At the June session of the Onondaga County Legislature several important items were discussed. The topics that garnered the most discussion were funding for the OnCenter and a proposal for the purchasing department. The legislature also approved a resolution and local law establishing a grant program for our municipalities to explore the benefits of shared services or consolidation.
The OnCenter Complex is a county owned facility that is managed by an independent board of directors who volunteer their time and expertise. Each year, the county provides a subsidy to assist in the maintenance and operation of the OnCenter Complex. The purpose of the OnCenter Complex is to attract concerts, conventions and other related business to the Syracuse area. While revenues from these events can help defray the costs associated with running the War Memorial, Civic Center theatres and the Convention Center, additional funding is sometimes necessary to ensure the facility's solvency. This year we are pleased to welcome the USBC Women's Bowling Championships. While they are in town from April until July, millions of dollars will be pumped into the local economy. Eventually, funds from events like these come back to the county in the form of sales tax and room occupancy tax (ROT) revenues. The resolution that was adopted at session gives the OnCenter Complex $1.85 million from future unappropriated revenues, like sales tax and ROT. The resolution further states that absolutely no real property taxes will be used to fund the facility. Lastly, the adopted resolution asks the OnCenter complex to pay back $900,000 of the funding within the next five years. The growth and success of the OnCenter Complex is vital to the growth and success of Onondaga County.
The 2011 proposed budget included a proposition to consolidate the City of Syracuse Purchasing Department with the Onondaga County Purchasing Department. The crux of the proposal was that the city would abolish their purchasing department, lay off their four employees and the county would take over all the purchasing including hiring their four employees for the City of Syracuse together with the Syracuse City School District. During the budget process, this proposal was vetted from every angle. The Republican caucus came to the conclusion that the proposed savings were unsubstantiated. As a compromise, two positions were funded and funds were set aside in a contingency account. It was our hope that after six months of starting the consolidation, savings would be realized. However, the Onondaga County Purchasing department chose not to hire the two employees and has not begun the work to move towards a consolidated effort. Therefore, we are at the same impasse we were at nine months ago. There is no proof that there are savings with a consolidated purchasing department. It was clear that the City of Syracuse would immediately see salary savings as well as savings from not having to maintain a purchasing department or inventory. Consolidation is only successful when every party involved benefits to no one's detriment.