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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 – JULY 13, 2016

MICHAEL E. PLOCHOCKI, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mrs. Tassone, Dr. Chase, 1Mr. Burtis

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mrs. Rapp

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Acting Chair Tassone called the meeting to order at 9:10 A.M. and took the agenda out of order.

 

2.     LAKE IMPROVEMENT:  Tom Rhoads, P.E., Commissioner

        a.     ACJ Update

 

Mr. Rhoads:

  • ACJ requires removal of floatables – litter entering waterways and coming out of combined or separated sewers
  • Connect the Drops 02 campaign connects how litter is dropped and carried by stormwater into receiving waters; great deal of money spent by the County for lake cleanup, now asking the public to do their part and keep litter in its place
  • Referenced report cover – misplaced litter often ends up in waterbodies

Connect the Drops

 

Chair Plochocki arrived at the meeting, apologized for being late due to traffic issues, and noted that the committee now has a quorum.

 

1Mr. Burtis arrived at the meeting.

 

Project Progress

 

Report from the Commissioner

 

Connect the Drops Q2 2016 Education & Outreach Summary:  the Connect the Drops ad campaign ramped up in the second quarter of 2016.  We launched the new messaging and outreach materials coinciding with Earth Day this year.  Education and outreach efforts included participation in public events, online educational materials on our website and social media platforms, and some traditional advertising as well as earned media attention.  This campaign is integral to the ACJ required floatables control requirements.

 

Onondaga County had a Connect the Drops team participating in the annual OCRRA Earth Day Cleanup.  Over a dozen participants cleaned up along the Onondaga Lake Parkway and near the shore of the lake.  This was the first of several litter cleanups this year aimed at cleaning up street litter before it reaches our water.

 

Picture

 

Information tables on Save the Rain and Connect the Drops have been available at several public events since Earth Day, including the Baltimore Woods Earth Day celebration and the Izaak Walton League CNY Chapter Family Fun Fishing Derby during Free Fishing Weekend at the end of June.  Throughout the summer and into fall, we will continue to have a robust outreach

Letter

  • Google and Facebook analytics included in report; focusing on zip codes in ACJ area, later parts of campaign reached 165,000 people, 426 shares and 34,532 organic - passed along, rather than paid for advertising
  • Receiving strong positive comments; i.e. Rainworks product used to put images onto City sidewalks, image appears when it rains, reminds people of the connectivity of a drop of litter making its way to our waterbodies, happens over 90% of the time
  • Source control most cost effective way to manage litter
  • Report includes asset management whitepaper

Gray Projects Update:

  • Green separation on Crehange Street, 1 block area; cost effective at this scale

Green Projects Update:

  • McKinley Park public meeting July 26 – seeking public input for design concepts
  • South & Mitchell Avenues project in contract execution phase
  • Some work in university area, includes design work on Lancaster and Ackerman Avenues; if lucky, may complete green streets before school starts
  • State Street project to kick off shortly

Green Improvement:

  • Public/private partnership projects
  • Opened work in Harbor Brook District - Northeast part of the city; Legislature moved sewer separation funds to allow green infrastructure in targeted sewersheds 

Metro WWTP:

  • AMP section reviews lake monitoring and compares Onondaga Lake to other regional lakes; continue to see good response

Legislation & Media:

  • Report include whirlwind tour of media; Regatta this weekend

Financial Update:

  • Report includes full updates on all contracts

Dr. Chase said that many Northside immigrants are eating fish from the lake and asked if they could do something.  Chair Plochocki said that the immigrant community, particularly the Bhutanese refugees, were being educated on this issue through the immigration center, etc.  Many do not want to stop fishing, arguing that the water is just as dirty where they come from.  This could be debated.  However, given the fact that they are plowing ahead with it, a study is being conducted to monitor any damage.  Refugees were not asked to take part in the study, but the government decided to study refugees who said they were going to keep eating the fish, to see the extent of any effects.  Any negative impacts will be presented to individuals, offering them proof, and asking them to stop.  If there is no damage, this opens up another door – is this another sign that the lake is getting cleaner.  There is also an issue with Perch, which can be talked about at another time.

 

Dr. Chase asked if there was a possibility for signage.  Mr. Burtis said that there are already signs.  Dr. Chase asked where the signs were located.  Mr. Burtis said that he was on two boards, the NYS DEC Fish and Wildlife Board and the Region 7 Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and both have talked about this issue several times.  In fact, Onondaga Lake is regulated as no-keep/no-kill fishing area.  The signage is along Onondaga Lake Park.  Dr. Chase said that they were not fishing in that area.  Mr. Burtis questioned which language Dr. Chase would like to use for signage.  Dr. Chase said that there needs to be several languages and the signage needs to be in the areas fished. 

 

In answer to Mr. Rhoads, Dr. Chase said that they need signage in the Ley Creek area.  It needs to be something that invites people to fish, but recommends that they do not eat the fish.  Mr. Burtis said that they have also discussed the fact that this is a land of laws.  Fishing licenses are required, but are not being enforced.  He understands what Dr. Chase is saying, but if they are going to be part of this community, it is a land of beware.  Both boards are talking about this and are trying to come up with a solution.  Keep in mind that the fish in that lake are very big and there is a wide variety.  The boards have discussed yellow perch, white perch, and the bass community, but they have not determined how to stop people from consuming the fish. 

 

Dr. Chase said that children are particularly at risk.  If they are in contact with toxic items, it will interfere with their entire development, especially their brain.  Chair Plochocki thanked Dr. Chase.

 

In answer to Mr. Burtis, Mr. Rhoads said that the social media campaign would continue.  Their goal is to create awareness.  Members of their staff will be visiting members of the community - currently educating summer camp youths.  A reversing video will air soon that shows how a piece of litter got to its location, making a tangible connection.  Rainworks material is not overly expensive and provides the opportunity for use in other areas where the public congregates, i.e. zoo, MOST, coffee shops, and NYS Fair.  They are beginning to get organic feedback, where people share the information, and have created #connect the drops for sharing image. 

 

Mr. Burtis said that this is effective and videos are currently hot.  Mr. Rhoads said that a 34-second video was part of this, and it really took off.  Dr. Chase said that OCRRA had a catchy video of a plastic bottle turning into a bench and overlooking the lake.  Mr. Rhoads said that traditional media was not the most cost effective.  Using social media, they are able to geotarget and obtain a deeper penetration into the focus area.  It is a useful and cost effective way to get the message to the exact intended audience.  Of course, they want everyone in NYS to stop littering.  However, the focus area is where they are required to do it now, right here, right now. 

 

Mr. Rhoads thanked the committee for their time.

 

1.     OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT:  Travis Glazier, Environment Director; Lee Klosowski, Director, Energy & Sustainability; Chris Carrick, Program Manager, Energy Management - Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board (CNY RPDB)

        a.     Authorizing the Execution of Agreements for Participation in the Solarize CNY Initiative

 

Mr. Klosowski:

  • Solarize CNY initiative coordinated by CNY RPDB
  • County has developed 9 MW of solar arrays currently being installed in various locations of the county - some operational, others under construction, or in connection to National Grid phase; will result in 9% of the County’s usage being solar powered
  • Project collaborate within 5 county region, includes 20-25 communities, issuing joint RFP, hopes scale of opportunity drives down solar development costs
  • Action authorizes County Executive to enter into IMA for joint RFP and MOU; MOU defines scope of CNY RPDB activities and allows entities other than municipalities, i.e. Wells College, Oswego Industrial Development Agency, and several other agencies not covered by the IMA
  • Over 43 MW could be developed under this RFP
  • Each municipality will determine if they want to enter into contracts for their property development; development same as current County solar development via power purchase agreement – county leases property to solar developer who designs, builds, owns, operates, maintains and ultimately removes equipment at end of project
  • No upfront costs, if County chooses to enter into agreement, only obligated to pay for electricity produced on site

Mr. Glazier:

  • Impacted departments have been involved throughout entire process, ensures no operational interruption to departments if proposed projects proceed
  • All individual projects will be located near a facility where a department is operating

Dr. Chase asked how things were going with the Jamesville Prison projection.  Mr. Klosowski said that the field construction is essentially done.  However, the big delay for most of these projects has been National Grid.  The number of applications and studies necessary to interconnect all the sites to their system has swamped National Grid; looking at several hundred sites across the state.  All of these projects are net metered - extra electricity produced is pushed out to National Grid and additional power comes in from National Grid, whenever it is needed.

 

Dr. Chase asked the project locations being considered. 

 

Mr. Klosowski:

  • Current projects include Oak Orchard WWTP, MWB - Soule Road, Jamesville Prison and MWB WTP - Oswego; sites all most complete or operating
  • Other sites to be included in RFP are Baldwinsville WWTP, Brewerton WWTP, MWB eastern and western tanks and Jamesville DOT garage roofs; some projects were included in the RFP issued for the current projects but prices were not competitive, hope collaboration will drive prices down

 

Chair Plochocki asked if there was any costs to the taxpayers for these agreements.  Mr. Carrick said that they worked with Barclay Damon to carefully craft the agreements.  There is no cost to participate in the RFP, and no obligation to enter into any contract at the end of the process.  They are hopeful that they will receive a favorable response from the bids, and are already receiving many inquiries as developers become aware of their bundle.  They will make recommendations and assist each municipality in making a determination, using a cost benefit.  However, each municipality will make their own decision on entering into a contract.  Mr. Glazier said that Mr. Murphy was the County’s counsel for reviewing those documents, and he agrees that the contracts do not obligate the County.  He is very familiar with this, as he dealt with the RFP and EPA items for the prior solar projects. 

 

Dr. Chase asked if individuals would be able to sign onto this program, i.e. households near the Jamesville Prison.  Mr. Carrick said that the County’s projects have all been scoped to be used by the County, as they have a very large electric overall need.  All these projects would only bring the County to 16% of their load.  It is an overall portfolio of the counties electricity needs.  Other projects, such as the Dewitt or Cicero landfills have a lot of space and could build more solar than the municipalities need for themselves.  Under Community Solar NY, it would be possible for residents, businesses, school and none-profits to buy excess electricity produced by those solar projects.  They are very excited about this new program, and feel that the large scale of their bundle will drive down prices for municipalities, and retail consumers. 

 

Mr. Burtis asked if the cost of solar development was decreasing.  Mr. Klosowski said that China’s productive capacity has driven solar panel prices way down.  Power prices are low because of fracking and the excess gas, and the cost for solar has decreased.  They have five to six cent power pricing for solar panels currently under development.  This can be compared with utility pricing, but they also have at least a penny’s worth of savings on the transmission and distribution (T&D) charges.

 

Mr. Glazier said with these projects often focus on energy prices and how they compare to the market.  However, they cannot lose sight of the fact that this has a positive net impact on the community.  They are decreasing the carbon footprint with clean energy.  The County is being conservative, from a portfolio prospective, at 16%.  There are aggressive plans, i.e. Oswego County wants to be at 100% and NYS wants to be at 50%.  The current plan has good competitive prices and this plan should provide the best opportunity, from a logical prospective.  While energy prices are low, this might be the best time to strike.  However, they cannot lose sight of the good community benefit overall.  Mr. Klosowski said that projects already under production would produce a 6% reduction in greenhouse gases. 

 

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

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Tassone, seconded by Mr. Burtis, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee minutes.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Burtis, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

Chair Plochocki updated the committee on the potential Onondaga Nation land site:

  • Expect site committee to meet within the next month
  • County Executive reaffirmed commitment to some land on the lake for the Nation, supports the site committee and suggested including Clan Mothers
  • In the process of Speaking with Joe Heath, and others, with regard to the best makeup for the committee

 

The meeting adjourned 9:50 A.M.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Signature

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

 

* * *

COUNTY FACILITIES COMMITTEE MINUTES – JULY 13, 2016

JUDITH A. TASSONE, CHAIR

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Dr. Chase, Mr. Shepard

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Dougherty, Mrs. Rapp

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

Chair Tassone called the meeting to order at 10:28 a.mA motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Shepard to waive the reading of the minutes of the previous committee meeting.  A motion was made by Mr. Shepard, seconded by Dr. Chase to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY:  Susan Mitchell, Executive Director

        a.     Amending the 2016 County Budget to Make Funds Available for Use in the NYS Community Capital Assistance Program (“CCAP”), and Authorizing the Execution of Agreements ($125,000)

  • $124,000 - first floor renovation of Beauchamp Branch; $1,000 – Soule to buy digital projector for community room
  • Facilities helped with architect, so plan is in place

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

 

        b.     Create R.P. 01 406500 1968 Director of Library Information Systems @ Grade 35, $75,402-$99,958, Effective September 5, 2016

  • Reclassification of Librarian 4 position; start with level 1, 2, 3, 4; most people brought in are level 1-3, which are generalists who answer library specific questions and collection
  • Almost every library system reclassified or changed description for the Director of IT in the library (do not get skillset needed from generalist positions)
  • Replacing someone retiring in October - runs infrastructure for network for all libraries in County; share integrated library catalog system; all branch computers run on network
  • Recruit someone with IT credentials; option of librarian with IT credentials, or IT credentials with library experience
  • No candidate within; this allows to recruit from other library systems

Ms. Mitchell answered Dr. Chase that this is the pay range of the person currently in the position. 

 

Mr. Shepard asked if the other position will be abolished, since this is a reclassification.  Ms. Mitchell replied:

  • Issue - want to recruit while current person is still in their position; open Librarian 4, because of retiree
  • Using that position to recruit new person; when recruited, will come back to discuss whether to classify or abolish
  • Talked about when doing renovations to Central Library, changing structure
  • Asked head of Central Library to manage both Central and the branches; have unified direction, and allow staff flexibility to move between the two systems

Mr. Fisher suggested the Legislature look at abolishing the position during the annual budget review.  Currently the Library needs the position, and there is not money behind both. 

 

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

 

        c.     Confirming Reappointments to the Onondaga County Public Library Board of Trustees (Timothy Dodge, Richard Engel)

 

  • Reappointment of Timothy Dodge and Richard Engel; positions per NYS charter, appointed by County Executive

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

 

2.     PARKS AND RECREATION:  William Lansley, Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Authorizing the Replacement of the Boardwalk at Rosamond Gifford Zoo, in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $1,005,000 and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,005,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($1,005,000)

  • $1,005,000 to replace boardwalk at Zoo; built in 1984; $50,000 in budget last year to assess condition
  • Engineer recommended to make a plan to replace it; one year plan to take down and replace
  • Concrete piers like highway structures; concrete planks and decking/railing on top; from elephants to tiger enclosure
  • Number based on previous projects; not engineer’s estimate
  • Need to create mini roadway to be able to do construction, which will serve as future service road; at bottom of White-Lipped Deer exhibit

Mr. Lansley responded to Chair Tassone that Park’s has an assessment that it needs to be replaced.  The dollars are based on older projects.  Dr. Chase asked if the County can do this, and Mr. Lansley said no.  There will have to be an engineer to draw the design.  The one year timeline started a month and a half ago.  Mr. Lansley said they would like to have this completed by the end of the school year next spring.   

 

Chair Tassone asked what would happen if the estimate comes over this amount.  Mr. Lansley answered he would be back, because this has to get done.  It is critical infrastructure for the Zoo, and the elevation is necessary for zoo operations. 

 

Chairman McMahon stated the County has a great partnership with Friends of the Zoo, and asked if this project was being solely done by the County.  Mr. Lansley said yes.  In recent months, the Friends funded the new elephant pond in excess of $1,000,000, and also built the new patio on the banquet facility for approximately $700,000+.  Friends has invested roughly $2 - $3 million dollars in the last sixteen months.  Chairman McMahon asked if this is in the CIP for 2016, and Mr. Lansley responded no; engineering only.

 

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

 

        b.     A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction and Construction of Improvements to the Salt Museum, in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $600,000 and Authorizing the Issuance of $600,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($600,000)

 

  • CIP last year had $600,000 allocated for Salt Museum – looked at cedar roof which exceeded $300,000 with 30 year life span; now looking at metal roof with 50 year life span costing $210,000
  • Other components:  replace main boardwalk into facility; landscaping; chimney needs complete repointing; exterior needs remediation as far as painting - can do with Facilities; main repair is roof and chimney
  • Visitorship (open weekends in summer) – last year was 6,000
  • Spoke with Greg Tripoli to include history of lake; spoke with Craig Milburn from Honeywell – no future plans with lake exhibits at Honeywell Visitor Center (going to be boat launch); could be possible transfer

Chairman McMahon asked if the roof amount is $600,000, and Mr. Lansley said no; $210,000.  Mr. McMahon’s concern is that the building has a function, and is not being used to its maximum potential.  Across the way is the Skä•noñh Center, and there is dialogue with the Nation about sites to give to the Nation.  There is a lot of synergy to this site with things already being done.  Mr. McMahon is concerned with spending $600,000 with no full blown plan.  Why not ask for only the roof?  Mr. Lansley replied the roof and chimney are approximately $300,000.  When Mr. Lansley was at a prior committee, he was asked to have a menu of items that were needed out of what was available.  The roof and chimney are in dire need, and Chairman McMahon agreed.  Mr. Lansley said he can re-estimate for $290,000 (roof at $210,000 and Chimney at $80,000).  Chairman McMahon would like to look at the immediate needs, then figure out a long term plan; whether the County would like to keep the facility open that only sees 6,000 people or not.  It’s not a small number, but it is not as many as it should be if it were functioning at its highest potential.  Mr. McMahon suggested looking at the roof and chimney, but holding off on anything else. 

Salt Museum Funding Breakdown

 

Chair Tassone took a tour with Mr. Lansley, and asked for the most important things in case he did not get the full amount. 

 

Mr. Shepard asked if the committee would hold off on this until it is revised for Ways and Means.  Chair Tassone said yes.  Mr. Lansley will make sure it is only the roof and chimney that move on to Ways and Means.

 

3.     SYRACUSE CHIEFS:

        a.     Informational:  Lease – Chairman McMahon

 

  • Goal on behalf of Club, Shareholders, County and Legislature to strengthen partnership and keep Chiefs here
  • AAA baseball club benefits community; cannot monetize the economic and quality of life impacts on young people and baseball fans
  • Hope Ways and Means will have amendment to lease that can be reviewed and have Legislature support in August
  • When the lease was done last, the main goal was to transition for Chiefs to buy stadium; many details in lease to be tenant versus owner were not addressed in a way the current management can work with
  • Option to buy stadium not ideal situation for owner/management
  • Financial situation of team has improved, but many years the team lost lots of money; i.e.:  making $5,000 in 2016, but lost $200,000 in 2015, the loss does not go away
  • Partnership to keep club here, then pressure to sell club to other owners goes away; rework lease to recognize team and ownership will lease facility (not buy); need to do in terms that help club succeed and get to financial strength
  • Four pillars to lease:
  1. Need extension on lease to 2026
  2. Treat more like true commercial real estate lease; currently utilities paid for by ball club; previous management wanted; most leases the landlord pays utilities; will raise rent and take on cost of utilities; concession for Chiefs, but may be better ways to lower County’s utilities versus the baseball team
  3. When the Baseball team gets to revenue position (back on solid foundation), then have revenue reinvestment program; any revenue over a certain number will be reinvested into facility to help strengthen user experience and economic impact; not revenue share; revenue hits certain number then percentage of increase revenue to go back into facility
  4. Needs to be pressure on Club not to sell; will have financial giveback in lease, which will be paid back to County at 7% interest annualized; financial concession each year going forward, and in event of sale, that money will go back to taxpayers at a rate of 7% annualized
  • Almost in agreement; fair to Chiefs, so they can get back into black and be sustainable; fair to taxpayers to recoup concessions; fair to County to get more rent and look into alternative energy
  • Revenue reinvestment to defer potential capital costs with County being landlord
  • Mr. McLain, Mr. Scalione, Mr. Solomon here to answer questions
  • Cannot stress enough to get relationship locked in for another 10 years; licenses for franchises selling for high premium with minimum sales price of $20+ million

 

Chair Tassone asked what the attendance is this year.  Mr. McLain said attendance is up.  There have been many rain dates, plus the loss of opening day and four straight games.  Mr. Scalione stated attendance is up, and revenue is up (fans spending more money).  Chairman McMahon said it is tough when there are days they do not play baseball.  Chair Tassone would hate to see it leave Syracuse, since so many people enjoy this. 

 

Chairman McMahon stated the hope is have a legal amendment ready for Ways and Means Friday to be voted on in August.  This new lease could then be enacted this year to make sure the Chiefs are on solid ground, and costs will be known going into next year.

 

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

 

Respectfully submitted,

Jamie McNamara

JAMIE McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

Attendance

 

* * *

HEALTH COMMITTEE MINUTES - JULY 18, 2016

DANNY J. LIEDKA, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Holmquist

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Burtis, Ms. Williams

ALSO PRESENT:  See attached list

 

Chairman Liedka called the meeting to order at 9:36 a.m.  A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Mr. Holmquist to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     ADULT AND LONG TERM CARE:  Lisa Alford, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2016 County Budget to Provide for Improvements to the Onondaga County War Memorial ($190,000)

 

Ms. Alford is asking for funding for two items:

1.  Gold Star Mother’s display - recognizes sacrifices made by family members who lost children in service to this Country

2.  Kiosk system - provides information to educate public, honor and recognize veterans and conflicts and operations of which they served; real time information versus waiting for additional names and sample, then etching into stone

Mrs. Rapp asked if it is funded by fund balance, and Ms. Alford said they are asking for additional local dollars.  Mr. Holmquist said it’s probably 2016 fund balance.  Chairman Liedka asked if it is in the budget, and Ms. Alford agreed.

 

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

 

Chairman Liedka asked how long until it goes up.  Ms. Alford responded they have an estimate, so it depends on how long it takes to get everything needed.  Ms. Dennis said the Gold Star Mother’s display is waiting to be paid for.  When the dedication was done in 1993, someone forgot to build Gold Star Mother’s. 

 

Committee Discussion:

Chairman Liedka has been talking with Dr. Gupta reference the topic of smoking on County property, and a few years ago there were a lot of loose ends.  A lot has changed since then, including electronic cigarettes.  Chairman Liedka has been contacted by two unions saying the e-cigarettes are being used in the workplace.  Chairman Liedka met with Dr. Gupta, and they would like to implement a County wide smoke-free policy.  There are pregnant women walking into the Civic Center going through a gauntlet of smoke.  This would also include County Parks.  There would not be Sheriff’s sent out to enforce this as this would be a policy.

 

Mrs. Rapp commented there is a law stating no smoking within 25’ of the entryways of County buildings.  Chairman Liedka said there are people out there.  Mrs. Rapp said it was passed, and maybe now it needs to be enforced.  Chairman Liedka said it is not on all County property, and believes Parks is only the playgrounds.

 

Chairman Liedka would like input from the committee to figure this out and draft it.  The percentage of smokers in this County is off the charts, and Chairman Liedka believes Onondaga County is second in the state to NYC.  The County is at 15%, and the norm is 9%.  Mr. Holmquist asked what the percentage is of County employees, and Chairman Liedka responded that is a good question that needs to be asked.  Mr. Holmquist asked if the intention is to supersede state law, and also asked where the smokers would go.  Chairman Liedka replied there would be a designated area.  Chairman Liedka gave an example of a hotel he has in Carrier Circle with one of their best customers next door.  That customer has a smoke-free policy, so the employees go near the hotel to smoke.  The question is where to send the smokers, because the same issue will happen.  Chairman Liedka would like to discuss and craft this.  The hospitals and the City have this, but the County does not. 

 

Mrs. Rapp suggested looking at what was done in the past.  There are a lot of pieces, and wondered if the Parks should be smoke-free.  Chairman Liedka thought about that, and wondered about a person wanting to smoke in the middle of the woods; however would anyone want someone smoking in the woods with a year like this that could cause a brush fire.  This would not be enforced by Sheriff’s like the gestapo, but more setting an example (smokers move from an entry when they see Dr. Gupta walking in).  Mrs. Rapp asked if there are signs, and Ms. Lesniak responded yes.  Chairman Liedka said people ignore them.  There should be a zone for smokers, and Dr. Gupta is saying there is none.  Ms. Lesniak commented there is a smoking shelter on State Street. 

 

Chairman Liedka will bring Dr. Gupta into the next committee to discuss this, and the committee can craft it.  Chairman Liedka said the first year he was Chair of Health, there was a law that came through as a County wide ban on smoking on all County properties, but it never made it through committee.  Chairman Liedka agreed with Ms. Lesniak that she should send the minutes to committee members from that meeting. 

 

Chairman Liedka stated people can smoke e-cigarettes at their desk, and asked if anyone would want to sit next to that.  It’s a vapor that dissipates, but it still has a smell (including scented ones).  Chairman Liedka has had two unions come forward asking to revise the law to include e-cigarettes, because members are complaining.  Mrs. Rapp agreed it has to be changed.  Chairman Liedka said in 2011 and 2012 e-cigarettes were not prevalent.

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if the Cicero Swamp will be sprayed.  Chairman Liedka has not heard anything.  It will not be sprayed unless there are a few positives for the virus; then the State has to approve it.  There also has to be a population through the roof, and the population is minimal this year (dry weather) versus years past.  Chairman Liedka said it’s the state’s call.  It used to be $90,000 per spray, and last year the County was able to get two sprays for $40,000.  The County cannot spray unless it is approved by the NYS Department of Health.  Chairman Liedka will email Dr. Gupta to rehash the policy, and asked Ms. Lesniak to send the committee the minutes from last year’s meeting regarding mosquitos.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:48 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Signature

JAMIE M. McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

Attendance

* * *

 

        

 

WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES – July 15, 2016

David Knapp, Chairman

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  2Mr. Shepard, Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Jordan, Mrs. Ervin, 1Mr. May

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Ms. Williams

ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman McMahon, see attached list

 

Chairman Knapp called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.

 

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

 

1.     SHERIFF:  Isaac Eames, Deputy Sheriff

        a.     Accepting State of New York Highway Safety Program Funds and Authorizing the Execution of Agreements

  • Annual grant, $150,500 from NYS Governors Traffic Safety Committee
  • Pays for a Traffic Safety Coordinator, supplies, travel costs for the program

 

In answer to Mr. Jordan, Mr. Eames confirmed that personnel services included salary and benefits.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. Shepard, to approve this item.  AYES:  5; NOES: 0: ABSENT:  2 (May, Williams); MOTION CARRIED.

 

2.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARYMatt DeLaney, Administrative Director

        a.     Amending the 2016 County Budget to Make Funds Available for Use in the NYS Community Capital Assistance Program (“CCAP”), and Authorizing the Execution of Agreements ($125,000)

  • Accept $125,000 in capital funds
  • Replacing floors, electrical work, replacing some furniture and equipment at Beauchamp

 

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.  AYES:  5; NOES: 0: ABSENT:  2 (May, Williams); MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     Create R.P. 01 406500 1968 Director of Library Information Systems @ Grade 35, $75,402-$99,958, Effective September 5, 2016

  • New position
  • Will unfund a position of the same grade
  • Retirement in Sept. – took opportunity to re-evaluate how to support the library’s mission; feel this position needs to be created

 

Chairman Knapp asked if the retirement position will be abolished once that person retires.  Mr. DeLaney said that it won’t be – want to only unfund it to allow for flexibility in the future, if they want to hire into that position.  He said that the library is changing quite a bit, and they don’t want to have to come back to the legislature every time to create a position.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Shepard, seconded by Mr. Kilmartin, to approve this item.  AYES:  4 (Knapp, Shepard, Kilmartin, Ervin); NOES:  1 (Jordan); ABSENT:  2 (May, Williams).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

3.     PARKS AND RECREATIONBill Lansley, Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Authorizing the Replacement of the Boardwalk at Rosamond Gifford Zoo, in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $1,005,000 and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,005,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($1,005,000)

  • Emergency situation – elevated walkway near the elephant barn to the tiger exhibit
  • Built in mid 1980s with reconstruction of entire zoo
  • Concrete, steel reinforced system, with concrete planks and cabling, on top is decking and railing
  • Earlier this year an assessor found a lot of deterioration in planking on top; one pier is showing deterioration – instruction was to shore it up immediately and plan for replacement of it
  • On a one year time line to correct it permanently
  • Major infrastructure – part of the zoo loved by people
  • Would like to do it immediately; get engineering, drawings and everything done, construct over the winter and be ready to operate when school lets out next year
  • Assessment of $1.5 Million is based on projects done recently – estimate from planning and development engineer in the Park’s Department; do not have a professional on that level

 

Chairman Knapp said that it is old and a key element of the park, but it wasn’t on the CIP.  Mr. Lansley said that the structural analysis was on the CIP.  They had a brief, but telling analysis, and it was bad enough that it needs to shored up and then replaced.  Chairman Knapp said that it is worse than you thought; Mr. Lansley agreed.  Mr. Lansley said that a lot of the money for engineering and design, had to be used to shore it up for the safety of public, so it can continue to be used until major modifications are made to it.

 

Mr. Kilmartin asked if this will be the same footprint as it is now.  Mr. Lansley said it will be because several of the piers are good – will have to add one additional pier, fix a pier, and replace all planking on top.  It is inside the zoo; a temporary roadway has be be made to get cranes and equipment in the.  The shoring up was all done by hand – hand dug support structures. 

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Lansley said that they are concrete piers with holes for weights savings, steel cables run through them to keep them flexible.  Some of the cables are rusted, and the concrete is cracking.

 

 1Mr. May arrived at the meeting.

 

Chairman McMahon said that he had questions about this at the County Facilities Committee.  This wasn’t in the CIP plan, and would like a project of an appropriate dollar amount taken out for next year.  Taking a proactive approach with the CIP is appropriate.

 

A motion as made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.

 

Mr. May said that he will abstain for two reasons:  it is not budgeted, would like to see it in the CIP, and see what the Friends’ groups do.  Their equity is incredible.  He said that he also realizes that assets have to be protected and maintained. 

 

Mr. Lansley referred to the Friends, noting that they just built a $2 million elephant exhibit, built an entire patio off the back of the banquet facility, and renovated the interior.  It was 100% Friends contribution.

 

AYES:  4 (Knapp, Shepard, Ervin, Kilmartin); NOES:  0; ABSTENTIONS:  2 (May, Jordan); ABSENT:  1 (Williams).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

        b.     A Resolution Authorizing the Reconstruction and Construction of Improvements to the Salt Museum, in and for the County of Onondaga, New York, at a Maximum Estimated Cost of $290,000 and Authorizing the Issuance of $290,000 Bonds of Said County to Pay Costs Thereof ($290,000)

  • Remediation of Salt Museum – in capital plan for $600k 
  • Came to committee in Feb; there was concerns over the number; scaled it back to absolute necessity
  • Scaled back to a 50 yr. metal roof, $210k; roof has gaps in it, separated from chimney; chimney needs repointing
  • Structurally these things need to be done – water and animals coming in

 

Mr. Lansley passed around a picture of the building.  Chairman Knapp said that there has been some confusion about which building it is.  Chairman Knapp said that it is nice display about how salt was harvested; it would be great to advertise/encourage attendance there.  It has massive wooden pipes.  

 

Mr. May asked if there are any prospects for a Friends of the Salt Museum.  Mr. Lansley said that there is a Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake, but they are more about the now Skä·noñh Center.  They run a gift shop there, and it is a very small group of people.  This group used to do the tours and costumed renditions there.  They help with the annual Irish Road Bowling. 

 

Mr. Lansley said that the future of the property has been discussed – adding a component of the lake.  Honeywell has indicated that when they are done with their visitor’s center, those displays could become available.  A lake history could be done within this property.  OHA has indicated that they would assist with display developments, expanding above and beyond the salt story.

 

Chairman Knapp said that it is a significant county asset; there are large holes in the roof.  It is not inexpensive; it is a big roof.  Going to a steel roof, will not look quite as historically accurate, but it is prudent. 

 

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

 

Mr. Jordan said that he will not support this – not because the work doesn’t need to be done, but because this was reviewed at budget time – it was part of the proposed budget.  If it was in the condition that it is in, then it should have been a priority over other things.  Perhaps other things should be set aside, if this is an impending emergency.  This was taken out of the budget; and he questions why a budget is passed if things just get added back in.  Chairman Knapp said that he pushed to take it out of the budget because he as under the assumption, it was a tiny, house-like building. 

 

Chairman McMahon clarified that this was in the budget, in the CIP, when it was reviewed earlier in the year, it didn’t make the cut for the full assessment.  He said that he too is struggling with it; there is no real comprehensive plan for it.  There is an asset, with an important piece of our history, but nobody knows about it.  It might be in better hands of the public-private partnership or a private sector partner.  He questioned spending $600k when it is not known what this could look like.  The request was knocked down to the roof and chimney.  He too is on the fence with it, but it is a lot better today than it was on Wednesday.

 

AYES:  4 (Knapp, Ervin, Shepard, Kilmartin); NOES:  1 (Jordan); ABSTENTIONS:  1 (May); ABSENT:  1 (Williams).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

4.     LEGISLATURE:  Deborah Maturo, Clerk of the Legislature

        a.     Amending the 2016 County Budget to Make Contingency Funds Available for Use in Establishing a “Paperless Legislature” ($18,000) (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp, Mr. May)

  • Beginning stage of project, majority of the cost upfront
  • Purchase Surface Pro 4 for each legislator, none for staff at this point
  • Software connection to secure cloud for each legislator
  • Cloud – documents can only be viewed, edited solely by individual legislator; IT has assured that it is very secure
  • Wireless connectivity upgraded a couple of times in recent years; IT assures that it will accommodate this project
  • Purchase large screen TV & mobile cart; housed in Chairman’s Rm, rolled into Chambers for session & other mtgs.
  • Large screen TV will allow the public to see everything that the legislators are considering in committee and in session – conformance with Open Meetings Law
  • Downscaled IT’s proposal for a cost-savings effort, but may have to upgrade to larger TV for chamber in the future
  • ShareLink - wireless connectivity software for the television – any department or outside agency can connect wirelessly – projector, screen, wiring won’t be needed
  • Huge asset during the budget review process
  • More mainstream; green – paper and copy savings; materials instantaneously available for legislators

 

In answer to Mr. Jordan, Mrs. Maturo explained that the idea is to leave the Surface Pro’s housed at the legislature.  They will include a keyboard cover and a stylus, with an editing software.  There will be a secure cloud for the Clerk of the Legislature, where the files will be loaded and disseminated to each legislators’ personal account, which only they can access.  Mr. Jordan asked if the information could be accessed remotely also.  Mrs. Maturo explained that it can be--can access it from your phone, laptop, home or work pc.  Surface Pro’s can be taken home as well.

 

Mr. May said that the information that we deal with is on our website in perpetuity.  He keeps the things that are relevant to him, but most of it goes in the recycle bin.  At budget time, legislators receive a stack of paper almost a foot tall, which is generated in color.  It is extremely expensive to convey that information to legislators, when it is almost a one or two shot deal for.  We have an idea going in, we go through the hearing with the department, and then we are done with it, with the exception of those papers that need to be kept for access.  It is a huge waste.  This is a one-time, large investment and probably an ongoing investment to maintain.  It is the wave of the future. 

 

Chairman Knapp referred to the appointments for Human Rights last month, where each packet of resumes for committee was large, and then it was done all over again for session.

 

Mr. Jordan said he would assume it would be a searchable database, so he can input a query into it and call up those documents.  Mrs. Maturo said that it wouldn’t necessarily be a database; it would be actual pdf files that you would keep in your cloud, like may be done with photos or other documents in your personal life or at work.  A database could be created also.  Additionally, all documents can be searched now on the Legislature’s website.  Everything it out there, and they are searchable documents – type in the subject, search, and download.

 

Mr. May said that this is more of a physical process change.  Mrs. Maturo agreed, noting that it will actually change the way we do business.  It will take some time; there will be some training involved.  The hope was to get it implemented for the budget season, but that likely isn’t going to happen. 

 

Mrs. Maturo said that the total amount for the projection is approximately $23,000; in addition to the $18,000 request, and additional $5,000 will be used from an existing project account.  There will be annual software upkeep of approximately $1,200, an interdepartmental charge.

 

Mr. Jordan asked about the annual copy and paper costs.  Mrs. Maturo said that an analysis has been done, but while there will be a huge savings in copies and paper, it will not offset this project.  It will be more efficient.

 

Chairman Knapp said when the current copier needs to be replaced, potentially a smaller copier could be used, with potential savings.   Mr. May referred to the color material that is received from the departments directly for meetings; it has to be a huge cost spread out to them also.  Mrs. Maturo added that in addition to the costs associated for legislators to do their work, for public hearings or during budget review, many multiples of packets are made for the audience and media.  She added that some copies will still need to be made.

 

Mr. Jordan asked if the information will be available ahead of time for the audience -- they may want to look at it ahead of time.  Mrs. Maturo said that it will be and is now; virtually everything done in the office is on the web.  It isn’t always right up to the minute, i.e. two late additions to the Ways & Means agenda this morning--there wasn’t time to upload those documents and put them on the web.  If the television were in the room, those new, additional documents would be displayed.  Mr. Jordan referred to being more paper oriented and people that don’t want computers and don’t use them.  Mrs. Maturo said that her office will accommodate anyone who still wants a hard copy.

 

Chairman Knapp referred to having one TV in the Chairman’s Room and another in the chamber.  Mrs. Maturo said that she downscaled the original proposal for cost savings.  The proposal is still for a 70” TV, which is very big, and it will be rolled into the chambers where most people can see it.  The room is a challenge, there are very limited electrical outlets, which are all upfront on the dais.  Down the road, the television may need to be upgraded, or an additional television purchased to be positioned near the gallery area.  Chairman Knapp said it is prudent to start with one and see how it works.

 

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

 

        b.     Requiring the Onondaga County Comptroller to Cooperate with the Outside Firm Engaged to Evaluate Internal Controls Surrounding Processing of County Payroll

 

Chairman Knapp noted that this is new item, and apologized for the late addition to the agenda, but felt it was an important item.

 

Mr. Fisher:

  • Each year the county produces financial statements, which are audited by an outside auditor
  • Outside auditors also examine things other than the numbers; occasionally a management letter comes with that
  • County executive is the chief administrative officer of a municipal corp; Comptroller is the chief accounting officer of a municipal corporation – findings addressed to both officials
  • Comptroller hires external auditor – Bonadio Group
  • Findings summarized in letter – pointed out second paragraph

Mr. Morgan distributed the following:

 

letter
:
  

Mr. Fisher referred to internal controls – noting that when there is a financial system or payroll system, there are risks.  One purpose of putting internal controls in place is to make sure that the information that comes out is accurate and that management, the governing board, and citizens can rely on it.  Another reason controls are put in place is to make sure that no one can do something that they shouldn’t do.  Controls are in place to make sure that when a bank statement comes back, somebody that does the bank reconciliation isn’t also signing the checks.  The segregation of duties is implemented via controls.

 

Mr. Fisher referred to the comments on the second page and read them aloud.  He noted that many people in the payroll have access to GENESYS – payroll clerks, payroll supervisors, Management and Budget, Personnel Commissioner and staff, individual departments.  The individual departments should only see their records.  The security has to be configured in a way that the right people have the right access, but no more access than they are supposed to have.  When they have access, they have abilities to do certain things.  If they have more access than they should, or have if they are the only one that has that access, than things can run afoul. 

 

Recommendation that management review all key controls in the processing of payroll – Mr. Fisher said that one of his responsibilities was to act as the administrator on the county executive’s behalf for all financial and administrative units of county government, including the Department of Finance.  He started talking to the CFO and asked what should be done about this.  Mr. Morgan began to speak to Deputy Comptroller Maturo about the management letter and what to do about it.

 

Mr. Fisher said that the first thing they did was talk to the outside auditor and ask what should be done.  It became clear that it needed to be addressed.  The letter states that this will be a subject of next year’s audit.  Already three months of have gone by, as this came out in April.  Mr. Morgan clarified, that the letter was actually received a month ago, the date noted is the date the financial statements were issued.  Mr. Fisher said that he and Mr. Morgan treated this as a matter of some urgency.  They decided that the evaluation that was recommended was outside of the scope of the original audit.  They decided to procure expertise in this area.  An RFQ was sent out to four local CPA firms, including Bonadio & Co., who did not respond.  Two firms responded; he and Mr. Morgan reviewed the proposals and prepared an engagement letter to Dannible & McKee, which included a simple set of things they were going to do.  The estimate was for approximately 40 hours of work.  They kept Chairman Knapp informed, and hoped they would have it ready for today, but it has become clear that they won’t get it until August.  Mr. Fisher said that they want legislators to understand, as it is also their responsibility to make sure this controlled environment is established.

 

The evaluation that was proposed was to:

  • Obtain, understand and document the internal controls over the procedures for processing and recording payroll transactions
  • Identify any deficiencies in the design of the internal control structure as defined by the COSO Internal Control Integrated Framework

 

Mr. Fisher said that there is an industry standard for these internal controls, published and used worldwide.  Both the outside auditor and Dannible & McKee suggest that the county take a hard look at adopting this as the official policy.  Earlier this week, the County Executive put out an administrative directive that adopted this policy.  Auditors, accountants, IT people, are trained in this.  It is part of the evaluation under deficiencies.  Because it’s a deficiency doesn’t necessarily mean that “someone has run off with money”; it means there is some weakness that could be strengthened.  

 

  • Determine if the payroll transactions for payroll period 1 in 2016 were processed in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and internal controls as document in procedure no. 1

 

Mr. Morgan distributed the following:

audit

Mr. Fisher said that when looking at controls, you can read what is written down, but you have to test them.  Take some transactions, and see if we follow our own rules.  If a transaction came out funny -- what went wrong with the internal controls, or was it a training issue or software configuration issue.  Knowing, from the publicity around it, there were some questions about the transactions in payroll period 1, they felt it was something they should examine.  They would test other transactions as well.

 

When Mr. Morgan spoke to Deputy Comptroller Maturo, who spoke to the Comptroller, the Comptroller raised an issue around the language regarding applicable laws, regulations, and internal controls.  There is ongoing litigation around laws and regulations regarding payroll and who controls what.  Mr. Morgan went back to the accounting firm to change the language to see if the payroll transactions were processed in accordance with applicable policies, procedures, and internal controls.  He has heard back from the Comptroller’s office that they would not cooperate with this evaluation.  The accounting firm said that, in that case, they can’t do it.  The evaluation is impossible with the scope as defined; it can’t be carried out without access to Personnel, Management and Budget, departments they want to talk to, IT, and payroll folks within the Comptroller’s office.  If they can’t have access to them, they can’t begin.

 

Mr. Fisher said “we are stuck, and we believe that our request of the Comptroller is something that we are allowed to request.”  He read from the County Charter…. the comptroller shall perform such other and related duties as shall be required or delegated to him for the county executive or board of supervisors.  Mr. Fisher said that they have requested this cooperation and have been told “no.”  The resolution being considered would be for the county legislature to request this cooperation. 

 

Mr. Morgan said that the responsibility for internal controls lies with management.  The County Executive relies on Mr. Fisher and himself to be sure that controls are in place and are functioning and operating the way they should be.  To ensure that transactions that are occurring within that structure are not potentially illegal, or outside of that range.  When the management letter came, it was clear that we needed to do some work and look at controls.  He said that he talked to the comptroller’s office during the external audit of the entire county.  This is outside of that external auditor’s scope.  They are looking at the financial statements in their entirety, and from that perspective this isn’t material.  It was agreed to wait until after the financial statements were done.  He said that they are trying to move forward, bring someone in to do the evaluation, correct things if they need it, and get on with business.  Without the cooperation, it can’t be done.  The accounting firm has clearly stated that they can’t get do the work and feel comfortable about it without having access to an integral part of the process, which is the payroll people in the Comptroller’s office. 

 

Chairman Knapp said that in any organization that employs people, payroll is a huge, important piece of the puzzle from a morale standpoint and an efficiency standpoint.  In a government entity, there is an added piece that taxpayers’ dollars are involved in this.  It makes it even more important that we have the necessary oversight, controls, and efficiency.  “If the employees don’t have confidence in the payroll system, you have a major problem.”  He doesn’t know if it is county-wide, i.e. if DOT is worried about payroll this week, but personally, especially after the events after the first payroll in January, he really questions how we are doing things.  He said that shortly after that happened he approached the CFO to request some kind of an external audit to find out what happened; what is going on, and how can we fix this.  How can we clearly define the roles that obviously are vague.  At that time, he was told that the external audit was going on and we needed to wait until that audit comes back to see what recommendations they make.  They made very specific recommendations, and he has been in the loop as they move forward.

 

Chairman Knapp said that Dannible and McKee is very well known, respected, local accounting firm.  To his knowledge, they don’t do any other business with the county.  There is no chance of any type of external influences coming in here.  He said that he feels that this is something that really needs to move forward.  The Comptroller was very, very vocal about this in the media, etc., shortly after the first payroll.  He complained that there needed to be clarification; needed to be a better defining of the roles.  “Here we are, ready to have an outside group look at this and now all of a sudden he is not cooperating.”  Chairman Knapp said that it is within our purview that we require that he do that.  The reason I jumped through some hoops to make sure it got on the agenda today is because it is very time sensitive.  If there are any changes that need to be made, the budget is the perfect time to do it – get this done before budget hits.  

 

Chairman Knapp said that a month or so ago, the Comptroller was in the newspaper talking about the IDA and said that he didn’t know if he is really authorized to audit the IDA, but “what can it hurt”.  Chairman Knapp asked, what can it hurt to have this outside group look.  Maybe everything is good, but questioned the fact that we are the only county in NYS that does it the way we do it – doesn’t know if that is good or bad.  Someone needs to take a look at it outside of the scope of internal politics and everything else. 

 

Mr. May said he is seeing a recommendation from out external auditor.  Mr. Morgan agreed, and added it was during the regular financial statement audit.  It didn’t rise to the level that it affected the financial statements, but rose to a level where they included comments and observations.  Mr. May said that once the comment is there, you have to react to it.  Mr. May said that the county has engaged another external auditor to have an external audit done on how we are doing this.  Mr. Morgan agreed.  Mr. May said that no process changes are being recommended; all we are talking about is another professional perspective.  Mr. Morgan agreed that it would be a more in-depth review on the issues that were identified; because it is way below the external auditor’s materiality threshold.    

 

Mr. May said that the only thing he can see coming out of this is for legislators to be able to do their job better.  It can’t hurt.  Mr. Morgan added, “it is our responsibility”; “it is this board’s responsibility.”

 

Chairman Knapp said that there is a lawsuit out there; this is a piece of it; but it is dragging along and it could be out there for another year or more.  In the meantime, we are doing payroll every two weeks, and every single day.  Waiting for all of that to shake itself out is foolish.

 

Mr. Morgan said that this engagement has nothing to do with the legality of the raises.  It has to do with the processes and procedures used to process payroll.  The external CPA firm is not lawyers; they are professional accountants – they are evaluating processes – that they are in accordance with professional standards.  There is no law being reviewed or opined on.  Chairman Knapp agreed.

 

Mr. Kilmartin referred to the Bonadio Group’s work – they do the comprehensive financial audit on an annual basis.  Mr. Morgan said that they do the financial and single audit; it used to be Testone, who did it for years.  Testone merged with Bonadio.  In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Morgan said that the Comptroller selects the external auditor.  Mr. Kilmartin said that they issued the audit and Mr. Morgan advance the contract; Mr. Morgan agreed.  Mr. Kilmartin asked when the issue came up about cooperation – how did that arise.  Mr. Morgan said it started while the financial statement was going on.  He was interested in getting something going immediately, but agreed with the Comptroller’s office that we should wait until the financial statement audit was complete.  As it would just muddy the waters and there would be two firms in there at once.  As independent auditors, they have standards and had to look at this a little closer, but their scope can’t go as low as what is being asked of the other firm to dive into.  Mr. Kilmartin asked “at what point did this conversation or conflict come up about cooperation with the process going forward?”  Mr. Morgan said that once proposals came back, and Dannible & McKee was selected, he approached the Comptroller’s office and provided a copy of it.  Mr. Morgan said then all departments were contacted that would have to cooperate with this – including Finance, Personnel, IT, and the Comptroller, as they play a huge role in processing payroll.  He got feedback from the Comptroller’s office that they wouldn’t cooperate because of item 3 regarding examining the transactions of the first pay period of 2016.  The specific complaint/issue was with the verbiage regarding laws and regulations.  Mr. Morgan said that they went back and said that they really aren’t looking at laws and regulations; they are looking at policies, procedures, and internal controls based on a professional standard.  They agreed to change it, and advanced it, and there was still no cooperation.  Mr. Morgan said that the Comptroller’s office is still saying that there is ongoing litigation that could interfere with that, and they will participate with it after that.

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that the concerns he has is that if an outside audit firm, hired by the Comptroller, recommended specifically a review of policies, procedures, and controls related to payroll, “and the reason we won’t cooperate is because we brought a lawsuit.”  Now the lawsuit is being used as a shield to prevent the whole county from complying with the financial audit that says “please review standard, typical, month in/month out, procedures and controls for payroll.”  Mr. Kilmartin said that the two should have nothing to do with each other and the county shouldn’t face legal exposure/legal liability or a letter next year from the same audit firm saying “you didn’t do your job; you never reviewed the policies, procedures and controls.”  The only answer we would have is “we didn’t have a critical part of the county cooperating with us to do what you required us to do.”  He said that they should be two completely separate issues; the legal process will be handled by the legal process in the court system.  Complying with an auditor’s recommendation or requirement is something we should all be able to do in a professional manner.  Mr. Morgan agreed.

 

Mr. Jordan said “this whole thing stinks of politics.”  He said that you are bringing forward a resolution, which is directly or at least inferentially critical of the Comptroller’s office.  “I see nobody here from the Comptroller’s office; I see no documentation or information or anything besides your assertion that they are unwilling to cooperate.”  This resolution is being brought forward today; he noted that when he was the Ways & Means chairman, everything had to be in five days in advance to avoid things being handed to people at committee, who were expected to look at it, consider it, and make intelligent decisions on it.  He said that this was handed to us today and has no clue whether what is being said is accurate or inaccurate; and has no information as to what the Comptroller’s position is.  Now there is a resolution brought forward demanding that they cooperate.  The auditors aren’t attorneys.  He said he doesn’t know if in fact they are refusing, or what they are refusing to do, or why.  To pass a resolution without that information, seems at the very least inappropriate.

 

Mr. Fisher read an email from Mr. Morgan at 1:24 p.m. two days ago…Bob didn’t agree to cooperate with the internal control review even with the scope change that we proposed.  He said that the court case will be over in two weeks and then he will agree to participate.  Mr. Fisher pointed out that they didn’t have this five days ago.  “We have been trying to get his cooperation, and we didn’t get it.”  Mr. Jordan said that this is all based on one side of the equation without any input from the other side of the equation. That is why it is inappropriate at this time to vote on it.  At least give him an opportunity to respond.  Mr. Morgan and Chairman Knapp stated that he has already responded.

 

Chairman Knapp said that we live in a dynamic world.  In a perfect world he would love to have a 5 day limit, or 2 week limit, but lots of things happen.  “We have a county to run, things have to move forward.”  He said that he already apologized that this had to come in late.  Having some kind of hard limit, where nothing can happened within that 5 day window is totally inflexible and not the way I want to do business.”

 

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.  AYES:  5 (Knapp, Ervin, May, Shepard, Kilmartin); NOES:  1 (Jordan); ABSENT:  1 (Williams).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

2Mr. Shepard left the meeting.

 

5.     MISC.:

        a.     A Local Law Authorizing the Sale of County Property Located off of Howlett Hill Rd. and Falls Rd. in the Town of Marcellus and Superseding the Transfer of Property Authorized by Local Law No. 5-2016

Chairman Knapp:

  • Have had several of these in the past few months
  • Involves the trolley line that used to run from Marcellus to downtown Syracuse; abandoned and turned over to the county
  • Various neighbors have come forward and asked to purchase those parcels; property has been advertised
  • There was a bidder who bid against the property owner, but it was lower than what the neighboring property owner is willing to pay
  • County has no use for the property; it is basically a liability

 

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

 

6.     ONONDAGA COUNTY INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY: Chairman McMahon

        a.     Confirming Appointment to the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (Fanny Villareal) (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

Chairman McMahon reviewed Ms. Villareal’s experience and credentials, noting that she is a great community leader and will bring great diversity in a growing population to the IDA Board.

 

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

 

7.     PURCHASE:  Andrew Trombley

        a.     Confirming the Appointment of Andrew Trombley as the Director of the Division of Purchase

 

Chairman Knapp noted that Mr. Carroll is leaving county government.  He thanked Mr. Carroll, stating that he has done a great job heading up Purchasing, appreciated all of his time, effort, and dedication to the County.

 

Mr. Trombley reviewed his resume and work experience, noting that prior to being the Director of Intergovernmental Relation, he was the Deputy Purchasing Director.  He reviewed goals and priorities of the department and noted that there are over 20 staff members in the Division of Purchase. 

 

Chairman Knapp noted that Mr. Trombley has the experience from the standpoint of serving as deputy.  In the past year, he did a fantastic job in his role as Director of Intergovernmental Relations. 

 

Mr. Kilmartin said wished Mr. Carroll all the best.  He noted that the limited amount that he has worked with MR. Trombley, he has done a very good job – has always followed up, been attentive and sensitive to the workings of the different government entities and will be a great addition.  Mrs. Ervin agreed.

 

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

 

        b.     Revenue Contract Report – Sean Carroll, Director

  • Nothing on the revenue contract report; nothing active

 

Chairman Knapp asked about the Trolley lot parking.  Mr. Carroll said that an awarded letter is out to All Pro; working on a start date.

 

Mr. Carroll thanked the members for the working relationship.  He asked that as a county we continue to allow the Purchasing department to be a strategic function and embrace growing, shared balance sheets through consolidation and other programs.

 

8.     SYRACUSE CHIEFSChairman McMahon

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

 

Chairman McMahon:

  • Informational a couple of months ago at Ways & Means Committee
  • Community Baseball Team alerted the legislature of their strong belief that amendments needed to be made to the existing lease in order to create a sustainable financial path for the Club to essentially remain in CNY
  • Good feedback from members of Ways & Means; everybody wants to see the team remain here
  • County Attorney Bob Durr, Mr. Fisher, and himself entered into discussions and negotiations with the Community Baseball Team; spoke to everyone of their directors either directly or indirectly; had good discussions about what is fair
  • It is important to look at the last lease and what the content of those negotiations were:
    • Dealing with a completely different management team; for years had a somewhat strained relationship with the county; for years thought they could do things better than the County could do
    • At the end of the day, they believed they’d be in a position to buy the stadium - they didn’t think they would have the traditional tenant/landlord situation
    • That’s not a reality anymore at this time
    • When looking at a lot of concessions that the county was able to get, many are abnormal to a commercial lease
    • Utilities were being paid by the tenant, field maintenance and a lot of costs to maintain the structure were being paid by the tenant and county was receiving rent
    • Wasn’t a typical lease where you receive rent but absorb the utilities and/or certain costs
  • After that time period the baseball team lost a substantial amount of money and there were changes made for the better
  • Jason Smorol was hired; has done a tremendous job – not only trying to turn around an operation that was losing $1 million/year, but also engaging in the community in ways never done before
  • Many people in the room today invested a substantial amount of capital to try to bridge the Chiefs throughout the last few years, but the reality is that the lease doesn’t work
  • There is not many other tenants in the area for this asset in the community
  • Need to tackle the ongoing issues and put it on a sustainable path – to do that we need commitments
  • Minor League Baseball has put a minimum value on what the essential franchises are worth and can be sold for
  • That minimum value is in the $20 million+ range; it is critical because the Chiefs have shareholders
  • When looking at the shareholder’s skin in the game, what they own compared to what they could sell for would be an extremely healthy profit
  • Important to realize that there are major former AAA markets that don’t have affiliation anymore; i.e. Richmond, which is not too far from our affiliate, the Washington Nationals; there are obvious synergies there for competition going forward
  • Value can’t be placed on the quality of life this team brings here for our residents
  • Economic impact is strong – needs to be stronger for our residents and taxpayers – team is committed to that
  • Can’t put a value on the entertainment infrastructure of our community
  • When companies look to move here, they look at what is here for their employees to do – having a AAA baseball team is significant
  • Value in having the Syracuse Chiefs going to other media markets that are often larger than ours and branding our community in the sporting world

 

LEASE AGREEMENT:

  • Have a commitment for the team to be here through 2026
  • Looking at creating more of a typical commercial business lease
  • County will raise the rent but take on responsibilities of utilities and field maintenance – it is a financial concession to the Chiefs, but at the same time the County is in a better position to do things to recoup some of the utility costs in different ways, through alternative energy than a struggling minor league baseball team is
  • Heard from Ways & Means Committee that if amendments and concession are going to be made, then the County should have some upside – some revenue share
  • A true revenue share was looked at, but deemed to be illegal by the Law Dept.
  • Lease includes a revenue reinvestment program – revenue over $3.5 million will get reinvested into the building and/or surrounding neighborhood agreed to by the county and baseball team.  Will help with capital improvements in future years that would have otherwise been borne on the taxpayer
  • Disincentive to make sure the lease is never broken – in the event the ball club was under different ownership, there would be something to deter them from wanting to move to another market
  • County takes in a number associated with the the concessions to the ball club per year, and in the event the ball club were to break the lease or move, that money would get paid back to the county taxpayers at an interest rate of 7% annualized.  It would be a substantial number in the event of a sale, to break, and hopefully a long term deterrent for the ball club.  Under existing management, there are no intentions to leave, but county’s fiduciary responsibilities are to make sure to guard against that
  • It was made very clear that every time the ball club has been here, the county has worked with them and been great partners, but this isn’t a situation where every two years they can come back and want a new deal
  • The anticipation is that this deal with all the ball club be sustainable financially and want to see them do better

 

Chairman McMahon said that this puts us on a real path, an honest path, of what everyone’s intentions are.  This will help the baseball team understand what their future liabilities are.  They can start planning, start turning things around, as they have done.  With the partnership, hopefully the county will reap some of the benefits with the reinvestment plan.

 

Mr. Jordan asked how this compares to the lease with the Crunch.  Mr. Fisher said that it is very different in a lot of ways.  The Chiefs retain all of the revenues from concessions.  With the Crunch, the County retains 50% of net operating income.  The county puts out a facility use fee, sells the tickets for the Crunch.  The Chiefs are primary and sole exclusive tenant – when the community wants to use it, the Chiefs have the opportunity to put that on at their expense, which they do.  SMG manages on behalf of a government, not a community owned club, doesn’t do much of that, but trying to make the Oncenter available for non-profits at bare and minimal rates.  It is hard to compare.  He noted that the deal is also different at the major league level.  When Bob Julian was here, he described what the Chiefs have to do to continue to be part of baseball, the expenses, and shortening of the season being a burden on the Chiefs.  That’s not the same way it works in hockey.

 

Mr. Jordan said he has a difficult time supporting things when there is an agreement and he hasn’t seen it.  He asked to be provided with a copy of the lease agreement, and the Crunch lease agreement.  Under the proposed lease the county is assuming responsibilities that it doesn’t have now, i.e. utilities.  Going back, under a different administration, utilities were huge and one of the bones of contention was that the Chiefs weren’t paying the utility bills and the county was accruing bills for $100’s of $1,000’s in back utilities.  He has no idea what the county is assuming; what the utilities and maintenance cost are that the county will be assuming.  He said he needs that information in order to make an informed decision.

 

Chairman McMahon said that to look at it in dollars and cents, it’s not a good deal – the county is giving them a concession.  Essentially the Chiefs are paying $130,000 in rent now; the rent will go up to $200,000.  The utilities right now are borne by the baseball team.  The previous management thought they could do a better job with the utilities and maintenance than the county.  They learned a hard lesson because they didn’t do a better job.  It cost $200,000 - $250,000 a year.  It is hard to say because the county can manage the utilities better; what it cost them, probably won’t be what it will cost us, but essentially this package is about a $250,000 concession to the Chief’s on a yearly basis from where they are currently.  To look back at the previous lease that was in place, it probably looks a lot closer to that financially.  The current lease was really done in a way to have the Chief’s own and operate the facility themselves.  Some of these details probably weren’t negotiated as hard at the time.  Essentially, the county is trading off revenue right now, in the hopes that we will receive some revenue to get reinvested in the facility that otherwise is in this lease – some capital improvements that we have to make in the existing lease.  Also, there is a commitment from the baseball club that they will be here until 2026. 

 

Chairman McMahon said that there are almost three weeks before the voting session, to disseminate all of the material that is wanted.  There is a financially struggling baseball team; there is a very large, active, lucrative market for these franchises to be sold.  He knows it’s not the goal of the people here, but at some point people make business decisions as to where to go.  The county can step up and try to recuperate some of the concession in different ways and secure the club here for a time, or we can see what happens. 

 

Mr. Fisher said that the county is making concessions, but is also receiving the added financial benefit.  The three year extension of the lease brings in benefits to the community because it has an economic impact.  It also allows the county to take the naming rights, which the county retains, and use them.  If there isn’t a baseball team here, the naming rights deal generates $0.  Right now it generates over $150,000/year – by extending it, we get 3 more years of naming rights, which is actually how the county is paying for the concessions this year.  The budget resolution pulls money down from a project where the naming rights go, and there is a contract with M&T Bank, which is longer than the lease.  Now will be able to pull that money down form a contract already in place for the naming rights.

 

Mr. May asked for a financial prospectus that shows the moving parts – the financial implications --how will the utility costs transfer – what will it be to the county; include the old lease numbers and present lease numbers.  Mr. May said that we are going halfway back to the old lease, if his math is correct.  He said he wants to see this work, wants the Chiefs to be viable, but needs to understand it to make sure we are doing the right thing.  He said that he was the advocate of the revenue share piece; if we can concede, let’s find a way to share revenue first and foremost to the taxpayer. 

 

Chairman Knapp said that there are a lot of moving parts and the summer schedule makes it difficult.  It will not be voted on today, but has been considered and can go forward to session.  

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that in essence this document has created a lease termination payment.  If the ball club breaks the lease or if there is sale to another city, then any concessions the county has made over the past couple of years would be recouped via a lease termination clause.  Chairman McMahon agreed, and added that in there event that lease is terminated or broken, that figure comes back to the county with a 7% interest charge attached to it.  Mr. Kilmartin said it is a good trigger to have considering some accommodations are being made and making certain they be returned.  Chairman McMahon said it makes it less lucrative in a potential sale. 

 

        b.     Making Funds Available For Use In Connection With Maintenance, Repairs, and Replacements at the NBT Bank Stadium

 

Chairman McMahon said that this is the financial piece.  This is essentially what the cost is; pulling it off of the naming rights revenue to cover the current year.  The utility piece can be looked at during the budget and different strategies where more savings can be seen there to the county’s benefit.  The county has the capacity to do that, where the community baseball team doesn’t.

 

Chairman Knapp said that no vote will be taken; it has been considered and can go forward to session, and will have more information by session.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:40 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

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DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

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