7:27am

Wed October 12, 2011
Regional Coverage

Onondaga County lawmakers pass budget, cut funding for Air One helicopter

They worked later into the evening Tuesday, but Onondaga County lawmakers passed a budget that cut more than $5 million from County Executive Joanie Mahoney's proposed budget.

Property taxes will go up in most county towns, but will go down in every village except Fabius. Residents in the towns of Clay and Salina will see the biggest tax increases. 

Republican Kevin Holmquist of Manlius says it took weeks of work to take the 3 villages he represents from a 10% tax increase to a 5% tax decrease.

"I'm very happy about that," said Holmquist. "Outside the villages residents are looking at around a 5% increase. It's dramatically better. It was a good compromise. Not as good as many of us had hoped, but still on balance it's a fair budget."

Legislators also passed county funding for spraying against disease-carrying mosquitoes, as well as borrowing more than $5 million to renovate the Central Public Library in Syracuse. And they approved $200,000 for a new scoreboard for Alliance Bank Stadium.

Left out of the budget was all funding for the county's Air One helicopter. It costs more than $600,000 to operate Air One each year. Mahoney included just over $100,000 in her budget for insurance and supplies, but lawmakers cut that from the budget. Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh hopes to raise the money to keep Air One operating.

Also left out of the budget was more than $400,000 for the Syracuse Philharmonic Society, a group formed after the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra went bankrupt earlier this year and backed by Syracuse University.  Symphony Syracuse was formed by the musicians of the SSO and is not affiliated with Syracuse Philharmonic. Legislators decided to hold back any money until it is clear which group would get going.