The 2017 budget came with many fiscal challenges. Personnel costs are increasing; the county has settled several contracts with each of the unions that represent employees in Onondaga County, which came with increases in wages. Healthcare costs continue to climb. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate contracts that include increases in employee contributions for healthcare. Federal and State mandates also continue to rise. Medicaid alone will cost Onondaga County more than $99 million next year which represents almost 70% of the property taxes we collect.
With all of these challenges, the Legislature was still able to…
- Reduce the property tax levy by $1.75 million!
- Avoid an increase in the sewer unit charge for rate payers and kept water rates flat.
- Continue our commitment to villages by funding the Village Infrastructure Improvement Program. Next year, $4.5 million will be divided proportionally among the 15 villages in Onondaga County.
- Create a similar Town Infrastructure program. In 2017, towns will be able to apply for Town Infrastructure funds for the construction or reconstruction of capital projects.
- Continue our funding for the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation (Land Bank). The Land Bank will receive $300,000 with $150,000 earmarked for revitalization efforts in the Villages of Jordan and Baldwinsville.
One of the largest accomplishments in the 2017 budget is the plan to merge the Metropolitan Water Board (MWB) with the Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA). 31 employees will move off of the county personnel roster and become employees at OCWA. This will save the county close to $10 million annually. This merger has been discussed for decades, however, this year we are finally getting it done and it is the right move for county taxpayers.
A lot of great things are being accomplished with less county taxpayer dollars. The 2017 tax rate represents a new historic low at $5.07. I am proud of all the work we did during this budget process.
- Chairman J. Ryan McMahon