has never done this before and has no experience in this.  He recognizes that it is an important issue, but does not see the urgency -- doesn’t feel that it is an emergency and questions why it is being jammed through.  He has talked to the advocates for dogs – the people who are interested in keeping this sustainable and recognize that it needs to be a public/private partnership.  The Friends of the Zoo didn’t materialize in three months, and it would have failed if it were jammed through and not really thought out.  Ms. Rooney said that we had a zoo before the Friends started. 

 

Mr. Holmquist said there is a good number of dog advocates that want this to succeed and recognize that if this gets jammed through, the odds are not good.  We don’t know what we are getting involved in.  He questioned what commitments we have that are ongoing – what type of obligations.  There aren’t any agreements from private entities to help construct it or to help with the maintenance or operations of it.   If it were properly vetted, then maybe we could crawl first, then walk, and then eventually run.  This is breaking into a sprint with no experience.  He is confused as to what the emergency is to pass this.

 

Ms. Rooney said that she has been meeting with the animal advocacy groups since last summer.  She apologizes that when this went to the Health Committee, she had a scheduled vacation and Mr. Millea stepped in for her.  When this was presented, the advocacy groups couldn’t and still can’t be more excited about the prospects of what their role can be in this public/private partnership.  They are committed to training the inmates on the proper care of the animals, have secured dog food, will arrange adoptions, will staff and make arrangements for volunteer staff for the spay/neuter clinic envisioned in the front of the facility.  She respectfully disagrees that this has been rushed and crammed.  In order for the County to embark on something, it takes a lot of time once the funding is in place, to head the design, construction, etc.  While that is all going on, she has been meeting with Commissioner Cowin regularly to discuss the operation of it, anticipating that the funding will come.  Once the legislature votes favorably for this, then everyone will get on board.  She apologized if Mr. Holmquist thinks the answers to Mr. Kilmartin’s questions are hollow, but that is the best information she has right now in partnership with the animal advocacy groups.  In Health Committee there was some thought that it would be a better model if the dogs could live with the inmates.  With the way that Jamesville is constructed, in pods, where the inmates do not live in cells, dogs just can’t wander around in there – that model doesn’t work for this facility.  Looking at the statistics, Syracuse and Onondaga County have one of the highest euthanasia rates in the State, and even going towards the country – After the time expires, 63% of the dogs brought into Dewitt Animal Hospital, healthy or not, are euthanized.  This isn’t just rushing in – were getting feedback from the animal advocacy groups that something has to be done here. 

 

Ms. Rooney said that the County is running a very successful pheasant program, really for the sportsman of Onondaga County.  This takes a different spin.  She said “if can do that operation, why couldn’t we run something equally successful that addresses a community need that is out there right now.”

 

Mr. Holmquist noted that the original proposal was $350,000; the legislature said “no”; now it is $325,000 and he asked what the big difference is, when there wasn’t support for it the first time.  Ms. Rooney said that the big difference is to get a really good design and perhaps entertain the option of using some of the County Facilities staff for parts they would be able to do and hire contractors for the other parts.  It would be investigating what things we can do ourselves. 

 

Mrs. Ervin pointed out that Ways & Means Committee has not voted on this before.  The committee is looking at it now; has additional information.  Mr. Holmquist stated that a message was sent to the County Executive that there isn’t support here.

 

Mr. Jordan said that he doesn’t see that there is much different from the last time it was presented.  He had suggested last time allowing one of the animal rights groups to utilize the property right next to the Jamesville Correctional Facility.  They can build the facility – whether it is a 20 dog kennel or 10, or whatever.  Ms. Rooney said that eliminates the opportunity to have the inmates participate; would much prefer to have them inside the fence, as it takes on a different level of supervision of the inmates.  Mr. Jordan asked if there is any legal prohibition to allowing them to build it inside the fence.  Mrs. Berger said that she would have to look at that.  Mr. Holmquist and Mr. Jordan asked if letting someone else build inside the fence was even considered.  Mr. Jordan said letting someone else build inside the fence.  Ms. Rooney said that it was not considered.  Mr. Kilmartin said that was one of the questions.  Ms. Rooney said that the question she came away with from Health Committee with was to have letters of support from animal advocacy groups.  Mr. Jordan said that he offered that suggestion in November (Ways & Means) and is hearing that nothing was ever done to investigate if it was an option or not.  Ms. Rooney said that she doesn’t think the animal rights groups have the money to build this facility.  Mr. Jordan said that he is hearing that it hasn’t even been pursued.  He offered a possible solution, which hasn’t been investigated. 

 

Mr. Jordan said that virtually every response that he received from his constituents has been negative, with the exception of a couple.  Some were actually from people who are heavily involved in the animal rights area – big advocates – they have come to him and said that they didn’t think it was a good idea.  For him to support this, he needs to be able to tell his constituents why in the world this is to their benefit to do this.  Mr. Jordan said that there has been a broad brush about reducing recidivism.  However, any program that has been discussed has been in a long-term facility.  The animals ware with the inmates almost 24/7 – have been in there for at least a year with no behavior problems with the inmates in the facility.  They are with the dogs long-term.  They are programs with 4 – 6 dogs, not 20 dogs.  It is wishful thinking that a program that is set up in a very different environment and transferred to here is going to have the same impact on recidivism that these other programs have.  For his constituents to tell him that it is a terrible idea, he needs to be able to give the reasons why it is a good idea.  To say at “we think it will reduce recidivism or “we think it will do this or that”, he doesn’t know if that will overcome their objections of taking taxpayer money and spending it on something like this.  If spending $12,000/year, then next year it is a little more, and the year after that is a little more—15 years down the road his constituents will point the finger at him and ask why he supported it, as it has become an albatross.  He has talked to veterinarians – it’s not a highly profitable business, and there is an assumption that every year veterinarians will be willing to volunteer their time, no matter how much time is necessary—he questioned what happens if they don’t.  Ms. Rooney said that the County owns and operates a zoo and employs veterinarians – they can go from the zoo to Jamesville and assist. 

 

Ms. Rooney asked if constituents were asked if they support the pheasant program – taking baby chicks, raising them so that they can be released in the wild to be killed.  This takes the idea 180o the other way.  Mr. Jordan said if he asked his constituents, they probably would not – probably 99% of them have no clue that the program even exists.  Ms. Rooney said that in the 1970’s the project was very public; the county executive supported it and it was envisioned, much like this project is envisioned.  This project isn’t that different.  Mr. Jordan asked if recidivism went down with the pheasant program.  Ms. Rooney said that she didn’t know.  Mr. Jordan said that these are the questions being asked, and there aren’t answers to them.  Ms. Rooney said the euthanasia of dogs will go down.

 

Mr. Jordan said there are a lot of questions, and he has received numerous people objecting.  What he has received so far, doesn’t justify to his constituents why this is a good expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that when this idea first came forward there were many questions presented to leadership.  There was a concern that this might be rushed and fast tracked through the process.  When Mr. Millea first presented it, he doesn’t think he had the benefit of all the knowledge that Ms. Rooney had, having worked on it.  Mr. Kilmartin said that on behalf of the legislature, he presented all of the questions to Ms. Rooney, who answered them; they have been answered for a fair amount of time.  There might be other hard questions on this, and welcomes everybody to present those to Ms. Rooney and the County Executive.

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that the original proposal was to bond for $350,000.  He and Chairman McMahon had conversations with the County Executive about concerns with the original proposal.  There was great concern for bonding for this.  The proposal came back with no bonding; it is a cash concept.  The amount requested has come down, but thinks there is a concern that it is too large for a number of people to agree with.  He will propose a different amount, which should still be sustainable for the project – reduce the amount to make it more palatable for people.

 

Mr. Kilmartin feels that the questions have been answered about staffing, operations, joint ventures, and public and private partnership.  There isn’t a list of veterinarians standing here who are committing 20 hours a week to it, but it sounds like Ms. Rooney has done her homework and spent a lot of time at it.  This project could absolutely fall on its face, but the lake project could fall on its face tomorrow as well.  The hotel project could fall on its face again.  He analogizes this to some of the zoo projects, which County Executive Pirro was very supportive of and advocated for.  Some people probably thought it was a boondoggle and a farce many years go.  It turned out to be a successful program. 

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that he knows this is very near and dear to the County Executive’s heart, which he respects and understands.  If this passes the legislature, he recommended that someone come back and report to the legislature on progress.  If there is monthly progress, report monthly – tell the legislature about the veterinarians, partnerships, the process, about the quotes coming in.  If quotes come in very low, he’d asked that it be reported to the legislature.  If quotes come in high, he’d especially asked that it be reported to the legislature.  Tell about the process, the timing, the cash contributed, and other opportunities for private/public partnership.  Information and data dumps to the legislature would be very helpful.  This has been vetted for a couple of months, there has been Q&A; there time for more before session.  It could be questioned for many more weeks or months and there might not be satisfaction with everyone.  He appreciates that this is a priority for the County Executive, and would like to extend her that courtesy.

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that he would like to verbally amend the resolution – amend the appropriation form $325,000 to $250,000, and see if it is sufficient for the project to go forward.  Hereafter, Ms. Rooney can consult with the County Executive and provide comments to the legislature.  Ms. Rooney said that it makes sense; there are now contractors that they can select.  The next step after this passes would be to engage one of them to do a preliminary cost estimate and see where we are with a 20 dog shelter and clinic in the front.  She assured the Committee that they are working with the groups and veterinarians, and it is very near and dear to the County Executive’s wishes. She will be happy to report back on progress.  Mr. Kilmartin said that there have been good questions.  Priorities like – getting out of the nursing home business and now going into the dog care business, and other analogies like that.  There are legitimate concerns, financial issues, surplus issues, etc.  There is a real opportunity to partner with the zoo and utilize their staff when they have down time to facilitate assistance.  With a good hard look at the cost estimates, maybe there is a way to come in below $250,000.  Ms. Rooney said that when there are small projects at Jamesville, they often have inmates that have skills that are put to use.  For example, the guardhouse was built by an inmate.  They tap into the skills that inmates come in with -- all of those things will be utilized to keep the cost down, but to get a very functional facility that we can all be proud of.  

 

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin to verbally amend the amount of the appropriation to $250,000, seconded by Ms. Ervin.

 

Mr. Holmquist said that this is terrible government – arbitrary numbers, fantasy land, very casual and unprofessional.  The project is an embarrassment. 

 

Ms. Williams said that she doesn’t think it is an embarrassment; she respects that some may not like it.  If the County is already successfully raising birds, she is sure it was vetted out in the ’70’s – doesn’t not see that this is a bad project.  This will not only help the animals, it will help the inmates – it is a win-win.

 

Mr. Holmquist added that this is the worst project he has ever seen in his 23 years of government.

 

A vote taken on motion to amend the resolution.  AYES:  4 (Kilmartin, Ervin, Williams, Knapp); NOES:  3 (Jordan, Holmquist, May)MOTION CARRIED.

 

Mr. Jordan said he would like to see it vetted more – whether these groups can raise money to build the same facility, same location, before we commit to spending taxpayer money.  Mr. Kilmartin encouraged Ms. Rooney to do that – with the associations, veterinarians, whether they have state funds or grant monies; maybe SPCA has appropriation for a similar mission; maybe residual dollars or resources at the zoo.  He added that it would be more and more helpful for everyone with the more reporting that Ms. Rooney can do to keep this on track and see how it proceeds.

 

Mr. May said that he asked a lot of questions when this first came to Ways & Means and he appreciates the answers that were provided to questions asked afterwards, but many of the questions he asked weren’t answered.  He feels that he is looking at it very superficially; Mr. Jordan has raised some good points about other avenues.  There have been some fantastic objectives here—improving recidivism, stopping too many dogs from being euthanized if they can be put to use somewhere.  How to get there isn’t really qualified from his perspective; what are the objectives; is it quantified and qualified.  Ms. Rooney said she answered that at Health Committee – the objective is to prevent between 200 – 250 euthanizations per year.  Mr. May said that answers one question that wasn’t answered here, which was the first question he asked, “why are we doing this?”  His impression is that it is being done for the dogs; if that is the goal, he respects that.  However, it doesn’t seem like it is fully baked yet.  If he is to support something like this, he wants to know that every avenue has been explored.  There is a lot of merit to what Mr. Jordan is asking, “what else can we do?”  This is talking about a geographic footprint, but also talking about a public-private partnership and working with these agencies.  He asked if anyone has talked about the simple matter of funding an initiative through an agency to bring some of these benefits back to the dogs and facility.  He said that it hasn’t been.  It is hard for him to get behind it at this stage – not sure if he would because in principal it flies against some of the direction we have been taking with other aspects of county government – trying to get things down to its essence. 

 

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to approve the resolution as amended.  AYES:  4 (Knapp, Kilmartin, Ervin, Williams); NOES:  3 (May, Holmquist, Jordan).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

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DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

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