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County Sales Tax: A third plan revealed

Will the third time be the charm?

Local town, village and school officials have offered up their own solution to dividing the well over $200 million of Onondaga County sales tax revenue expected to be available in 2011. Unlike two other proposals, it includes more than $56 million for towns, villages and schools.

The new proposal was announced Monday May 3 at a press conference in the boardroom of the Skaneateles Central School District.

The plan includes $167 million going to the county, or 60 percent of the total, and $55 million, or about 20 percent, going to the city of Syracuse.

The rest would be divided up among Onondaga County's towns, villages and schools. Ten million would go to the schools and $45 million would go to the towns and villages.

"While no one interest group receives what they want from the sales tax pie, it spreads the pain more fairly among the county," said Skaneateles Town Supervisor Terri Roney. "When the economy truly recovers, all residents of Onondaga County will again share in the benefits of a fair and equitable distribution of sales tax."

The current agreement on county sales tax is expiring and Onondaga County lawmakers need to vote on a new 10-year agreement. Two plans are already being considered. One, sponsored by Onondaga County Legislature Chairman James Rhinehart, eliminates sales tax funding of schools, towns and villages entirely. It would go into effect immediately in 2011.

The other, from County Executive Joanie Mahoney, would eliminate revenue to towns and villages over two years, and reduce the schools portion to 1.4 percent over two years.

Many town, village and school officials are unhappy with the first two proposals that, for the most part, cut them out of the equation entirely.

"Lets not make an arbitrary decision that will have detrimental effects on any level of government," said Skaneateles Mayor Bob Green. "Rash decisions will only make the situation much worse."

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