tc leg120Housing Trust Exemption Law Approved
Following a public hearing, the Legislature, by unanimous vote, approved a new Local Law opting in on a new provision of state law to provide a restricted sale price exemption on houses subject to a housing trust; the exemption covering the difference between the restricted resale price of the housing and the property's fair market value.  The New York State Legislature, at the Legislature's request, passed the new section of the Real Property Tax Law to allow for the exemption.  The Legislature had requested the exemption option as a way for the County to encourage affordable housing.

At the public hearing preceding the vote, Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services director Paul Mazzarella spoke in support, and thanked County Administrator, Assessment Director Jay Franklin, and the Legislature for pushing for the new State law, which he said was unanimously approved by the State Assembly and Senate.  Before the vote, Legislator Martha Robertson thanked Mazzarella for bringing the matter to the Legislature's attention, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and State Senator Tom O'Mara for pushing the measure through their houses, saying, "This is a really important step and I appreciate everybody for working toward a solution."
No Comment at Hearing on 2017 Proposed Budget
There were no speakers tonight, as the Legislature held its annual public budget hearing on the County's 2017 Tentative Budget and Capital Plan for the next five years, the formal part of the County's budget process devoted to inviting public comment.  Legislature Chair Michael Lane kept the hearing open after the allotted time while the Legislature resumed other business, in case any latecomers wished to speak.

Before the formal hearing, however, during the time at which members of the public may address the Legislature, two people expressed thanks to the Legislature concerning the 2017 budget.  Deborah Dietrich, director of Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources (OAR) thanked the Legislature for its support of OAR, and especially for $70,000 included in the Tentative Budget to support its College Initiative program, as well as for multi-year contingent funding for development of transitional housing.  Deborah Cipolla-Dennis, a member of the Dryden Town Board, thanked Legislators for their work on the budget, including funds recommended for OAR and transitional housing.  And she also expressed thanks for the County's work to support LGBTQ training for law enforcement and other staff.

The 2017 Recommended Budget and the amendments adopted by the Legislature may be found online at the budget page of the County website at   Paper copies of the budget are available at the County Legislature office and at County Administration, 125 E. Court Street, Ithaca.  The Legislature's budget adoption vote is scheduled for November 15.
Funds Appropriated to Help Protect Danby Parcel
The Legislature approved the appropriation of $6,500 from the Capital Reserve Fund for Natural, Scenic, and Recreational Resource Protection to support the acquisition of a 144-acre parcel on Heasey Road in Danby by the Finger Lakes Land Trust.  The property, located in the Forest Lands Natural Features Focus Area and is identified as a Priority Protection Area in the Tompkins County Conservation Strategy.  The acquisition by the Land Trust will allow the parcel to connect with other public lands, and will secure a section of the Finger Lakes Trail.  The approval vote was 13-1, Legislator Dooley Kiefer dissenting, saying that while she supports the initative, paperwork was deficient since it did not bear signatures.
Among other business:

  • The Legislature approved a settlement agreement with the Office of the New York State Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) to resolve an audit of the County Mental Health Clinic for the years 2004-2007.  The OMIG audit report had identified alleged overpayments in the amount of $510,372, but in settlement discussions following an administrative hearing, the parties agreed to settle the matter for $305,754.
  • The Legislature, by a 13-2 vote, authorized the County to enter into a contract with Black Creek Integrated Systems, of Irondale, AL, as a sole source contractor, to provide and install upgrade of the jail access and control system, as part of the Jail Control System capital project—the Black Creek system needed to integrate with the jail's Management System.  Legislators Leslyn McBean-Clairborne and Carol Chock dissented, due to concern over the sole-source approach.
  • The Legislature awarded nearly 55,000 in Fall 2016 Tourism Grants and Community Celebrations Grants, and $57,000 in payments under the Tourism Capital Grants program, as recommended by the County's Strategic Tourism Planning Board and funded entirely through County Room Occupancy Tax.
  • Finance Director Rick Snyder reported that sales tax receipts for the third-quarter of 2016 are up 1.34% from a year ago, noting that quarterly receipts represent the County's second best quarter ever.  Receipts for the year-to-date are 0.29% below this time in 2015.