Onondaga County proposes budget that dips into fund balance

Sep 17, 2012

Onondaga County lawmakers begin going over County Executive Joanie Mahoney's proposed budget with a fine tooth comb Monday.  The final result will most likely look different from $1.25 billion plan Mahoney proposed last week.

The budget is encased in a three-inch thick white binder, chock full of numbers and explanations of programs and revenues.  What lawmakers have to do is decide whether they agree with these numbers.  When it comes to property taxes, Mahoney says the tax rate will stay the same, however tax bills would go up in 18 towns and one village under her spending plan.

"Because of the sales tax sharing formula, there's still adjustments as to how those dollars are shared, and what towns do with their portion when they get it. Some take it as a credits, so you'll see a difference."

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says that is one thing that ought to change, although he won't go so far as to promise no increased taxes at all. McMahon says the legislature will look for places to cut in the budget, as well as take a close look at the revenue estimates coming from the county executive,

"I'm not committing to that; that would be a heavy lift," said McMahon. "I think we need our analysts to look at the revenue projections the county executive's team has come up with, see if we agree with them, based off past performance and at the same time we need to look at strategic areas in the budget where there may be cuts."

Mahoney is also proposing using some of the county's fund balance, or savings account, to cover a four and a half million dollar deficit.  McMahon says that is something else that will probably change after lawmakers are finished going over the budget.  

"At the end of the day, we'll see if we even use fund balance in our budget," said McMahon. We need to look at revenues, we need to look at where spending dollars are, and we'll take the next two-and-a-half to three weeks to do that."

A public hearing is scheduled on the budget  for October 4, and lawmakers will vote on a plan October 9.