At last week's final meeting of the county Legislature's sales tax committee, two competing proposals were outlined, then ultimately forwarded to the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee for further consideration, which will meet Tuesday April 27.
In Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney's proposal of a 75-25 percent split between the county and the city of Syracuse, details include funds to be phased out of towns and villages by 2012 and 2015, respectively. The school's share would be cut in half with a fixed rate until 2020, when the 10-year contract would again be up for negotiation.
In Onondaga County Sales Committee Chairman Jim Rhinehart's proposal, school districts would be cut out entirely. His proposal would provide the city of Syracuse $50 million annually -- significantly less than in Mahoney's -- while the county would get $129 million. The remaining $100 million in sales tax receipts would be used to reduce property taxes among the county's villages and towns as well as in the city of Syracuse. Funds for towns, villages and schools would be reduced to zero immediately.
"The proposal released by Chairman Rhinehart is unacceptable and does not take the City's or the region's best interests into account. Cutting the City's sales tax receipts by $19 million annually will have a devastating impact on the services the City is able to provide to our region's top employers and will cripple economic development in our entire region. Even before factoring in these reductions, the City has been forced to reduce its personnel by almost 100 positions, including police officers. We have also been forced to raise taxes by 5.4 percent and increase water rates by 9 percent in my proposed budget. A vibrant and growing City is essential to a healthy County and this proposal will stifle any opportunity for growth. As this process continues, the City will be exploring all of its options for receiving its fair share of sales tax revenues," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.