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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

PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MINUTES - MARCH 11, 2015

BRIAN MAY, CHAIRMAN

 

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

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chair May called the meeting to order at 12:04 P.M.  A motion was made by Mr. Ryan, seconded by Mr. Dougherty, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee minutes.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Dougherty, seconded by Mr. Holmquist, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

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1.     EMERGENCY MANAGEMENTJoseph Rinefierd, Director/Fire

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

 

Mr. Rinefierd:

  • Yearly reappointment, no new appointments, some have been on the board 10 years

 

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

 

Chair May took the agenda out of order in the interest of time.

 

4.     FIRE ADVISORY BOARDJoseph Rinefierd, Director/Fire

        a.     Confirming Appointments to the Onondaga County Fire Advisory Board (Timothy Chrysler, Christopher Dunham, Ronald R. Foote, Jr., Kevin J. Purdy, Michael S. Redhead, David S. VanSlyke)

 

Mr. Rinefierd:

  • Michael Redhead a new appointment, represents northern section of the county, remainder are second term reappointments; allowed to sever 2 terms at a time then must be replaced

 

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

 

3.     PROBATIONAndrew Sicherman, Commissioner

        a.     Informational:  Justice/Mental Health Collaboration - Andrew Sicherman

 

Chair May said that at the January meeting of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board there was interesting discussion about parallel efforts associated with jail overcrowding and things of that nature.  As a group, the Public Safety Committee discusses this situation each month,and the fact that this circumstance is costing Onondaga County taxpayers a lot of money, largely due to the Mental Health situation and their inability to effectively deal with this, and how it effects the jail population.  He asked Mr. Sicherman to come in and represent one of those efforts.

 

Mr. Sicherman distributed the NYS DCJS Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (See below) and Sequentail Intercept Mapping Final Report (One file with Clerk):

 

1Mr. Jordan arrived at the meeting.

 

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  • Required to be designated IMPACT County, technical assistance grant, no positions, Onondaga County part of Phase 2 group; one of the most interesting things he has an opportunity to be involved with  

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  • Sequential intercept mapping happens first; gathered system partners from Mental Health, Criminal Justice and agencies that overlap, i.e. Probation has seen increase in clients with mental health issues, impressive group, City Police, County Sheriff’s – jail and road patrol, Parole, etc., mapping exercise identifies gaps in service for justice involved clients suffering from mental health problems
  • Thus far 4 probation officers sent for training, paid for by grant, will become Mental Health Specialist for Probation; ongoing, first part of training complete, will create mental health caseload, more than 1 caseload in Probation but will start by creating 1, must determine screening to be used, much goes into this
  • Developing peer program with same trained probation officers, envision Peer Support Program within Probation, studies show peer support is invaluable, i.e. peers that have gone through the system and now work as counselors, etc., help those struggling successfully navigate the systems, complete probation, etc.; Hutchings and St. Joseph’s CPEP currently doing the same, Hutchings and CPEP also part of mapping group
  • Huge project, will take a long time to get all the pieces in place

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  • Will be across systems, not just for Probation; Probation meeting with Sheriff to look at jail population, Chief Gonzalez well aware of the program and sent people for training, will look at all aspects of the jail stay, look for ways to alleviate burden of high cost 1on 1 supervision; technical assistance available to jail also
  • Page 3 of Final Report (see below)  shows interceptors; 3-4 years ago training was underway with Syracuse Police Officers and Sheriffs for Critical Response Team (CRT), grant will expand CRT training for additional officers - start at the beginning, respond appropriatel, perhaps divert people before they end up in jail; high cost to maintain mentally ill in jail, not helping them and often not good for them

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  • Subject to funding will discuss possibility of case manager in the jail and at arraignments to identify clients for diversion, currently not available; Assigned Counsel has a program wherein case manager coordinates with assigned attorney once client has been identified as needing services and special assistance, very small program, thought of making this larger and more comprehensive
  • Expert in critical incident presented at Chiefs of Police meeting, training offered to all chiefs in Onondaga County; some coverage for certain agencies, grant allows for funding of City Police at this time, may change
  • Large program, just getting started, will reach out to 911, discuss better ways of identifying emotionally disturbed callers
  • Final report (On file with Clerk) identifies current resources and gaps broken down by intercept; County using report as map to identify and prioritize actions 

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In answer to Mr. Ryan, Mr. Sicherman confirmed that the intercept starts with a 911 call and ends with community supervision. 

 

Mr. Ryan said that the District Attorney and judicial side might have an opinion on this.  Mr. Sicherman said that they had DA representatives and Judge Dougherty at the first day of the mapping, literally had everyone in the room.  The question will be if they should have a specialty Mental Health Court.  In his opinion, there is work that can affect change across all the different areas, with or without the specialty court. 

 

Mr. Ryan commended Mr. Sicherman on the report and the work completed.  Unfortunately, persons with mental health issues often fall through the cracks.  Mr. Sicherman agreed.  Mr. Ryan said that identifying them at many levels and having everyone involved in the conversation is a very good thing.  Chair May said that this problem is a national trend and mental health issues are effecting many fronts.  Mr. Holmquist agreed that the report was an outstanding overview that was very helpful in many ways.

 

Mr. Holmquist said that he would like to look at this a little more macro and will start with the State of the County address, which he found to be embarrassing and disgraceful.  The County Executive did not mention one syllable about Public Safety.  She welcomed our new Sheriff but there was no mention of mental health issues at the jail, overtime, the special assets facility, or the evidence facility.  She has been silent with respect to the mental health issue represented here and stands alone; everyone agrees that this must be pursued.  This committee has been talking about this for 2 years – it is an emergency.  He applauds Mr. Sicherman and appreciates all the work that he has done but finds it curious that the County Executive couldn’t find two minutes to talk about anything in Public Safety.  It was unreferenced and is the second largest department in the County.  He then asked how anyone could defend this and if there was anyone present from the County Executive’s office.  His recommendation would be to get Ms. Rooney or the County Executive here.  They must attend if asked and the legislature has subpoena rights. 

 

Chair May thanked Mr. Holmquist and said that he was not going to go quite down that road.  After learning about this effort, he thought the committee should know about it.  A national trend is hitting their wallets with costs that they talk about every single month, associated with mental health, jail capacity and so on.  They need to pursue another step of synergy, bringing together fiscal Public Safety, concern for people with mental health issues and these parallel efforts.  Parallel efforts are one of the reasons why, from their prospective, they are not seeing the progress they would like with the very real crisis inside the jails.  Mr. Holmquist said that he was taking this opportunity because this committee has spent hours and years talking about this and the County Executive couldn’t spend two minutes to talk about probably the biggest problem in Onondaga County, but goes on about her projects.  He feels that Ms. Rooney or the County Executive should come before this committee to answer why she did not reference Public Safety. 

 

Chair May said that they were not here to talk about the State of the County.  He brought Mr. Sicherman here to talk about this crisis and what they are doing.  Mr. Holmquist said that Mr. Sicherman was doing outstanding work but he is curious as to why they are doing all this but aren’t talking about the jail across the street.  He feels that someone has to do something. Chair May said that this was why they were doing what they were doing.

 

Mr. Jordan said that the years of reduced state funding for mental health treatment was one of the problems.  Chair May agreed.  Mr. Jordan said that many of these facilities closed down or are pressured to release people with psychiatric problems; may not have a prior history of violent behavior but are on the streets without support services, something triggers an unfavorable response and then there is a problem.  He asked if there was any moment at the state or federal level to provide more resources and services for these people.  Mr. Sicherman said that this is what they are attempting to do here through the Department of Justice funding.  He agrees with Mr. Jordan and they have seen very similar actions taken with Probation, where by the state is making it more of a local problem.  

 

Mr. Jordan said that this seems more reactive than proactive.  It would be helpful to be proactive, provide more money for services to people through the Health department and prevent them from reaching a point where they commit a crime, injury someone or property.  Mr. Sicherman agreed, adding that on one hand they are fortunate to have all the agencies they have because some places have none.  He does not know much about the funding to Mental Health.  Mr. Dougherty said that Mr. Jordan was correct; Mental Health cuts have been seen across the state for quite a while. 

 

Chair May said that there are other forces as well, i.e. rising the age in which a person is treated as an adult.  All these things are going on and somehow they have to be synergized, at least in Onondaga County, so that they can get a handle on the $2 million dollars they are losing this year by not housing federal inmates.

 

Mr. Dougherty said that as a member of this body and not an attorney, member of law enforcement, or criminal, he doesn’t have insight as to what goes on inside the map therefore it was nice to see the intercepts laid out this way.  Intercept 1 addresses pre-arrest diversion and there are many things that have little too due with traditional law enforcement, i.e. Vera House, Syracuse Behavioral Health, St. Joseph’s Hospital.  There are many ways to enter this system without involving police cars and handcuffs, which he thinks is different.  To Mr. Jordan’s point, he thinks it would be great to beef this up without just locking people away, which has been the traditional response, i.e. substance abuse person locked up and treated like a criminal.  He added that he did not know that half of these things existed. 

 

Mr. Sicherman:

  • Average person won’t know how these systems work, was the reason for the handouts
  • Is a lot that they can do; CPEP team responds to community crisis, currently has limited number of personnel working limited number of hours, recommended increasing
  • Research on line, will see places where CRT road officers are trained and respond immediately, involves resources, can’t say they will do this here, Police department has their own things going on; all kinds of different models exist throughout the country for law enforcement to be trained and partner in diverting these people and calming issues down before they get arrested
  • Real savings here but will take time, have to put together plan that works with the jail and police

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Mr. Jordan said that in he handles criminal, family and matrimonial so he sees all aspects of this in his practice.  Schizophrenia and bipolar are very medication dependent and unfortunately the system says the person doesn’t have any problems, they are on their meds and things are fine, but the tendency to go off their meds is extremely high, and the next thing you know they are holding their family hostage.  Mr. Sicherman:

  • Mr. Jordan is right, talked about this in mapping exercise - what happens when person is released from the jail; plans on sitting down with the Sheriff and Chief Gonzalez to discuss this, some resources can be brought to bear upon release, i.e. case manager, ensure they are taking medication and not coming right back in
  • Not pointing fingers at anyone, all working very hard, jail very difficult situation with the inmates they have and overcrowding; work can be done here, excited to keep working on this

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Chair May thanked Mr. Sicherman for coming in, adding that they will be looking at ways to see how they can link all these efforts together, talking to the chairman and others, particularly with the Legislature, so that they are informed and it is not a situation where they are continuously complaining every month about not having solutions or ideas.  Things are happening every month, they need to know about them and be as supportive as they can in their roles to get to the final solution.  Mr. Holmquist said that he appreciated this but what they have been doing is not working; they have been ignoring this committee for two years.  They need to change what they are doing dramatically, some of the things just mentioned have been done and there is still nothing.  He again suggested inviting Ms. Rooney and/or the County Executive to the meeting, adding that it is of paramount importance.  Chair May said, “Point taken”.

 

2.     SHERIFFEugene Conway; Sheriff; Kenneth Andrews, Chief/Civil

        b.     Abolish R.P. 01 407900 0819, Deputy Sheriff (Civil), Grade 4 @ $41,246-$56,410, Effective April 18, 2015; Create R.P. 01 407900 1415, Administrative Aide, Grade 7 @ $37,685-$41,650, Effective April 18, 2015

 

Chief Andrews:

  • Cost saving, provides increased clerical supervision within confines of the office
  • Prior administration had 2nd sworn sergeant overseeing clerical internal workings, position vacant, currently 1 sergeant dividing time between road and office; 3 civil deputies in current academy, sergeant FTO officer, will need her on the road and a supervisor in the office, trying to replace sworn deputy with civilian

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In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Chief Andrews said that the deputy position was vacant and they would hire a person for the administrative aide once the position was created.  Mr. Dougherty said that there was no savings as it was a vacant position.  Chair May said that it was a funded vacant position.  In answer to Chair May, Chief Andrews confirmed that it was a recently vacated position. 

 

Mr. Dougherty said that the person doing the job now would be doing something more critical and appropriate for their grade.  Chief Andrews agreed, adding that civil road deputies are short staffed.

 

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

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        a.     2015 Sheriff’s Vehicle Transfer Resolution ($1,096,088)

 

Chair May said that what they are about to hear and see addresses many of the areas that they haven’t been able to come together on over recent or long history.  Because this is such a dynamic issue, there are many pieces to deal with and he would like to set the stage.  Their goal in this discussion should not necessarily be to get to a vote.  He doesn’t think they will get to a vote in this committee meeting, but they need to try to get clarity so that there is consensus among them and a strong recommendation to the Legislature on the direction that they wish to go.  In addition, be as accommodating and supportive of this process and this proposal as they can be.  There are a lot of moving parts that they need to sort through but he realizes that there is a very tight timeframe for some of the issues in the proposal.  In recognition of this, they need to get to the heart of the matter, taking into consideration the safety of their personnel and the public with respect to those vehicles and making sure that they are doing the right thing.  To procure some of this capital equipment, everyone knows there is a narrow window in which they need to act.   

 

Chief Andrews distributed the following information to the committee:

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45

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 6       

 

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Sheriff Conway asked if they had any questions relative to the distributed information before getting into the discussion.  Mr. Holmquist asked if he would characterize this ask as an absolute need.  Sheriff Conway:

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  • Absolutely, replacing vehicles is their business by in large, need vehicles to operate; common sense to have plan for fleet replacement, knows other things surround this vehicle replacement
  • First 2 pages of handout contain what they are doing in addition to the vehicle replacement plan; 1 patrol car purchased in 2014, 14 unmarked cars authorized and eventually purchased, unsure if all have been delivered – let alone put into service
  • 30-31 cars out of service, garage determined no longer serviceable, unsafe in some cases

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Chair May said that there is now a policy where by a vehicle is taken out of service once the garage determines that it is unsafe; there is no decision to jury-rig something and keep it rolling.  This was a great decision and very prudent from a risk management organizational standpoint.  Chief Andrews reiterated that the garage, not the Sheriff’s department, made these decisions.  Chair May agreed.

 

Sheriff Conway:

  • Hopes overall philosophy on vehicles and use is becoming clear, working on final draft of written directive, should have in hand by April meeting, speaks to overall operation of vehicles - whether marked or assigned; directive mostly reflects his experience:  Commander of unit with unmarked vehicles for his last 12 years in the Sheriff’s department, past 12 years actively involved in marked and unmarked vehicle purchases for previous employment, great deal of experience, knows appropriate vehicles and use
  • Signed off on 3 year plan provided, not his plan, his plan included purchase of used vehicles, was told/suggested it wasn’t practical, won’t be the end of his desire to save money yet provide a useable, serviceable vehicle for segments of the department

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Mr. Holmquist asked who suggested this.  Sheriff Conway said that he did not want to go into any names.  He thinks that it is important that the Legislature knows that he is coming into this office trying to be creative, efficient, effective and maybe even push the envelope on how they do business as they go along - meaning how this County does business.  Mr. Holmquist said that he would like to help with that effort as well.  Sheriff Conway said that he did not want to delve deeply into this but wanted to mention that the plan suggests some leased vehicles, new vehicles and in his case, some used vehicles.  Mr. Holmquist said that he hopes the person that suggested this reads these minutes and sees that they agree that the Sheriff should be given autonomy to run his own department.  With his expertise, experience and staff, if he thinks that the County could benefit by using used vehicles, it should be done.

Chair May said that by way of the goals stated earlier, part of that consensus should be that this committee is focused on dollars and not on the number of interceptors or vans…Mr. Holmquist interjecting saying that the Sheriff could run his own department. 

 

Mr. Holmquist asked if the Sheriff could buy used vehicles if they pass the dollars and he deems it prudent.  Chair May said that he did not know and suggested that they did not wanted to get into the back and forth of the details.  He wanted to add the dollar piece because they are the people with fiscal responsibility in this equation, not tactical.

 

Mr. Dougherty said that for years he has been listening to people trash the Sheriff’s department and the past Sheriff personally, about fiscal responsibility and wasting money on unnecessary items.  This was all opinion and year over year they bought less and less cars.  The reason was always - until the Sheriff’s office listened to them and did things responsibly, they would hold the cars in contingency, as the carrot in front of the horse.  Here they have the Sheriff sitting with them, which he does not think has ever happened, and if this is not responsive he does not know what is.  The Sheriff is here talking about creative cost cutting measures.  He doesn’t know whether they are smart or not but agrees with Mr. Holmquist that they should let Sheriff Conway decide.  Then he looks at the information provided and the first bullet (See page 7) is the very thing they have been asking for.  They are literally getting everything they want; they put money into contingency for the purpose of buying cars when these things happen, these things have all happened and they are still refusing to take a vote on buying these cars.  Chair May asked what he was talking about, adding that this was not the case.  Mr. Dougherty asked which one of those things was not happening.  Chair May said that everything he mentioned was happening, everything that they are looking at…Mr. Dougherty interject saying that he wanted to take a vote on this today and buy the cars.  Chair May said, “Noted”.

 

Mr. Dougherty said that they absolutely need the cars.  Months ago, he saw pictures of cars with stop signs welded in the floorboards.  These cars are used for patrol, which is the core mission of the Sheriff’s department.  They have gotten everything they want and still won’t take a vote on this item.  He understands that it is the Chair’s decision to make but he doesn’t know what more they need to do.  Chair May said that perhaps they can, what he said earlier was that they may not be able to get to a vote.  The entire Onondaga County Legislature created a budget plan to work with the Sheriff department back in 2013 for 2014 and that plan worked very well, to the point of a balanced budget at year end, give or take.  Mr. Dougherty agreed.  

 

Chair May said that because of that success, they employed a similar yet more flexible plan for 2015, leaving just discretionary items in contingency.  The five of them are looking at this document today because of the tenor and tone through the past year and thus far into this year with the new administration and their ability to collaborate and produce this document.  That doesn’t change the fact that they have a plan and that everyone needs to respect that.  At the same time, he thinks there is a strong undertone within the committee and across the legislature to be as accommodating, flexible and supportive as possible to this new administration, to get these things done.  With the process today, his goal is to determine exactly what they need to do right now as legislators with fiduciary responsibility.   In addition, as quickly as possible, hopefully by Ways and Means, they are taking action on the things that need action.  It may be every dollar asked for or it could be some of the dollars with a plan to free or unencumber the rest of the dollars to support everything the Sheriff needs to do.  He does not want this to be confused as inertia, friction or resistance.  It is the committee and Sheriff doing their jobs, getting to the goals and higher purpose that everyone at the table should have to support this items.

 

Mr. Dougherty said that they should not be pretending this was the first time they heard about this, knew there was a problem, or received a request.  Perhaps this request is the biggest he has ever seen but the problem is the worst it has ever been.  Chair May agreed.  Mr. Dougherty said that he has been on this committee for 6 years and this request has been coming forward every few months for the past 3 years.  They are only fooling themselves to think that this is not the last in a serious of installment requests for this kind of money from the Sheriff department.  This is a reasonable and responsible use of taxpayer money, in his opinion.  Chair May said that he thought so too and did not know of anyone at the table that thought differently.

 

Mr. Jordan said that he likes the concept of using used cars but the handout shows a cost difference of only $700.  Sheriff Conway said that he did not prepare the sheet and personally believes that there could be a difference of $4,000. He was told that in order to have the County purchase used vehicles they would have to overcome practical issues.  Perhaps this could be a separate long discussion; he knows this is possible because he has done it.  In answer to Mr. Jordan, Sheriff Conway said the particle issues involve the bid process and length of time.  The person selling may not want to hold onto the vehicles for the period of time it would take for the entire bid and payment process; procedural issues in nature. 

 

Mr. Jordan said that he felt his pain.  He has been proposing things for nine years and has heard there could be resistance to this or that but there has never been an effort to implement anything and come back with the problems that have actually occurred, it is always subjective.  He understands what the Sheriff is saying completely and believes for the record that it is a bunch of crap.  Chair May said that the numbers stick out like a sore thumb.  Mr. Jordan said that they needed to stop this garbage of saying this or that could happen and let them try something. 

 

Sheriff Conway:

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  • Repeated – hopes to push the envelope a little going forward with situations such as this
  • Buy back vehicles have less warranty, County has full time garage, doesn’t think warranty is a problem, knows vehicle purchased would be as appropriate for mission as some new vehicles
  • His plan contained used vehicles to avoid having 50 cars with all the same age and wear in 5 years, fleet plans involve changing vehicles out year to year, don;t have 1 lump year with 75 vehicles out of service, was not a proper plan, mixing used with 14-15 new made more since to him, wouldn’t need 50 new vehicles again in 5 years, may be only 20-25
  • Fleet currently upside down, vehicles terminally going out of service weekl - where 2016 and 2017 plan comes into place; understands budgets change each year but status of fleet doesn’t
  • Using Fleet Replacement Plan together with measures to reduce take-home vehicles, reassigning vehicles when appropriate so newest are in patrol section and limiting use overall will save on maintenance, fuel and out of service issues

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Mr. Jordan said that it all sounds reasonable and logical to him and he would encourage the Sheriff to pursue that avenue. 

 

Mr. Jordan said that he represents truck drivers that have a million miles on their trucks and are going constantly, yet he has never seen so much rust on the underside of vehicles as these County vehicles.  He was told that rust proofing is applied when purchased but taking it back for reapplication is a problem.  He suggests having a few WEP mechanics trained in rust proofing and as part of the vehicle rotation, have rust proofing reapplied.  The deterioration on these vehicles is extremely high and perhaps this would extend the useful life.  At the very least, he would like to see this pursued if not implemented. 

 

In answer to Mr. Jordan, Chief Andrews:

  • Asking for release of all contingency funds for vehicles and supplies to update the vehicles, i.e. lights, radios; asking for release of 2 different line items
  • $968,669 includes grant vehicles; asking for $754,420, $214,276 paid for by grants (See Page 9 Breakdown by Dollar Amount)
  • Release figures slightly different, talked with Purchasing and Mr. Morgan about release plan going forward and how to present this, don’t have hard numbers, Purchasing unable to come back with hard numbers, to get to this point independently got 1 hard quote from leasing company, must go out to bid and have 3 numbers, presentation put together for committee, Purchasing may come back with different numbers, can’t see number going up for leasing
  • Getting multiple quotes on used cars was going to be an issue; looked at 2014 used Impalas to put numbers together; not hard number - should not exceed these numbers, Purchasing may get lower numbers; impressed upon Purchasing need hard numbers for Ways and Means

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Mr. Jordan said that that they would not have hard number by Ways & Means as the bids would have to go out.  Chief Andrews said that Finance said that they were starting on the process a few weeks ago.  He put a call into Mr. Carroll and hopes that they are moving on this.  Chair May said that in the past the Legislature has been told that they must appropriate money from contingency in order for Purchasing to release the bid.  Mr. Jordan said that this is what they were told but he doesn’t know that he buys it.  Mr. Holmquist suggested consulting with the Comptroller’s office for verification.

 

Mr. Holmquist said that he too was very impressed that the Sheriff was physically present and it made a huge difference in the tone and communication.  It was outstanding on all fronts, very refreshing and helpful.  It was also good to know that they are all on his side of the used car issue; all are advocates in however they can help.  Mr. Dougherty said that he did not agree and felt the Sheriff should buy new cars.  Mr. Holmquist said that both he and Mr. Jordan were on their side.  Mr. Dougherty said that they were trying to run a grownup operation.  Buying a car that was already 2 years old…. Mr. Holmquist interjecting saying that he would defer to the Sheriff.  Mr. Dougherty agreed.

 

Mr. Jordan said that the Sheriff was talking about using used cars for less demanding uses, i.e. commanders, places where they were not chasing criminals in the vehicle.   Mr. Dougherty said that they have a whole fleet of used cars.  Mr. Jordan said that he likes the idea that they are not going to be hit with purchasing 40 cars in one year.  Mr. Dougherty said that it was his opinion that they should be able to buy new cars but he will not overstep his bounds, it was the Sheriff’s department.  Mr. Holmquist said that the Sheriff should have discretion to make such decisions.  Mr. Dougherty said that he would agree with that.

 

Mr. Ryan said that he did not want to belabor the point but almost 30 cars are out of service that they don’t have replacements for.  This is taxing the remaining vehicles that are also getting old.  He agrees that they should be buying new vehicles but in the logic of saying that something is better than nothing, while they are playing catchup, perhaps the purchasing of used or leased vehicles puts them in a place where they are able to get some replacements for the vehicles no longer in service at a less expense.  If it is financially good for taxpayers, it replaces vehicles that will be save to drive and they won’t all become due for replacement at once.  This will allow for a manageable rotation. 

 

In answer to Mr. Ryan, Sheriff Conway said that he would anticipate the overall fleet number to come down.  He does not have a hard number but is confident that it will be below 211.  Part of this will depend on the support he gets for a Vehicle Replacement Plan.  Taking a car away or not assigning it to someone doesn’t mean that they don’t need the car, just involves the use of the car beyond the workday.  Overall goal is to reduce the fleet.

 

Mr. Dougherty said that he worries about the precedent they set with used cars.  They don’t’ ask this of other departments.  The County lifespan of the vehicle will be shorter, the next time the Sheriff asks for new cars it will be suggested that they get three-year-old used cars and this will continue until they are eventually in some type of stupid circle.  Mr. Ryan said that this was a good point.

 

Mr. Ryan asked why so many CID vehicles were out of service.  Sheriff Conway said that they were the oldest, primarily 2007-2008 Ford Taurus.  Chief Andrews said that historically some patrol cars were allowed to be replaced but CID cars were not and deteriorated until they were no longer safe.

 

Mr. Ryan said that he has been advocating for a reduction in take home vehicles for all departments as it adds unnecessary wear and tear to taxpayer vehicles.  In answer to Mr. Ryan’s questions on the first three bullet points (See page 7), Sheriff Conway:

  • Saving as vehicles will not be operated beyond working hours; doesn’t have exact figure
  • Additional restrictions in final draft, would rather present in final state
  • Determine if still appropriate to assign vehicle; goal to reduce assigned vehicles to 57 in 2015 (See page 8), still some contractual requirements

 

Mr. Ryan said that this was good news.  By resolution they directed the Comptroller’s office to conduct an audit of take-home vehicles.  The report should be available soon and they will compare the commitment to reduce the assigned cars.  For years, he has suggesed using good assigned vehicles to replace out of service vehicles, putting back on the road.  This opportunity will then realize other cost savings.  For the record, he would like to vote on this item today. 

 

Sheriff Conway

  • Leasing marked cars not his plan every year, attempt to squeeze most vehicles out of budgeted amount; budget office had concerns about interest carrying forward
  • Over last 5 years authorized replacement of 25–35 cars per year; last year 15 cars, + 48 proposed, add together and divide falls within range of previous authorized, 48 number looks big but need to consider what happened last year

 

Chair May said that according to the purchasing information provided the unmarked cars would be here in 2 months.  Sheriff Conway said that it would be longer, based on how long it has taken to get the 14 authorized before 2014 yearend 2014.  Chair May said that this was a good point.  Mr. Dougherty said that they sit at WEP for a longtime getting lights, etc.  Even before that, it take forever to get them from the dealers.  Chair May agreed, adding that he has certainly witnessed all of that.  Often when they talk about these things, they are not dealing with real time information because there are staged vehicles sitting at WEP and they don’t know how they fit into the equation.

 

Chair May said that for the marked cars it was about a 9 month window for the interceptor, the last time they talked.  Deputy Christian said that for the Caprice it was about 8 months.  Chair May said that they were also told that there was a window within the course of the year that the purchase had to be made or they would have to wait until the next year, and asked when the window closed.  Deputy Christian said that they are now done making 2015s’ and are now making 2016s’.  Chair May asked if they missed the window to order cars this year.  Sheriff Conway said that they missed the deadline for ordering 2015s’.  Now they will now start taking orders for 2016.  Deputy Christian said that they talked about going with the utility interceptor for SUV’s, instead of the Caprice, as the timeframe is about 3 months, compared to 8 months for the Caprice.  In answer to Chair May, Sheriff Conway said that once they receive authorization to create a purchase order it would take about 90 days for all of the interceptors proposed. 

 

In answer to Chair May, Deputy Christian said that it typically takes six weeks for the equipment needed to accessorize the vehicles.  In answer to Mr. Dougherty, Deputy Christian said that they could order the equipment and car at the same time.  Mr. Jordan asked the average turnaround time for installation.  Deputy Christian said that they just received 14 unmarked vehicles and they are looking at approximately 30 days from start to finish.  Unmarked cars have minimal equipment.  Patrol vehicles have much more equipment, taking 3-4 days per vehicle.  In answer to Chair May, Deputy Christian confirmed that they actually transfer many things from the old out of service car. 

 

Chair May said that he looked at the overall budget information (See page 10) and OT in particular.   Once again custody is running hot, everything else is steady as she goes.   Chief Andrews confirmed that this was a fair assessment.  Chair May said that it was very early in the year and anything could happen to dictate how much overtime they would have to use; currently looks like OT is trending the same as last year in the jail, road patrol is looking good but they are only 2 months into the year.  Ms. Fricano agreed.

 

Chair May said that like everyone at the table, he too believes that this is fantastic.  They see the goals, detail and plan.  He would like to explore the possibility of buying new cars because there is more than just pushback on leasing.  There is firm and solid resistance that it is contrary to County fiscal policies, meaning that the step of leasing cars is contrary to how Onondaga County government looks from 10,000 feet at Wall Street.  He got hard feedback from Mr. Morgan who is very resistant to this.  Given that the plan is so good and they are all close to be being on the same page, the swing on new verses leased is $300,000.  To put it all in prospective, an additional $300,000 to buy what they need and then there is no can being kicked down the road.  He thinks that the dollar amount they could authorize would give the Sheriff flexibility.  He agrees that the used scenario sticks out like a sore thumb and just doesn’t sit right with him; they could buy a Ford Taurus for less than $17,000 but they need to know more about this.  He is asking the committee to indulge him on this.  In his heart, he wants to vote on this, everyone wants to vote on this and move on.  It is extremely tedious and a giant pain in the neck to deal with these releases systematically all the time.  He would like to synergize the accessory request, sync up the utility interceptor verses the Caprice, which was originally talked about in the 9 month window, and try to understand what all of that means.  In addition, if the CFO would prefer that they buy than lease, he would love to know how the CFO could get them the cash.  He does not believe that there is anyone present that would disagree with this extra step of due diligence. 

 

Mr. Dougherty said that they are the keepers of the County purse and they shouldn’t be involved in this.  He would prefer to release this money to the Sheriff department and the Sheriff could get input from whomever he needs.  It doesn’t do anyone here any good to micro manage another department.  Chair May said that he did not see this as micromanaging and sees the County’s fiscal standing as part of their responsibility as legislators, not as Public Safety Committee members but as legislators.  Unfortunately, they have to wear all these hats.  What he is proposing to explore by no means limits them.  The goal, as he said from the very beginning, is to have a decision made at Ways and Means with buy in and support, which could be achieved in the weeks between now and then.   Moreover, if there is resistance to leasing from a fiduciary standpoint he wants to understand why and believes that they really need to understand why.  If it is a big deal, then they need to find $300,000 to allow the bleeding to stop and to solve this problem, in large part, by the next session.  They can disagree with the approach but he thinks that it is prudent, consistent with their responsibility and will get everyone where they want to be in the exact same timeframe.  If they can come to consensus on this, it is a strong message that they can send to their respective caucuses and they can get things done come Ways and Means and more importantly session. 

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Chair May said that if they wanted to vote, he would vote on interceptors today and their value.  He does not want to piece meal this or divide it.  They can get the same thing accomplished by doing it the right way.  They received a lot of information today, it was fantastic and he appreciates it, but he wants to do this right and doesn’t think that it will cost them any time.  Mr. Holmquist said he would deferred to the Chair, adding that at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how they vote, the item still goes to Ways and Means and to the floor.  Point taken, he agrees with the Chairman that some members want more due diligence.  It really does not affect the department other than whatever changes might be made along the way, there is a consensus and it has been considered.

 

In answer to Chair May, the committee agreed that there was consensus support of the plan.  Chair May asked if there was consensus support to work in this timeframe, hold their colleagues feet to the fire, and make decisions to get things moving the way they should be.  Mr. Holmquist said that the goal was to move the item to Ways and Means and that has been achieved.  Mr. Ryan said that he would say the goal was to vote on this and release the money to Ways and Means, that way Ways and Means knows exactly where this committee stands.  Chair May said that this is why they just talked about consensus and it is on the record.  He wants to make sure that the details are good so that there isn’t a problem downstream, they are 2-3 weeks from authorization. 

 

Chair May said that none of what he just said interferes with what the Sheriff would like to do with his purchases.  If he would like to pursue used that is within his purview and at the end of the day if he decides he wants to lease cars, come hell or high water, that is his choice also.  Chief Andrews said that as the Sheriff stated the long-range goal is not to continue leasing cars.  This just provided the ability to get 16 cars instead of 4.  They presented their 3-year plan knowing that they must live within the 4-year payment, and that it will cut into future budgets; front-loading, will pay down the road because they are so far behind on vehicles.  He understands if they can come up with the extra $300,000 but he did not see that in the budget.  Chair May said that it wasn’t in the budget, resistance was expressed and if that is the case, they need to help them solve the problem.  Everyone present wants to solve the problem and he doesn’t think the Sheriff’s department would be disappointed if they were able to find the cash or some amount of it.  Chief Andrews agreed.  Chair May promised to press this forward, adding that he just wanted to do it correctly.

 

Chair May thanked everyone.

 

The meeting adjourned at 1:30 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

1

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

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Attendance

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HEALTH COMMITTEE MINUTES - MARCH 12, 2015

DANNY J. LIEDKA, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Burtis, Dr. Chase

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mrs. Tassone, Ms. Williams

ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman McMahon, also see attached list

 

Chairman Liedka called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.  A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Burtis to waive the reading and approve of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     HEALTH:  Michelle Mignano, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing Payment from the 2015 County Budget up to a Maximum Amount of $2,500 for Travel Expenses for the Position of Toxicologist ($2,500)

        b.     A Local Law Authorizing Payment out of the 2015 County Budget for the Relocation of the Toxicologist for the Medical Examiner’s Office in the Center for Forensic Sciences up to a Maximum Amount of $2,000 ($2,000)

 

    • Toxicologist retiring; in process of recruiting to ensure qualified candidate, fill position; keep MEO and Center running
    • Recruiting to come to interviews and offer relocation expenses; standard with pathology and medical positions
    • Good news getting candidates; long haul discussing salary schedule; understanding expenses to recruit candidates

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Dr. Stoppacher:.

    • Efforts in conjunction with budget made difference in caliber of who considering
    • Offered position to one person who accepted; starting at end of May, early June; interviewed another from fellowship
    • Interviewing third with experience, and better fit for office; hope to hire her as well; temporarily will be fully staffed.

 

Mr. Burtis asked how they pick the dollar amounts; seem reasonable.  Ms. Mignano responded it is the standard amount.  Ms. Mignano has gone through this process since being the budget analyst for Health ten plus years ago.  It is reasonable for moving expenses, and felt if the cost was more, then they would change the amount.  It is what it typically costs.

 

A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Burtis, to approve item 1a.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mr. Burtis, to approve item 1b.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

2.     A Local Law Regarding the Sale and Use of “Sparkling Devices” Within Onondaga County (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

Chairman McMahon:

    • NYS passed legislation, and governor signed it recently, allowing certain type of sparkler; pictures in backup
    • Governor told advocates for this legislation that they need to have home rule; every county in state has to adopt local law for this to be allowed to be sold in time for the 4th of July festivities and others
    • Not major health risk; most people are probably surprised some of these things weren’t legal to begin with; been involved with festivities in summertime for a long time

 

Dr. Chase said some fire departments have pushed back on this.  Chairman McMahon agreed that some were, and said asking the local fire departments to support this is like asking an orthopedic doctor to support trampolines.  It is something that could cause an issue, and it is not in the fire departments wheel house to do it.  Chairman McMahon was at the same breakfast as Dr. Chase, and spoke with many of them.  If there was a big uproar, then there would have been some representation this morning.

 

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

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:42 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Signature

Jamie M. McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

Attendance

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WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES – MARCH 30, 2015

David Knapp, Chairman

 

MEMBERS PRESENT: 1 Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. Jordan, Mr. May, Mr. Holmquist, Ms. Williams, Mrs. Ervin

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

 

Chairman Knapp called the meeting to order at 9:02 a.m.

 

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

 

1.     CNY WORKS:

        a.     Confirming Appointment to the CNY Works Board of Directors (Michael Metzgar)

 

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

 

Mrs. Tormey introduced Mr. Metzgar to the committee, who provided a brief background of himself.

 

2.     SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT:

a.     Confirming Reappointment to the Onondaga County Soil & Water Conservation District Board (Wayne Norris)

 

Chairman Knapp said that he knows Mr. Norris well, serves on the Board with him; is extremely dedicated to the Soil & Water Conservation District; highly recommended his reappointment.

 

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

 

3.     HEALTHMichelle Mignano, Deputy Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing Payment from the 2015 County Budget up to a Maximum Amount of $2,500 for Travel Expenses for the Position of Toxicologist ($2,500)

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  • Forensic toxicologist retiring in June
  • Currently actively recruiting
  • Seek to provide relocation and travel expenses for interviewing for top medical positions

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

 

        b.     A Local Law Authorizing Payment out of the 2015 County Budget for the Relocation of the Toxicologist for the Medical Examiner’s Office in the Center for Forensic Sciences up to a Maximum Amount of $2,000 ($2,000)

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  • Standard for this level of position to compete

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

 

Mr. May asked why policy isn’t created to have this.  Mrs. Berger said that General Municipal Law has permission for travel expenses, but not for relocation expenses, so a local law is needed -- can look at a way to have a more global local law.

 

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4.     SHERIFFChief Ken Andrews

a.     Abolish R.P. 01 407900 0819, Deputy Sheriff (Civil), Gr 4 @ $41,246-$56,410, Effective April 18, 2015; Create R.P. 01 407900 1415, Admin. Aide, Gr 7 @ $37,685-$41,650, Effective April 18, 2015

  • Overall savings
  • Currently Civil Deputy Sgt. oversees the road patrol of civil deputies.
  • Need that person to be out on the road and supervision for the paperwork is needed in the office
  • Deputy Sheriff Sgt. retiring at end of year

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A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Ms. Williams to approve this item.

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b.     Amend the 2015 Budget to Authorize the Purchase of Vehicles for the Sheriff’s Dept. ($657,783)

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Chief Andrews:

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  • Distributed new data sheet
  • Presented proposal at Public Safety Committee for 49 vehicles–releasing all contingency monies, included leasing and purchasing vehicles
  • Plan has been recalculated with the cooperation of the Finance Dept.
  • Alternative plan – instead of doing a leasing program for the 16 marked patrol vehicles, now proposing a 4 year capital project for the 16 vehicles
  • $657k  will be part of the capital project – vehicles and supplies for the 16 vehicles
  • Release $558k from contingency; leaving $537k in contingency
  • Will purchase 16 vehicles out of capital project; purchase an additional 15 out of contingency funds – total of 31
  • Short 16 from original 49 proposal
  • $164,712 - first year’s capital payment

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Chief Andrews pointed out that the suggestion of needing 49 vehicles in the original presentation to Public Safety Committee, still stands.  Theyare still needed – will work with the legislature; will be back to committee shortly to propose the release of the other $$537k to allow buying the other vehicles needed.  There are over 100 vehicles with over 130k miles on them; it is necessary that they be replaced and the quality of the fleet improved.

 

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  • 31 vehicles will help tremendously, but will not fix it
  • Put together a 3-yr. program to improve fleet, but about 35 vehicles/yr need to be replaced to keep the fleet current
  • Suggested 49 this year; 25 year 2; 25 year 3; year 4 – will still have the capital project to be put in as part of the project – may be looking at 25 in the 4th year as well
  • So much can change in the fleet – really don’t know 4 years down the road.

Mr. Holmquist:

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  • Supports the 49 vehicles – is worried about micromanaging the department on the leasing issue and the legislature holding back vehicles
  • Contingency funds should be held in other county departments, but not in the Sheriff’s Department; other areas should be looked at that are not being cooperative
  • Sheriff has been present at every meeting, the department deserves great credit for the start with a new executive team, and the legislature should be working collaboratively with them
  • Wished the County Executive would have mentioned public safety in her State of the County address
  • There is an emergency in mental health in prison and no mention of it; no mention of the special assets facility; no mention of the evidence facility; and no mention of the overtime successes.
  • Sheriff’s Dept. is the biggest department short of DSS, and the County Executive said nothing about it.
  • Legislature toiled for 2 years with these issues in committees, and there are no answers – they are not working collaboratively.
  • If looking to hold back contingency funds, it should be on some of the County Executive’s, but not the Sheriff’s Department.

 

Chairman Knapp agreed that a mental health facility of some type of expansion needs to be looked at, and we need to come up with a plan.

Mr. May:

  • Commended the new sheriff and his new administration on this plan.  It is outside the box, completely cooperative, great ideas
  • There are hints of policies that there will be more to learn about over time - will contribute to balanced budgets and serving tax paying public’s needs in the way of public safety better than ever before.
  • Enthused about this resolution – the number is not very large, but represents the full buying power of the 2015 budget.
  • Thanked Steve Morgan and his team 
  • 2015 – legislature budgeted to buy 31 cars; this resolution allows the purchase of everything budget for this year 
  • Allows the legislature and the Sheriff’s Department to have the flexibility to shore up unforeseen costs, and/or buy as many cars that we possible can down the road. 
  • The plan represents a good collaboration – it is not a “no” to 49 cars; it is “yes” to the plan.  It was unanimously approved in concept -- intent at Public Safety Committee 

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Chairman Knapp thanked Mr. May for his work on this, along with the Budget Department and Sheriff’s Department.

 Mr. Jordan:

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  • Supports the resolution, but prefers the Sheriff’s original proposal – realigning the monies and allowing the Sheriff discretion in terms of spending to maximize the number of cars he can get right away.
  • Concerned about the maintenance of these cars – seems vehicles deteriorate extremely rapidly
  • Perhaps more attention should be put into maintaining them – training and applying rust proofing.

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Chief Andrews said that WEP does do a good job of keeping the vehicles up; is not saying that they are applying rust proofing.  The length of service that these vehicles are staying on the roads, is evidence that they are doing a good job to keep them on the road.  For police services vehicles, this is an extreme amount of time that the vehicles are kept on the road compared to what the norm would be.  Mr. Jordan said that he is not criticizing WEP, thinks they are doing a good job, but thinks that there may be other things that could be done to help extend the life of the vehicles.

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Ms. Williams asked what is done with the 29 cars that are out of service.  Chief Andrews said that they go to auction; they are not safe anymore; sold for parts.  Mr. May said that the county has a policy, when a car goes out of service or deemed unrepairable, basically they are sold for scrap.  Mr. Carroll doesn’t know what the buyers at the auction will use them for.  In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Carroll said that depending on the car, they bring $500 - $5,000 at the auction.  Mr. Morgan said that the money goes back into the department’s budget. 

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

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Chairman Knapp moved the agenda out of order. 

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11c.    A Local Law Regarding the Sale and Use of “Sparkling Devices” Within Onondaga County (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

Chairman McMahon:

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  • Went through Health Committee
  • No financial implication
  • NYS passed a law last year allowing certain sparklers to be legalized
  • Sparklers that aren’t legal, are seen on 4th of July – people are getting them, using them
  • In the legislation signed by the Governor, each county has to opt into to legalize these items
  • Understands that FASNY would not be in favor it - It is pretty basic-like an orthopedic doctor endorsing trampolines – doesn’t make any sense
  • FASNY would probably say that it would be a lot easier for their jobs in candles and lamps were not legal because they also cause fires
  • This is taking a product that is currently being operated illegally; State is now making it legal and each county needs to opt in or opt out.  It is better to have it done above ground and can be regulated

Chairman Knapp said that some new information has come to light recently, and he would like to take a look at and consider before voting on it.  Therefore, he will not call for a vote on this item today.

Mr. Holmquist said that the member of FASNY are here--seems that the committee should hear from them if they have concerns and what those concerns might be.  Chairman Knapp said he would entertain that briefly – one person.  Members can reach to them with specific questions after the meeting.

Ken Pienkowsky, First VP of FASNY, past President of NYS Association of Fire Chiefs, stated that it is not FASNY that is opposed to this legislation.  The NYS Association of Fire Chiefs is also opposed to it, as is the Association of Fire Districts for the State of New York.

Mike Caron, Director of FASNY, First VP of OCVFA:

  • There is a lot more here than what meets the eye.  The Governor didn’t want to take the hit himself – wanted to have the counties opt in and out.
  • Understands that only one county has approved this, and it is because the manufacturers are in that county.  Everyone else has said “no” to this legislation. 

He showed the committee a picture of a sparkler catching fire on a dress and the severe burns that could come from it. 

  • If there is no money involved, then there shouldn’t be any reasons for a county to approve something that could be so dangerous.
  • As it is, people are buying fireworks illegally in Pennsylvania and bringing them here.
  • ER doctors and nurses are dealing with this all of the time; questions why make it available to our young, if it doesn’t need to be.  It doesn’t make good sense when there is an opportunity to vote for something that would protect our children, and not give them the opportunity to have the sparklers in their hands.
  • These things are dangerous – they burn at of 1500 degrees.  Children are burned severely; we are the ones that have to respond to those calls and take them to the emergency room.
  • Hopefully common sense will prevail--realize that they are dangerous and should not be allowed in our county. 
  • Doing everything to make sure the surrounding counties don’t have them as well. 
  • Legislation says that they can be sold 30 days prior to the 4th of July and the week between Christmas and New Year’s -- questioned what happens to the product from the mom and pop places – does it end up in a basement.  Then what happens if the house goes up in flames.
  • Questioned if the men and women who patrol our streets have time to go into every place where they are selling it regularly to make sure they are not selling it illegally after the time they are supposed to take it off the shelf -- they have much better things to do.
  • Asked the committee to reconsider this – available to talk to members and give the facts as to what they have to deal with day in and day out with burns.

 

Chairman Knapp noted that the staff has Mr. Caron’s number if legislators would like to reach out to him.

 

5.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:  Mark Burger, Director, Onon. Co. Soil & Water Conservation District

a.     Amending the 2015 Budget to Release Stormwater Contingency Funds for the Purposes of Permit Compliance, and Authorizing the Execution of Agreements ($77,500)

Mr. Burger:

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  • Proposal supported by WEP to provide additional boots on the ground assistance for the Stormwater Management Program
  • Two programs in the County:  Save the Rain and MS4 Program
  • Office of Environment and WEP discussions – need some help in the field with the annual elicit discharge/outfall inspections, annual report to DEC, training for municipal officials 
  • $77,500 – provides those additional services annually
  • Started last year – used Soil & Water seed money to do some of the inspections and demonstrate that they are competent and capable to do it

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Chairman Knapp:

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  • These funds were placed in contingency as part of the budget; asking for them to be released.
  • This came down from the state and was incredibly onerous and expensive for many small towns to spend all of their money on engineering, monitoring, and on some very small pieces of property within the towns. 
  • Early on the towns got together and have been working collaboratively with the county for some time. 
  • With the requirement for monitoring – rather than having every town do their own, Soil and Water is uniquely qualified to carry out this mission and relieve the burden and duplication of effort from the towns.

 

Mr. May said that it raised the cost of development – transfers to the developers.


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

6.     PARKS AND RECREATIONNate Stevens, Admin. Director

a.     Authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation to Accept Donated Items ($900,000)

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  • Donation from Friends of the Zoo for elephant pond project
  • Grateful to the Friends to help the Parks Department accomplish its mission

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

Chairman Knapp thanked the Friends for a huge investment.

b.     Authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation to Accept Donated Items ($300,000)

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  • Donation form the Friends of the Zoo for a new patio off the banquet room and off the new water feature at the zoo
  • Will enhance revenue generating activities of the Friends
  • When there isn’t a wedding or event at the zoo, patrons can sit on the deck and enjoy the outdoor space

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Mr. Jordan thanked the Friends of the Zoo.  It is probably the greatest public-private partnerships we have –they raise and contribute millions of dollars to the zoo.  Feels that we are moving towards a positions where the the zoo could be self-sustaining. 

 

Mr. May agrees with Mr. Jordan – it is fantastic what has been accomplished and continues to be accomplished.  He is a little concerned with projects like these that generate revenue in areas that are supported day to day by the private sector.  It is a great project to enact the facility, but gets nervous about weddings, etc. – feels they are best left for the private sector.

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp, in addition to proms, Ms. Aganstini, Friends of the Zoo, said they do birthday parties, weddings, rehearsal dinners, baby showers, and corporate events at the zoo.  Any of the funds generated are reinvested back into the zoo.  Chairman Knapp said that these events are all managed by the Friends and the revenue all goes the Friends.  Ms. D’Agastino agreed.

 

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

 

        c.     Amending the 2015 Budget to Provide Funding to Implement Improvements to Onondaga Lake Park ($65,000) (Sponsored by Mrs. Tassone, Mr. McMahon)

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  • Placing traffic control device where Vine Street meets the marina
  • East shore trail is pedestrian only – vehicle traffic is banned from it
  • Purpose is to create a recreational space that is safe for strollers, rollerbladers, bikers, runners, and walkers
  • Have to cross this trail to get entrance to marina
  • Proposing implementing and automated traffic control gate that will cause vehicles to come to a complete stop, collect payment from the vehicle if they want to use the boat launch, or require that they are a marina user
  • Prevents people who shouldn’t be crossing the trail
  • Some people looking to use the park and may not be familiar where to go, so they end up driving the east shore trail looking for a parking lot – dangerous when someone is there running with headphones

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In answer to Ms. Williams, Mr. Stevens said that the boat launch fee is $7.50. 

 

Chairman Knapp said that a lot of fisherman get there early in the morning before the office is open and are not getting charged.  There is no one there to take the money.  This gate will capture that revenue. 

 

In answer to Mr. Jordan about the location of the gate, Mr. Stevens said it will be on Vine Street.  The road will be widened 10 feet; sidewalk will be pushed back 10 feet.  It will be so far off the road, that when leaving, one can cross the trail with truck and trailer, so not standing waiting for the gate to raise with the vehicle on the trail.  Mr. Jordan asked about putting the gate on the trail itself to prevent vehicles from actually driving down the trail.  Mr. Stevens said that if someone is running or biking, they would then have to go around the gate.  Mr. Jordan said it wouldn’t be a huge obstacle.  He said that he has had people from the marina complaining about this idea.  Mr. May said that he has also, from an individual who is fairly representative of the group.  Chairman McMahon said that the nexus of this legislation came from people from the marina.  Mr. May said that he uses the park all of the time, and it is an issue – have had roller bladders and bicycles run into vehicles and the county has been sued for it.  There is more in play than just whether it makes sense for the marina.  Chairman McMahon said that the people came to us about this issue. 

 

Chairman Knapp said it is a perfect location for this – it is at the end of Vine Street; there is one house on that end.  On the other side there is one parking lot, and the gate would be beyond it and not affect it.  It is stopping folks before they get on the trail and gives them room to get off of the trail.  He would prefer to have folks taken care of there, so that if they are legal to get through than they can, and not stop in the middle of the trail or pull into the parking lot with the boat sticking out onto the trail.

 

Mr. Jordan said that it doesn’t prevent someone from driving down the parkway and creating obstacles.  This is sign that once you are beyond that, there is nothing to prevent taking a right hand turn.  Chairman Knapp agreed, once they pay; can put in signage.

 

In answer to Mr. May, Mr. Stevens said that to pay right now, someone has to pull into the parking lot and the harbor master stops them before their boat is launched and collects the money. 

 

Mr. Stevens noted that the target group for this is the people that are using the park for the first time.  In answer to Chairman Knapp, he said that it will be very well signed.

 

Mr. May said that there was a $200 sawhorse there; people would get out and move it then move it back – or not -- which was a problem.  This solution costs $65,000.  He asked if anything else was looked at in the middle.  Mr. Stevens said that people are opposed to the sawhorse idea because getting out of their cars was an issue.  Also, the sawhorse can’t collect money.  This is the cheapest option, which was feasible that could collect money and address revenue capture.  Marina attendants will have to access it without having to stop their cars and move something. 

 

In answer to Mrs. Ervin, Mr. Stevens said the funding is coming from appropriated fund balance.

 

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

 

        d.     Amend 2015 County Budget to Make Funds Available for Distribution to the Syracuse Chargers Rowing Club ($106,000) (Sponsored by Mrs. Tassone, Mr. McMahon, Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Dougherty)

Chairman McMahon:

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  • Collaborative effort between the County, CVB, Visit Syracuse, and Syracuse Chargers
  • Working with Chargers for some time to attract the regatta –focusing on 2016; but had an opportunity in 2015
  • Had to do 2 things to get it:  1.  Have proper boathouse; 2. Buy the course to put into the lake
  • Appropriation from ROT contingency account at the legislature
  • The regatta will be Northeast Masters regionals; will have at least 500 athletes in over the weekend in June
  • In discussions with US Rowing and State Rowing Associations for future regatta events in 2016
  • Great usage of the money – will get heads in beds and showcase the lake
  • Regatta used to be a major event in the community – hope to start that trend again

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

 

7.     TRANSPORTATIONBrian Donnelly, Commissioner

        a.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Provide Additional Funds for the Purchase of Gasoline and Diesel Fuel to be Solid to the Warners Fire District and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts ($9,222) (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

Chairman McMahon said that the Warners Fire Department reached out to him to look at the opportunity for them to purchase gas and diesel from the County.  Mr. Donnelly said that it is no problem whatsoever; it is done with a number of agencies currently.

 

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

 

8.     FINANCESteven Morgan, CFO

a.     Memorializing the NYS Legislature to Enact Senate Bill No. S.3396 and Assembly Bill No. A.5180 Entitled “An Act to Amend the Tax Law, In Relation to Extending the Authorization of the County of Onondaga to Impose an Additional Rate of Sales and Compensation Use Taxes” and Concurring in the Preparation of a Home Rule Request

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  • Extend ability to charge additional 1% in sales tax in the county
  • Standard legislation – has to be put forward every other year
  • The bills have been identified in the state legislature--the next step is for the County Legislature to memorialize the state to enact them

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

 

Chairman Knapp said that the State had to enact the bills, and asked if it is part of their budget.  Mr. Morgan said that it is not.  The Governor’s budget included language to allow a home rule in this area, where the county wouldn’t have to go through this process.  He doesn’t know if it will make it into the budget or not.

 

        b.     Authorizing the Execution of a Shared Services Agreement with Madison County for the Provision of Various Real Property Tax Services by Onondaga County

Mr. Morgan:

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  • Madison County reached out to us after they lost their director of real property tax,  to see if Onondaga County would be interested in entering into an agreement to support them in this area
  • Madison County has a full staff to operate their office day-to-day
  • The request is for a high-level oversight from Don Weber
  • Approximately 180 hours this year – proposing to charge them an hourly rate, up to a maximum of $15,000
  • Madison County Board approved this agreement by resolution on March 10th

.

 

Chairman Knapp said that the State has a very specific set of requirements for the Real Property Tax Director.  Mr. Morgan agreed.  Chairman Knapp asked Mr. Weber what he envisions.  Mr. Weber said that they have a person to run their daily operations, so he envisions himself as being more consultative.  The vast majority of it would be done from here; doesn’t see having to go there very often, but it isn’t known yet.  Mr. Morgan said that any travel expenses Mr. Weber incurs will be payable by Madison County, but believe a lot of it will be done remotely.  He has to be appointed as a Real Property Tax Director for Madison County by the Madison County Board.  It is good collaboration; will be monitored closely to make sure it is not requiring more time than expected.

 

Mr. Jordan asked if the $70.53/hr. includes salary and benefits.  Mr. Morgan said that it does.  Any travel cost incurred would be paid by Madison County in addition to the $70.53.

 

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

 

1 Mr. Kilmartin left the meeting.

 

Chairman Knapp said this is a good example of collaboration, cooperation, and elimination of duplication of effort.

 

Chairman Knapp took the agenda out of order.

 

11d.    Authorizing a Settlement Involving Unpaid Real Property Taxes on Property Owned by BOCES Located In the Town of Salina (Sponsored by Mr. Knapp, Mrs. Tassone, Mrs. Ervin)

Mr. Weber:

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  • BOCES acquired real property after tax status date of March 1st and received property tax bill
  • If they had closed before March 1st they would have been exempt on that year’s assessment roll, and wouldn’t have gotten as large of a bill
  • BOCES is requesting that we forgive the taxes or eliminate the bill in its entirety
  • Original bill was $49,670.08 – includes county and town tax; no school tax
  • Had they been exempt, they probably would have paid the special district charges, but they are minimal

Chairman Knapp said that it is a situation where someone will pay for this, whether it is the county or the local school districts through BOCES.

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

9.     ENVIRONMENT, OFFICE OF – Travis Glazier, Director

        a.     For the Onondaga County Ash Tree Management Strategy:  Authorizing the County Of Onondaga, to Act As Lead Agency for Actions Associated with Ash Tree Management under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA); Accepting the EAF Parts 1,2 And 3; Determining the Classification of a Type I Action; and Adopting a Negative Declaration, and Amending the 2015 County Budget to Make Funds Available in Support of Such Strategy ($350,000) (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

Mr. Glazier:

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  • Declares Onondaga County the lead agency for SEQRA purposes
  • Declares it a Type 1 Action – a negative declaration
  • Allocates $350k from fund balance for purposes of following the Emerald Ash Borer Management Strategy – model distributes the money on a similar structure – 95-5-10 plan - put in place by Mr. Coburn and Mr. Burger
  • Allocates about 35% of the initial proposal of $1 million; a lot of funding effort will go toward inoculation
  • Positive traps have been identified near Onondaga Lake Pak – running on a shortened timetable to begin the inoculation process – will be a high priority
  • Over time will seek to do tree replacement / removal as necessary – working with Parks to make sure the canopy is maintained

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 In answer to Mr. Jordan, Mr. Glazier said that a small portion of the $350k will be used for inoculation.  About $20,000 for 250 trees of 20”, $5/inch.  Inoculation happens every 2 – 3 years, depending on the severity of the number of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).  The majority of funding goes to tree removal.  In answer to Mr. Jordan, Mr. Glazier said the $250k is going towards removal – about 1,500 trees; $45k for stump grinding.  They have worked with DOT to try to mitigate and minimize, as it is so costly.  No funding is allocated for planting this year.  There is a Great Lake Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant, which was jointly applied for with the Town of Dewitt, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Soil & Water Conservation District.  GLRI grants have been provided in the past for decreasing storm water runoff through tree planting; have allocated funding this year under EAB response; hope to capture $55k from GLRI.  The County and Town of Dewitt are in a good place, as there is a strategy in place.  Had received $25k for for initial tree inventory; $6,000 for removal, and another $25k for planting.  In answer to Mr. Jordan, Mr. Glazier said that they will be planting non-invasive species.  Mr. Burger said the City/County Arborist, Soil & Water, Cooperative Extension, ESF, Parks Dept., and Office of the Environment got together and chose species that are native to the area and have meaning and value to the area.

 

Chairman Knapp said that the Asian Longhorn Beetle is come down the pike, and they prefer maple – need to make sure that the trees that are being planted are not one of their favorites.  Mr. Burger agreed.  In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Burger said that Soil and Water will be doing the inoculation; they did 205 trees for the Town of Dewitt last year.

 

Mr. May asked if the annual budget to inoculate will be $20k per year going forward.  Mr. May said that he remembers a much larger number in the plan.  Mr. Glazier said that there was $1.6 million – it is inoculation over 25 years.  The Park’s goal is canopy preservation – trying to identify a tree to come down and a tree to stay to minimize canopy interruption – they want to elongate the investment money year to year.  In answer to Mr. May, Mr. Glazier said that there are 2,300 trees in total to be inoculated.  Mr. Burger said that right now they are using the best available technology, but it can change with time—looking at a 25-year window.

 

Mr. May said that there will be $350k this year; naming ourselves lead agency, and asked if by doing this are we agreeing to the plan.  He wants this to keep moving, but also wants to determine if it makes sense to inoculate 2,300 trees; does it make sense to grind every stump – what does that risk mean.  He would like to qualify the at-risk category – would like to understand it a little better.  Next year, it will be revisited.  Mr. Glazier said that implementation of this funding does not commit the legislature to the plan --- it is not an adoption of the plan.  Establish a SEQR, Type 1, does not commit to the financial obligation year to year.  The plan has been to come back and revisit this.  It is a moving target – a lot of factors will change over time.  It is the right decision to move proactively.  The inoculation push is important, because if it is not captured in the next year or so, then we will lose those trees, as they will be too far gone.  Cut off for inoculation is about 40% canopy loss.  The legislature is not committing itself by taking this action, and year to year they will come back.  However, he does not anticipate the federal or state governments coming in with a big financial rescue.  Next year the ask will be in line with what the plan is – a seven digit number.  It is an aggressive strategy with public safety in mind and maintaining quality of life issues.  Tree removal will take up the lion’s share – right now tree removal is at 35% of what was proposed.

 

Chairman Knapp referred to a lot of grant applications stipulating if the county has a plan in place.  He can see it is as a major impediment one way or the other.  He asked if there is a way to modify the plan, that keeps flexibility, but something that can be passed as a concept so that we can say we have a plan in place on grant applications.  Mr. Glazier asked Mrs. Berger if having a plan in place commits the legislature on a year to year basis.  Mrs. Berger said that it is just a guideline.  Chairman McMahon said that there is a plan, but not a policy, and asked if the county can check that box on the application.  Mrs. Berger said that she thinks so, but will look at it.  Mr. Glazier encouraged the legislature to adopt the plan.  Onondaga County is ahead of neighboring, larger counties that have just as big of issues. 

 

Chairman Knapp referred to stump grinding -- noting that when the plan first came out there was as much in it for stump grinding as there was for cutting.  It was discussed a lot, and noted that a chainsaw operator can get the tree down to an inch or two off the ground without any big problem, and Mr. Donnelly had thought that wouldn’t be a problem for the roadside mowing.  Chairman Knapp urged everybody to look at this -- we shouldn’t have to worry about 90%-95%.  Mr. Burger said it will be done in two locations – if on a highway ROW and we are taking down a county tree and on somebody’s mowed lawn, then it would get a stump grind.  If it’s in a ROW, in the middle of nowhere, they will be flushed – they will be low and they won’t impede or create a safety issue.  The other location is in the parks – if there is a stump sticking up where someone walking or biking could fall and get hurt, then it is a county liability.  He pointed out that through the reduced mowing program, the Parks Dept. has reduced mowing area.

 

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

 

10.      PERSONNEL:  Peter Troiano, Commissioner

a.     Accepting and Approving the Contract Between the County of Onondaga, the Sheriff of Onondaga County and the Onondaga County Deputy Sheriffs’ Police Association, Inc.

Mr. Troiano:

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  • Collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the County, Sheriff, and Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff’s Police Association

Chairman Knapp said that he will support this, but noted that these kind of guaranteed increases for four years aren’t seen in the private sector.  In addition to overtime, there is a very good health plan with a few concessions; and a very good retirement system.  We need to keep a watch on this – it is $700,000 plus unplanned money for this.  We are looking at $300,000-$400,000 for cars – now we are north of $1 million of unplanned spending in the Sheriff’s Department this year.  Long term, we have to take a hard look at it, and be comfortable -- not get ourselves in trouble with very long-term, guaranteed commitments.

 

A motion was made by Ms. Williams, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.  Ayes: 6: NOES: 0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

b.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Provide for the Appropriation of Fund Balance for Bargaining Unit Awards ($758,133)

Chairman Knapp said that this is for the amount needed from fund balance for the 2014 and 2015 portion.

A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Ms. Williams to approve this item.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

11.      MISC.

           a.     Resolution Calling on the State to Provide Pension Support for Veterans While Protecting Already Overburdened Local Taxpayers (Sponsored by Mr. Liedka)

Chairman McMahon:

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  • NYSAC resolution – asking counties to pass it
  • Legislature has a proud history of supporting veterans

.

 

A motion was made by Ms. Williams, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

             b.     Onondaga County Endorsing Resolution for NYS Funded 2014 Aviation Capital Grant Program (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

Chairman McMahon:

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  • Skaneateles Airport received a grant – legislature to endorse it so that the grant can be accepted

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A motion was made by Ms.  Williams, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

           e.     Designating April 2015 as “Parliamentary Law Month” (Sponsored by Mr. May, Mr. Knapp)

Chairman Knapp said that this is the basis for everything that we do from Congress to a school board; from the County Legislature to a local Optimist Club; it is important.

 

Mr. May said that one of the last men standing from the Parliamentarian Society lives in his district.  Over the years municipalities have recognized that this is the essence of how we operate, and he was asked to bring this forward.

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to approve this item.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin).  MOTION CARRIED.

 

12.      PURCHASE:

             a.     Revenue Contract Report - none

memo

 

13.      LAW:

             a.     Settlement of Claims

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan to move into executive session for the purpose of discussing pending litigation in the matter of Keith C. Mulcahey, Deceased by and through Kathleen A. Blakeman, as Administratrix of the Estate of Keith C. Mulcahey V. Van Duyn Home and Hospital and the County of Onondaga; and the matter of Stephen Coulter and Pamela Coulter, Individually and as Parent and Natural Guardian of Paige Coulter, a Minor V. Onondaga County, Onondaga County Department of Parks & Recreation, Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery and John Doe #1, John Doe#2, and Jane Doe, seconded by Mrs. Ervin.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin); MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Ms. Williams to exit executive session and enter regular session.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin); MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chairman Knapp noted for the record that no action was taken during executive session.

 

The following resolutions were distributed:

 

1.     Authorizing the Settlement of the Action filed with the Supreme Court and the State of New York, County of Onondaga, Stephen Coulter and Pamela Coulter, Individually and as Parent and Natural Guardian of Paige Coulter, A Minor V. Onondaga County, Onondaga County Department of Parks and Recreation, Carpenter’s Book Fish Hatchery and John Doe# 1, John Doe #2, and Jane Doe. 

 

A motion was made by Ms. Williams, seconded by Jr. Jordan, to approve this item.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin); MOTION CARRIED.

 

2.     Authorizing the Settlement of the Action Filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Onondaga, Keith C. Mulcahey, Deceased, by and through Kathleen A. Blakeman, as Administratrix of the Estate of Keith C. Mulcahey V. Van Duyn Home & Hospital and County of Onondaga. 

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Chairman Knapp, to approve this item.  AYES:  6; NOES:  0; ABSENT:  1 (Kilmartin); MOTION CARRIED.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 a.m. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

signature

DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 


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