Passer au contenu principal

County Services           How Do I?     

Highlights of the May 7, 2024 Meeting of the Tompkins County Legislature

Ithaca Downtown Conference Center Update

The Legislature received a presentation from Suzanne Smith-Jablonski, Executive Director of the Downtown Ithaca Local Development Corporation, with an update on the Ithaca Downtown Conference Center. The Downtown Conference Center will prioritize hosting mid-week conferences to attract visitors to the community, encouraging increased business at hotels, restaurants, and other downtown establishments. The Conference Center is slated to open in June 2024, with events booked in July.

The Downtown Conference Center is funded in part through the collection of hotel room tax in the County and is the first fossil fuel free conference center in the country.

Resolution to Modify Agricultural District No. 2

A resolution passed 9-4 (Legislators Sigler, Brooks, Black, and Dawson opposed; Legislator Koreman excused) removing 465 acres and adding over 1,200 acres of agricultural land located on the west side of Cayuga Lake to Agricultural District 2, as recommended by the Tompkins County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board.

An amendment to the resolution that included an exception of a 62-acre parcel located within the Town of Ulysses’ Conservation Zone failed 5-7 (Legislators Sigler, Brooks, Black, Dawson, and Champion in favor; Legislator Koreman excused). The Conservation Zone was created to protect natural resources including Taughannock Falls State Park, and other properties adjacent to Cayuga Lake.

In moving the amended resolution, Legislator Dawson cited her support of the local Town of Ulysses Planning Board’s zoning authority and their opposition to the inclusion of the cited property in the Agricultural District.

Pete Angie, Town of Ulysses Planning Board representative, was in attendance to speak in opposition to the inclusion of the cited property in the Agricultural District. Crystal Buck, Farmland Protection and Ag Marketing Educator from Cornell Cooperative Extension, was also in attendance to provide education on the process of review and recommendations of land conducted by the Tompkins County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board.

Among Other Business

During his Chair’s Report, Legislator Klein condemned the recent rise in comments on social media targeting the employees of the County’s Assessment Department. Chair Klein emphasized the distinction between the value of a property’s assessment and the tax levy, directing anyone with concerns regarding possible increases in taxes directly to him and not the Assessment Department.

County Administrator Lisa Holmes discussed the Legislature’s recent budget retreat and noted that the tax cap calculation stands at 5.09%. While a maintenance of effort budget would require a 5.9% increase, the sense of the Legislature was for Administrator Holmes to produce a budget with only a 2% tax levy increase, requiring approximately $2 million in cuts. To meet this target, Holmes will be asking for the assistance of Department Heads and agencies.

Lorrie Scarrott, the Finance Director, highlighted a slight rise in sales tax for March, indicating an overall increase of 1.32% over the previous year. She also pointed out that other counties in New York State experienced varying percentage changes in their sales tax, underscoring the variability of sales tax revenue for counties.

A proclamation was read declaring May as Mental Health Awareness Month in Tompkins County. The resolution calls for “Tompkins County to recommit ourselves to increasing awareness of the importance mental health plays in all of our lives, supporting those in need of treatment by offering appropriate and stigma free services, while celebrating the contributions of those in the mental health workforce who make a difference in our lives.”

A proclamation was also read celebrating Community Action Month, recognizing the 57-year history of actions and contributions of Tompkins Community Action “collaborating with individuals and organizations to sustain and improve economic opportunity and social justice for families and individuals impacted directly or indirectly by poverty.” The month of May celebrates Community Action as a robust state and local force connecting people to life changing services and creating pathways to prosperity across the nation.