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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. – There is a potential dispute between Onondaga County's comptroller and County Executive Joanie Mahoney's budget manager. It centers on a reserve fund. That money, set aside as a "rainy day" fund, amounts to 10 percent of all revenues the county takes in.
Comptroller Robert Antonacci tells county legislators some of the revenues used to determine the size of that fund aren't really revenues at all. He says by eliminating those numbers from the total, there would be $5 million available, this year alone, to potentially return to taxpayers. He dismisses warnings that bond rating agencies, who've given the county high credit ratings, might reconsider those ratings if the formula is changed.
“Changing it should not be a problem. It's been our policy. It's a policy that we created. There's no law or requirement that we have a fund balance policy,” Antonacci said.
“Rating agencies are pretty clear. They want a policy. They want the policy adhered to. And they want it well managed. From a technical perspective, are we required to have any kind of fund balance at all? He's probably correct. On a practical level, he's absolutely wrong,” said Onondaga County Chief Fiscal Officer James Rowley.
The issue is likely to be debated when lawmakers study a new budget this fall.