Government Operations Committee

Regular Meeting Notes – Draft 8-7-17

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 3:30 PM

Legislature Chambers



Attendee Name



Daniel Klein



Carol Chock

Vice Chair


Dooley Kiefer



Rich John



Will Burbank



Catherine Covert

Clerk of the Legislature


Joe Mareane

County Administrator


Paula Younger

Deputy County Administrator


Ed Marx

Planning and Sustainability Commissioner


Megan McDonald

Senior Planner


Katie Borgella

Deputy Planning & Sustainability Commissioner


Maureen Reynolds

County Clerk


Alana Congdon

Deputy County Clerk


Jonathan Wood

Tompkins County Attorney


Anna Kelles




Guests:  Deborah Dawson and Ronny Hardaway, Village of Lansing residents; Paul Rossi, Board of Realtors; Media

Call to Order

              Mr. Klein, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:36 p.m.

Changes to Agenda

              There were no changes to the agenda.

Comments from the Public

              Deborah Dawson, Village of Lansing, spoke about the blue sign-in forms used for Privilege of the Floor at Legislature meetings and commented that they do not have any legal standing.  She hopes the Legislature will consider how to make people feel comfortable without compromising getting the necessary information from the forms and said she submitted a proposal for consideration she believes addresses that and will allow people to speak without giving their full name.

Minutes Approval

July 5, 2017

RESULT:              ACCEPTED [4 TO 1]

MOVER:              Will Burbank, Member

SECONDER:              Daniel Klein, Chair

AYES:              Klein, Chock, John, Burbank

NAYS:              Kiefer


Privilege of the Floor - Sign-in Form (ID #7142)

              Mr. Klein reminded Committee members of the information that has been distributed related to this topic including the City’s rules for speaking and public speaking policies from several surrounding counties.  He received the following two proposals for changing the sign-in form:


1.              Add under the signature line:

“If you do not feel comfortable with your name being announced in public please write a four digit number that includes your birth month followed by birth day. For example, April 11 would be 0411. This number will be used to identify you for your turn to speak.”


2.              Leave the statement of the rules of decorum as it stands. Then:


First Name: ____________________   Last Name (optional): ___________________________

Do you live or work in Tompkins County?  Yes ___  No ___

Are you speaking for yourself? Yes ___  No: ___ 

If you are not speaking for yourself, for whom are you speaking?  ________________________




              Ms. Chock said she agrees with people that here in Tompkins County our attitude has always been and should continue to be welcoming as possible in a formal environment and to have people come and give input.  Prior to her serving as a Legislator, she said when she would report to various committees it was very intimidating to come to a venue where people are focused on you.  She said she would support not using the forms for a period of time to see how the meetings go. 


              Ms. Kiefer thought the second suggestion submitted is helpful and would consider the proposal; however, she continues to believe the forms are useful and Privilege of the Floor should be continued and done in an orderly way.  In reference to the policies for public speaking in other counties, she does not agree with some of their practices. 


              Mr. John said he sees value in the forms.  People who come before government to speak should abide by some rules of decorum and believes the rules in place are reasonable.  He agrees that the second proposal is a reasonable compromise but would add municipality as an option.


              Ms. Kelles stated the first suggestion is the one she submitted, but would like to change it to instead of a four-digit number to include a “moniker”.  


              It was MOVED by Ms. Chock to amend the form to delete Rules 2-6, move the bold language at the bottom of the form to be Rule #2, and to add Ms. Kelles suggestion to include “moniker” under the signature line.  MOTION FAILED DUE TO LACK OF A SECOND.


              Mr. John said it is important to have rules in place; it allows the Chair of a meeting to take any necessary action to preserve order.  He said one of his concerns is to protect non-elected County employees to avoid damaging and untrue statements being made.


              Mr. Klein said that he does not understand why someone attending a public meeting would have an expectation to be anonymous.  He believes transparency is best for Legislators and the public.  There are a number of ways people can contact Legislators to share information if they do not wish to be identified publicly. However, he said he has spoken to many people about this issue and said very few agree with his position.  Based on those conversations, he said he is willing to support some modification to the form such as making the name and municipality optional. 


              Ms. Kiefer spoke about Rule #4 and said she would like to propose rewording it to read “I agree not to speak about individual County personnel other than elected officials”.  Mr. Klein asked the Committee to finish the discussion and question about anonymity before moving to other topics and rules on the form. 


              Ms. Chock said she would support Mr. Klein’s suggestion to make the name and municipality optional.


              Mr. Burbank believes addressing a public body is a public act and that the public has a right to know who is speaking.  However, he understands this issue is important to some people in the community and said he could accept some variation of shielding the person’s name if they so choose as they are being summoned to the microphone to speak as long as they have given their actual name and municipality and signed off on the rules.  These forms were created to help maintain order and decorum for meetings. 


              Mr. Klein said he would like to discuss with the County Attorney what is considered a public record as it relates this issue.             


              Discussion followed and Mr. John MOVED, seconded by Mr. Burbank, to amend the form as follows:


First Name (please print): ______________              Last Name (optional):   ______________________


Municipality of Residence (optional):  __________________________________________________


              Mr. Wood addressed the question about maintaining the sign-in forms as a record and said there is no requirement the minutes reflect who speaks; however, once you make a record there is law that outlines the retention period.  He does not believe the law addresses these forms specifically and that he would have to look into it.


              It was MOVED by Ms. Chock to amend the motion and add County of Residence without it being optional.  MOTION FAILED DUE TO LACK OF A SECOND.


              Discussion followed concerning whether this Committee would approve any changes to the form or if a recommendation would be made to the Legislature for approval.  With the exception of Ms. Chock, the Committee agreed the Legislature should approve any changes to the form.


              A voice vote on Mr. John’s amendment as follows:  Ayes - 4, Noes - 1 (Burbank).  AMENDMENT CARRIED.

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County Clerk

              Ms. Reynolds reported on the Naturalization Ceremony held earlier in the day and said there were 18 new citizens sworn-in as Americans.  She also announced for the fourth year in a row Tompkins County has been recognized as one of the nation’s top digital counties by the Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties (NACo). 

Resolution No. - Authorization to Accept a Grant from the New York State Archives - County Clerk (ID #7157)

              Ms. Reynolds briefly explained the resolution and said the State Archives shared-services grant funds will be used to scan and import large-format maps for all municipalities within Tompkins County into the County’s existing Laserfiche repository. 


MOVER:              Dooley Kiefer, Member

SECONDER:              Carol Chock, Vice Chair

AYES:              Klein, Chock, Kiefer, John, Burbank

WHEREAS, the County Clerk’s Office has been notified of a shared-services grant award from the State Archives in the amount of $36,873, and


WHEREAS, this State Archives shared-services grant represents a project for the Tompkins County Clerk’s Office to partner with the City of Ithaca and all of the towns and villages located in Tompkins County (Village of Cayuga Heights, Village and Town of Groton, Village and Town Lansing, Village and Town Dryden, Village of Freeville, Village of Trumansburg, Town of Ulysses, Town of Caroline, Town of Danby, Town of Newfield, Town of Ithaca, Town of Enfield, and City of Ithaca) and their use of the Countywide Electronic Document Management System (Laserfiche), and


WHEREAS, funds within this grant will be for additional Laserfiche software licensing to accommodate the additional users, and the scanning of city, town, and village large-format maps, (using Challenge Industries as the vendor), now therefore be it


RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations Committee, That the County Administrator or his designee is authorized to execute all contracts related to this award,


          RESOLVED, further, That the Director of Finance be and hereby is authorized and directed to make the following budget adjustments:



APPROPRIATION:              A1410.54442                            Professional Services                            $14,998

APPROPRIATION:              A1410.52230                            Software                                          $21,875

REVENUE:                            A1410.43089                            Other State Aid                                          $36,873


* * * * * * * * *


Planning and Sustainability Department

Meeting with Indian Creek Neighborhood Association Regarding Options for Harris B. Dates Drive (Biggs) Property (ID #7182)

              Mr. Marx said the property has been listed for sale for a period of time and came off the market two months ago.  He met with the County Administrator to discuss other options rather than relisting it.  To address the concerns raised by the neighbors including too much development, increase in traffic, and the natural value of the property, etc., a meeting was arranged and the members of the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association were invited to discuss the following options:  a smaller footprint of a multi-family dwelling, a solar project, and moving development rights from County property to the adjoining landowner’s property that would allow more units to be built on the land that is open fields.  These options were reviewed with the Town of Ithaca prior to this meeting and they believe any of the options would be workable.  The neighbors present at the meeting did not believe any of the developments on the site were desirable.  There was some acceptance for the idea of doing an off-site development that would allow more development than what the current zoning requirements allow.  This action would be subject to transferring development rights from the County property to the adjoining neighbors. 


At this time, Mr. Marx displayed maps of the property being discussed and highlighted the area of properties of the adjoining neighbors to which development rights would be transferred.   This would allow for an approximate 50-unit neighborhood on an 11-acre site.  It would be proposed as single-family senior-living ownership housing with home-owners association fees to provide on-site amenities.  This proposal would require finding a developer who would be interested in purchasing all of the property, request the Town of Ithaca to transfer the development rights, and pledge to retain a conservation easement on the County’s parcel. 


              The question for the Committee is whether to pursue this option for a period of time, put it back on the market, or pursue other alternatives.


              It was the consensus of the Committee to support the option for the off-site development as outlined above and to explore any interest from developers in pursuing this proposal.


              Mr. Klein asked the record be clarified; he said last evening a member of the public suggested this property had been purchased by the hospital, it had been Biggs A but is now in someone else’s hands.  Mr. Marx stated this parcel is the remainder from the entire parcel the County owned.  The County has transferred three other parcels:  Biggs A to the hospital, Biggs B more recently, and a single structure house to a third party.  This parcel is the undeveloped 25.6-acre that remains and has never left the County’s possession. 

* * * * * * * * *

County Attorney

Resolution No. - Appropriation from Contingent Fund - Terminal Pay - County Attorney's Office (ID #7185)

              Mr. Wood said Suzi Cook has retired after 35 years of service; however, she has been hired back part-time.


MOVER:              Dooley Kiefer, Member

SECONDER:              Will Burbank, Member

AYES:              Klein, Chock, Kiefer, John, Burbank

              WHEREAS, a staff member of the County Attorney’s Office has retired as of May 31, 2017, and


              WHEREAS, the Fiscal Policy of Tompkins County allows for terminal-pay reimbursement to the Department from the Contingent Fund, now therefore be it


              RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations and the Budget, Capital and Personnel Committees, That the Director of Finance be and hereby is authorized and directed to make the following budget adjustment for 2017:


              FROM:  A1990.54400                            Contingent Fund                                          $30,843.18


              TO:                A1420.51000312              Paralegal to County Attorney                            $30,843.18



* * * * * * * * *


Resolution No. - Endorsing the Shared Services Plan Presented by the County Administrator and Recommending its Adoption by the Tompkins County Shared Services Panel (ID #7187)

              Mr. Mareane said he has been working on shared services since earlier this year and explained the process and requirements pursuant to the “Countywide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Law”.  A panel was formed and Mr. Mareane spoke of those who participated and were invited to the meetings. 


              At this time, Mr. Mareane reviewed the proposed plan as approved by the Panel that included the following six key elements:


·              Creation of a Tompkins County Council of Governments Training Academy as a vehicle to provide affordable, high quality training to all local governments within the County. 

·              Creation and maintenance of a Service Modernization Plan by the County for use by all municipalities, to facilitate through software automation of a number of routine paper-intensive tasks currently done by hand.

·              Creation and management of a purchasing pool to facilitate lowest-cost acquisition of contemporary financial software for municipalities that desire it. 

·              Acquisition and operation by Tompkins County of a countywide mass notification system available to all municipalities in the County. 

·              Creation and management of a purchasing pool to facilitate conversion of street lights to high-efficiency LED fixtures for municipalities interested. 

·              Expansion of the Greater Tompkins County Municipal Health Insurance Consortium by two additional members in 2018, sustaining substantial recurring savings to all members. 


              Mr. Mareane noted that before the Plan is finalized, he expects the Town of Newfield to join the Municipal Health Insurance Consortium and will result in approximately $34,000 in savings for the Town.  The Panel will continue to meet and discuss other areas that need further analysis and consideration that cannot be done within the deadline set by the State.


              Ms. Kiefer spoke about the element relating to the conversion of streetlights to high-efficiency LED fixtures and her concern about making them dark sky and blue wave length. She believes that is important language to include in the report.  Mr. Mareane said those concerns have been expressed and believes the consultant will take them into consideration and will be the basis for the bid specifications.  


              Committee members commended Mr. Mareane and the Panel for the work on this Plan.


MOVER:              Rich John, Member

SECONDER:              Will Burbank, Member

AYES:              Klein, Chock, Kiefer, John, Burbank

WHEREAS, as a part of the 2017-2018 New York State Budget, the “Countywide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Law” was enacted that required counties to form a Shared Services Panel (“Panel”) comprised of the mayors and supervisors of municipalities within the County, charged with developing and adopting a Shared Services Plan (“Plan”) by September 15, 2017,  and


WHEREAS, by Resolution 2017-77, this Legislature designated the County Administrator as the County’s Chief Executive Officer as defined in the Shared Services Law and authorized him to form a Shared Services Panel and serve as its Chair, and


WHEREAS, the Panel met five times, conducted two public hearings, and has presented its recommendations to the Legislature in a Report dated July 19, 2017, and


WHEREAS, the Shared Services proposed in the Panel’s Report include:

·              The creation of a Tompkins County Council of Governments Training Academy, coordinated by, to serve as a vehicle to provide affordable, high-quality training to all local governments in the County;

·              The creation of a Service Modernization Plan by the County Clerk intended to enable all  local governments in the County to automate a number of routine paper-intensive tasks currently done by hand;

·              The creation and management of a Purchasing Pool to facilitate the lowest-cost acquisition of contemporary financial software by all interested local governments within the County;

·              The acquisition and operation of a Countywide Mass Notification System, funded and managed by the County and available to all local governments within the County;

·              The creation and management of a Purchasing Pool to facilitate the conversion of municipal streetlights to high-efficiency environmentally friendly LED fixtures; and

·              The expansion of the Greater Tompkins County Municipal Health Insurance Consortium to include two additional members and sustain substantial recurring savings to all of its members; and


WHEREAS, the Panel’s report also anticipates the Panel undertaking additional exploration of several other potential shared service initiatives that may result in future savings, and


WHEREAS, this Legislature has reviewed the Panel’s Report and supports its findings, now therefore be it


RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations Committee, That this Legislature endorses the Shared Services Plan of July 19, 2017 submitted by the Shared Services Panel, and recommends formal adoption of the Plan by the Shared Services Panel on or before the September 15th deadline established by New York State.  


* * * * * * * * *


Advisory Board Appointment (ID #7184)

Public Information Advisory Board

Patricia Poist - At-large representative; term expires December 31, 2018


Library Board of Trustees

Nina Scholtz - At-large representative; term expires December 31, 2019


MOVER:              Will Burbank, Member

SECONDER:              Dooley Kiefer, Member

AYES:              Klein, Chock, Kiefer, John, Burbank

* * * * * * * * *


Committee Chair

              Mr. Klein commented that further discussion on the sign-in form will be deferred to the next meeting.  He spoke about the parks planning process that involves discussions the County has been having with the City of Ithaca on the potential options for governance of City parks.  The County participated in a study the City did about the parks.  Several meetings have been held including one recently with a consultant concerning the idea for a commission or a conservancy to take over management of some of the parks in Ithaca.  The current discussion includes Stewart Park, Cass Park, and the Golf Course, calling it the waterfront parks district.  No decision has been made and discussions will continue.  There may be an over-target request in the County’s budget to provide some money to continue these discussions into next year.

County Administrator

              Mr. Mareane had no report.

County Attorney

              Mr. Wood had no report.

Director of Finance

              Mr. Snyder was not present.

Public Information Officer

              Ms. Lynch had no report.

Deputy County Administrator

              Ms. Younger distributed and explained briefly a proposal for a Tompkins County Public Administration Fellowship Program.  It is a 3-year pilot initiative for revitalizing the County’s service capacity and for advancing the County’s image to external professionals seeking a career in local government. 

Next Meeting

              Mr. Klein announced the following topics will be on the next Committee’s agenda:


-              Sign-in form (suggestions should be submitted in writing)

-              Credit Card process - Finance Director

-              MEGA update


              The meeting adjourned at 5:31 p.m.

Budget Adjustment & Transfers (Info. Only)

Information Item - Computer balance adjustment (ID #7158)

RESULT:              COMPLETED