Our County Legislature’s most important function is to allocate County resources in ways that meet the needs and values of our residents.  Not surprisingly, when our needs are many and our resources are relatively few, our values tend to get short shrift.

Tompkins County now face increasingly scarce resources under a Federal government that shows little interest in our natural, social, and cultural environments, and a State government that sometimes seems determined to bankrupt our counties.  We had to use 68% of last year’s county property tax levy to pay for unfunded mandates.  Because of New York State’s “system” for funding Medicaid, we used fully 24% of last year’s property tax levy to pay for Medicaid services provided in Tompkins County. If Congressional Republicans succeed in implementing block grant funding for Medicaid, our county share of Medicaid funding could increase even more.  What will we do then?  We cannot increase property taxes by any substantial amount: our citizens are already burdened with very high property taxes, and that burden was effectively increased by the limitation on SALT deductions imposed by Federal tax legislation passed in 2017.  At the same time, we cannot deny health care services to our residents who need them.

How we overcome the challenge of resource scarcity while maintaining the quality of life we all value will set our County’s course for years to come.  I believe the key to meeting these challenges is to build a strong, sustainable, independent economy here in Tompkins County.  That means not only increasing our tax base, but also using every means at our disposal to create jobs that pay a living wage or better, to promote our flagging retail sector, to underwrite construction of affordable and work force housing, and to expand public transit services throughout Tompkins County.  When everyone in Tompkins County thrives, everyone contributes to growing county revenues.

We have a LOT of work to do!


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Deborah’s recent Facebook posts are shared, below.

Deborah Dawson - TC Legislator for District 10

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Food for thought.

TC3 Moving to Remote for rest of week
UPDATE | SEPT. 2, 2020
College moves to remote instruction Sept. 3-4
After consultation with the Tompkins County Health Department, Tompkins Cortland Community College will move to all remote instruction Thursday, Sept. 3 and Friday, Sept. 4 out of an abundance of caution to allow for thorough and safe contact tracing after new COVID cases were discovered in the campus community.
In addition to one previously identified case, the College identified five additional positive cases. One is a new residential student who has had no close contact with anyone on campus and is in an isolation room in the residence halls. The second has not yet been on campus for the semester. The remaining three are in isolation in their off-campus apartment complex and are following the guidelines of the Tompkins County Health Department. These three were on campus one day this week and attended in-person classes. It is important to note that while they were on our campus, the students followed all of our COVID-19 safety protocols.
The move to remote will allow the Tompkins County Health Department time to complete ongoing contact tracing and contact any parties involved. The College’s goal is to continue in-class instruction, but only when it can be certain that our campus community is safe and healthy. At this time, the College has not been required to go remote by the county, state, or SUNY, but decided to act out of an abundance of caution. The College will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.
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Dear Cornell community,

Last Friday, the State of New York issued new guidelines for universities and colleges. These guidelines require significant changes in operation whenever the number of positive COVID-19 cases over a two-week period on a college campus exceeds 100 or 5% of the campus population (faculty, staff, and students), whichever is smaller. They do not require the university to shut down in that circumstance, nor do they require students to quarantine in their rooms, except for those who are in quarantine for cause, e.g., because of a contact with a known positive case. But they do require that for a two-week period, all teaching moves online, dining halls move to take-out meals only, and a variety of other campus activities are reduced or suspended.

Because the limit of 100 applies to all universities with a population greater than 2,000, it sets a very high bar for large schools like ours. To stay below it, we need to keep weekly infections to just a small fraction of a percent. And the challenge is even greater here because of our aggressive surveillance testing program. With frequent, universal testing, the program is designed to catch nearly every case of infection, including the many asymptomatic cases that would not be identified or counted with the more typical for-cause testing, or with a less aggressive surveillance testing program.

What this means is that we need everyone to be hyper-vigilant in their public health practices: consistently wearing masks, staying distanced from one another, washing hands, and eschewing all but small gatherings. Just a couple of parties could negate all of the efforts of tens of thousands of others.

Staying below the new limit will be extremely difficult, and make no mistake: there is no guarantee of success. The new limit is less than half of the peak infection level that we had predicted and for which we prepared. But we are all here now, and this is our newest new reality, so we need to do what Cornellians have always done when faced with an enormous challenge: rise up to do everything we can to meet it.

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