ITHACA, NY -- Tompkins County Legislature approved amendments to the proposed 2021 budget that will add $262,911 to budget and increase the tax levy by .51%, yielding a proposed rate of 5.49% overall.
Notably, an amendment to restore $60,000 in funding to the county outreach worker program was passed unanimously after budget constraints threatened the positions.
An amendment submitted by Legislator Anna Kelles (D-Ithaca) to support a broadband study passed unanimously (14-0). Kelles stated that the study will identify gaps in Tompkins County where people are underserved or unserved by broadband internet, and that it will provide information to the nonprofit Southern Tier Network, which is working on a region-wide plan. The amendment was approved for up to $59,000 as various municipalities across Tompkins County have put forth financial support in partnership with the county and others are actively considering contributions.
Legislators Martha Robertson (D-Dryden) and Deborah Dawson (D-Lansing) proposed an amendment to support a Chief Sustainability Officer position in County Administration. The potential new position would be designed to divert work from the Department of Planning and Sustainability and increase their capacity to advise on emerging energy policy in New York State (including the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act) and on water resource planning. The position would lead the County’s internal efforts to implement the Energy Strategy and work toward reducing carbon emissions from County vehicle fleets and facilities.
The amendment was postponed by a vote of 13-1 (Legislator Mike Lane dissenting), and will be considered in the next Expanded Budget Committee Meeting Tuesday, October 27th.
Additionally, an amendment to restore target funding for staff hours at the Department of Planning and Sustainability, totaling $50,833, was passed unanimously (13-0, Legislator Sigler was excused).
Amendments supporting the Tompkins County Health Department were approved, including the continuation of a contract with the Community Science Institute for stream monitoring, restoring hours to the Environmental Health unit and funding for a public health technician, and one-time funding for a traveling nurse to assist with COVID-19 contact investigations.
The proposal to create an Innovation Director position failed (2-11), with Legislators and staff committing to ongoing discussions supporting innovative approaches in County operations and service delivery.
The next Expanded Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee meeting will be on October 27th at 4:30p.m. and can be found at this link: https://youtu.be/H0gFBMmiPKc