Van Buren may lose funding for Seneca Knolls drainage

In 2008, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a multi-year drainage improvement project in Seneca Knolls. Funding for that project is now in danger thanks to Onondaga County's reconfiguration of the sales tax distribution formula.

In the most recent proposals, towns are eliminated from the formula, which means Van Buren will no longer be eligible for $300,000 in sales tax money, which helps fund the drainage project.

"Van Buren has taken $300,000 in cash for four years out of $2.5 million we were eligible for," said Van Buren Supervisor Claude Sykes. "If the town had taken all $2.5 million in cash, the taxpayers would have had to make it up in taxes on the county tax line. We felt it is the same taxpayer, whether county or town tax line, so we limited ourselves to $300,000."

Sykes said while the town will still receive funding for 2010, which will be used on Baker Boulevard creating a detention basin and for picking up some drainage from Leopold Boulevard, the project is far from being finished.

"If sales tax remained unchanged, we were looking at another eight to 10 years in the upper Knolls and probably five years in the lower Knolls," he said. "We likely then would have been looking at work in sections of Village Green."

Sykes said the loss of funding will force the town to look at alternative methods of funding to finish the project such as bonding or including drainage as part of the highway tax.

Towns left out in cold

Most of the towns in Onondaga County don't include sales tax money in their budgets, leaving it with the county as a credit for town residents to offset county property taxes.

"When they are saying the towns may not receive or are not included, they are referring to something most towns never really have received anyway," Sykes said. "The towns are most fit to absorb costs, and they are being penalized for being fiscally responsible."

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