Onondaga County is on firm, fiscal footing according to County Executive Joanie Mahoney. Mahoney offered up a $1.22 billion 2014 budget to the Onondaga County Legislature Friday that features spending cuts and a slight decrease in tax rates.
Mahoney says there are a couple of reasons for the slimmer spending plan.
"This year with Van Duyn [nursing home] being transferred to a private entity while still maintaining its safety net function, provides a lot of relief for taxpayers," said Mahoney. "And as I said, for the first time that I can remember ever, the cost of state mandates is coming down."
State and federal mandates still take up the bulk of the budget, amounting to $171 million. Federal Medicaid costs for example, eat up a quarter of the budget. On the revenue side of things, Mahoney noted that the budget is becoming more dependent on sales tax income, which is good when the economy is robust, but can ultimately be unreliable.
"We're cognizant of our reliance on sales tax. I think we are in a pretty healthy position right now, but the last several years the result with the adopted budget has been a reduction of that levy. And I think we are getting in precarious territory if we continue to lower it," she said.
That's why Mahoney asked lawmakers to put any savings they find into paying off debt rather than lowering the tax levy even more. County legislators begin a month-long review of the spending plan before voting on October 8.