Tompkins Weekly Staff
At the beginning of the annual reorganization meeting of the Tompkins County Legislature on Jan. 2, County Clerk Maureen Reynolds administered the oath of office to all Legislators, including four new members: Henry Granison, representing District 3 in the City of Ithaca; Anne Koreman, representing District 5 which covers the Town of Ulysses and portions of the Town of Enfield and Ithaca; Deborah Dawson, representing District 10 which covers the Villages of Lansing and Cayuga Heights; and Amanda Champion, representing District 12 which covers the Town of Ithaca.
At the meeting, the Tompkins County Legislature unanimously elected Martha Robertson to the position of Chair of the Legislature for 2018. Robertson was the only member nominated for the position. Nominated for Vice Chair were legislators Anna Kelles and Dan Klein, who has served in the position for the past two years. The legislature was split seven to seven until Klein withdrew his name from nomination. The re-vote was unanimous in favor of Kelles.
Robertson, representing District 13 which covers the western part of the Town of Dryden, has served on the legislature since 2002. She is returning for her fifth one-year term as Chair of the Legislature, having previously served from 2010 to 2013. Robertson has chaired numerous committees including the Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, the Program Oversight Committee of the Community Housing Development Fund, and has served on the Public Safety Committee, the Old Library Committee, and the special Jail Study Committee.
Vice Chair Kelles was first elected to the Legislature in November of 2015. This is the beginning of her first full term on the Legislature representing District 2, which covers the City of Ithaca. Kelles has chaired the Health and Human Services Committee, and has served on the Facilities and Infrastructure; Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Public Safety Committee, and the special Jail Study Committee.
Also at the meeting, Interim County Administrator Paula Younger was recognized for her service to county government and the people of Tompkins County with a surprise resolution. Younger has served as Deputy County Administrator for 11 years and will be leaving county government for a position at Ithaca College.
Legislators and staff wore blue to mark her new role as the college’s first ever Executive Director for Government and Community Relations.
“Among her many accomplishment cited: securing grant funding to help establish the Greater Tompkins County Municipal Health Insurance Consortium; spearheading the comprehensive proposal to the federal government for ARRA shovel-ready projects; establishing a Grants Development and Management Center; providing essential support to the countywide Broadband initiative; initiating, leading, and facilitating a number of important diversity and inclusion initiative, including the County’s first Diversity and Inclusion Policy; developing and managing the administrative policy process and the County’s corporate compliance program; and securing technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice in response to the Hornbrook Road incident, and playing a key role in securing a New York State grant for the Law Enforcement Shared Services study,” according to a release from the Legislature Public Information Officer, Marcia Lynch.
“You have challenged me, you have developed me, you have given me an opportunity to learn,” Younger said. “I do not want to say good-bye, I just look forward to seeing you when I put on my ‘blue suit’.”
The Legislature also urged the repeal of regulations that require homeless shelter payments based on income. In a unanimous vote, the Legislature urged state legislative representatives to repeal the regulations of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance that require homeless individuals that have a modest income and are seeking support for temporary housing assistance to contribute to shelter payments.
“Such payments can be up to $70.54 per night for sheltering costs, which the resolution notes would be an equivalent cost or renting an apartment for approximately $2,100 per month, including utilities,” said the release. “Repeal of the requirement, the resolution states, would allow homeless Tompkins County residents to accumulate sufficient income to better prepare for obtaining and maintaining more permanent housing.”