Local News for Thursday, March 16, 2023

New Law Enforcement Pilot Program to Start in Tompkins County

A new program to divert people away from incarceration will start in Tompkins County later this year. The pilot program is a partnership between the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department and Tompkins Whole Health. It will pair a licensed clinical therapist and a specially-trained sheriff’s deputy as a CARE team to respond to certain 9-1-1 calls concerning people experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. The program will cover Tompkins County outside of the City of Ithaca.

State Medicaid Changes Could Cost Tompkins Taxpayers $1.5M in 2024

Tompkins County officials say Governor Kathy Hochul’s plan to shift some state Medicaid expenses to counties will hurt local taxpayers. They say Hochul’s plan would cost the county $600,000 this year and about $1.5 million in 2024. The county estimates that would amount to a 3 percent property tax levy increase. The Ithaca Voice reports that state legislators are still negotiating the budget. The deadline for them to vote on it is March 31.

Ithaca’s First Marijuana Dispensary to Open Today

The first state-licensed recreational marijuana shop in Ithaca will open today. The shop is located on the Commons in the former Trader K’s location. The sale of recreational marijuana was legalized in New York State a year ago. Local municipalities could vote to opt out of the allowing shops—Ithaca opted in. The state licensing process gives special consideration to people with prior marijuana related convictions. The Ithaca Times reports that the owner of the Ithaca shop, William Durham was convicted of marijuana possession when he was 23 years old. In addition to the new shop, Durham owns a home repair business in Binghamton.

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