Tompkins County Council of Governments
for May 11, 2022
by Councilperson Robert Lynch
Enfield TCCOG Representative
The Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG) met April 28th. The meeting devoted much of its time to hearing several detailed staff reports. No resolutions were acted upon. During the meeting, I did briefly discuss our Enfield initiative to seek New York Home Rule legislation that would enable ten per cent (10%) residential property assessment reductions for volunteer fire and EMS personnel. However, I, myself, believed TCCOG action on the initiative was premature at the time, given that neither the Tompkins County Legislature nor any of its committees has yet considered it. I may bring the matter before TCCOG for consideration and a potential vote at its next meeting, June 23rd.
I.T: I’ll begin with an opportunity. Trumansburg Mayor Rordan Hart suggested TCCOG municipalities band together and share the cost of an intermunicipal Information Technology service. Hart reported Trumansburg relies on a lone individual, nearing retirement, who will likely step aside soon. The village could seek its own service provider, probably at $3,000-$4,000 per month. But were there interest, he’d encourage TCCOG to write the RFP for services, with individual municipalities sharing a consultant, once retained. Hart said he has a Village Board member who could write the RFP. The mayor would like municipalities to respond within a few weeks. Presuming there’s interest, Hart envisioned TCCOG action to put the RFP out to bid at its June meeting.
“If TCCOG put out the RFP for a dozen of us,” Hart told our group, “then perhaps we could achieve some economies of scale and save each individual municipality some money.”
Cayuga Heights’ and Ithaca Town’s TCCOG representatives said their municipalities are pretty well set for I.T. Danby expressed initial interest. Ulysses’ Supervisor Katelin Olson reminded members that the State Comptroller’s inspection had identified I.T. as a potential vulnerability for her Town. Olson opined that when an inspection fails to find any other defect, the Comptroller’s Office usually defaults to I.T. I told Hart that Enfield might have interest, but we’d have to discuss it as a Board. I asked the mayor to put his request in writing. I’ve received no response yet.
Address Management: Tompkins County Information Technology Director Greg Potter and his assistant, Cattyann Campbell, presented a detailed demonstration of what is evolving as the County’s Address Management System. It’s a computerized system of identifying each address location, not just for emergency responders, but also for municipal regulatory functions such as code enforcement and the issuance of building permits.
Indeed, Potter explained, address management is being transferred from its traditional home at the Department of Emergency Response, to the IT Department. You may recall we discussed at our last Board meeting whether we in Enfield had any problem with transfer of house numbering responsibilities from the Town to the County level. We said we did not. The transfer comes as part of this computerized centralization effort.
The goal, said Campbell, is to replace the current haphazard method of changing address information through letters, emails, phone calls, or other means to a standardized, online fill-in change form. Already some municipalities, including the Towns of Ithaca and Lansing, are accessing the management dashboard frequently. Others, most notably the City of Ithaca, have just begun to use it. The City’s participation, for whatever reason, had lagged. Meeting participants weren’t quite sure why the City’s participation has not become more active. Potter doubted the small number of registrations signaled City unwillingness, but rather that “they haven’t been involved to this point.” As of the afternoon we met, 227 addresses had been entered into the system, with registrations having begun sometime last year.
The way the system’s structured, similarly-named streets become a problem. There are too many “Cayuga’s,” Campbell rundown of road and street names made clear. She noted that one must distinguish among all the iterations of roads employing that same name, “Cayuga (something)” to identify the proper address. If you’re planning a new road, Campbell suggested, maybe choose another name.
The goal, said Potter, is to identify addresses “down to the unit level,” allowing apartment complexes to be assigned not a common street address, but rather by individual building identification.
One TCCOG member attempted to access the Address Management dashboard. She couldn’t. “It’s not publicly accessible yet,’ Potter explained. Those who use it presently still need to create a log-in account.
Resiliency and Recovery: Tompkins County Associate Planner Scott Doyle briefed TCCOG on progress to date in developing the County’s “Resiliency and Recovery Plan,” a disaster preparedness initiative that seeks to identify response preparedness for rare natural events, ranging from droughts to floods.
The planning, Doyle said, is to “help us get up and running post-disaster.” Doyle credited every municipality in the county for adopting a mitigation plan. Yet he said revised maps from FEMA make flood plains “kind of a moving target.”
One aspect of post-flood recovery, Doyle pointed out, is “debris management;” how to rid a community efficiently of items a flood destroys, especially in those once-in-a-century events. There’s also what he called “continuity training;” concerted efforts to get employers and their employees back to work post-disaster.
Doyle made it clear the Resiliency and Recovery Plan remains a work in process. A consultant has scheduled a virtual public outreach event for May 18th. The planning, he said, should wrap up in July.
Robert Lynch, Councilperson
Enfield TCCOG Representative