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Faits marquants de la réunion du 21 mai 2024 de l'assemblée législative du comté de Tompkins

Grant Applications, Acceptance, and Award Management Policy Passes Following Debate on Equity Language

A resolution to update the Tompkins County Administrative Policy Manual regarding grant applications, acceptance, and award management passed 12-2 (Legislators Lee Shurtleff (R-Groton) and Mike Sigler (R-Lansing) opposed). The policy was updated to reflect the County’s centralization of grants management and to incorporate best practices recommended by a grants consultant recently utilized by the County.

Legislator Lee Shurtleff (R-Groton) expressed opposition to parts of the policy that ask grant applications to be looked at “through an equity lens ensuring fair and inclusive practices” and that grant funds would be used to actively promote diversity, equity, and inclusion principles. Shurtleff stated “That’s problematic to me, not so much from a political standpoint but from a practical standpoint… I don’t know how we as a County government can further impose some regulation on ourselves to further review these grants through an equity lens…” adding that he is unsure if the Legislature shares the same equity language and values, ultimately asking whether this language was more symbolic than practical. Legislator Rich John (D-Ithaca) relayed that he shares the concern about vague language but pointed out that the paragraph Shurtleff was referring to starts out with “to the extent applicable.” John added thanks to County Administration staff for their efforts over the past year on centralizing and improving grant processes.

Legislator Travis Brooks (D-Ithaca) responded to the questions raised about shared language around equity, “I don’t think we share language, period. Whether it’s safety, whether it’s about diversity and equity… I think that is an issue in this County… I don’t think we share language for a variety of reasons around these issues and it’s kind of sad that we don’t. It’s difficult to be in places where people aren’t worrying about things the same as way you are, that things don’t affect you the same… we make decisions based on our experiences and not others… I want to make sure that we’re clear we don’t speak the same language on a lot…”

Legislator Amanda Champion (D-Ithaca) outlined that many definition questions are answered in the policy document, while challenging her colleagues on the Legislature to read the policy closer. Champion added, “Whether it’s different language or not we’re all seeking safety, we’re all seeking health, we’re all seeking equity. These policies aren’t perfect but they’re one step in the direction to making the County do the things that we want it to do.” Legislator Shawna Black (D-Ithaca) remarked on the parts of the policy pointing to the use of Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) “I appreciate the fact that we’re headed in this direction and we’re saying that as a County we’re looking at the people who are struggling, we’re looking at the women, the minorities, the people who haven’t always had it easy.” Legislator Shurtleff clarified that he is not questioning MWBE use by the County.  

In a related note during his Chair’s report, Legislator Dan Klein (D-Danby) shared that the County has accepted $7 million in outside funding during the month of May. Klein remarked on the amount of work it takes for County staff to apply for and manage that funding, and that it shows grantors (often the State and Federal Governments) having a high degree of comfortability with how Tompkins County uses funds.

Among Other Business

A proclamation was read celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) American Heritage Month. The proclamation celebrated the history and perseverance of AANHPI individuals and communities.

A proclamation was read by Legislator Deborah Dawson (D-Lansing), who is also a veteran of the U.S. Military, acknowledging Memorial Day and memorializing the Tompkins County servicemembers who lost their lives in service to the country. Tompkins County Director of Veterans Services, J.R. Clairborne accepted the proclamation.

The Legislature heard a presentation from Elin Dowd, Executive Director of the Greater Tompkins County Municipal Health Insurance Consortium. The Consortium began in Tompkins County as part of the Tompkins County Council of Governments and is now in 18 Counties with 64 municipal partners. The Consortium’s mission is to offer high-quality, cost-stable health insurance for members employed by the different member municipal entities.

The Legislature thanked Holly Mosher for her time as Acting County Attorney. Mosher thanked the Legislature and shared that it has been a pleasure to serve. Maury Josephson will start as County Attorney on Monday, May 27.