Onondaga County has approved a $1.22 billion spending plan. Some of the main issues include cuts to the Sheriff's Office and increases in county parks fees. Our Katie Gibas has the latest.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's a good news, bad news situation for the Onondaga County budget. The $1.2 billion spending plan calls for no tax increases to residents. But the Sheriff's department will face new constraints.
County officials say they need to get a better handle on the Sheriff's budget. The Sheriff's financial department will be merged with the county's, which the Sheriff says will hurt his ability to get accurate facts and figures. Three million dollars of the Sheriff's budget will be put into contingency, $2 million of that is for overtime. That means the Sheriff has to go to the legislature to get permission for overtime, purchasing supplies and training officers.
"It's not like this is some deep, dark, secret information that they've never had before. But they want us to come back and ask for it every time we need something. That's okay. I don't mind coming over when we run out of supplies in the jail and we're not able to provide supplies to the inmates. We'll come back and ask them for that. Maybe the inmates will go a few days without having toilet paper or whatever it may be," said Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh.
One of the few budget items to pass without a unanimous vote: Legislators approved $25,000 in a contingency account to help low income families post bail.
Legislator Linda Ervin, who sponsored the resolution, says too many times, people arrested for petit crimes, like shoplifting, end up clogging the jails because they can't afford to post bail. The money will go back to the county once the accused appears in court and the case is closed.
Ervin said, "The jail is crowded and there are people there who really don't need to be there for this reason. Certainly, there are a lot of folks who have to be there. But there are a lot of folks who should be out but they can't be out because they don't have the money. This would eliminate that, save us tax dollars. It would save the crowding at the jail. And help the individuals."
A budget item that passed unanimously was increasing the cost to get into county parks. It will jump a couple bucks per car. But the big increase will be for organizations using the park. Not-for-profits, could see the costs jump hundreds of dollars. And for-profit organizations will have to pay a use fee, a fee per participant and pay a portion of the alcohol sales back to the county.
Those groups could see their costs increase by tens of thousands of dollars.