Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney unveiled her budget plans to county lawmakers on Friday. YNN's Bill Carey reports.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Friday marked the sixth time County Executive Joanie Mahoney brought a budget proposal to county lawmakers. However, it was the first time she had positive budget news.
In 2014, Mahoney said spending will decrease, and the tax rate will be relatively flat.
"Our state mandated costs, for the first time ever, have bent downwards thanks to the state putting in place a hard cap on Medicaid. We're no longer seeing the growth in our mandated programs that we have. And we even have a very slight decrease in our pension costs," explained Mahoney.
The county will also see significant savings as it finally hands over its Van Duyn Home and Hospital to a private owner. The transaction will save the county millions of dollars.
Sales tax revenues have finally climbed back to the point they were before the Great Recession struck.
Mahoney said, "What we have to do is be careful, because we now rely more on sales tax than property tax and if we suffer something, like a Great Recession, it will bring more volatility to the county government than this last one did when we were relying more heavily on property taxes."
County lawmakers will spend much of the next month reviewing the county executive's spending plan. They said there may be an opportunity to make further cuts.
"There's changes made. Again, usually a scalpel not a hatchet. But, yeah, there's certainly going to be some changes made," noted David Knapp, Onondaga County Legislator.
Mahoney offered another word of caution.
"If they identify areas to cut spending, if they apply that toward the amount of money that we borrow rather than a reduction of the levy," said Mahoney. "Because we can't continue to see the escalation in debt costs and, at the same time, continue to reduce the levy if we want to stay on that firm footing that we're on."
The new budget plan calls for the creation of a new $1.5 million fund by the county to aid business. If approved by lawmakers, the money would be used to help new companies create jobs and encourage existing companies to maintain employment levels.
The full legislature is due to vote on adopting the budget on October 8.