We, the Republican Legislators, are angry and appalled. A battle ensued and the loser is you, the taxpayer.
After weeks of debate, a budget has been adopted, but it is far from the budget that the Republican legislators worked thoroughly on for the past four weeks. Furthermore, the adopted budget is not in the best interests of the taxpayers of Onondaga County. After the Oct. 12 budget vote of 15-3, there was hope that this legislature was on its way to making drastic changes to County Executive Joanie Mahoney's proposed $1.18 billion budget. The legislature had removed $45 million off your property taxes.
Then the vetoes started. Eleven vetoes totaling over $23 million dollars. It was well known from the very beginning that each veto was putting money back into the budget thereby increasing property taxes.
The Republican legislators diligently reviewed each account and made practical decisions as far as revenue projections and cost cutting measures. The adopted budget represented fair and conservative projections for sales tax revenues, as well as sustainable cuts. The most severe veto was the objection to the use of funds from the county's savings account. The Republican legislators recommended the use of only $12 million of funds from the county's savings to offset property taxes. The county's fund balances total over $120,000,000 and are earning little to no interest. Much to our caucus' dismay, County Executive Mahoney and the Democrat caucus were not willing to use any funds from the county's savings account. Ironically, during the 2010 budget process, Democrats fought to use more fund balance monies, arguing that we were saving too much and that the excess money should be "returned to the taxpayers." In 2010, the legislature dedicated almost $8,000,000 from the county's savings account and those funds have more than replenished themselves over the last year. By the County Executive's and Democrat caucus' refusal to use funds from these accounts, the taxpayers will now suffer double and, in one case, triple-digit increases in property taxes. The fund balance was established specifically to avoid spikes in property taxes as a direct result of sudden increases in costs. Former County Executive Nick Pirro agreed that the proposed use of fund balances by the Republican legislators was advisable and in accordance with the stated purpose for which these funds were accumulated.