Mar 08, 2011 Ami Olson Uncategorized
In delivering her 2011 State of the County address Tuesday March 1, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney proclaimed, “we are coming out of this recession stronger than we went in.”
Mahoney cited a list of consolidation efforts among county, city, village and town governments, including a shared municipal purchasing department that 23 municipalities are interested in joining.
From the stage at West Genesee High School in Camillus, Mahoney commended the West Genesee Central School District employees for their cooperation in voluntarily accepting a pay freeze to avoid teacher layoffs.
She also pointed to the towns of Geddes, Salina and Skaneateles, as well as the village of Elbridge, for their efforts to reduce government by eliminating redundancies.
Mahoney credited the revised sales tax sharing agreement, unanimously adopted by the County Legislature in 2010, for pushing municipalities to look for modern, streamlined way of functioning with smaller budgets.
“This is exactly what we hoped the new sales tax agreement would accomplish,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney also announced the county will enter into negotiations with SUNY Upstate to take over Van Duyn Home and Hospital. The county-owned nursing facility has consistently lost millions of dollars annually and has become a drain on the county’s finances.
Finding a way to provide quality care for elderly residents will become even more critical in the next few years, Mahoney said.
“Between now and 2015, we will have an increase of over 65 percent in the number of county residents age 85 and older,” Mahoney said.
The County Executive also announced Save the Rain’s “Project 50,” an initiative to implement 50 distinct public works projects to harvest rainwater and send it back into the ground, not the sewer system. A green roof installed on the War Memorial will harvest rainfall which will be used to make ice for the Syracuse Crunch home rink.
“The Green solutions will take hard work and patience,” Mahoney said. “We won’t get the instant gratification but the end result will be infinitely better.”
Like City of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s State of the City address in February, Mahoney’s address focused heavily on the responsibility of New York State government to reduce the cost of mandated programs.
“County property tax dollars are not funding county programs, they are funding state programs,” Mahoney said.
The county will pass more than $160 million, raised by taxes, onto the state to pay for mandated programs, she added.
Short-term fixes for one budget cycle or term are not going to solve the problem, Mahoney said.
Among the long-term solutions Mahoney supports is multi-year budgeting cycle.
“Legislator John Dougherty has called for multi-year budgeting, and I support him wholeheartedly,” Mahoney said. “When my team presents the budget later this year, we will do so with a look toward the future.”