Tompkins County budget committee hears more presentations

Tompkins Weekly Staff

Photo by Kelsey O’Connor / The Ithaca Voice
The Tompkins County Legislature during a meeting.

First they heard County Administrator Joe Mareane’s 2018 spending proposal, now Tompkins County legislators – acting as an expanded budget committee – are hearing from departments and agencies about their wants and needs.

Mareane’s recommended budget would meet the Legislature’s 2018 budget goal of a 2.4-percent increase in the property tax levy, and would decrease the county tax rate for the fourth straight year. As part of the budget, new, recurring revenue from the area’s two new casinos funds most of a $1.36 million allocation to the contingent fund, with Mareane leaving to the Legislature, as a policy decision, how those funds should be allocated.

During the first full week of budget review, the committee listened to 19 presentations that will help shape their decisions when putting together the final spending plan. Departments and agencies that presented include:

Mental Health: The Mental Health budget requests $171,381 in over-target spending to substantially increase the department’s presence at Tompkins County Jail through new psychiatric social worker and caseworker positions focused on jail services. While not included in the recommended budget, the positions are suggested as a positive policy decision for by the Legislature.

Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources: OAR submitted two over-target requests, not included in the Recommended Budget, but advanced to the Legislature for policy decisions. The Administrator suggests favorable action on a $6,000 request to support an Advisor for the new Endeavor House transitional housing facility; and that $84,000 requested to underwrite the successful College Initiative Upstate program for a second year be modified from target to one-time funding.

Planning and Sustainability: Though not included in the Recommended Budget, creation of a new Housing Planner position ($97,227 gross expense) is suggested by the Administrator as a positive policy decision by the Legislature.
Among requests included in the Recommended Budget is funding to support a Business Energy Navigator position approved in 2017 — $50,000 as the first of three years’ funding for a staff person to help business with energy needs and resources.

— Youth Services: Of five over-target requests, $7,200 to replace electronic equipment and $3,000 for the department share of the County Youth Survey, both funded through rollover, are included in the Recommended Budget; $10,000 for youth worker training are suggested for positive action by the Legislature. $30,000 that would fund non-profit mini-grants related to the Achieving Youth Results program is not recommended.

Legislature: The Legislature’s recommended budget includes more than $15,000 for computer equipment for legislators, and $2,500 to enable more legislators to attend the annual NYSAC Conference. It was noted that there will be as many as seven new legislators next year.

The Expanded Budget Committee was due to continue its review this week, with three meetings scheduled at 5:30 p.m. this week
For more budget-related information (including presentation documents from departments and agencies) visit www.TompkinsCountyNY.gov/ctyadmin/2018budget.