Minutes from County Legislature Ways and Means Committee meeting, April 1
PRESENT: Chair Zambito, Legislators Hancock, Leadley and Grasso. County Manager Gsell. Also Present: Planning Director Duval, Emergency Management Coordinator Yaeger, Purchasing Director Kaleta, Emergency Communications Coordinator Sharpe, Personnel Officer Marchese, Youth Bureau Representative Frank, IT Director Zimmer, Interim Public Health Director Garney, Sheriff Maha, Mental Health Director Reaves, County Treasurer German, Deputy County Treasurer Landers, Concerned Citizen Steve Ferry, Legislator DeJaneiro, Daily News Reporter Mruzak, and Legislature Clerk Pratt.
Chair Zambito called the meeting to order at 4PM in the Legislature Conference Room. The minutes of the March 18 meeting were approved upon motion of Legislator Leadley seconded by Legislator Grasso.
Purchasing Director Kaleta presented a contract renewal with Eagle Systems for the provision of copy equipment under the Cost-Per-Copy program for the final one year period. This includes the copy machine, service, parts, staples, and everything but paper. It also allows scanning and faxing capabilities. Planning Director Duval who was a member of the original investigation committee for this project noted that when we return to the marketplace next year, the County will have a much better handle on requirements, etc. Previously, it was a challenge to determine number of copiers, etc. This will put us in an excellent position to bid. The renewal was approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Leadley seconded by Legislator Hancock.
Mr. Kaleta noted that in 1996 the Legislature did request an annual presentation and review of the Purchasing Policy and Procedures. He is here today with very minor changes and compliance with a new State Regulation that the person responsible for purchasing must be listed by title and name several places within the document. At this time he is recommending that purchasing requirement thresholds remain constant. They could be increased but with declining revenues and the need to look hard at all programs he is recommending they be held constant. This was approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Hancock seconded by Legislator Grasso.
Mr. Kaleta noted that he became aware of a question posed at the last Legislature Meeting in relation to a web based auctioneer. He has done some research and believes he has found some possibilities to consider. These will not be for all items, but he will bring additional information forward at a later date.
Genesee County, through a Homeland Security Grant, accepted the Interoperable Emergency award in the amount of $200,000 to be used to contract with a Public Services Communications consultant for the evaluation of the low band paging system for Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. Emergency Communications Coordinator Sharpe recommends entering into an agreement with Trott Communications Group, Inc. to retain engineering consultant services related to the acquisition of a paging/alerting system. Six responses were received and two were within budget. Nearly all the current pagers experience problems within structures, and there are too many interferences. The grant presented an opportunity to seek a regional solution. The reviewing committee included the Emergency Managers and 911 Directors from the three counties. Federal funds will be pursued at the time of replacement. Usually this funding requires a 25% local match. The consultant contract at a cost not to exceed $117,640 was approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Grasso seconded by Legislator Hancock.
County Treasurer German recommended the ratification of the sales of county-owned properties at Saturday’s auction. Two properties did not sell. One was withdrawn for legal reasons. The second is a sliver of land and the adjacent land owner has offered to purchase the parcel for $50.00. It is the recommendation of the Treasurer that this offer be accepted. This was approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Grasso seconded by Legislator Leadley.
County Treasurer German distributed Department Review information. The 6th annual tax foreclosure sales netted a profit of nearly $95,000. An annual auction has been held since 2004 improving the county’s cash flow. The Nursing Home revenue anticipation note ($1,800,000) will be repaid in full this year. The original note of $2,500,000 was taken out in 2006. The office assumed responsibility for the billing of Payment In Lieu of Taxes when Real Property Director Macaluso retired in 2006. The billing was automated and now allows for a more accurate payment budget for the county and other municipalities and school districts. They have also assumed this function for the City of Batavia. Nursing Home payroll and financial records were combined into the County as of January 1, 2008. This continues to aid in the expense and revenue review for the Nursing Home. The Treasurer continues to implement new technology to increase efficiency and security. These include positive pay, ACH debit blocks, and remote depositing. The first GASB 45 actuarial valuation was completed with very positive results. Genesee County has one of the lowest liabilities in the State. A new purchasing card contract was awarded to M&T Bank streamlining the current procurement process and increasing efficiency. There are no fees, and a cash rebate is possible if certain spending thresholds are met. Retirement rates will increase significantly in 2010 and 2011. The rates could double which might mean an additional $3,000,000 in costs. Interest earning continues to decline and he expressed concern that budgeted earnings of $800,000 could be as low as $400,000. Genesee County is not following the statewide trend of decreased sales tax proceeds. Sales tax increased in the 4th quarter of 2008 and is currently 4.24% over the first two months of 2009. $320,000 was budgeted for the Bed Tax last year and $354,052 was received. The Bed Tax Reserve carries a balance of $152,174. Mortgage Tax revenues last year were $297,311 down from $363,290 in 2007. This year there is some optimism that the figure may increase due to refinancing. Currently the figures are down. County Road Fund and Road Machinery Fund year end balances continue to increase. The Water fund showed a $212,962 decrease in 2008. The self-Insured Medical and Dental fund decreased $552,087 from 2007. This was done to keep 2009 costs down.
The following referrals from the Human Service Committee were approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Leadley:
Salary Schedule Amendment-Mental Health/Mental Health Therapy which will delete one position of FT Mental Health Therapy Assistant and create two part time positions. The incumbent is retiring and the change will respond to a State request for additional group sessions. Seconded by Legislator Hancock.
Salary Schedule Amendment-Health Department-CHHA which will eliminate Registered Professional Nurse positions, Supervising Community Health Nurse, and Supervising Community Health Nurse Assistant position effective April 27 or thereafter, following approval of the Management Contract between Genesee County and HCR by the NYS Department of Health. Seconded by Legislator Hancock. HCR has indicated that positions will be offered to the Nurses. Genesee County has received the initial payment of $140,000 for the CON.
Legislature Clerk Pratt recommended approval of a resolution authorizing a Home Rule Request in relation to extending the additional one-quarter of one percent mortgage tax for local use to our State representatives. The appropriate state legislation has been introduced by Senator Ranzenhofer S.3175 and Assemblyman Hawley A.6883. This was approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Grasso seconded by Legislator Hancock.
Legislature Clerk Pratt recommended approval of a resolution authorizing a Home Rule Request in relation to extending the additional one percent sales tax to our State representatives. The appropriate state legislation has been introduced by Senator Ranzenhofer S.3176 and Assemblyman Hawley A.6993. This was approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Hancock seconded by Legislator Leadley.
An out-of-state travel request for Youth Department Deb Kerr-Rosenbeck and Kathy Frank to travel to San Francisco, CA to the National Conference on Volunteering and Service June 22-25, 2009 was approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Grasso seconded by Legislator Leadley. This is the third year of a three year grant cycle and it is the intention to reapply. The funding pool has been doubled. The Americorps Grant has been very successful for Genesee County and attendance at the Conferences is expected. There will be much information exchanged at the Conference and it will be an excellent way to stay current. They have attended previous Conferences.
An out-of-state travel request for IT Cheryl Andre to travel to Gahanna, Ohio for ESRI Training May 3-9, 2009 was approved for placement on the next Legislature Agenda upon motion of Legislator Hancock seconded by Legislator Leadley. This Conference is important to the GIS upgrade and the intent would be to bring system support in-house. Legislator Grasso asked questions about flying versus driving, the including of taxes in the lodging fee and meal cost.
An out-of-state travel request for Genesee Justice was withdrawn from the Agenda because outside funding has been secured to cover all costs. The revised request will be submitted to the County Manager and Legislature Chair for consideration.
A concerned citizen, Steve Ferry of Darien, contacted Chair Zambito to address the Legislature on Extending and Staggering Terms. The Rules of the Legislature refer public comments to Committee, unless they are on the Legislature Meeting Agenda. Mr. Ferry would also like to discuss that Rule with the Committee. Mr. Ferry is a representative to Genesee Association of Municipalities and a Darien Board member. The topic of increasing and staggering terms has been raised several times at the GAM meetings. He would like to see four year staggered terms implemented by this Legislature. He has reviewed the last five elections and there are not many contested races. He knows that it takes time to learn fully and function effectively in the role as County Legislature. Elections in the Town of LeRoy and City of Batavia are the only ones that are usually contested. He believes two year terms discourage candidates from running. He is also concerned about continuity should there be several changes at one time. Most of the Towns have implemented four year terms and he would like to see the Legislature do the same. Chair Zambito thanked Mr. Ferry for appearing before the Committee. He stated that he had researched the issue and this was adopted by the Legislature in 1990 and defeated at public referendum. He believed that at that time there was a feeling that two year terms provided more accountability. Legislator DeJaneiro stated that even with his long time experience as a City Council member, it took most of his first term to become knowledgeable about all the county issues. He believes that the public would need education to understand why this is being considered. Mr. Ferry stated that he understood that. The issue was defeated several times in the Town of Batavia before it was adopted. He believes that GAM members would work to promote the changes. He would like to see action taken on the issue as quickly as possible. Chair Zambito thanked him for his interest and the Legislature will talk about his recommendations.
The second point he wanted to raise was that the Public was not allowed to just appear at the evening Legislature meetings and address issues. The current Rules require that the issue must be on the Agenda. He believes that the Public should be allowed to address the full Legislature without having to go through the Committee process. The Committee meetings are held during the afternoon and most people cannot leave work to attend these meetings. He believes that the way to get interest in County government is to offer the public the ability to address the Legislature whenever they wish and that way they will feel more comfortable with the process and attend regularly. The Legislature is losing the public interest and in that way becoming just like Albany.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:25 PM upon motion of Legislator Hancock seconded by Legislator Grasso.