Tompkins County
New York

Resolution
RES-2015-55

Authorizing an Appropriation of $20,000 from the Contingent Fund to Support a Community Outreach Worker Program in Downtown Ithaca

Information

Department:County AdministrationSponsors:
Category:IntermunicipalFunctions:Contingent Fund, Ithaca Downtown Alliance

Attachments

  1. Printout
  2. HHS Handout - 3-5-15

Resolution/Document Body

WHEREAS, the City of Ithaca has been engaged in the long and thoughtful process of rebuilding its downtown, including the complete redesign of the Ithaca Commons in an effort to create a downtown space where every person feels welcome and where businesses and services thrive, and

 

WHEREAS, much attention has been paid to understanding the needs, concerns, and wishes of the various downtown stakeholders (e.g., merchants, shoppers, tourists, visitors, restaurant goers, eatery owners, service providers, landlords, tenants, etc.) in order to effectively provide and promote continually positive and inclusive stakeholder experiences for those living in, working in, and visiting Ithaca’s downtown area, and

 

WHEREAS, a Steering Committee comprised of designees of the City, County, Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA), and Family and Children’s Service (F&CS) (“the Funding Partners”) was tasked with looking into ways to help promote an inclusive and positive downtown experience, and the result was development of the Community Outreach Worker Program, and

 

WHEREAS, the purpose of the Community Outreach Worker Program is to create an effective infrastructure for developing, monitoring, and promoting a universally-applied standard of conduct for individuals in the targeted downtown that is both inclusive and encourages tolerance by way of referral, education/outreach, equal access, mediation, and conflict resolution, and

 

WHEREAS, the City of Ithaca has authorized the expenditure of $20,000 to support the Community Outreach Worker initiative, and the DIA $10,000 for the same, and

 

WHEREAS, F&CS has committed to serve as the employer of the Community Outreach Worker position envisioned by this initiative and has graciously committed to devote substantial overhead and other resources in addition to the above-noted funding in furtherance of the success of this program, and

 

WHEREAS, the Funding Partners will have an opportunity to evaluate a sizable portion of the inaugural year of this initiative when considering funding ensuing years of this initiative, and

 

WHEREAS, in support of the City of Ithaca’s exploration and potential implementation of such a Community Outreach Worker Program, the Tompkins County Legislature appropriated $20,000 to the 2015 County Contingent account to contribute to the program, subject to additional legislative review of the details of the program and also to confirm that funding had been committed to the program by the City of Ithaca and other funding partners, and

 

WHEREAS, the Legislature directed that if the funds are released from the Contingent account, they be allocated to Tompkins County Administration to assure that Community Outreach Worker Program will extend to the Green Street corridor adjacent to the Library, now therefore be it 

 

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Health and Human Services, the Government Operations, and the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committees, That the County Administrator be, and hereby is, authorized to enter into a funding agreement with the City and Family and Children’s Service in furtherance of the initiative detailed in this resolution,

 

RESOLVED, further, That the Director of Finance be authorized to make the following budget appropriation:

              FROM:              A1990.54400              Contingent Fund                                                         $20,000

              TO:              A1230.54400              County Administration Program Expense               $20,000

SEQR ACTION:  TYPE II-20

 

Meeting History

Mar 5, 2015 4:00 PM  Health and Human Services Committee Regular Meeting

Mr. Mareane said the resolution is the final step in agreeing to fund a portion of the salary for a Community Outreach Worker that would create an effective infrastructure for developing, monitoring, and promoting a universally-applied standard of conduct for individuals in the targeted downtown area that would include the State Street/Martin Luther King corridor from downtown to Meadow Street and Cayuga Street between the Tompkins County Public Library, Mental Health, and Dewitt Park. As part of the 2015 budget funds were set aside in contingency until more details were available about the proposed program. He also said the resolution will be presented to Government Operations and Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committees prior to consideration by the full Legislature.

Mayor Myrick reviewed the written document provided that outlined the intent of the program, target area, host agency, funding, steering committee, advisory committee, staffing qualifications and duties, and how the outreach worker would maintain a relationship with all partners in the program. The position is expected to start the second quarter of 2015.

Discussion followed and the following points were clarified:

· The program is modeled after one that is being used in Burlington, Vermont, that reduced calls to public safety officials by eighty percent.

· To avoid a negative perception the position will not be filled by a law enforcement officer.

· The position is not one to provide assistance with crimes. It is to assist individuals through discussion, recommendations to appropriate programs, directions, conflict resolution, etc., however, it will not be responsible for breaking up fights or physical conflicts.

· The partners would be represented in the Committees, however, final organization of this aspect is not completed. Currently representatives of the County has included Ms. Carey, Ms. Hendrix, and Ms. Schlather from the Human Services Coalition.

· A goal of the program is to provide a sense of security and respect to all people utilizing the Commons and other areas to be included.

· Although it had been mentioned, those involved strongly felt it important not to utilize police officers in any fashion to help reduce potential agitation and reluctance to call for assistance.

· The program would be reviewed prior to the end of the year and if continued would be included in the 2016 budget recommendation.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Kathy Luz Herrera, Vice Chair
SECONDER:Peter Stein, Chair
AYES:Peter Stein, Kathy Luz Herrera, Carol Chock, Will Burbank
EXCUSED:Leslyn McBean-Clairborne
Mar 23, 2015 4:00 PM  Budget, Capital and Personnel Committee Regular Meeting

Mr. Dennis said the resolution is the result of funds set aside for this initiative during the 2015 budget process.

Mayor Myrick reviewed the written document provided that outlined the intent of the program, target area, host agency, funding, steering committee, advisory committee, staffing qualifications and duties, and how the outreach worker would maintain a relationship with all partners in the program. The position is expected to start the second quarter of 2015.

Discussion followed and the following points were clarified:

· The program is modeled after one that is being used in Burlington, Vermont, that reduced calls to public safety officials by eighty percent.

· To avoid a negative perception the position will not be filled by a law enforcement officer.

· The position is not one to provide assistance with crimes. It is to assist individuals through discussion, recommendations to appropriate programs, directions, conflict resolution, etc., however, it will not be responsible for breaking up fights or physical conflicts.

· The partners would be represented in the advisory board and steering committee. Currently representatives of the County has included Ms. Carey, Ms. Hendrix, and Ms. Schlather from the Human Services Coalition.

· A goal of the program is to provide a sense of security and respect to all people utilizing the Commons and other areas to be included.

· Although it had been mentioned, those involved strongly felt it was important not to utilize police officers in any fashion to help reduce potential agitation and reluctance to call for assistance.

· The program would be reviewed prior to the end of the year and if continued would be included in the 2016 budget recommendation.

Discussion followed and Mr. Sigler asked for examples of the Rules of Conduct mentioned and also said he believes that if people are not receptive to police officers that steps should be taken to change that opinion. Mayor Myrick said the Rules of Conduct would be things such as no loud verbal altercations, smoking on the Commons, dogs, bicycles, improperly pan handling, etc. He also said that when police officers interact often the dynamics change; the goal is to find the right individual to build trust and respect by those in the area. With regard to training of officers, Mayor Myrick said the program is following the model used in Burlington, Vermont, however, it will be modified to make it a better fit for this community.

Ms. Herrera supports the initiative and shared her experiences and sense of intimidation when dealing with law enforcement officials. She also said having law enforcement officers would be more expensive than the proposed position.

Mrs. McBean-Clairborne arrived at this time.

Ms. Herrera asked about the area to be covered and if it would include only the library. Mayor Myrick said the full area described would be covered and noted that regardless of who provided the County funds the library area would be part of the route. Ms. Hendrix noted other County building areas such as Human Services Annex, Human Services Building, etc., are included in the routes.

Mrs. McBean-Clairborne asked why the funds were being put in the Library’s budget. Mr. Mareane explained during the budget process it was decided to hold the funds in the Contingency Budget for this purpose and the Library was chosen to ensure it would be part of the target area.

Mrs. McBean-Clairborne asked if Human Services agencies were represented given their experience with many of the people that would be found in the area. Mr. Lavine said Ms. Hendrix, Ms. Carey, and Ms. Schlather have been involved. Ms. Hendrix said this program pilot started as a small group discussion at the Homeless and Housing Task Force and has expanded to include many others. Included are Human Rights Department, Tompkins Community Action, Human Services Coalition, as well as other local agencies. Because this is a pilot, this year will be reviewed to determine what metrics can be measured; Burlington used the number of phone calls to law enforcement, which showed a significant reduction when the program was initiated.

In response to questions regarding how the budget would work for the program, Mr. Mareane said the addition of the contingency funding would increase the target budget by $20,000; in the event it was decided to eliminate the program the target budget would be reduced by $20,000.

Mr. Sigler asked if the Library Board would be required to vote on the proposed program and was told by Mr. Mareane he did not believe so and that the Library is supportive of the position and plans to put the funds into their 2016 budget.

Mrs. McBean-Clairborne asked if only Family and Children Services would be involved in the hiring of the individual, if not, she would like to suggest inclusion of the stakeholders who may want assurance that the person hired is a good fit and not someone that might violate rights of others and that they also have a proactive vacancy search.

Further discussion followed, with Committee members noting that while there is support for the program there are still unanswered questions regarding exactly how it would fully operate, be evaluated, etc. Ms. Herrera expressed a strong desire not to have the funds in the Library’s budget.

It was MOVED by Ms. Herrera, seconded by Mrs. McBean-Clairborne, to amend the resolution to move the funds from the Tompkins County Public Library budget to the County Administrator’s budget. A voice vote on the motion resulted as follows: Ayes - 3 (Legislators Dennis, Herrera, and McBean-Clairborne); Noes - 2 (Legislators Sigler and Stein). MOTION CARRIED.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:James Dennis, Chair
SECONDER:Peter Stein, Member
AYES:Kathy Luz Herrera, James Dennis, Michael Sigler, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Peter Stein
Mar 24, 2015 3:30 PM  Government Operations Committee Regular Meeting

Mr. Mareane explained this program was discussed during the 2015 budget process and it was determined to set aside $20,000 in the Contingent Fund to be used after more information was received. Originally, the funds were to have gone into the Library budget to be sure to include the Green Street Corridor in the area covered. At the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee meeting it was determined that it has been made clear that area would be included and a decision was made to put the money into the general County budget versus the Library.

Mr. Lavine said the program will provide an opportunity to improve the level of services of all stakeholders and reduce problems in the area covered. He clarified that this approach is believed to be better than having law enforcement called for many of the issues that occur and noted when necessary, law enforcement would be available. The program is a partnership between the County, City of Ithaca, and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and hopefully will start in May 2015. The position will be supervised through Family and Children Services.

Discussion followed with clarification made that the position would not be one of standard mediation services but to head off potential conflicts. Ms. Kiefer asked where the funds would be placed for the position and was informed by Mr. Lavine that the funds would be given to Family and Children Services. Ms. Kiefer commented there are no community members on the advisory board. Mr. Lavine said that suggestion had not been made and he will incorporate it in future discussions.

Mr. Shinagawa said when the idea of this program was first brought out there were many unanswered questions. Now with the information provided he is comfortable and supportive of the program.

It was MOVED by Ms. Kiefer, seconded by Mr. Shinagawa, and unanimously adopted by voice vote, to delete the word “lenders” from the second WHEREAS. MOTION CARRIED.

Additional changes agreed to as friendly were also made to the resolution.

Ms. Kiefer asked when a program review would take place. Mr. Mareane said an initial review would take place as part of the budget process. He would start inquiries in August and would come back during late September, early October with additional information to consider.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Glenn Morey, Member
SECONDER:David McKenna, Member
AYES:Daniel Klein, Dooley Kiefer, David McKenna, Nathan Shinagawa, Glenn Morey
Apr 7, 2015 5:30 PM Media Tompkins County Legislature Regular Meeting

Mr. Dennis explained that at the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee the language in the last Whereas and last Resolved was changed to appropriate the funding from the Library to Administration. He said he would like to have it changed back to how it was originally proposed with the funding going to the Library.

It was MOVED by Mr. Klein, seconded by Mr. McKenna, to amend the last Whereas and change “Administration” to “Library” as originally proposed.

Ms. Herrera explained the concerns she raised at the Committee when this was discussed. She understands that some of the incidents that have occurred have happened in and around the Library; however, there are other County buildings with public areas in the neighborhood that she wants people to be cognizant of. She hopes those areas would also be included and supported by the Outreach Worker. She believes it sets a precedent if the Library receives this funding through its budget and that is troubling to her; she believes the proper place for this funding is in the County Administration’s budget as there are other County buildings that will be supported by this community effort. She said she would not support the resolution if the funding were put in the Library’s budget.

Mr. Dennis invited the Ithaca Mayor, City’s Attorney, and the Youth Services Director to speak to this proposal.

Mrs. McBean-Clairborne said she agrees with Ms. Herrera and thought there had been a good faith compromise at the Committee meeting to have the funding go through the County Administration’s budget. She does not understand why there is a recommendation to change that. She too as a City representative would not want to oppose the resolution for that reason.

Mr. Myrick, Ithaca Mayor, spoke about the program and said the Outreach Worker will be supervised on a day-to-day basis by Family and Children’s Services. There will be monthly meetings of a group of people appointed to oversee this. He said from the City’s perspective, they do not have an opinion on where the funding should be placed at the County level. At this time, the scope of the position was described.

Mr. Mareane explained the mechanics of this and said there would be a contract with Family and Children’s Services. The funding will be paid to Family and Children’s Services and the County department or agency where this money is placed will act as a conduit for it. He reminded the Legislature that this came up last year during the budget deliberations for the Library. The discussions at that time were to make sure the coverage area included the Green Street corridor.

Mr. Lane believes it is important because the Library has suffered in the area from the problems that have been created by individuals. The Library has done a stellar job in trying to interface with people in the area. He said the Library began the discussions with the City of Ithaca about addressing some of the concerns and problems that have occurred. He believes that if the Library continues to be a player its voice will continue to be listened to.

Ms. Chock suggested adding a Whereas that the Library will be a partner in this program with a seat on the committee. She asked what the funding would do to the Library’s budget.

Mr. Mareane said this funding would be target funding and if the program was eliminated, the target for the Department would be reduced.

In response to Ms. Herrera’s questions concerning the areas the Outreach Worker would cover if the funding was not in the Library's budget, Mr. Myrick said that if the County funds the program the Library would be an area of focus for the position regardless of where the funding is placed. It will also include other public buildings owned by the City and County where concerns or problems are known.

Ms. Kiefer believes not having to go through the process of changing the Library’s target is a strong argument to not have the funding funneled through their budget. She agrees with the funding being funneled through Administration. She asked that in the contract language be included that specifies the County Library area is in the patrol area of the Outreach Worker.

It was MOVED by Mr. Dennis, seconded by Mr. Stein, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to Call the Question. THE QUESTION WAS CALLED.

A voice vote resulted as follows on the amendment to change “Library” to “Administration” in last Whereas: Ayes - 2 (Legislators Dennis and Lane), Noes - 10, Excused - 2 (Legislators Robertson and Shinagawa). AMENDMENT FAILED.

It was MOVED by Mr. Stein, seconded by Mr. Sigler, to Call the Question on the resolution. A voice vote resulted as follows: Ayes - 8 (Legislators Burbank, Dennis, Kiefer, Lane, McKenna, Morey, Sigler, and Stein); Noes - 4 (Legislators Chock, Herrera, Klein, and McBean-Clairborne). THE QUESTION WAS CALLED.

A short roll call vote taken.

RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:James Dennis, Vice Chair
SECONDER:Kathy Luz Herrera, Member
AYES:Will Burbank, Carol Chock, James Dennis, Kathy Luz Herrera, Dooley Kiefer, Daniel Klein, Michael Lane, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, David McKenna, Glenn Morey, Michael Sigler, Peter Stein
EXCUSED:Martha Robertson, Nathan Shinagawa