TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — After weeks of discussion and amendments, Tompkins County legislators unanimously approved the $187.5 million 2019 budget and the 2019-23 Tompkins County Capital Program.
In addition to the budget, legislators had a lengthy discussion about the outreach worker program, which many in the community came out to support in a recent public hearing. The county also appointed a new director for the Office for the Aging. Here are a few important decisions and discussions from the Nov. 8 meeting.
1 — The budget
The 2019 budget was officially approved Thursday night with a unanimous vote. This means legislators approved a 1.54 percent increase to the county tax levy and a tax rate — 17 cents less than 2018 — of $6.41 per thousand. The change equals a tax bill increase of about $14.63 for owner of a median-valued $185,000 home in Tompkins County.
Want to get into the details? See the county’s budget page for the full document and updates throughout the process.
2 — Outreach worker program
At the recent public hearing for the budget, several residents voiced support for the local outreach worker program, which is operated through Family and Children’s Service of Ithaca and has a partnership with the City of Ithaca, Cayuga Medical Center, Downtown Ithaca Alliance and Tompkins County. The county’s share in the program is $20,000.
At the public hearing last week, several people urged the county to pledge more support for the program. The outreach worker, Tammy Baker, helps people in Downtown Ithaca who are in distress and who may have fallen through the cracks in the system. She helps when people are need food or basic items and connects them with services in the community. People who addressed legislators at the public hearing talked about the impact Baker has had so far and said an additional worker is needed. Ithaca Common Council also recently voted to increase its share of funding to $40,000.
Though it’s very late in the budget planning process, Legislator Henry Granison introduced an amendment to hold $25,000 in the county’s contingent fund for the program. The amendment was approved after a lot of discussion, but the consensus seemed to be that the program should be discussed and analyzed further with partners.
3 — New director appointed at the County Office for the Aging
Lisa Monroe, who has served as NY Connects coordinator for the Office for the Aging since 2013, was officially appointed director Nov. 8 with a unanimous vote by legislators. She has served as interim director since September.
County Administrator Jason Molino said a selection committee considered four candidates and chose Monroe. He said she has over 20 years of experience working with the aging population. Molino said they had a great candidate pool but what was most convincing was that the agency partners the county works with “had nothing but the utmost respect for Lisa.”
“I’m really happy and excited to take on this new role,” Monroe said. “We have a great team at the office and I’m really just looking forward to doing great things with them and working with you all.”
4 — Housing in Tompkins County
Legislators authorized the county to apply for up to $1 million under the New York State Community Development Block Grant program. If granted, the award would support rehabilitating 24 homes owned by low- to moderate-income Tompkins County residents in what would be the third iteration of the county’s Health Home Rehabilitation Program.
To apply for the grant program, the county also had to reaffirm its commitment to “affirmatively further fair housing” in Tompkins County. The resolutions states, “within the resources available to Tompkins County through County, State, federal, and community sources, the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights will assist all persons who believe their fair housing rights have been violated, concerning their rights and responsibilities, so that they may seek equity under relevant laws.”
5 — Honoring an important Veterans Day
This Veterans Day will mark 100 years since the end of World War I.
With a proclamation Thursday, legislators honored the contributions of military service members. Reading the proclamation Thursday, Legislature Chair Martha Robertson said, ” Veterans Day provides an opportunity to remember, honor, and recognize the courage, valor, and dedication of those who have served our country, as well as those who continue to serve, and to thank them for defending our rights, and protecting the freedom of our country.”
On Nov. 4, Tompkins County held its 99th Annual Veterans Day Parade. On Veterans Day, which is this Sunday, Nov. 11, the county will host a ceremony at 11 a.m. at Dewitt Park in Ithaca.
Curious about all the resolutions discussed and passed? Here’s the full action summary.