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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 - MARCH 9, 2016

MICHAEL E. PLOCHOCKI, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Dr. Chase, Mr. Burtis, Mrs. Rapp

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mrs. Tassone

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Vice Chair Burtis called the meeting to order at 9:10 A.M.  A motion was made by Dr. Chase, seconded by Mrs. Rapp, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee minutes.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

1.     ONONDAGA COUNTY RESOURCE RECOVERY AGENCY

        a.     Confirming Appointment to the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (Jeanne C. Powers)

In answer to Dr. Chase, Ms. Lesniak said that Ms. Powers would be finishing Mr. Antonacci’s term, due to his resignation.  Mrs. Rapp asked if anyone knew Ms. Powers.  Mr. Rhoads said that he did not want to be perceived as medaling in OCRRA affairs however, Ms. Powers works for WEP.  An engineer by education, she has worked for the County a number of years, is strongly environmental, has a good ethical and moral compass and is a family person with two adult children.

 

A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Dr. Chase to approve this item.

 

Chair Plochocki arrived at the meeting.

 

Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

2.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTIONTom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Approving Various Energy Conservation Projects to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District of the County of Onondaga, New York ($10,300,000)

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Public hearing to be held prior to session
  • Asking for support of energy conservation measure (ECM) projects and bonding resolution, pure ESCO project – energy savings self-fund capital project
  • 50% of the FlexTech study costs paid by NYSERDA - identified $39 million dollars’ worth of projects in WEP system capable of being funded to return a net present value at end of 20-year bond period; bond for engineering and construction, energy savings return larger than bond cost

In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Rhoads said that the length for return varies for each ECM. 

 

  • Distributed total project summary sheet:

WEP Selected ECMs for ESCO Project

  • Selected projects provide good payback, don’t interfere with ongoing projects and replace some assets reaching end of life; debt service increases but annual utility costs decrease – primarily electricity, some natural gas
  • Before and after example of 1 project on the list:

 

Proposed Aeration Blowers Investment

  • Almost 60% of energy expense relates to aeration; 20 year old blowers, engines operate full-speed, use value to throttle amount of air needed - new blowers turn down engine based on air needs

Mrs. Rapp asked how many blowers were included for $3,733,126 dollars.  Mr. Rhoads said that he believes there are over 20 blowers in the project.  Mrs. Rapp said that a third of the project would be blowers.  Mr. Rhoads said that the picture was an example of a previous project and the estimated payback of 13.9-years includes incentives.  Mr. Burtis said that it looks as if $400,000 million would be for blower upgrades, including aeration.  Mr. Rhoads said that there was probably $5.3 million for aeration between Oak Orchard mixers and Metro.  There was also a smaller blower project at Wetzel.

 

Mr. Rhoads said that the projects were prioritized based on needSome equipment was end of life and would need replacement via capital projects or ESCO.  Mrs. Rapp asked the number of items that would need replacing either way.  Mr. Rhoads said that all items were at some point of their useful life.  Some things, such as computer power management software, were not typical items that would come up for replacement.  All the items have a good bang for the buck, e.g. plant maintenance garage IR heaters with 2.9-year payback.  Typically, those type of items fall between the cracks because they are so focused on permit, SPDES and ACJ requirements.  This gave them an opportunity to look at all the other environmental opportunities.  

  • Payback period based on 2014 actual energy costs
  • Won’t see immediate savings - funds must be received, then procure ESCO providers, complete engineering final design and final construction; don’t spend capital funds until improvement are received

In answer to Chair Plochocki, Mr. Rhoads confirmed that the simple payback for the total bond would include interest payments, engineering costs, and costs for bond issue.  Chair Plochocki said that this was how the figures should be provided.  In the past, some departments did not included all costs.  He believes the numbers are very good numbers as they are not often able to receive the full return of investment before paying off the bond.  Mr. Rhoads said that they are spending real-money but would get the return over a period.  It is fiscally prudent as well as environmentally friendly.

 

In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Rhoads said that efficiency would increase as they gain new equipment and would avoid some maintenance costs. 

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if the wind turbines discussed by Mr. Millea were completed.  Mr. Rhoads said that he was not aware of wind turbines or Mr. Millea’s discussion.

 

Chair Plochocki asked why National Grid was providing incentives.  Mr. Rhoads said that there is a statewide policy to reduce energy consumption.  All utility bills charge a fee, paid to the PSC.  The PSC requires utilities to help the community reduce consumption.  Consumers can receive $50 rebates for replacing old air conditioners and refrigerators with energy efficient items.  Commercial energy customers preform a study to show the savings from any type of ECM and depending on eligibility, they can receive a rebate for the capital investments from NYSERDA or apply for a rebate from the utility.  Typically, National Grid has been a little more aggressive because they are trying to reach a payment threshold for consumption mitigation.  They are applying for and doing some energy conservation projects on their own - smaller cash capital projects, e.g. re-lamping projects.  They are using ESCO for projects with third party construction and engineering. 

 

Mr. Burtis asked when the next round of projects would take place.  Mr. Rhoads said that he did not know, as he wanted to see how well these go.  This is their first procurement of this type.  ESCO projects are design build, with no change orders - one project, with some larger work having internal mini-bids to get the most competitive advantage for placement. 

 

Mrs. Rapp asked how long it would take to get through this round.  Mr. Rhoads said that the procurement would likely take most of 2016 and then they have engineering - installations would likely start in 2018.

 

  • All projects have guaranteed energy savings; vendor penalties if savings aren’t realized from designed and installed equipment - verification of energy savings

 

Mr. Burtis said that perhaps Brewerton would be included in the next round.  Mr. Rhoads said that there are a couple of projects in Brewerton. 

 

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

 

        b.     Bond Resolution - Authorizing the Issuance of $10,300,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay the Cost of Various Energy Conservation Projects to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District in and for said County ($10,300,000)

Mrs. Rapp asked what this would do to the debt service.  Mr. Rhoads said that approval of the resolution provides authority to borrow up to $10,300,000 dollars but they do not borrow the funds until they are necessary.  Items would be segmented so that bonding would take place as items were completed.  He does not have the number off-hand today.  Mrs. Rapp said that conceivably they might pay off other bonds by that time.  Mr. Rhoads reiterated that the all-in debt service for these projects would be offset by the energy savings costs, and the net costs to the ratepayer should decrease, at least a little bit.

 

Mr. Burtis asked the estimated interest rate for this type of project.  Mr. Rhoads said that historically Mr. Petrela has used is 4% for County General Fund Triple-A bonds.  In his tenure at WEP, they have been just north of 3%.  In addition, they look for EFC funding support wherever possible, which typically provides debt service at half the cost of the Triple-A rate.  It comes with additional costs for handling and administration but results in a large net savings. 

 

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

 

        c.     A Resolution Approving a Revised List of Green and Innovative Infrastructure Projects Located Outside the Amended Consent Judgment Area as Outlined in Local Law 1-2011 for the Purpose of Mitigating Inflow and Infiltration of Stormwater Into the Consolidated Sanitary District Sewer System in and for the County of Onondaga, New York (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

Chair Plochocki said that Mr. Rhoads would provide the technical details but he wanted to make it clear that the resolution was cost neutral.  Previously the Town of Geddes was awarded funds for a green infrastructure project that ran over budget and they came in under budget on a more recent project.  They are asking that the savings be reallocated to cover the shortage from the over budget project.

 

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Town of Geddes had 2 projects in 2012 and 2013; memorandum of support provides details (On file with Clerk)
  • Resolution doesn’t increase appropriation – simply requesting modification of project amounts and years as appropriating resolutions were specific to project and amounts

 

In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Rhoads said that the projects were done by the town.  Chair Plochocki said that the WEP approved the projects.  Mr. Rhoads said that towns apply for the grants, WEP evaluates the projects and the Legislature approves specific projects with specific dollar amounts.  All estimates were prepared by the town.  In response to Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Rhoads said that he would speculate as to why the estimates were off so much.

 

Dr. Chase asked how the town paid for the projects.  Mr. Rhoads said that WEP reimbursed the town the amount awarded and the shortage would have to come out of town funds.  Dr. Chase asked if the projects were paid.  Mr. Rhoads said that he did not know.  Dr. Chase said that this should be determined before awarding the unused funds.  Mr. Rhoads asked why.  Dr. Chase questioned what the town would do with the funds if the projects were paid.  Mr. Rhoads said that the town would reimburse themselves.  Dr. Chase said that the town probably raised their taxes.

 

Chair Plochocki said that, for him, whether the projects were paid was not critical to the decision making process.  Whenever they award grants to communities there are never funds left.  In this case, they have a community that came in under and did the right thing by saving money.  Normally, communities spend every penny.  In this case, the town was honest in reporting the savings and was asking to keep the funds to cover their shortage.  He would like to reward that behavior. 

 

Mr. Rhoads said that the town was looking at a serious need for the Bergner Road project.  They may have bid the project and then not have been able to award it.  The town is not asking for an additional appropriation – the net will be smaller than the total Town of Geddes appropriation for the two projects.

 

Mrs. Rapp said that she would support the resolution but asked Mr. Rhoads to find out if the project was completed. 

 

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

 

Mrs. Rapp noted that the memorandum of support states the town was requesting the funds to complete the projects.  Mr. Rhoads said that he would confirm with the town.  Chair Plochocki asked Mr. Rhoads to send the information to him for forwarding to the committee.

 

Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

The meeting adjourned 9:50 A.M.                               

 

Respectfully submitted,

Katherine French

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

* * *

HEALTH COMMITTEE MINUTES - MARCH 10, 2016

DANNY J. LIEDKA, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Burtis, Mrs. Rapp, Mr. Holmquist, Ms. Williams

ALSO PRESENT:  see attached list 

Chairman Liedka called the meeting to order at 9:28 a.m.  A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Mr. Holmquist to waive the reading and approve of the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee meeting; MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES – ECONOMIC SECURITY:  Sarah Merrick, Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing the Execution of Agreements with the City of Syracuse Related to Code Enforcement and Related Housing Stabilization Services for Recipients of Temporary Assistance

 

  • First and foremost, apologize for not being here 2 years ago; this is a 5 year resolution to allow Dept. of Social Services (DSS) to contract with City Codes Enforcement; extremely successful partnership
  • Started 8 years ago under David Sutkowy; City Codes has done 1,700 pre and post inspections
  • Gives level of security to clients; reassured when Code Enforcement and landlord meet to look at apartment the client is renting; apartment meets safety requirements before signing; ensures landlord full payment for damages by client
  • Past system DSS issued security deposits; never heard about damages and never got security back; landlord saying damages occurred
  • 8 yrs. ago devised system to protect client; landlord made whole for damages; triple the savings of the annual cost of this contract; contract is $55,000/yr.; triple savings from security deposits not issued

Ms. Merrick agreed with Chairman Liedka that they are called deposits, but the department was never getting it back.  Ms. Merrick said they did not have the staff time to run after the landlords, so DSS had to come up with a better way.  This is better for the landlord and the client (win, win). 

 

Mr. Burtis asked if DSS was giving the security deposit to the landlord, and Ms. Merrick answered yes.  Mr. Burtis asked how this program protects the client.  Mr. Burtis then said this would show the condition of the property today, and prove they did not do the damages.  Ms. Merrick agreed.  The protection is that the client goes into the apartment eyes wide open, along with the guarantee from City Codes that it is a quality apartment.  Ms. Merrick responded to Mr. Burtis that if there are damages, DSS pays.  The point of this program is that there is an agreement with pictures.  When the client leaves, the code enforcer comes back to go through the list again and take pictures.  The landlord sends DSS a bill for the damages, and the department pays the damages.  The damages are charged to the client case, and cases are paid by a percentage of federal, state and local money.  Chairman Liedka said if someone goes in and trashes the place, then the government pays for it.  Ms. Merrick clarified it is charged to the case, and the department tries to recoup as much as they can.  Chairman Liedka asked if the client can lose their privileges, and Ms. Merrick replied no.  DSS cannot deny a client renting future apartments, but the department is aggressive with sending recruitment payments when damages occur. 

 

Ms. Williams asked if the department gets more deposits back now that this process is in place.  Ms. Merrick responded that DSS does not issue deposits anymore.  DSS is saving $150,000 - $200,000 annually by not issuing security deposits.  DSS is only paying approximately $55,000 a year for this contract. 

 

Mr. Holmquist wanted to know if there is any accountability to the tenant if they trash the place.  Ms. Merrick answered if there are damages, then the department attempts to recoup.  There is a Tenant Responsibility Agreement in lieu of issuing a security deposit.  This makes the landlord whole, and tells the tenant that damages that occur will be charged to their case.  If the client has an open temporary assistance case, then the recoupment is a percentage of their monthly payment.  The department usually takes 10% to recoup damages that occurred.  DSS cannot deny temporary assistance clients their right to rent future apartments, but they have the right to say the client caused damages that they can slowly pay back.  Mr. Holmquist asked if there is a number of how often this has happened, and Ms. Merrick said no. 

 

Chairman Liedka said the department has not issued $150,000 in security deposits, so the true number is that number less the payment made for damages.  Chairman Liedka would like to know what that is.  Ms. Merrick will get that figure.  Ms. Merrick said no more than 10% of post inspections are done.  Before, DSS did not get any security deposits back, because the claim was that everyone was causing damages.  Now it is down to 10% of the landlords reporting damages, so it is a lot less.  Ballpark number is $25,000.  Mr. Holmquist asked why the number is less, and Ms. Merrick replied DSS is controlling it.  Chairman Liedka said it is a lot more work for landlords to itemize and prove damages, versus keeping a security deposit, because it’s then up to the client to get the money. 

 

Mr. Holmquist asked if the recipients are changing their behavior knowing they may have to pay 10%.  Ms. Merrick answered maybe.  The clients are at the inspections too.  They are seeing that it is not only a quality apartment, but they also see the way it needs to be when they leave.  This proves that not all clients are bad clients.  DSS has come up with a way to guarantee payment to landlords when damages truly occur, and also save in the long run by not issuing 100’s of security deposits. 

 

Ms. Williams asked if a client is in a rental for five years, leaves and the apartment has normal wear and tear, then is the landlord coming back for (i.e.) rug replacement.  Ms. Merrick responded no, the damages are holes in the wall or a toilet ripped out of the floor.  These are serious damages. 

 

Ms. Merrick answered Mrs. Rapp that the amount for damages is very small.  Mrs. Rapp asked if someone trashes an apartment when they leave, then are they still eligible for the program.  Ms. Merrick replied there are regulations.  If a client is eligible for temporary assistance, then they are eligible.  Damaging an apartment is not committing fraud.  If the client continues to get benefits, then DSS will work on recouping the damages.  Five to ten percent of their monthly allowance can take a long time to recoup. 

 

Mr. Holmquist asked if they have an infraction (ripping out a toilet) resulting in a 10% stipend going forward, then if there is another infraction, do they have another 10% stipend added on.  Is there a max?  Ms. Merrick is not sure what the maximum percent they can charge is, but she will look into that.  Mr. Holmquist said it is comforting it is not a huge issue. 

 

Ms. Merrick replied to Mrs. Rapp that the program has been ongoing for eight years, and has been very effective.

 

Mr. Burtis asked if this is an independent contract or an employee.  Ms. Merrick responded it is an employee of the City Codes department.  Ms. Merrick answered Mrs. Rapp that DSS pays the salary and benefits.  Mr. Burtis said the verbiage says contractor, and Ms. Merrick clarified it is a contract with the City Codes Enforcement Office.  DSS pays a portion of a full-time Codes Enforcement Officer.  Mr. Burtis asked if the City is paying the other half.  Ms. Merrick said the total is probably the salary plus all the benefits, and at $55,000, she is not sure the department is paying all of the fringes.  Ms. Merrick does not believe that covers the cost of a Codes Enforcement Officer.  Ms. Merrick answered Mr. Burtis that the car allowance is for the Codes Enforcement Officer to travel, and the vehicle is what the City provides.

 

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

 

Chairman Liedka would like Ms. Merrick to come back with more details to follow up.  Mrs. Rapp asked if it’s financed through grants.  Ms. Merrick responded that it is FFFS (Flexible Fund for Family Services) through state money.  That grant is massive, so they carve out a small portion for this. 

 

Discussion on Additional Funds for Heroin Treatment Center at Crouse Hospital

 

Chairman Liedka:

  • County Executive’s speech - statement about urging Legislature to provide funds to Crouse Hospital to expand Heroin Treatment Center; biggest health crisis in a while
  • Would like to see if there are more funds, because if Legislature does not help push forward more treatments, then what is effect if someone goes untreated
  • Think about whether person loses their life, loses their family, or steals when run out of money (end up in prison system)
  • Lot of bigger problems that come from this if County does not try solve it
  • Health epidemic; Legislature has chance to step in and make a difference; $100,000 is not enough 

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if Chairman Liedka can bring someone in from Crouse to discuss this, and Chairman Liedka answered yes.  Chairman Liedka wanted to put it out there for the committee to think about and look into. 

 

Mr. Holmquist agreed with Chairman Liedka, and said this is something every Judge faces.  People can die from their very first usage.  Chairman Liedka said first responders are running out of the antidote.  Mr. Holmquist asked where the $100,000 is coming from or what it is used for.  Chairman Liedka:

  • Will find out where money is coming from, and if there is more
  • Will get someone here from Crouse at next meeting if favorable answers on money
  • Crouse spoke at meeting at Civic Center; have hundreds of people on waiting list; if someone is on waiting list to be treated, then they want to be treated, but are probably still using; otherwise they would not need treatment

 

Ms. Williams is for it, but asked how to help someone that does not want to be helped.  The Legislature can throw as much money as they want at the issue, but if the user does not accept help, then they will continue.  Chairman Liedka would like to attack the people on the waiting list that want to be helped.  Chairman Liedka is not sure what the answer is to those that do not want help.  The people on the waiting list want help, but Crouse cannot get to them.  How many of these people are dying or going to jail? 

 

Mr. Burtis said Cicero is one of the first police departments to get Narcan (antidote), and Mr. Burtis was somewhat in denial of how much it was happening.  The Fire Chief was saying they are running out of it, and they are nervous about how much Narcan to get.  The first responder tolerance level for it is running out, because there is so much use, there are repeat offenders and some people are out of control.  Mr. Burtis commented that people are playing Russian roulette with their lives, because all they need is one bad dose, and they’re gone. 

 

Chairman Liedka responded to Mrs. Rapp that the call volumes for ambulances in that area are through the roof.  Mrs. Rapp said that is the number one call. 

 

Chairman Liedka said there is education on this in schools.  East Syracuse-Minoa, Jamesville-Dewitt and Fayetteville-Manlius schools have a big summit coming up, and they are trying to educate people in the community.  It does not matter what “class” a person is in, because this is all over. 

 

Mr. Holmquist agreed with Mr. Burtis that there is no quality control over this, so if there is a bad batch, a person could die.  This is not something Bristol Myers is putting out. 

 

Chairman Liedka asked the committee to think about this, and he will get the numbers.  If the Legislature can help people, then those people can be messengers to help others. 

 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Attendance

JAMIE M. McNAMARA, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Jamie McNamara

 

* * *

PLANNING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MINUTES – MARCH 10, 2016

KATHLEEN A. RAPP, CHAIR

 

Members Present:  Mr. Ryan, **Mr. Plochocki, *Mr. Knapp, Mr. Jordan

Also Attending:  Chairman McMahon, Dr. Chase, Mrs. Ervin; see attached list

 

Chair Rapp called the meeting to order at 10:39 a.m.  A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mr. Ryan to waive the reading of the minutes and approve the minutes of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     GREATER SYRACUSE LANDBANK:

        a.     Annual Report - Katelyn Wright, Executive Director (Report on file with Clerk)

 

Mr. Sciscioli:

  • 442 properties; most foreclosures; some gifts and donations; 2015 sold 169

*Mr. Knapp arrived at the meeting.

  • Recognize $1.48 million in total sales revenue for 2015
  • Property taxes - $253,000 back on rolls; generating revenue for City and County
  • Virtual organization outsourcing many functions necessary for operating; more economical to bring some in-house; total of 5 people work at Landbank; gain economies bringing functions in-house
  • Modify some operation; historically in City, concern with flipping properties to owners and doing nothing; requiring standard; mortgage instrument to recapture property

Chair Rapp asked if it is five years, and Ms. Wright responded they have one year to renovate.

 

**Mr. Plochocki arrived at the meeting.

 

Mr. Sciscioli:

  • Sold 245 properties; 909 properties to date; some properties require demolition; no productive use
  • Demolished 65; 909 taken on; high percentage; difficult time to find capital to knock down
  • Unrestricted revenue to take care of issue; one way to finance; also help from other organizations
  • Demo issue going forward; take look at balance; seems wealthy, but contingency, liability of demo and vacant properties
  • Try to sell vacant to adjacent owners, holding for period of time; part of objective to flip properties; best use of land
  • Vacant properties along with demo are threat to long term sustainability
  • Admin activities – streamline operation; strike number of partnership’s; leverage assets; work with local community; outside of City have 6 properties
  • Sustainable now; keep ongoing with demo cost and maintenance of vacant properties; need to address sustainability

Ms. Wright:

  • Sold 260 properties to date; buyer gets as is and invests in - $8.2 mil in renovations (not from City or County)
  • Not financially sensible for neighboring property owner to pay for demo; not worth investing $25,000 into another property to stabilize value of their current house; look to City, County, State for demos
  • $750,000 - spent down almost all funds; 100+ candidates for demos; City foreclosing more; unrestricted for demos; might be able to demo 45 houses; close to 80 plus in inventory left
  • 147,000 residents in City (going down); access building stock; market failure in distressed neighborhoods

Chair Rapp said if 70% are not tear downs, then they should be making money. 

 

Ms. Wright:

  • Doing what they can, but demos are money losers; $1.5 million in sales revenue cannot support overall operations
  • Landbank will end up selling all good properties and will not be able to sustain yearly lawn mowing and liability insurance for demos and vacant properties
  • Before Landbank intervened, City handling lawns, so it’s a public cost whether Landbank owns it or not
  • Landbank can control long term outcomes; transform properties into something versus letting them sit there
  • Specific conditions on sale including quality renovations and enforcement mortgages
  • City would sell properties to well-intentioned buyers who did not follow through; people will buy at County auction not knowing what they are getting into (high risk and will walk away)
  • Landbank allows buyers to go in better informed and get traditional financing; versus auction buyers not afraid of risk and paying cash

Mr. Jordan asked if the Landbank receives an estimated cost of doing different items.  Ms. Wright responded the cost estimates are soft, and they ask the buyer to do that.  The total renovation is shown at the time of purchase, and includes showing finances for both the purchase and renovations.  Mr. Jordan asked if the Landbank provides an estimate to the buyer.  Ms. Wright replied yes, if they ask.  The buyer has the capacity to do this on their own.

 

Chair Rapp asked about acquiring properties in the suburbs with structural issues that was talked about.  Ms. Wright:

  • Tax delinquent properties in City are both a blessing and a curse; City not aggressive at collecting taxes; people abandon properties with 10 – 15 years of delinquent taxes
  • County does auction every year; foreclosure notice sent with 2 years of taxes that the owner will pay off; still abandon properties and maintenance, but able to pay off taxes; no motivation
  • Tax not as useful of a tool in County as it is in City; 50% of properties in City redeem and keep; County is closer to 90%
  • Towns and villages stuck between rock and hard place
  • Plan for vacant property registry with code enforcement; have annual fee and push property owner to do something productive; makes sense for towns and villages to adopt this; pressure on tax delinquency
  • Most towns and villages have one attorney; no development expertise on code enforcement; wondering if County can provide technical assistance; one attorney from County to act like a circuit writer – towns and villages would benefit

Mr. Ryan stated it is a great idea to work with the towns and villages.  The County has the ability to get on top of it, and help the towns with enforcement. 

 

Mr. Jordan asked if the Landbank could dovetail with Community Development.  The Landbank could knock down five houses in a block, and Community Development could come in and build new homes (i.e. low income housing) getting funds from the state and federal governments.  Ms. Wright clarified that Mr. Jordan was talking about the City Community Development, and Mr. Jordan agreed.  Ms. Wright answered that the City did allocate funds for demos, and the Landbank does try to coordinate with Community Development.  The amount is a drop in the bucket compared to the scope of properties.  The Landbank will carve out specific blocks, like the properties on Butternut, to line up and do new construction to transform the area (half in Mr. Liedka’s district and half in Ms. Chase’s district).  It was done at St. Joe’s, and the visible difference is impressive.  The Landbank tries to make properties more attractive to private investors.  Out of 260 properties, 30 went to Community Development projects, and the rest to private investors. 

 

Mr. Jordan stated unless someone is living in the house, it makes sense to level and rebuild new.  In the City, the buyer would spend $150,000 to build new, but the area would only permit resale for $75,000.  Ms. Wright said all sales to private investors are renovations.  It makes sense to renovate not build new.  Mr. Jordan commented that his brother has been in construction for years, and enjoys building new versus renovating and tearing down walls to find who knows what.  Often times it can be cheaper to build new versus the expense of a renovation.

 

Ms. Wright

  • Number of benefits to holding properties; no slumlords creating bad outcomes; will reach peak inventory late 2017

Ms. Wright responded to Mr. Ryan that they are keeping an eye on the amount of demos and vacant lots assuming the Landbank receives another $1.5 million from the City.  If they do not receive the allocation, they will not get a bundle of lots and will not be able to sustain.  The Landbank needs the funding lined up.  Ms. Wright explained that the City of Syracuse’s population has plummeted.  People are moving to the suburbs, so the City is left with buildings.  Cleveland, Ohio is the model to follow regarding a Landbank.  They receive dedicated funding from the County.  The County creates the Landbank and does the tax collection and foreclosures.  The City is not involved. 

 

Ms. Wright confirmed to Mr. Jordan that the inventory will be peaking at the end of 2017.  The sales pace has improved, even though the properties are still coming in faster than they are going out. 

 

Mr. Knapp stated there are bank foreclosed properties in his district that the banks sit on; some take care of those properties, but others do not.  In the Village of LaFayette, there is a property that now has five feet of water in the basement because of neglect.  Ms. Wright commented that banks are a huge challenge.  They can pay the taxes, so they would have to be hammered with code enforcement.  Banks want to donate what they cannot sell at auction.  Mr. Plochocki has the same issue in his district. 

 

Mrs. Rapp stated there is another informational that will be given by Chris Ryan.

 

Informational on Ride Sharing: 

 

Mr. Ryan:

  • NYS and Upstate cities do not have Uber and Lift; it’s a mechanism for people to move about the community
  • Increased conversation to bring this type of service to Upstate cities; need to change state statute; currently an insurance issue; legislation in Senate and Assembly
  • Currently it is in many cities; scope of economic development; younger people use this; different than taxi cab
  • Can go back and forth from SU to downtown; not just Armory Square; people from other cities have app on their phone
  • Look into memorializing state legislation

 

Mr. Ryan answered Chair Rapp that there is a bill in the senate and assembly.  It is something to think about if it’s going to bring business to the community, and will make it easier for people to spend money.  Mr. Jordan asked for copies of the legislation, and Chair Rapp will email it. 

 

Chair Rapp asked if this is time sensitive, and if it’s part of the budget in April.  Mr. Ryan is not sure if it is included in the budget, and does not know if it is time sensitive. 

 

Mr. Knapp asked if downstate has this, and Chair Rapp answered it is only New York City.  Mr. Knapp asked if it is on Long Island, and Mr. Ryan replied he would follow up with an answer.  Mr. Knapp commented he does not have the app, but has used the service in other cities with good experiences.  It is something to look at given the nature of where Syracuse is trying to go with tourism, and people coming in from other communities that have it.  Mr. Knapp said Uber shows what kind of car it is, a picture of the driver, and the passenger and driver can rate each other.  Tipping is also included as part of the transaction.

 

Mr. Jordan said there has been controversy over Uber.  Chair Rapp commented that the taxi cab companies lobby, because they have to pay $150,000 to do business in NYC.  In Syracuse there is not enough taxi business.  Mr. Ryan stated the people that operate the taxi do not have to pay, so it’s the same business model. 

 

2.     Marriott Syracuse Downtown - Tour

 

Mr. Holder introduced the tour explaining the benefits to having the Marriott within less than two blocks of the Convention Center, and how it will attract more business to downtown Syracuse.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 11:20 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Jamie McNamara

Jamie McNamara, Assistant Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

Attendance

 

* * *

 

WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES - MARCH 21, 2016

DAVID KNAPP, CHAIRMAN

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mrs. Ervin, Mr. Shepard, Ms. Williams, 1,3Mr. May, 2Mr. Jordan

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Kilmartin

ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman McMahon, Legislator Chase, Mr. Morgan, Ms. Venditti, Mr. Fisher, Ms. Dougherty, Ms. Rhinehart Kopp; see also attached list 

Chairman Knapp called the meeting to order at 8:55 a.m.

 

A motion was made by Ms. Williams, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to waive the reading of minutes of proceedings of the previous meeting.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mrs. Ervin, seconded by Ms. Williams, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous meeting.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

1.     FINANCE, DIVISION OF REAL PROPERTY TAX SVCS:  Don Weber, Director, Real Property Tax Services

        a.     Approving and Directing the Correction of Certain Errors on Tax Bills

  • Correction in excess of $2,500
  • Result of drainage district, Town of Dewitt – had incorrect number of units/parcels

 

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

 

2.     DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES – ECONOMIC SECURITY:  Sarah Merrick, Commissioner

        a.     Authorizing the Execution of Agreements with the City of Syracuse Related to Code Enforcement and Related Housing Stabilization Services for Recipients of Temporary Assistance

  • Contract with Syr. City Codes for pre and post inspections for clients on TA, who will rent apartments
  • Existed for 8 years – should have been here 2 years ago to ask that it be renewed
  • Protects clients, allows paying landlords for damages that occur
  • Saves $100’s of $1,000’s because security deposits aren’t issued any more

 

A motion was made by Ms. Williams, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.

 

Chairman Knapp asked if lead inspections are included.  Ms. Merrick said that she will check, but believes that Codes look at it under their safety/security areas.  Chairman Knapp asked that Ms. Merrick let the committee know; noting that Community Development has done a nice job of getting the federal lead money – it should be used wherever it needs to be.

 

A vote was taken on the motion; AYES:  4 (Knapp, Shepard, Williams, Ervin); ABSENT; 2 (May, Jordan); MOTION CARRIED.

 

3.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTIONTom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Approving Various Energy Conservation Projects to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District of the County of Onondaga, New York ($10,300,000)

        b.     Bond Resolution - Authorizing the Issuance of $10,300,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay the Cost of Various Energy Conservation Projects to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District in and for said County ($10,300,000)

Mr. Rhoads discussed items 3a and 3b simultaneously:

  • Energy conservation measures – using part of NYS Energy Law for ESCO, which are energy service provider type contracts
  • Work done for $10.3 million will be self-funding
  • All engineering, construction, bond costs will be recovered through savings from energy conservation measures
  • Work to be done will have a payback in 13.7 – 15.3 years, depending on availability of incentives – i.e. $10.3 million borrowed for 20 years – most likely all of the debt service is paid at the end of 13.7 years

 

Mr. Rhoads distributed the following:

WEP Projects

  • FlexTech Energy study done – funded 50% by NYSERDA
  • Wendel Engineering provided a complete portfolio of projects – over $39 million worth of projects recommended
  • May come back in next several years to continue additional work
  • Aeration - bacteria used to digest waste, natural process
  • Several aeration projects on the list – i.e.
    • 20 year old blowers used at Metro – valve on front of blower and starve the blower.  Blower runs all of the time, when more air is needed, the valve is opened.  All electrical energy is put into the blower 24/7; using excess air and energy. 
    • Proposed energy conservation measure is to replace old blowers with new turbo blowers; turbo blowers have ability to turn down using energy conservation technology; blowers would actually be turned down instead of just turning a valve
    • Invest $3.7 m; estimated payback in 13.9 years
  • Huge energy conservation opportunities, reduced maintenance costs, more operational flexibility
  • A lot of engineering and construction work involved in these projects – projects take time – design/build ESCO projects
  • Guaranteed savings – design/build contractor must deliver the savings.  If they do not, and do not have a measured, verified, auditable savings, then the county gets the money back from the design/build contractor
  • Technically, there is no risk to the county – effectively have no cost on the rate structure for the WEP sanitary dist.

 

In answer to Mrs. Ervin, Mr. Rhoads said that it is truly guaranteed – there is a measured and verified part to that guarantee.

 

Chairman McMahon said that the company is going to guarantee the work.  Mr. Rhoads said that they also guarantee the savings.  In answer to Chairman McMahon, Mr. Rhoads said that they have to go through and RFP to select the companies.  Chairman McMahon asked what happens to the guarantee if the company goes bankrupt in five years.  Mr. Rhoads said that they would enter into a contact with a company that actually has the material capability to complete these projects; also would require bonding and finance instruments that require performance.  Chairman McMahon asked how it is measured each year; who knows how to do it; who is measuring it – is the company that is guaranteeing it measuring it; what independent group is measuring the savings.  Mr. Rhoads said that they typically are required to hire a certified vendor as part of this process.  A certified vendor actually does it.  An electric energy meter is put in front of the motor control centers.  Because it will also be used for SCADA type control, they will be able to measure the actual hours of operation for the equipment, and what its power draw is during the operation.  There is a required measuring and verification process. 

 

Chairman McMahon asked if this is an emerging trend in the industry.  Mr. Rhoads said it came out of the school model; Johnson Controls are doing this for a lot of the schools.  They come in and replace the HVAC controls or lighting controls in the school districts and bring about savings.  ESCO providers are typically huge, multi-national corporations, who have the financial capability to make the initial investment.  Because schools don’t typically have a AAA bond rating, so they privatize all of the borrowing and the ESCO’s would have financial resources to do it, at a savings within the 20-year period.  ESCO’s are now done at the federal level and almost in every state.  ESCO’s are moving throughout almost every type of public institution.  Scarce resources make it hard for local governments to invest in these types of projects; this is a way to invest in new technologies and return savings to the rate payers. 

 

1Mr. May arrived at the meeting.

 

Chairman McMahon asked if the numbers are locked in or if there is any possibility that the savings could be more.  Mr. Rhoads said that they aren’t locked in – will continue to see if there is valued engineering in the final design to include savings.  Incentives are subject to NYS Law.  Some incentives are provided by NYSERDA – they don’t like to guarantee the incentives.  Many incentives now are more enriched by National Grid than by NYSERDA.  The ESCO provider is required to apply for energy incentives with National Grid and NYSERDA; whichever is the best return on investment will be used.

 

Chairman McMahon said that some people say that we have borrowed so much money and even though there is a revenue line attached to it, they will show others in the community how much money the county is just borrowing.  On the balance sheet, this will hit the bottom line on what the county has for debt, but there is an offsetting revenue.  Mr. Morgan said there is an offsetting decrease.  Chairman McMahon said he would like something that shows that, so we can communicate clearly to the public--this data will be manipulated 12 months from now.  This is an emerging trend in the industry – more opportunities like this will be seen to have these savings; it is important that we can easily show on the balance sheet, i.e. out of $300 million debt at WEP, $200m is earmarked for mandates by the Federal government for the cleanup of the lake; $70m is for “X;” $20 million is for energy savings programs, etc.  It is something that we need to do a better job with.  Mrs. Ervin and Chairman Knapp agreed. 

 

Chairman Knapp asked if there were basic type things too, i.e. changing light fixtures to LED, etc.  Mr. Rhoads said that the legislature provides them with cash capital accounts.  The cobra head lamps have been replaced at the Baldwinsville WWTP; have done a couple at Metro, are doing some on the Brewerton campus.  They are done by county personnel, as well as LEDs in exit signs.  The county applies for the credits/incentives directly.  Incentives are returned to the WEP reserve fund – monies aren’t spent - they are savings to the rate payers.

 

2Mr. Jordan arrived at the meeting.

 

Mr. May asked if the payback periods, with incentives or without, are aligned with useful life on the solutions.  Mr. Rhoads said that they are – some will go beyond the 20 year, i.e. steam boiler operations.  If they didn’t actually have an ESCO project, for example, to replace existing blowers, they would be coming back to the legislature for the capital cost to replace them in a regular capital project.  Energy savings are being enjoyed, but they are mechanical, electrical, energy hogs that are getting close to or beyond their useful life.  Upgrades will be installed that have at least a 20-year useful life.  Avoiding capital replacement costs and making capital replacements in a way that the energy conservation measures are self-funded.  Mr. May said that if these were run out for the 20 year useful life, more savings would actually be seen.  Mr. Rhoads agreed; after debt service is recovered, energy savings are truly helping to keep the unit charge down. 

 

A motion was made by Mr. May, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to approve item 3a.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Shepard, seconded by Mr. Jordan, to approve item 3b.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED. 

 

        c.     A Resolution Approving a Revised List of Green and Innovative Infrastructure Projects Located Outside the Amended Consent Judgment Area as Outlined in Local Law 1-2011 for the Purpose of Mitigating Inflow and Infiltration of Stormwater Into the Consolidated Sanitary District Sewer System in and for the County of Onondaga, New York (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

  • Have done a number of various green infrastructure projects outside of ACJ area – extraneous flow/I&I projects
  • Legislature approves specific projects with specific amounts
  • Approved projects in 2012 and 2013 for Town of Geddes – have advanced 4 different projects
  • In 2 projects the cost was less than approved; in 2 the cost was more than approved
  • Geddes would like to move the money around – no additional funded
  • Will allow Geddes to reimburse themselves for work already completed

 

Chairman McMahon said these 4 projects were already approved by the legislature – and couple ran under budget, a couple ran over budget. 

 

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

 

4.     DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Barry Weiss, Administrative Officer

        a.     Create R.P. 01 01403100 2031 Victim Assistance Supervisor, Gr. 29, $45,560-$60,397, effective April 5, 2016

  • Victim Assistance Program created about 20 years ago
  • Over the last number of years the state has been changing and requiring different things from the program
  • One is to have more of a supervisor position, which is what this is

 

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

 

5.     PERSONNEL:  Peter Troiano, Commissioner

        a.     Accepting and Approving Agreements Between Onondaga County and the Civil Service Employees Association, Local 1000, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Onondaga County Unit, Local 834 (CSEA)

  • Contract covers 2013 – 2015
  • Settles the improper practice charge that the union filed after the Legislature’s resolution of Feb. 11th
  • Process over the last 2 – 3 years – sets the agreement in place to cover the 3 years and allows continued bargaining for a contract covering 2016 and out years
  • Agreement was ratified by the members on March 10th with a substantial show of support

Mr. Shepard asked how the timing of our ratification at the next session affects people who are retiring; i.e. how does the retro pay work if someone retires at the end of this month.  Mr. Troiano said that the way the resolution is drawn and the tentative agreement is drawn, is that they have to be on the payroll when we pay the retro.  Work so far has it scheduled for May 6th, because the agreement becomes effective the first full payment after the resolution is adopted, which is April 16th; we pay the check on May 6th.  They need to be on the payroll, working in some sort of active fashion, as of May 6th.  If they retire after May 6th, they are good.

 

Chairman McMahon said “that makes no sense” and asked if it was negotiated in the contract.  Maybe the union negotiated it.  To reflect, he said that this is essentially what the legislature did for our employees.  The legislature voted in these raises, then union sued us.  Then the union agreed that the legislature did a good job but wanted their congress to vote on it for form, because they were probably nervous about setting a precedent.  He questioned if the legislature approves it on April 1st, with the next payroll April 16th, why anyone would have to wait until May.  If it was negotiated by the union, he wants the world to know that this is what the union wanted.  He reiterated that it makes no sense.  Mr. Troiano said that he believes the effective date is drawn from the tentative agreement that settled all of that, and it was picked up and put into the resolution.  It carried forward what was in the settlement agreement with the improper practice charge and the agreement itself on the wages. 

 

Mrs. Ervin asked if there is any way to move the retro date any sooner, as the legislature really decided this in February.  Mr. Fisher said that there is no way to meet every union’s demand.  Administratively, they were moving along to put in the raises – Comptroller, Personnel, and IT -- well along with getting that work done.  One of the union’s demands, which is in the tentative settlement agreement, is that we would stop that and take no further action administratively to impose the raises, nor trade the retro payment.  The language in the tentative settlement agreement states that “we will stand still”, at their demand, until the union has ratified it, until the legislature approved it, and until the County Executive has signed it.  That won’t happen until the first week of April at the earliest.  Per their language, we then have to implement the raises as soon as practicable.  It will probably take one payroll to get the raises in, and two payroll periods to get the retro in.  The raise has to be in effect at the time that you retire for the increase to count against your retirement system calculations.  This is at their demand, not at our own – “we were going on our merry way trying to get this done, but they didn’t want to have the precedent, as the Chairman said, of allowing you impose it and having us give it, without them voting.”

 

Mr. May said that this whole thing has been unprecedented since we started – the solution, the process, the whole thing.  He asked if it is possible to communicate to the folks wishing to retire exactly what kind of a situation they are in, so that if they wish to change it, they can.  Keep the process the same, but make sure that the rank and file worker, who stayed on in good faith and endured the process, isn’t burned by a process that it totally out of their hands.  Mr. Troiano said that it is hard to imagine that someone in that situation would not be aware of what is going on.  If they have submitted a retirement application, they can withdraw it.  Mr. May said that we know who they are, and asked if we can make sure that they know what the situation is.  The reality is that some of them don’t know.  Chairman McMahon said that it is a customer service thing – the union isn’t going to post anything on their Facebook page anything that they negotiated which negatively impacts their membership.  If we know who these folks are, and have an idea of who is eligible, then reaching out to them, sending an email out, would be a major benefit.  Mr. May said that at this point, they have filed, so we know who they are.  Ms. Ervin and Ms. Williams agreed. 

 

Chairman Knapp asked if the timeline would be changed if the special session was held later this week or next Monday to approve this item and get it going.  Mr. Troiano said that it is the way the agreement is structured.  Chairman McMahon said that the check could potentially get out sooner if the work got done; but there is work to get get to the raises; and then there is an additional slew of work to get to the retro check.  

 

In answer to Mr. Fisher, Mr. Troiano said that the new rates would be in effect on April 16th.  If someone leaves before April 16th, the rates would not be in effect.  The eligibility to get a retro check is hinged on what is in the agreement and what is in the resolution – have to be on the payroll on May 6th in order to get the retro.  Mr. Troiano and Mr. Fisher agreed that they can communicate to the CSEA members.  Chairman Knapp said that a very clear timeline should be laid out.  Mrs. Ervin agreed, explaining that legislators are already getting communications about this, and we have no control about what is in the agreement. 

 

Mr. Shepard asked about the people who are saying their last date is March 30th  -- is it a case where they may be using benefit time to stay on payroll beyond that date.  Mr. Troiano said that they could; the last day of work is sometimes different than your last day on payroll.  Some people use leave time before they go.  Mr. Shepard said that with this information, would they be able to use that and stay on the books longer.  Mr. Troiano said that they could if they have the time; depending on how they planned it and how the department has planned to backfill that spot.  Mr. Shepard said that he has been called by two people in his district and asked how many people we are talking about.  Mr.  Troiano said that it is hard to tell – maybe 50 or 60 that may be holding back; maybe now that it is in place some will execute their plans to file a retirement application and go – now that they know what the dates are.  Mr. Troiano said that turnover due to retirement varies from year to year; this might spur a few more.  Mrs. Ervin said that the communication should be sent to everybody, since we don’t know who is sitting on the fence, and as soon as possible.  Chairman Knapp asked assuming this passes today, do you have to wait until session to get the information out, or can we get it out now.  Mr. Troiano said that they can start it now in anticipation of adoption.  Ms. Williams asked if the communication will be via emails or letters.  Mr. Troiano said that email is the quickest, so a mass email may be able to go out.  Chairman Knapp suggested following up with a hard copy; Mr. Troiano said an email it the most efficient way.  Mr. Fisher suggested that the union does it.  Mr. Shepard said that the union’s spin in that the legislature didn’t hold a special session, like we did to impose the contract.  Mrs. Ervin agreed. 

 

Vote was taken on the motion.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Chairman Knapp asked that all legislators be cc’d on the communication to the CSEA employees.

 

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

 

6.     MISC.:

        a.     Memorializing the Support of this Onondaga County Legislature for NYS to Amend the Labor Law and Establish an Hourly Minimum Wage of Fifteen Dollars (Sponsored by Mrs. Ervin)

 

Mrs. Ervin:

  • Tried to present this at the last session
  • Memorialized the State Legislature to support a $15 minimum wage
  • Workers are not being paid adequately, haven’t had an adequate wage in ions
  • If they are working poor, we are paying to support them by giving the benefits and assistance while working
  • If making adequate wage, we wouldn’t have to pay those monies – monies are coming out of one pocket and going into another
  • Feels strongly that this increase will make a big difference to the people that are working
  • Have had plenty of examples, i.e. CNAs cannot make ends meet on their salaries, so they are getting assistance. 
  • It makes little or no sense that they are getting assistance while working.  If they were being paid adequately, we wouldn’t be paying for the assistance.
  • Asking to send a message to the state that the County Legislature wants them to pass a $15 minimum wage

 

Mrs. Ervin asked Mr. Kinne to provide a document to members that shows how many county employees there are making minimum wage right now and how much of a difference it would make if they were paid $15/hour. 

  • Not talking about the county doing anything at this point; just saying that the State do something – will have an impact on the county eventually; being phased in over a period of time
  • It is the right thing to do; may be a moot point by the next session, as the state budget may be passed by then.

 

Chairman Knapp said that when minimum wage was put in, it was never meant to be for someone to live on; was supposed to be an entry level wage, to get into the work force and move up from there.  Over time, it has become that.  He has talked to a lot of people about this.  A concern is the dairy farmer who has no control over what he is being paid for his products – government controls milk/dairy prices.  The farmers are panicking about this in trying to decide what to do.  Several have talked about investing in robot milkers.  They are very expensive, but become feasible when looking at increased labor cost.  He referenced a successful vegetable farmer, in the 1st district, who is looking at getting away from certain crops, and just going to crops that can be harvested with mechanical equipment and not with individual picking.  Mr. May said that he is aware of that same farmer and said it is not a question of doing it, he will do that.  The farmers are federally overregulated, in such an important industry, in terms of delivering their product.  It is a bad situation for them, and noted that the conversation can be extended to all kinds of different industries. 

 

Chairman Knapp referred to not-for-profit groups.  He referred to Elmcrest Children’s Center and the effect on them – they are in a box, like the farmers; they can’t control their income.  They can’t raise prices; all they can do is try to find more grants or lay people off.  He is concerned that we are going to be hurting the people that we are trying to help.

 

Ms. Williams said this won’t take off immediately where everyone will go to $15.  She understands the concerns on both sides of the conversations.  Most people don’t want to receive public assistance; they are put in situations where they have to in order to take care of their families.  She understands the tactics that if we go to $15, they will lay people off,” but there have been places that have already done this.  She doesn’t see where it will be a huge issue going forward.  She understands that the farmers are saying that they can’t pay this.  “We have to have that conversation with our state legislators about if we go to $15, what are we going to do for these other folks in business to help them out as well.”  To make a blanket statement of “I’ll have to lay people off”, “I’ll have to get a robot” – they may have to get a robot, but would have to pay for it and fix it.  There are a lot of issues.  At the end of the day, when people want to provide for their families, they should make a decent wage to do that.  When people get paid, they spend – they spend back into the community where they live and work in.  She understands with the farmers, where there aren’t a lot of resources, but this won’t be over night.  The conversation needs to continue as a body – there are a lot more questions that we have to ask, but this is the right thing to do for people.  It used to be that teenagers worked at McDonalds, now there are husbands and wives, who are taking care of families, working at McDonalds.  That same worker qualified for our benefits – we will pay it on the front end or on the back end.

 

Chairman McMahon said that this is a tough issue.  He said the Mrs. Ervin is 100% correct that if the wage is raised, the people that will be on public assistance and receiving services, will go down.  It is probably good for government, but it is not good for the private sector.  It is moving a burden and putting a mandate on the private sector.  Albany has not addressed any way to offset that burden.  He is not concerned about the traditional big box stores; there is no small business exemptions in what Albany is trying to do with employees 75 and below.  There is no exemption for teen labor.  Referencing a teenager working at a pizzeria, he said that to value their work of 10 hours/week to someone that has been trained in a skill that works for any other entity, is absurd.  The minimum wage was just increased; there hasn’t been any data to see how that is addressing any of this.  Albany hasn’t taken a balanced approach; that is a big mistake.  Chairman McMahon said that many of these folks have been displaced – by bad trade deals, change in the economy, and the community hasn’t provided the workforce training to get them ne skillsets to compete in the new jobs.  That is why there is a shift from his niece working at McDonalds to families working there.  

 

Chairman McMahon said that the discussion is good; the community has a lot to be proud of.  The URI application shows a lot of things that our community is trying to do in a different manner, instead of mandating things,  For example: commitment to Say Yes to Education, for many inner city youth; Workforce Development money - trying to get folks the skill set; concept of trying to stimulate more economic jobs.  If the state had a package for small business relief, they would have a better argument – they haven’t done that.  They know that people are struggling, so it is an emotional issue.  He said that we can’t value his 16-year old niece’s job at the same value of someone who has been working in county government for 20 years, making $16.50/hour, and worked their way up there.  We are shifting mandates on the private sector.  It would be good for the state to really look at this, get more data, recognize the farmers and small business owners, and look at an exception for teen labor.

 

Mr. May said that Senator DeFrancisco did a symposium on this.  One of the most profound things he heard from it was that if the wage is raised, the cost of marketing will go up.  If the cost of marketing goes up, there is no accommodation or thought given to people on fixed incomes.  He questioned how retirees and people on on Social Security pay for these changes in our economy.   

 

Chairman Knapp said that a lot of individual and collective bargaining type agreements are tied to the minimum wage.  When the minimum wage goes up 67%, all of those upper wages tied to it will go up 67% or some factor thereof.  For a business or entity, it is not just a minimum wage increase, they are looking at salary increases exponentially going up because they are tied to the minimum wage – everybody tied to that would get an increase.  It is spider web of things – both positive and negative.

 

Mr. Jordan referred to Seattle, who imposed an increase to $15/hr. phased in over a period of time.  Seattle has realized that exactly the people that this intended to benefit are the ones suffering disproportionally.  Employment of teenagers and minorities is down.  It is impacting the most vulnerable people, which is the exact opposite of the intent of it.  It is certainly a huge problem, but not something that has a clear solution.

 

Mr. Ervin said that if we are saying that we understand that there needs to be a change in the minimum wage, and understand that there needs to be broader viewpoint of how it works, then we could at least send a message to Albany that we are in favor of a raise, along with looking at these additional things, for it to happen.  To say we aren’t going to do anything is not acceptable.

 

A motion was made by Ms. Williams, seconded by Mrs. Ervin, to approve this item.  AYES:  2 (Williams, Ervin); NOES:  4 (Knapp, Jordan, Shepard, May).  MOTION FAILED.

 

7.     PURCHASE:

        a.     Revenue Contract Report – NONE

 

3Mr. May left the meeting.

 

8.     LAW DEPARTMENT:  Kathy Dougherty, Senior Dep. Co. Attorney; Carol Rhinehart Kopp, Dep. Co. Attorney

        a.     Settlement of Claim

Mr. Morgan asked for permission to stay for the discussion, which Chairman Knapp granted.

 

A motion was made by Mr. Jordan, seconded by Mr. Shepard, to leave regular session and enter executive session for the purpose of discussing the matter of Estella Burch, Plaintiff vs. Van Duyn Home & Hospital, et al., Defendants.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

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

 

Chairman Knapp stated for the record that no votes were taken during executive session.

 

A resolution was distributed entitled, AUTHORIZING THE SETTLEMENT OF THE ACTION FILED WITH THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, COUNTY OF ONONDAGA, ESTELLA BURCH V. COUNTY OF ONONDAGA, ET. AL. 

 

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

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Signature

DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

Attendance

 

 
 
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