Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

Charter Amendment Package

In June of 2014, the Democratic Caucus put forward several floor amendments to the Majority Caucus overhaul of the County Charter.  The charter review process itself was fraught with a number of irregularities, from limited public notice of hearings to the spot reserved on the committee for a Democratic representative being assigned to a Legislator who had not expressed interest or desire to be part of the process, rather than a Legislator of the Minority Leader’s choice.

After years of having many of their reasonable, well-thought out submissions rejected for spurious reasons, not even being given the courtesy of being assigned a referral number and committee consideration, the Minority Caucus had the opportunity to propose them on the floor as amendments when voting on the Majority Caucus-dominated charter amendment package, as this vote would open up discussion on areas of the charter that the Republicans had refused to touch, presumably out of fear of embarrassing the county administration or revealing the many gaps in legislative oversight of taxpayer money and clear, informative budgeting that Democrats had been trying for years to address.

  • Amendment 1: Establish a truly bipartisan and independent redistricting commission to draw election districts after each federal census.  The commission would include retired judges, the commissioners of the Board of Elections, representatives of organizations dedicated to protecting minority rights, and would be prohibited from including elected officials and their relatives or employees.
    Failed 8 - 18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 2: Move the county budgeting process to before election day and increase the notice given to the public before holding budget hearings, to increase voters' awareness of budget priorities and citizen participation in the budget process.
    Failed 8 - 18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 3: Grants the County Legislature oversight and contract approval authority over local development corporations (LDCs) and prevents LDC contracts from extending beyond 5 years.
    Failed 8-18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 4: Establishes the Monroe County Office of Public Integrity, with a director and staff who will regularly review complaints and concerns about county operations, and have the power to review financial records, policies, and records and coordinate with law enforcement.
    Failed 8 - 18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 5: Takes away the power of the appointed Compensation Policy Commission to quietly change the salaries of top county officials, including Legislators, between county budgets.  Requires that the public notice of annual salaries includes the former salary, so that the public can immediately tell how large any raises granted are.  Holds the County Executive, Sheriff, and Count Clerk's salaries to these same standards.
    Failed 8-18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 6: Requires a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to approve the deferral of any county contributions to the state retirement system, as these delays require future interest payments and penalties and thus have strong parallels to bonding.
    Failed 8-18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 7: Increased the ability of the County Executive to purchase goods and services without legislative approval from only those goods costing less than $5,000 to those less than $20,000, while decreasing the Executive’s unlimited power to lease space in buildings without legislative approval with a $50,000 cap – reflecting the realities of county budgeting and ensuring that legislative oversight is applied to the areas of purchasing most ripe for abuse.
    Failed 8-18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 8: Prevented elected officials from towns, villages and cities – many of whom are former County officials – from serving double duty on the new County Board of Ethics.
    Failed 8-18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 9: A technical amendment making it clear that the Legislative representatives from the Majority and Minority caucus serving on the Monroe Community Hospital board will be chosen by their respective caucus leaders.
    Passed unanimously.
  • Amendment 10: Reinstates the requirement of the county administration to complete a Comprehensive Development Plan, which the Majority’s charter revisions removed.  The language was being removed largely to avoid an embarrassing situation for the administration, which had not completed the statutorily required plan in recent history.
    Failed 8-18 along party lines.
  • Amendment 11: A technical amendment to replace all references to the “Department of Human and Health Services” with the title “Department of Human Services.”
    Withdrawn upon discussion with the commissioner of the department.
  • Amendment 12: Reinstates the requirement that the county’s proposed budget will include a justification of estimated revenue, which was removed in the Majority’s charter revision proposal.  This simple change allows the administration to claim that a budget is balanced by including any claimed source of revenue they wish, with or without basis in economics or reality.  It would now be perfectly acceptable under the county charter for the administration to include revenue from “finding gold bars in the basement” in the county budget.
    Failed 8-18 along party lines.