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Schools, mayors react to latest county sales tax proposal

Sales Tax Revenue Committee to meet April 15

When Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced last week their proposal to split future sales tax revenue, with 75 percent going to the county and 25 going to the city, officials outside city limits were surprised and disheartened.

"I thought the county executive was supporting [all] the schools," said Lawrence Cummings, executive director of the Central New York School Boards Association.

Two days prior to the announcement, the school districts' Sales Tax Task Force submitted its own alternative proposal, which would still provide the city of Syracuse with 25-percent funding.

"I think we put a very reasonable proposal together," Cummings said. "It protects the city; it generates an additional $30 million for the county; it really protects the villages, towns and school districts because, although we take significantly less, it allows [all] to remain part of the sales tax sharing agreement long term."

The schools' task force proposal asks that the new contract, to begin Jan. 1, change from a 10-year agreement to five years, allowing a reevaluation at a time when it is hoped the economy will have improved.

"We're certainly not unsympathetic to the county's plan," he said. "The reality is the county is not obligated to share the sales tax," Cummings said. But, he added, "once you're out of [the agreement], you're out of it. We're not going to see sales tax money again."

Baldwinsville Superintendent Jeanne Dangle, also a member of the school districts' Sales Tax Task Force, advocates the continued sharing of sales tax as it represents $1.2 million of Baldwinsville's 2010-11 school budget. Should the county decide to take away sales tax from schools, the Baldwinsville School District would lose approximately $500,000 from next school year's budget since the change would not take effect until January 2011.

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