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Highlights of the November 21, 2023 meeting of the Tompkins County Legislature

Designation of Official Newspaper and Advocacy for Changes in New York State Governing Public Notice

The Ithaca Journal was designated by a vote of 13-1 as Tompkins County’s Official Newspaper (Legislator Mike Sigler (R-Lansing) opposed). While the County must designate an Official Newspaper per New York State law, several Legislators have consistently acknowledged the deficiencies of the current law requiring a daily print paper – leaving the Ithaca Journal as the only option even though its local coverage and reach have proven limited.

By a unanimous vote of 14-0, the Legislature passed a resolution advocating that New York State allow for online publication of public notice. The resolution will encourage the New York State Assembly and Senate to consider changing the New York State law that requires a print and daily newspaper to be designated. A memo provided to the Legislature earlier this year detailed public notice requirements and local context leading to the advocacy resolution.

Among Other Business

The Legislature proclaimed November as Native American Heritage Month. Legislator Veronica Pillar (D-Ithaca) read the proclamation acknowledging the rich Native American heritage in the Tompkins County area, the history of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ people, and the County’s support of non-discrimination initiatives. The proclamation encouraged respect, understanding, and friendship from the entire Tompkins County community.

A resolution passed 11-3 (Legislators Greg Mezey (D-Dryden), Anne Koreman (D-Ulysses), and Travis Brooks (D-Ithaca) opposed) appropriating $9,500 from the Contingent Fund to move an electric pole on 408 North Tioga Street. Moving the electric pole will allow for a future property owner of the to-be-sold County property to have a driveway adjacent to the building (aka “The Red House”) currently located there.

Chairwoman Shawna Black (D-Ithaca) shared notes of Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving is always my favorite time of the year to look back at some lessons learned and our achievements.

As a Legislature we’re all learning to prioritize together. The 14 of us are halfway through our four-year terms and we all bring different backgrounds and passions for both problems and opportunities. What I continue to observe is that the majority of us find value in many of the same things: safe communities to raise our families, good paying jobs, a thriving economy, and a caring community that takes care of each other.

Over the past year we’ve allocated millions of dollars through the Community Recovery Fund, Opioid Settlement Funds, and our annual budget process. We’ve made progress on a Center of Government Building and provided input on a strategic plan that will guide us for many years to come.


These are all examples of this group prioritizing on behalf of our community. We may not all get exactly what we want as individuals, but I think we can be grateful for what it looks like when we set priorities together.

County staff continue to do an incredible job of carrying out the priorities that we set. They are the foundation and reason why we can serve our community with a customer-focused approach.  


Thank you to our colleagues who have gone above and beyond to help solve problems and move initiatives forward.


Big efforts like our Rapid EMS Response Program, launching the CARE Team, the merger of Public and Mental Health, merging our Workforce Development Departments, and launching Community Resource Hubs. That’s just a few but they are all monumental and will make a difference in our county.


We are required to deliver many of the services that our departments offer – but in Tompkins County we have a proud tradition of going above and beyond to serve our community.

I recognize that it takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to be a public servant. I also recognize that we are lucky to have so many staff members who don’t hesitate to go above and beyond to inspire and carry out our priorities.

I continue to be in awe on a daily basis of our caring and dedicated staff. We are all thankful to have you and grateful you have chosen Tompkins County.

We don’t hit home runs every at bat and sometimes we even strike out and get it wrong - but we try to learn from our mistakes and have hundreds of people working with us who give their all every day.

This Thanksgiving I hope that we can all take a breath and acknowledge how hard the work can be, and how great the outcomes are. Again, thank you all for serving and enjoy time with family and friends this Thanksgiving.