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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 - NOVEMBER 10, 2015

MICHAEL E. PLOCHOCKI, CHAIRMAN

 

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Burtis

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chair Plochocki called the meeting to order at 9:06 A.M.  A motion was made by Mrs. Rapp, seconded by Dr. Chase, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee minutes.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Shepard, seconded by Dr. Chase, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

1.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTIONTom Rhoads, Commissioner

        a.     A Resolution Authorizing the County of Onondaga to Enter into Intermunicipal Agreements with Various Towns to Implement the 2015 Suburban Green Improvement Program (SGIP) to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District of the County of Onondaga, New York ($900,000)

 

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Distributed 2015 Report Card for NY’s Infrastructure from American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) (on file with Clerk) – asked for legislative leadership on investment for infrastructure
  • Applications sent to all towns in consolidated sanitary district – only 4 applications received from 3 towns
  • Villages and the City each received $120,000

 

Mrs. Rapp:

  • Questioned how the competitive bid was advertised

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Email and mail – towns received information twice
  • Some towns refuse to participate with anything pertaining to the sewers – can’t give them money

 

Chart

  • Very good projects - $804,000 requested with $900,000 available

Chair Plochocki said that the committee had already approved, and the legislature had allocated the funds.  They would now be voting on the approval to enter into agreements for the projects.  Mr. Rhoads agreed.

 

Mrs. Rapp:

  • Questioned the budget year

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Not an operating budget - capital budget; approved in 2015

 

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

 

       b.     A Resolution Approving the Oneida Lake Pump Stations Rehabilitation Project to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District of the County of Onondaga, New York, and Approving the Classification of a Type II Action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act ($8,120,000)

  • Items b and c go together; item b - approval of project and associated SEQRA, item c - bonding
  • Upgrade of 7 county owned pumps stations along Oneida Lake; discussed last month with public hearing resolution
  • Project ineligible for low interest loans – likely to bond as general county obligation, in 2%-3% range
  • Unit charge impact over 20 years @ 2% = $3.42, @ 3% = $3.76, based on total project cost
  • ASCE deems wastewater assets have a 30 year life; pump stations built in 1970’s – already on borrowed time
  • Without repair failures will backup into basements and the lake, could have environmental and/or safety problems
  • Project designed through 50% by Barton and Loguidice - $10,120,000 total cost estimate

 

Mrs. Rapp:

  • Questioned feedback from Commissioner’s public hearing

Mr. Rhoads:

  • None – very rare to hear from public

 

Mr. Shepard:

  • Questioned project amount

Mr. Rhoads:

  • Already approved $2 million for startup of engineering, any remaining funds are rolled over into total project cost; asking for additional $8,120,000 – brings total cost to $10,120,000
     

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

 

        c.     A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $8,120,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay the Cost of the Oneida Lake Pump Stations Rehabilitation Project to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District in and for Said County ($8,120,000)

 

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

 

2.     METROPOLITAN WATER BOARD:  I. Holly Rosenthal, Executive Director

        a.     A Resolution Approving Improvements for the Onondaga County Water District of the County of Onondaga, New York ($5,472,000)

 

Chair Plochocki:

  • Stressed project not new – reviewed last month while voting for the public hearing, have had a month for further review
  • 1st phase of project broken into four bite size chunks

 

Ms. Rosenthal:

  • WTP built between 1965 and 1967 – received very little maintenance
  • Many systems and infrastructure at end of life span, with some beyond – failed systems causing damage to other components and increasing costs for improvements and repairs, and increasing current costs
  • Commissioned assessment of water treatment campus last year, project named Water Treatment Assurance Program (TAP) – includes entire water treatment campus, 70 acres in Oswego, WTP, backwash process lagoons, Clearwater pumping station, finished water storage tanks, backwater storage tanks and site security
  • C&S estimates overall costs to be $39 million; currently asking for $5,472,000 for 1st phase of project – includes exterior security issues, serious roofing considerations and project design for detailed cost of construction
  • Currently at assessment level – used broad brush for estimate, need to move forward with architectural design for actual cost of construction
  • Project phased over 4 years, starting 2016, major work to be done in 2017 and 2018, final work in 2017 to included high voltage electrical upgrades to owned substations and remaining site work
  • Phases to be completed in rational, integrated progression
  • Debt service for $5,472,000 in the neighborhood of $290,000 per year, based on 3.5% for 30 years – budget could decide to extend further – translates to $0.04 per 1,000 gallons of water

 

Mrs. Rapp:

  • Questioned if costs were paid by water rates

Ms. Rosenthal:

  • Historically capital projects for MWB were paid for by the ad valorem
  • Last couple of years put them into the water rates to keep the ad valorem flat – have many capital improvements accumulating
  • Gallon rate $0.004 – more relatable quantity if applied to water rate; tiny increase for necessary capital improvements

 

Mrs. Rapp:

  • Years ago had 2 pumps and one was not work, questioned if repaired

Ms. Rosenthal:

  • Coming online now – part of the CARE project
  • Moved motors from one pump station to another as stations were improved to keep things working – good at juggling but are coming to the end of the line; water plant manager kept up at night by potential failure of plants infrastructure
  • Public confidence will be beyond their lifetime if failure impacts water quality – won’t recover for generations

 

Ms. Rosenthal continued:

  • Oswego campus the head of their system, brings water from Lake Ontario a short distance to WTP – primary water quality driver for the system

 

Chair Plochocki stated, for the record, that all approved projects are projects that they feel are needed but this project is particularly needed.  He is very happy that they are moving forward on this project.

 

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

 

        b.    A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $5,472,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Certain Improvements for the Onondaga County Water District in and for Said County ($5,472,000)

 

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

 

Ms. Rosenthal:

  • Thanked the committee, adding that she is very excited
  • Noted Chair Plochocki paid her a great compliant at the budget hearing – commented that the things coming forward from MWB are never a surprise; always try to lay things out and let them know what is coming

Chair Plochocki:

  • True and appreciated – always know when something is coming down the pike

Mrs. Rapp:

  • One tour of facility shows there is a lot coming down the pike

Chair Plochocki:

  • Tour is worth 1,000 words

 

The meeting adjourned 9:25 A.M.

 

Respectfully submitted,

signature

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

attendance sheet

 

* * *

COUNTY FACILITIES COMMITTEE MINUTES - NOVEMBER 10, 2015

JUDITH A. TASSONE, CHAIR

 

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Dougherty

ALSO ATTENDING:  See attached list

 

Chair Tassone called the meeting to order at 10:32 A.M.  A motion was made by Mr. Shepard, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee minutes.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Shepard, seconded by Mr. Ryan, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

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

        a.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Accept and Appropriate Various Unanticipated Funds, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($649,555)

 

Ms. Mitchell:

  • Distributed committee packets with annotations for clarification
  • All funds for capital improvements
  • $254,787 total for Central Library project, includes $134,481 from state construction aid – grant funds

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if the funds were part of the $8 million library reconstruction project.  Ms. Mitchell:

  • Funds to be added to the project
  • Changed design – originally on floors 1,2 and 5
  • Need load capacity of 3rd floor – only floor built for library load capacity
  • Moving local history and genealogy to 3rd floor - grant will assist in making the change

 

Mrs. Rapp said that the history area was climate-controlled.  Ms. Mitchell said that they had existing compact-storage on the third floor, which is what was in the climate-controlled area on the fifth floor.  They added a partition and moved climate-control down to that space.  They applied for the grant to offset the additional moving costs. 

  • Large offices on 5th floor – overall shrinking 35% but only 15% in public spaces
  • Took on existing office space outside library on 2nd floor - space used to move completely off 5th floor
  • Balance of $254,787 includes $120,306 from 5% increase in Central Library aid – aid up 5%across the board; aid can only be spent on certain items – collections, large renovations and staffing only if open over required state hours
  • $110,168 unrecognized SURA funds from branch infrastructure project – stays in branch capital fund
  • $23,550 insurance recovery – Hazard Branch; covers previous expenses from car hitting building
  • $261,050 total includes $26,749 from unrecognized state construction aid

 

Mr. Delaney:

  • Confirmed $26,749 from grant construction projects prior to 2012

Ms. Mitchell:

  • Matt Delaney new administrative director
  • Balance $234,301 from state construction grant funds – using to upgrade systems and spaces a Betts

 

In answer to Chair Tassone, Ms. Mitchell said that her understanding was that the insurance money covered all the expenses for the damage.  The City gives them the money to run the City libraries, owns those buildings and pays for the staff and upkeep.  Money that came out of branch projects goes back into them - do not mix Central Library money and branch money.  

 

Mr. Ryan asked about the feasibility study for White Branch Library.  Ms. Mitchell said that White Branch was the most expensive library to maintain.  They put a lot of money into each year, yet it never looks or functions any better – currently have crumbling basement wall.  Mr. Ryan said that the building was old but gets a lot of use, and the people in the surrounding neighborhood are desperately in need of the services they receive there.  Ms. Mitchell:

  • Assemblyman Magnarelli paying for the study – library located in his district; they met at the library a few times this year to discuss possibilities – should they continue to put money into the building yearly, is there a point at which the infrastructure is solid and improvements start to improve usability
  • Heavily used library but difficult to use upper floor – only use half the space, don’t have staff for upper floor
  • Most libraries are one desk models - open walls for staff member to see all spaces
  • Historic building with walls on both sides of the desk – must staff circulation desk and each area for safety and security; people enter through side door, walking through children’s area - high rate of pedophilias in area
  • Upper area used for organized events only
  • Per architect, a number of things could be done with the building; want to determine what is needed to make a solid foundation to build from and how to open it up to use more space - if cost prohibitive, is there another space in the neighborhood
  • No intention of closely – one of their busier branches

 

Mrs. Rapp said that it would likely cost more to do anything with the building because it is historic.  There is much property in the area that may be more cost effective.  Ms. Mitchell agreed, adding that her concern is that it will be cost prohibitive for anyone to do anything with the building.  Mrs. Rapp said that they were looking for a community center in that area.  Ms. Mitchell:

  • Would be nice to find a space to bring the two things together
  • White Branch most difficult to manage – outside of Central, would require largest number of staff; Soule, Hazard and Betts have open spaces where a few people at the desk can monitor

 

Mr. Ryan said that the Mundy Branch came out great.  Ms. Mitchell agreed.

 

  • Currently working on Beauchamp, Betts and Southwest Community Center
  • Halfway through campaign to raise funds for addition on Petit
  • Looking to turn Soule into techno branch – across system more people need assistance getting to online job application systems, and basic training to make next step or get a job; need amble space for computers and parking

 

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

 

        b.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Accept New York State Special Legislative Project Aid for the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement his Resolution ($50,000)

  • Special Legislative Project aid from Senator DeFrancisco –receive between $30,000 and $70,000 yearly
  • Much redistributed to suburban libraries – member libraries apply for cultural programing costs, split up funds and re-grant; $30,000 of total award designated for this use
  • $20,000 designated for mobile maker technologies – sewing machines, robotic labs for each age – from basic tech skills to mobile labs; created mobile labs with last year’s funds, need to purchase duplicates due to heavy usage by the 30 libraries in the system

 

In response to Mrs. Rapp, Ms. Mitchell said that the labs are various sizes from one small bin to five bins; kids build their own computer in the workshop using about five bins of materials.  Mrs. Rapp said that this was the new shop.  Ms. Mitchell agreed, adding that this engages those from the youngest population through the teens.

 

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

 

        c.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Accept Additional New York State Local Library Services Aid for the Onondaga County Public Library and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($11,299)

  • Pass through state aid for member libraries – additional 5%

 

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

 

        d.     Transfer from Onondaga County Public Library, Account 390039 Total Salaries, to Onondaga County Public Library, Account 694100 All Other Expenses, $14,500

  • Moving funds to cover unanticipated 2015 costs:
  • Security – increased hours when synthetic marijuana was on the streets, saw large increase of incidents in City libraries
  • Trash removal
  • Snow plowing – accepted lowest bid, after 1st snow provider decided they couldn’t do the work, next bid almost twice the lowest bid

 

Chair Tassone asked how often bids went out for snow plowing.  Ms. Mitchell said that she thought it was annual or every two years.

  • Bank charges - $3,300 for credit card machine replacements in all City libraries, chip compliant

 

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

 

Mrs. Rapp asked if there was any news on the downtown library project.  Ms. Mitchell distributed the following:

 

photo

 

outline

 

In answer to Mrs. Rapp, Ms. Mitchell said that they will have a conference room and a number of public rooms but are making them accessible to the public – moving to high utilization areas. 

 

  • Realigning positions for the future and reconnecting with educational mission – not a warehouse for materials, an educational institution chartered by the state
  • Anonymous donor providing $250,000 for children’s literacy, age 0-13
  • Solid plan, staff on board with new focus
  • Central Library administrator retiring next month; want to bring all City libraries under one administrator – currently Central different from branches, want opportunity for people to move between those spaces and share expertise easily across the system

Mrs. Rapp asked if the library would be separate from the Galleries, with its own entrance, once the first floor opens in April.  Ms. Mitchell said, “Yes”.  The Galleries wanted the library to be separate.  Some of the rougher customers are library customers and when escorting them out of the library they could only take them as far as the front door, putting them in the open space of the Galleries.  In answer to Chair Tassone, Ms. Mitchell said that there would be no direct access to the library from the Galleries. 

 

Mr. Ryan asked that the committee be kept up to speed on the White Branch and results from the study.  Ms. Mitchell said that they would not do anything without much discussion.

 

The meeting adjourned at 10:58 A.M.  

Respectfully submitted,

 

     attendance

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

signature

 

* * *

PLANNING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MINUTES - NOVEMBER 12, 2015

KATHLEEN A. RAPP, CHAIR

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mr. Burtis, 1Mr. Liedka

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Mr. Knapp, Mr. Plochocki

ALSOT ATTENDING::  See attached list

 

Chair Rapp called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m. A motion was made by Mr. Liedka, seconded by Mr. Burtis, to waive the reading of the proceedings from the previous committee minutes.  MOTION CARRIED.  A motion was made by Mr. Liedka, seconded by Mr. Burtis, to approve the minutes of the proceedings of the previous committee.  MOTION CARRIED. 

 

Chair Rapp took the agenda out of order.

 

3.    LANDMARK THEATERStephanie Crockett, President; Mike Intaglietta, General Manager; William Fisher, Dep Co Executive

       a.    Amending the 2015 County Budget to Make Surplus Room Occupancy Funding Available for Use in Support of the Landmark Theatre ($50,000)

 

Mr. Fisher:

  • County Executive was asked to seek additional $100,000 for the Landmark each year for 5 years - $26,000 already allotted through CNY Arts
  • 2014 Legislature approved additional $100,000; 2015 Legislature approved $50,000 with expectation of County Executive’s office requesting an additional $50,000; $50,000 approved for 2016 budget with expectation of request for additional $50,000 - felt 5 year period would allow Landmark to be on solid foundation
  • Additional $50,000 for 2015 out of surplus ROT
  • Introduced Stephanie Crockett, Board President and Mike Intaglietta, new General Manager – did not fill executive director position, now handled as a board matter, Ms. Crockett acts as CEO

 

Chair Rapp said that there has been a period of transition and asked for an update on what has happened over the last year.

 

Ms. Crockett:

  • Interim Executive Director, Jim Albanese retired, continuing on as volunteer; other board members have come and gone based on retirement and Ben Walsh was added, per Mayor’s will
  • Added Mike Intaglietta - most recent position Director of Operations, CNY Arts for over 3 years, with Redhouse prior to that; role to work on day-to-day operations, manage staff, and identify operational efficiencies

 

Chair Rapp said that there was talk of financial difficulties for the Landmark around town.  Part of the reason this was not presented, until December, was so that a plan could be put together that would allow legislators to feel comfortable putting public money into a private entity.

 

Chair Rapp said that they met to review the plan last week and asked Ms. Crockett to describe the plan to the committee, including how they see light at the end of the tunnel.  Ms. Crockett:

  • In addition to operational efficiencies, restructured some debt – have solid development plan for 2016
  • Continue to make board changes – ensuring the right mix of people
  • Looking closely at all staff members
  • Great relationship with Oncenter team, learning a lot from them; hope to continue Oncenter and Redhouse relationships for future collaboration
  • Working with promoters to better relationship and agreements with vendors, i.e., Ticketmaster - optimize Landmark profitability

 

Chair Rapp said that if they were doing the same old thing, the expectation would be the same result.  After going into much more detail than this, she felt confident in releasing the additional $50,000. 

 

Chair Rapp asked Ms. Crockett to talk about the spring fundraiser.  Ms. Crockett:

  • Phantom of the Opera, reimaged, coming to the Landmark – hosting gala in conjunction with opening, Saturday, April 9
  • Tony Ortega representing the Armory Square Association and Max Chutinthranond from Lemon Grass are present to voice support for the Landmark and the gala

 

Chair Rapp asked that they address the economic impact to downtown.  Mr. Ortega:

  • Introduced himself – MOST, executive vice president, past president of Armory Square Association and community member for over 30 years
  • Armory Square Association president unable to attend, asked Mr. Ortega to speak
  • Watched Armory Square grow into jewel of Onondaga County over 18 year carrier
  • As past president, met with business owners to help bring in hundreds of thousands of people each year and promote Armory Square, including the Landmark; spent much time eating in Armory Square restaurants and business
  • Saw firsthand impact Landmark has on Armory Square – hopes legislature considers granting additional funds; enjoyed many concerts and plays at the Landmark, a tradition, i.e., Billy Joel concert, downtown packed, restaurants full, line curled around building for sold-out show, fun electricity in the air
  • Need vibrant Landmark for Armory Square to survive – economic engine for restaurants, coffee shops and afterwards establishments, also tourist attraction for county residents and travelers

 

Chair Rapp asked if there were numbers to support this.  Ms. Crockett said that over hundred thousand people come to the Landmark for ticketed shows.  In addition, they have a variety of other events, i.e. fundraisers and weddings that are not included in that count.  Outside of the county, the numbers are in the twenty-five percent range.  Mr. Butler said that each year, at the request of the County Legislature, CNY Arts collects all the data from the groups and the aggregate shows that the Landmark is at the higher end.  Chair Rapp reiterated that twenty-five percent, of the one hundred thousand, come from outside the county. 

 

Mr. Ortega:

  • Percentage very close to MOST’s tracking – brings a lot of people into the County for events
  • The more exciting things happen downtown the more things are drawn downtown - critical mass of people moving downtown, restaurants thriving and MOST has seen the difference, i.e., people attend Landmark show, see the MOST, reminds them to bring kids back to the MOST
  • Vibrant Landmark makes a more vibrant MOST, Everson and OHA - together stand in support of changes made, important changes for downtown

 

Mr. Chutinthranond:

  • Business increases during Landmark shows, collected numbers since 1990; if Landmark could bring in 22 shows a week, sales would be $250,000 to $400,000 per month depending on the show, will reflect on many other restaurants and shops in the area - likely to collect additional $400,000 in tax from the restaurant
  • Nothing like this happened from end of 2013 through 2014, Landmark started again a few months ago and brought life to Armory Square and the restaurant – seeing different faces and more people are coming back
  • Much money spent to put the Landmark together – this is what they always hoped the Landmark would bring to Armory Square
  • A good city is not just brick and stone, need love and culture; lost the symphony, now have Symphoria, hotel coming back, if they can bring the Landmark back it will be the best thing, along with good museums
  • Has seen the light at the end of the tunnel over past 2 months, fully supports the Landmark and hopes the committee will do the same

 

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

 

1.     SYRACUSE-ONONDAGA COUNTY PLANNING AGENCYDon Jordan, Deputy Director

       a.     Calling for Publication of the Notice of Eight-Year Review of Agricultural District No. 4, Towns of Dewitt, Fabius, Lafayette, Onondaga, Pompey, and Tully in Onondaga County

 

Mr. Jordan:

  • Each district must be reviewed every 8 years – District 4 up for review in 2016
  • Landowners can request land be removed from the district during review only; additions can be added yearly
  • Review process starts with publication

 

Chair Rapp asked if they knew of any controversy.  Mr. Jordan said that he did not know of anything at this time.

 

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

 

2.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTRobert DeMore, Director; Nina Andon-McLane, Admin Planning and Funding Coordinator

       a.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Authorize the 2015 County Homeownership Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($4,300,000)

 

Mr. DeMore said that Mr. Liedka had to leave by 11:00 a.m. and suggested that the committee advance his items to Ways and Means.  Ms. Berger said that if the committee intends to move all the items, they could move them as a block while they had a quorum.  

 

A motion was made by Mrs, Rapp, seconded by Mr. Burtis, to move all the items in a block to Ways and Means, as presented on the agenda.  Passed unanimously; MOTION CARRIED.

 

Ms. Andon-McLane:

  • Program rehabilitates vacant houses - mainly purchase houses, sometimes receive tax auction property
  • Sell to low and moderate income, first-time home buyers – income up to 80% of county median
  • Loan provides for working capital or temporary construction financing to purchase homes, pay bills, carrying costs and resell
  • Buyers obtain mortgage, mainly work with local banks, i.e., Geddes and Solvay; will be working with Home Headquarters, has looser requirements – many people in the income bracket have difficulty obtaining financing; buyer can go to any bank for the mortgage
  • Currently have owner subsidy grants from NYS - typically $30,000
  • 10th loan requested since 1992, previous loans totaled slightly over $22 million, just under $500,000 remains, need new loan to keep program going – have subsidies from Affordable Housing Corporation, many properties from the tax sale, along with the purchases of vacant properties

Mr. Burtis asked what the vendor requirements were.  Ms. Andon-McLane said that they were typical requirements.  Mr. Burtis said that they just refer people to different lenders.  Ms. Andon-McLane said that they could also go own their own.  Mr. DeMore said that the buyer might have a relationship with a credit union.  They do a lot of work with Geddes and Solvay, as they know the program and give people certain discounts on fees or closing costs.  Ms. Andon-McLane said that the buyers must meet their criteria and go for housing counseling. 

 

In answer to Chair Rapp, Ms. Andon-McLane said that the funds were essentially a loan from the County to the program.  Since 1992, they have rehabbed almost 400 houses.  These are the worst properties seen in neighborhoods, vacant and no one is paying the taxes.  Mr. DeMore said that the county fronts the money and then the loans are paid back with the mortgage proceeds, plus state money.  Chair Rapp asked if they make money on the program.  Mr. DeMore said that he has been doing better.  Ms. Andon-McLane said that they make on some and loose on others.  Chair Rapp asked if they were ahead or behind at the end of the day.  Mr. DeMore said that they lost money a few years ago, now try to buy smarter and are breaking even overall. 

 

Mr. Liedka said that the program has a tremendous impact on neighborhoods, which he has seen firsthand.  One home in East Syracuse took down the entire block, now it has been renovated and there is life again.  He is a big fan of the program.  Mr. DeMore said that the program works but they are trying not to bleed money.  Ms. Andon-McLane said that the program puts the houses back on the tax roll in much better shape than a private developer would do.  Chair Rapp said that over the last 20 years, they put more than one million dollars into one block of Mattydale and it has made a difference.

 

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

 

Chair Rapp asked Mr. DeMore to pause for a moment, to advance a pro forma item, while there was a quorum.

 

4.     VISIT SYRACUSECarol Eaton, Vice President of Marketing

        a.     Designating the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity as the Agency Authorized to Make Application to the New York State Department of Economic Development and to Receive Matching Funds Therefrom Under the New York State Tourist Promotion Act for 2015 - 2016

 

Ms. Eaton:

  • Each year apply to Empire State Development out of NYS Division of Tourism for tourism matching grant – need designation as county’s authorized tourism agency to do so
  • Once grant is received, funds are matched and directed toward marketing and promotion

 

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

 

1Mr. Liedka left the meeting.

 

       b.     Authorizing the Acquisition of Real Property Necessary in the Town Of Onondaga, County of Onondaga, for the Implementation of the Onondaga County Community Development Homeownership Program ($1,000)

 

Mr. DeMore:

  • Displayed before and after photos (On file with Clerk) of property located at 128 Roswell Ave., Nedrow – 2013 tax sale property
  • Lost a little money, others that make money will help offset
  • Home in poor condition, tree feel through roof, water damage, broken windows, large amount of trash in home
  • Home sold to mother with 2 children in September - moved in
  • Told home buyer they would try to purchase lot next door – owned by previous home owner
  • Displayed photos of lot (On file with Clerk) – large amount of trash and remains of partial structures with multiple tarps
  • Owner stays on lot in the summer and brings in more stuff – violated by Town of Onondaga but doesn’t seem to care
  • Tried to buy lot, refused to sell; want to bring condemnation proceeding to obtain lot and attach to home, will do all legal work himself, with law reviewing
  • Lot appraised for $1,000, offered $3,000 for purchase - need authorization to proceed
     

In answer to Chair Rapp, Mr. DeMore said that the lot was 50x130 – not a buildable lot.  Chair Rapp said that it would be a buildable lot in Mattydale.  Mr. DeMore said that he did not believe anyone was going to build on it there and the lot would never be cleaned up.  There is a nice home with a family living next to this mess. 

 

Mr. Burtis asked what happens next with the taxes owed, about $260.00.  Mr. DeMore said that the taxes were not a part of this process.  The owner would owe the tax when she acquires the property. 

 

Chair Rapp asked how much the property was being sold for.  Mr. DeMore said that the house was $105,000.  He would suggest that the owner attach the lot to her property so that there would be one tax bill and the extra assessment would be minor.  He plans to give the homeowner the lot – told buyer this land would come along with the house. 

 

In response to Mr. Burtis, Mr. DeMore said that he was not cleaning the lot.  Chair Rapp said that the cleanup was where the big money would be.  Mr. DeMore said that the new owner could gradually remove the items, would then have a nice house and lot, and the neighborhood would be cleaned up.  It is an eyesore for the neighborhood and the violation from the town has not gotten results.

 

Chair Rapp said that they no longer had quorum to take a vote.  Ms. Berger said that the item was already been moved to Ways and Means.

 

Mr. DeMore presented a packet with multiple properties and a resolution entitled, “Authorizing the Transfer of Tax Delinquent Properties to the Onondaga County Housing Development Fund Company”.  (On file with Clerk).  

  • Law department hasn’t reviewed resolution
  • Rushed for time – wants to complete before it snows, for ease of getting into properties
  • Briefly reviewed each property

 

No action took place on this item.

Mr. DeMore presented a packet with multiple properties and a resolution entitled, “Authorizing the Transfer of Tax Delinquent Properties to the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation”.  (On file with Clerk).   

  • Ms. Wright will be presenting to Ways and Means
  • Briefly reviewed each property, have letters of support from involved towns
  • All towns involved with properties transferred to the land bank in 2014 are happy with the progression – land bank finds a buyer, buyer agrees to repair property, lien placed on property to ensure repairs are made
  • Different model than Community Development, similar end results; between the 2 programs they are fixing up a lot of houses

 

No action took place on this item.

 

5.     2016 Regatta Update:  Joe Bufano, President, Syracuse Chargers Rowing Club

 

Chair Rapp said that this was a story about priming the pump – when you do it right, good things come out the other end.

 

Mr. Bufano:

  • Introduced himself as president of the Chargers Rowing Club and Katie Wegerski from Syracuse Media Group
  • Past year both have been working on an event for Onondaga Lake that includes health, wellness, community, economic impact and celebrating the beauty and rejuvenation of the lake – The Onondaga Cup and Lake Festival
  • Event rides on the back of the corporate rowing program; program provides health and wellness to employees, started in 2011 with 3 companies, now have 16

regatta

regatta

  • Formalizing regatta into The Onondaga Cup – rejuvenating “Ya Gottta Regatta” spirit and bringing unique event to Onondaga Lake
  • 24 local teams and inviting 8 teams from Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Saratoga – anticipate event will grow into a national event
  • Distributed Onondaga Cup packet (On file with Clerk), event date July 16, 2016
  • Research from US Rowing Regatta verifies regatta’s bring economic impact; teams stay overnight for all-day weekend events
  • Sub event categories of kayak and standup paddle boards for individuals

 

In answer to Chair Rapp, Ms. Wegerski said that rowing would be part of the seven-week program.  Kayak and paddle boarding would be recreational and anyone could sign up, or a smaller company that was unable to fill a boat could sponsor one employee.  Mr. Bufano noted that only about eight people would be competing in the two subdivisions for the inaugural event. 

  • Single elimination, dual racing event – quarterfinal, semifinal and final held at night under the lights
  • Land activities include festival portion of event

 

Ms. Wegerski:

  • Syracuse Media Group partnering with Charges – taking on marketing, promotion, land activities and fun factor
  • Rented Long Branch Park, selling vendor spaces to crafters and food vendors, will have beer garden and live music; viewing area free for all
  • VIP tent at finish line – dress code required, similar to Kentucky Derby
  • Support of committee and County will establish event
  • Charitable betting similar to Final Four – companies fill out brackets, funds raised through brackets are awarded to winning business’s charity of choice

 

Mr. Bufano:

  • Charitable betting and VIP experience have strong connections to rowing, i.e. Royal Henley Regatta, largest regatta in the world, held annually in London, must dress up to be in regatta enclosure at the finish line
  • Years ago bet on collegiate crews – people flocked to Hudson River and Onondaga Lake shores to do so

 

Chair Rapp said that they were trying to honor the history as they create this event and are just looking for support, they are not asking for funding.  Ms. Wegerski asked the committee to spread the word, as the success of the first year will determine the future of the event.  Mr. Bufano said that the festival would attract the general community who will want to be part of it.  There is something for everyone. 

 

Chair Rapp said that to the legislature’s credit, this would probably not be happening without the course.  The event stays with what they were trying to do to highlight the lake and bring people in to celebrate the billion dollars put into creating the lake as the center of the community.  She is very proud of what they are doing.  It is exciting.

 

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 A.M.

 

Respectfully submitted,

signature

KATHERINE M. FRENCH, Deputy Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 attendance

 

* * *

 

WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MINUTES - NOVEMBER 23, 2015

DAVID KNAPP, CHAIRMAN

 

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

ALSO PRESENT:  Chairman McMahon, Dr. Chase, Mr. Ryan, see also attached list

 

Chairman Knapp called the meeting to order at 8:52 a.m.

 

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

 

CONSENT AGENDA

 

1.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:

        a.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Authorize the 2015 County Homeownership Program and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($4,300,000)

 

2.     LANDMARK THEATRE:

        a.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Make Surplus Room Occupancy Funding Available for Use in Support of the Landmark Theatre ($50,000)

 

3.     ONONDAGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY:

        a.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Accept and Appropriate Various Unanticipated Funds, and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($649,555)

        b.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Accept New York State Special Legislative Project Aid for the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement his Resolution ($50,000)

        c.     Amending the 2015 County Budget to Accept Additional New York State Local Library Services Aid for the Onondaga County Public Library and Authorizing the County Executive to Enter into Contracts to Implement this Resolution ($11,299)

        d.     Transfer from Onondaga County Public Library, Account 390039 Total Salaries, to Onondaga County Public Library, Account 694100 All Other Expenses, $14,500

 

4.     WATER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:

        a.     A Resolution Authorizing the County of Onondaga to Enter into Intermunicipal Agreements with Various Towns to Implement the 2015 Suburban Green Improvement Program (SGIP) to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District of the County of Onondaga, New York ($900,000)

        b.     A Resolution Approving the Oneida Lake Pump Stations Rehabilitation Project to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District of the County of Onondaga, New York, and Approving the Classification of a Type II Action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act ($8,120,000)

        c.     A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $8,120,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay the Cost of the Oneida Lake Pump Stations Rehabilitation Project to Benefit the Onondaga County Sanitary District in and for Said County ($8,120,000)

 

5.     METROPOLITAN WATER BOARD:

        a.     A Resolution Approving Improvements for the Onondaga County Water District of the County of Onondaga, New York ($5,472,000)

        b.     A Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of $5,472,000 Bonds of the County of Onondaga, New York, to Pay Costs of Certain Improvements for the Onondaga County Water District in and for Said County ($5,472,000)

 

A motion was made Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mr. May, to approve the items on the consent agenda.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.  ABSENT:  2 (Ervin, Williams)

 

REGULAR AGENDA

 

1.     COUNTY CLERK:  Chris Plochocki, Deputy County Clerk

        a.     Mortgage Tax Apportionment

  • Period of April – Sept. 2015
  • Total $4,337,920.99; up 33% over previous period; up 19% over same period last year

 

Mr. May asked how much it was down in 2014; Chairman Knapp said it was significant, about 25-30%.  In answer to Mr. May, Mr. Plochocki said that this year it is tracing up. 

 

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

 

2.    EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT:  Dan Wears, Commissioner

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

  • No funds associated; no changes – all are being reappointed
  • Representation in the field or at meetings
  • Unpaid positions – only paid for mileage if they put in for it (very few do); uniforms and appropriate equipment are provided

1Mrs. Ervin arrived at the meeting.

 

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

 

3.       FINANCE – REAL PROPERTY TAX SERVICES:  Donald Weber, Real Prop. Tax Services Director

a.     Call for a Public Hearing on the Assessment Roll for Southwood-Jamesville Water District

b.     Call for a Public Hearing on the Assessment Roll for Warners Water District

c.     Onondaga County Sanitary District General Apportionment

d.     Onondaga County Sanitary District, 2016 City Abstract

e.     2016 City Drainage District Abstract

f.      Bear Trap – Ley Creek Drainage District Tax – General Apportionment

g.     Bear Trap – Ley Creek Drainage District Tax – Town of Clay Apportionment

h.     Bear Trap – Ley Creek Drainage District Tax – Town of Dewitt Apportionment

i.      Bear Trap – Ley Creek Drainage District Tax – Town of Salina Apportionment

j.      Bloody Brook Drainage District Tax – General Apportionment

k.     Bloody Brook Drainage District Tax – Town of Clay Apportionment

l.      Bloody Brook Drainage District Tax – Town of Salina Apportionment

m.    Authorizing General Apportionment of Harbor Brook Drainage District Tax

n.     Harbor Brook Drainage District Tax – Town of Geddes Apportionment

o.     Meadowbrook Drainage District Tax General Apportionment

p.     Meadowbrook Drainage District Tax – Town of Dewitt Apportionment

q.     Onondaga County Water District, 2016 City Abstract

r.      Allocation of 2016 Onondaga County Water District Special Assessment Among Zones of Assessment and Fixing the Composite Rates for the Several Towns and the City of Syracuse within said District

 

Mr. Weber:

  • Various county water and drainage districts – approving apportionments between towns

 

A motion was made by Mr. Kilmartin, seconded by Mrs. Ervin to approve items 3a – 3r.  Passed unanimously.  MOTION CARRIED.

 

4.     COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTRobert DeMore, Director

        a.     Authorizing the Acquisition of Real Property Necessary in the Town Of Onondaga, County of Onondaga, for the Implementation of the Onondaga County Community Development Homeownership Program ($1,000)

 

2 Ms. Williams arrived at the meeting.

 

Mr. DeMore showed slides of the property.

 

Mr. DeMore:

  • House was acquired on West Roswell Ave; spent a lot of money on it and sold to a family
  • Totally rebuilt it and is now a beautiful home -
  • The family that previously owned the home also owned the lot next door
  • They come back in the summer and live on the lot – cinder blocks and tarp; the town has cited them
  • Told the family that bought the house that he would try to get the lot so they could clean it up and combine the with the house
  • The lot is 50’ x 130’ – not buildable
  • Offered to buy it and they wouldn’t sell – started a condemnation proceeding
  • The lot will be turned over to the family that is in the house

In answer to Mr. Kilmartin, Mr. DeMore said that the owners are year delinquent on taxes.  Mr. Kilmartin asked if this is condemning the property via the violation.  Mr. DeMore said that this is a condemnation proceeding through Supreme Court; the Town of Onondaga doesn’t have proceedings for that.  Chairman Knapp asked if there are Health Department concerns.  Mr. DeMore said that the Health Department wasn’t involved.  He will put a covenant in the deed it that it can’t be sold separately.

 

Mr. Kilmartin asked what the cost of renovation was.  Mr. DeMore said that it was about $120k - $130k.  Lead money was used so no money was lost on it, but it only sold for between $110k - $115k.

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. DeMore said that the resolution authorizes proceedings with a condemnation proceeding.  After that he can go to Supreme Court with a proceeding.

 

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

 

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

  • Eight homes asking to acquire from tax sale
    • 120 Charles Ave., Solvay – houses around it are fixed up; thinks it can be saved; 2 family – will get estimates; if it can’t be done, they will tear it down or sell to neighbors
    • 208 Hazard St., Geddes – 2 family; owner walked away; tenant in there
    • 8641 Genesee Turnpike, Manlius – abandoned; roof and siding is new; 4 acres
    • 306 Brookside Drive, Onondaga – people walked away from it, 2 bedroom, an easy fix
    • 235 Germania Ave, Camillus – needs work; haven’t been inside
    • 210 Marilyn Ave, Salina – older lady living there; will meet with her; has concerns on care of it
    • 201 Dexter Ave. and 137 Irving Ave., Salina – will sell these to homeowner or developer with guarantee in writing with a lien that they would fix the house up and sell to a first time family homeowner

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. DeMore said that he is trying something different with these two properties.  It is what the Landbank does and it has been successful.  They are small homes; one is in bad shape. 

 

Mr. Jordan asked if the properties have gone for tax sale and nobody bid on them.  Mr. DeMore said that these were pulled off before the auction.  It is how it has been done for 10 years; drive around a look at them and if abandoned can get in.  They are pulled the day before the auction.

 

Chairman Knapp said that it is important to move on them expeditiously; before the cold weather sets in.  In the past, we have had situations where people have moved in for the winter.  If we own them, we are on the hook.  As soon as we can get control and secure them, the better.  Mr. DeMore said they can board them, lock them up, and put lights on.  There was a problem in Solvay where people moved into a property and had to be evicted.

 

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

 

Mr. Jordan said that he won’t be supporting this – has a problem with properties that haven’t gone up for tax sale – there are people that make a living that way – buying properties and rehabbing them.  He doesn’t think the county should be competing with the private sector.  If they go up for sale and nobody bids on them, he has no problem turning them over to Community Development for them to fix up.  He questioned why the county would get in the middle of it.  Chairman Knapp said it is a concern, but the big difference is that we know they are going to get fixed up, rehabilitated, and improve the neighborhoods; as opposed to someone buying them, not putting a nickel into them and turning around and renting them out.  Mr. Jordan said this is government going beyond what it should be doing – deciding what is good or bad.  The fact that we don’t like the way someone develops property – somebody goes in there, bids on it and uses their own money to fix them up – now we are making a judgment call as to whether we like the way they are fixing them or not.  We are taking someone’s livelihood away from them or decrease their ability to make a living.

 

Mr. DeMore explained that there is state money – grants for each of these homes.  His experience is that someone else will buy them, put in $10k or $20k or maybe nothing; the house still has problems and it slides back down.  When Community Development gets done with them, they are as perfect as they can be made.  In tracking these over years, the assessment on Community Development homes goes way up compared to a regular person, who buys at auction, and does as little as they can do.  To not take the grant money and not fix up the homes, doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Chairman McMahon said he understands Mr. Jordan’s point of view, and it implemented at 90% of the properties with the auctions.  He referenced experience either the City’s auction, which encourages out of town speculators.  The cost of dollars from NYC coming here and buying 4 or 5 properties has a huge hindrance on the neighborhoods and creates other costs to government, i.e. public safety costs, deteriorating property assessments.  This is 8 or 10 properties out of 100 – 150.  These ones are selected as one house on the block type strategy to help eliminate those properties – when they are sold, they are sold at a higher cost than what was purchased and have the grant money to help get the house fixed.  Mr. DeMore said that the “private market can’t and don’t do what we can do”.  Chairman McMahon said that for years he has seen a cast of characters that are speculators – purchase neighborhoods on south side and near west side City of Syracuse.  When there is nothing left to purchase they will go out to the suburbs and do the same thing.  Not everyone is bad; there are a lot of good ones – they work with the Landbank.  The auction is good, but it can be very dangerous at the same time.  

 

Mr. May said this is an issue that he needs to understand; has raised the same points in the past on all of these properties.  All of the points, pros and cons, are very good with the issue and extremely valid.  He is likely to abstain today.  Things have changed – now we have a landbank; there are new dynamics to the process, and needs to put it into perspective.  Bringing a neighborhood back strategically is a really good thing.  At the same time, of 8 – 12 house, half could be a great year for someone who does this for a living.  Mr. DeMore said that people do work on these; they are bid out.  Mr. May said that the contracting work is done, but the contractor doesn’t have a chance.

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that in terms of advancing these to the private sector or through Community Development program, contractors have to do the work.  The real difference comes down to whether there is an independent third party that is going to try to make the difference on the eventual flip of the house.  Mr. DeMore agreed and said that they do as little work as possible to make any money.  He referenced an example of a home in Fayetteville – went for near $50k.  The foundation was cracked and it wasn’t worth $25,000 – he questioned what a private builder would do to make money on it.  No money can be made by making any substantial improvements to it.  Community Development has money from the state and questioned why we would send it back to Albany for someone else to use.

 

Ms. Williams said that she will abstain today – wants more information.  She questioned what happens if there is a private developer who has been waiting for one of these houses to go to auction.  She understands what happened 10 years ago – there are people out there that don’t do good with houses – buy them and minimally fix them.  Things have changed; there are people out there that do this and make a living.  This is cherry picking what we want.

 

Mrs. Ervin asked how it is decided on which ones to go after.  Mr. DeMore said that it is a gut reaction – try to get a mix of them, so there are some that don’t lose money – try to break even on all of these houses.  He tries to pick some that look like not too much needs to be done, and some that need a lot of work.  Mrs. Ervin said that if you chose the ones that aren’t able to be repaired, then chances are that you are not competing with a private developer.  The ones that are easily fixed, perhaps could be taking away from others that do this.  Mr. DeMore said they would be sold to a developer.  Houses get bid up to $40,000-$50,000 at the auction.  He referenced the last two properties – if he can turn around and sell them to a private developer for $20,000, the private developer does better than he would have at the auctions, and Community Development makes a little money.

 

Chairman McMahon noted that in next month’s committees, the Landbank will present properties that they have picked out that they want pulled off the auction.  One key point is that the occupancy can be controlled.  If there is a neighborhood that is predominantly owner occupied, then you want to keep it that way.  They may not be able to do that in the private sector.  He would set up a tour with Syracuse United Neighbors to see what has happened when one or two folks speculate at auctions.  He referenced an example of one person getting 40 properties on the south side, and you can see what can happen to a neighborhood quickly.  They don’t reinvest; the good ones work with the Landbank.  A lot of the same owners go to the auction.  He doesn’t think there is a shortage of folks looking to get re-development opportunities and walk away from the auction upset.  Both Community Development and Landbank programs are very good – essentially about 20 properties that will get redeveloped, occupancy controlled, and they will get back on the tax rolls with a higher assessment than before. 

 

Ms. Williams said that her issue is not what SUN can or cannot show us; her issue is with the last two properties.  Now we are like a real estate – selling to someone else to fix up, and she needs to understand it a little better.  Chairman Knapp said that the concept behind that is that unlike at the auction, where it is a high bidder, covenants can be put in the sale to make sure they will fix it up, sell to a first time home buyer, etc.  It will accomplish the same goals, just by a different avenue.  He referenced a bad experience in LaFayette, where a property was bought at the auction.  It has sat there for 10 years, boarded up, no windows; owner refuses to fix it up and pays the taxes every year. 

 

Chairman Knapp said that this has been a good discussion; a little more research has to be done.  No vote will be taken today; it will be marked as considered and can move forward to session after more research is done.

 

5.     GREATER SYRACUSE PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT:

        a.     Confirming the Reappointment to the Board of Directors of the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation (Daniel Barnaba) (Sponsored by Mr. McMahon)

 

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

 

6.     FINANCE, DIVISION OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET:  Steve Morgan, CFO

        a.     3rd Quarter Forecast – Steve Morgan, CFO

chart

chart

Mr. Morgan:

  • $8.3M projected surplus
  • Proposed use of $5M in fund balance to balance the budget and projects
  • Based on revenue and expenditure projections - not expected to use any of that fund balance
  • Also will add $3.3M to fund balance
  • Driving forces on expenditure side is in mandated programs:
  • Medicaid
  • Affordable Care Act savings - projected $4 million deficit
  • State action taken that capped youth placement costs in state facilities for all counties - costs be capped going forward and alleviated all liabilities going back near 5 years.  The state had not billed the county.  County kept accruing funds for it because the bills would come eventually - $11 million accrued to pay for the bills that will never come now.

 

In answer to Mr. Jordan, Mr. Morgan said that the bills were for youth placements in state facilities.  They are state run facilities; the state bills county back for half of the cost.  The last bill received was for 2010; state was sitting on a mountain of bills to send out and then the state budget action alleviated the retroactive bills.

  • State Training Program and Special Children’s Services projecting surplus – as rates remain flat, services remain stable

Revenues:

  • Big variances on state and federal aid – decrease due to mandated cost being lower – when mandates are lower, revenues will go down in concert
  • 1% growth projected in sales tax
  • Everything else is on schedule and budget as anticipated

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Morgan said that by and large the budget overall is solid and most departments will stay within their budgets.

 

Mr. Jordan referred to the $11 million that has been accrued, and asked if it is part of the $8 million surplus.  Mr. Morgan stated that it is.  Mr. Jordan said that but for the $11 million, we would actually have a deficit of $3 million which we won’t have going forward next year.  Mr. Morgan agreed, and said that the lower capped amount the hard cap on Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act savings was factored in going forward.

 

chart

 

Mr. Morgan:

  • Strong fund balance
  • Year will end probably stronger than this forecast

 

Mrs. Ervin said that the 10% goal is fine, but now we are over that and doesn’t understand why we have to hold on to the money.  Mr. Morgan said that all of the union agreements are still out right now; the only one in place is OCSPA.  Some of the fund balance will be used to cover the costs of whatever retroactivity may be in play.  Some money was factored in the 2016 budget for potential contract settlements, and some money is set aside in this year’s budget, but based on some of the initial proposals, it will not be enough – will have to dip into fund balance to pay for it most likely.  Mrs. Ervin said that is why fund balance is there to begin with, but now there is fund balance at 10% plus.  It seems it should be given back -- we are keeping money for no reason. 


Chairman Knapp said that we continue to enjoy the highest credit rating of any county in the state.  If we pierce the 10% because we have to use it for a contract or something else, then it will send a terrible message to the rating agencies.  Mr. Morgan said it helps weather financial storms as well.  The budget is supported with a lot more sales tax now, so having a rainy day fund is crucial. 

 

Chairman McMahon said that sales tax growth projections are down almost half.  Across New York State decreases in sales tax is being seen – some are below where they budgeted.  We are really in an economic slowdown.  There were a couple one shots that helped this year, but having a cushion going into the next 6 months and seeing where the sales tax numbers go, will be really important. 

 

Mr. Kilmartin said that this runs contrary to the unemployment rate and consumer confidence.  Mr. Morgan said that it does – we track sales tax very closely.  Across the state, we are one of the strongest performers right now.  Chairman Knapp said that there are over 40 counties that are negative sales tax growth; 4 or 5 have to borrow money to pay for the rest of the year’s operating budget.

 

Mr. Kilmartin questioned the mandated programs – a $19 million difference between 2015 projected and modified.  Mr. Morgan said that the State Training School alleviated payments that the State put in the budget -- $11 million.  Mr. May pointed out the loss of corresponding revenue. 

 

Mr. May referred to expenditures going up but projections being much further down.  He referred to contracted services, $2 million swing between modified and projected.  Mr. Morgan said that it is a number of things – the Sheriff’s correctional health contract will be lower than anticipated.  It will bring in $500,000 - $600,000.  It is a credit; the county doesn’t pay them if they don’t meet their staffing requirements.  There are millions of dollars of contracts that are expensed/reimbursed based.  A contract is entered with an agency at a maximum amount, but it is based on actual expenses.  They won’t spend the maximum of their contracts.  There is $11 - $12 million in Social Services contracts alone.  When they don’t spend the entirety, there is surplus because they are cost-reimbursed based.

chart

chart

 

  

chart

 


Onondaga County Clerk Fees

Onondaga County, Third Quarter YTD, 2005 - 2015 (in millions)

 

chart

Compiled by the Onondaga County Division of Management and Budget

 

Clerk Fees include all fees collected by the County Clerk’s Office.  The majority of these collections are fees associated with mortgages (recorded deeds, recorded mortgages, mortgage discharges and assignments).  The chart above represents cumulative fees collected through Third quarter by year.

 

Room Occupancy Tax Collections

Onondaga County, 2004 Actual - 2015 Adopted (in millions)

 

chart

Compiled by the Onondaga County Division of Management and Budget

 

Room Occupancy Tax collections include room occupancy tax collections and interest and penalties on room occupancy tax collections for all funds.

 

chart

 

Source: Housing and Urban Development, Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors,

Federal Home Mortgage Corporation

 

chart

 

Source: Onondaga County Clerk’s Office

 

Lis pendens is the first step in the procedure to file for foreclosure.  It is a clear indication of housing market sentiment and consumer well-being.  Through September 2015, lis pendens counts in Onondaga County totaled 1288, 2% less than the number filed in Third quarter in 2014.

 

chart

7.     INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY:  William Fisher, Deputy County Executive

        a.     Status Report – PeopleSoft Support to City of Syracuse

 

Chairman Knapp said that last month an item was before the committee regarding the county assisting with the implementation of PeopleSoft in the City of Syracuse.  The original resolution authorized $125,000; last month the resolution was to add another $125,000 to it.  There was concern about payment; the resolution was approved but the County Executive’s office was asked to come back and provide a status report on it.

 

Mr. Fisher said that a check was just received for $87,804.67.  The Mayor’s office and City IT Director were informed that this committee was very anxious about this situation.  The payment brings the City current as of June 30th; have paid a total of $118,000 of the original $125,000.  The extension, an additional $125,000, was signed by the County Executive about 10 days ago, and understands that the Mayor has signed it.  The City can now process their voucher for the July, August, and September bill.  He expects that they will rapidly bring themselves current through September and will encourage them not to fall behind again. 

 

Chairman McMahon said that over the time period that he has been with the legislature, there have been multiple reinvestments with PeopleSoft.  As we continue to allocate resources and upgrade technology, what gets lost is what the benefits are of this.  His understanding is that the benefits were upgrading technology, streamlining potential services within departments, which would eventually lead to cost savings in the operational budget.  The task is “where do you see some of these budgetary cost savings coming down the pike.  We are in the 3rd or 4th year of implementation and there should be some light at the end of the tunnel as to why this has made us more efficient and where we can start seeing some costs savings in our regular budget lines.

 

Mr. Fisher said that a report can be prepared.  The things to focus on are the business processes have been changing in a big way.  There used to be a lot of fiscal officers, who entered requisitions and processed purchase orders, received goods or services, and created vouchers.  We have moved a lot of that work out of departments and into the Division of Financial Operations, in the Finance Department.  Rather than having people that needed to learn all of these different functions and business processes, we have people who are specialized in one area.  There are people that just focus on requisitions, get very good at that specific transaction, and do it all day long.  Some have retired, as it was not what they really wanted to do - they had a job that they could manage.  We now know that means that they weren’t necessarily as productive as they are now.  Those positions have been held, not filled, and the work moved to fewer people.  It freed up people to do more high-level analysis.  There are budget analysts that used to spend time down in the weeds that are now looking at a higher level of how a program is performing.  The spend hasn’t necessarily been reduced, because there is a lot of good analysis that has come out of the management analysts that will help us be strategic about the overall budget.

 

Mr. Fisher said that when vouchers were processed, there used to be a lot of paperwork.  There were a lot of people in the Comptroller’s office that have to design those forms, check them, make sure someone has approved it, audit it, and make sure the right signatures were there.  We are collaborating with the Comptroller’s office to modify the way that vouchers get approved and replace a lot of paper-based processes with electronic processes.  Overtime, there should be fewer people in the Comptroller’s office processing them.  Whether the Comptroller wants to take his people and put them on something that helps towns and villages or reduce head count is going to be his decision.  There won’t be as many people needed to process the paperwork for straight claims, as it will be replaced with automated work flow around vouchers. 

 

Mr. Fisher said going forward with the HR/payroll system, there is probably more people than are needed to process payroll, unemployment, and changes in benefits.  There should be efficiencies in the Personnel Dept.  In the departments where there are payroll clerks/administrators, some of the work is being pulled into the Personnel Department.  The decisions about taking the resources that are freed up to do more analysis or add other value or reduce the spend, will be that of the Personnel Dept, various other departments, and the Comptroller’s office, after the system is brought live. 

 

Chairman McMahon asked Mr. Fisher and the Comptroller’s office to challenge themselves on this – see what can be agreed on as to where we can see savings and give recommendations.  If it is functions of government that we currently have people behind, and we really don’t need them because we have put millions and millions of dollars into this software, what else will these people do.  At some point it is a policy decision of the legislature.  The timing of this is important going forward.  Looking at the economic analysis, the one thing that we know we can control is headcounts.  He is not saying we lay people off, but through attrition, it would be good to have a 2 – 3 year plan in place.  We know that because of the technologies upgrades, that we have spent $10 -$15 million on, should lead to operations savings.  Mr. Fisher said that the main savings will be moving away from the mainframe.  Running financials, HR and payroll on a mainframe costs $1 million/year.

 

Mr. Maturo pointed out that from the Comptroller’s perspective, at least on the planning side of it, outside of actually data entering the claims, all of these functions are still the same.  It doesn’t change if there is a piece of paper in front of them or if they get the voucher electronically.  For the Comptroller’s office – it is one position – there is one data entry operator.  There are not multiple people putting in claims.  Mr. May asked if “claims” refers to expenses that you need to pay.  Mr. Maturo said that the Comptroller’s office pre-audits all claims outside of Social Services claims, which goes through the BICS system.  We still have that function regardless of who puts in the voucher, whether we key it ourselves or if whether the department keys it.  Mr. May said that it is an expense that has to be paid, that function comes from the Comptroller’s office ultimately.  Mr. Maturo agreed. 

 

Mr. Morgan said that right now certain expenses are paid on paper.  We are in the process of putting that process in PeopleSoft, which will alleviate the paper.  Mr. May asked for an example.  Mr. Morgan said that mileage paid for employees is an example.  They submit a paper document to Comptroller’s office.  It has to be keyed into the financial system.  Mr. Maturo said that what gets paid on vouchers is anything that is not part of a contract or purchase order, i.e. utilities, employee mileage, any type of reimbursements.  Mr. Fisher said that procurement cards are another example.  Through an RFP process, we recently awarded a company that will help us generate a lot more volume of our spending through credit cards.  We are going to see rebates that are in the six figures.  Right now we get virtually nothing for the credit card spending in the county.  There will be a steering committee that will include Purchase, Comptroller’s Office, and Finance – they will have to design it so that everything is controlled the right way.  Eventually, if spending is moved through P-Cards, rebates should be seen that are substantial.  Other counties and school districts have done it.  It becomes a way to pay for the people that are doing this work.

 

Mr. Jordan said that this seems like mixing apples and oranges.  There is a savings as a result of moving fiscal officers from departments to Finance, which seems like savings due to re-organization, not PeopleSoft.  That is a savings of the way the work is being done.  Mr. Fisher said that it is the software that enables that engineering of the business process.  Mr. Maturo stated that any software could do that.  He said that if there is a desire to have a discussion on PeopleSoft, he suggested that a Fiscal Ways & Means meeting be held to discuss the PeopleSoft contract.  We are five years into it, and if you take a look at the modules that we have bought and not put in yet – it is substantial.  If you want to put in everything that we have paid for; you are talking about a lot of money down the road.  We are not near the finish line; we are about a quarter of the way through the race.

 

Chairman McMahon said that he would like to understand the plan.  A lot of money has been spent, and maybe there is a lot more to spend.  Some of it would have to be spent with any vendor – some is the cost of doing business.  Some of it was the intention to streamline government in a way that would lead to eventual reduction in body count and delivery of better services.  We now need a plan on to look at as whether the software allows  looking at other functions that we do, that the private sector has been able to do.  Look to see if the private sector can do it better functions better – i.e.  HR, payroll, etc.  We need to look at real budgetary savings items that we can see each year as we streamline government, especially if there are more costs down the road.  Mr. Fisher said that things can be benchmarked against other like organizations that are using the same software.  Rochester School District, Syracuse School District, and Syracuse University all use PeopleSoft – all are comparable groups.  Chairman McMahon said that now is the time to do it; look at all of the potential benefits, and then this committee can vet out all of the different data before a new budgetary process starts.

 

8.     PURCHASE:  Sean Carroll, Director

        a.     Revenue Contract Report

 

Mr. Carroll distributed the following:

Rev Contract Report

Mr. Carroll:

  • Revenue contract for Trolley Lot, behind the elevated rail overpass in Armory Square
  • Will be soliciting a revenue model and a management model to figure out which is the best model
  • 400 parking spots, winter maintenance is a concern 

Chairman Knapp asked what the current situation is and referred to the the WEP project there.  Mr. Carroll said that during construction it was a big hole with no parking.  Since then, it has been completed and cars have parked there, managed by Facilities Management Dept.  There are people that manage parking lots, and it is not necessarily a function our Facilities Management Dept. is in.  This RFP will allow a look at all of the different options.  Chairman Knapp said that right now we are parking cars there; there is a county employee taking money.  Mr. Carroll agreed; believes that Facilities Management manages it during the day only, and there is not off-hours staffing. 

 

Chairman McMahon cautioned that there are a lot of different things going on downtown with potential redevelopment with the URI if it comes our way.  Parking spots may be needed to attract business and cautioned that we have flexibility in whatever we do.  Mr. Carroll said that the RFP maintains rights for the county.  There is a secured rate for employees; there is language that discusses how a vendor’s proposal would be modified if for any reason we had to do parking at an adjusted rate, not a market rate. 

 

In answer to Chairman Knapp, Mr. Carroll said that the RFP will be out for 3.5 weeks; it should take 2 – 3 weeks to turn around an award if the usual amount of 3 -5 proposals are received.

 

Mr. Ryan asked about the public safety issue in that area – there have been a lot of instances in the Trolley Lot, and asked if it will be addressed.  Mr. Carroll said that the RFP addresses that it is the responsibility of the vendor to maintain a safe environment for the parking lot.  Mr. Fisher said that the Downtown Committee is very concerned, as more activity happens downtown that there isn’t any issue where people don’t feel safe.  He spoke to Rick Trunfio, DA’s office, to see if it makes sense for the city and county to collaborate on this.  He said that Mr. Trunfio described past projects, which really had an impact.  Mr. Trunfio was meeting with SPD, Sheriff, and others and was going to advocate for this type of idea.  It is probably time for the city and county to focus on it.  If people don’t feel safe coming or going to their cars from work or events, then all what is being done is for not. 

 

Chairman Knapp said that if we are not manning the Trolley Lot at night, he can see where it would invite possible trouble.  Once there is a vendor that is required to have presence there, it may help the situation.

 

Mr. Ryan said that if we are interested in getting more business down there, more people living there, and you walk over there are on Mon., Tues., or Wed. night, there is nobody down there.  It’s dark and it has a bad reputation.  Chairman McMahon said that the panhandler situation has to be addressed also; the county could address legislation county-wide, and each municipality could decide if they want to enforce it or not.

 

Chairman Knapp asked Mr. Carroll to come back and report on it – let the committee know in December how many responses there were.

 

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

 

Respectfully submitted,

signature

DEBORAH L. MATURO, Clerk

Onondaga County Legislature

 

attendance

 

 
 
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