Nov 18, 2010 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Six months ago, after monitoring Onondaga County’s revamped sales tax sharing agreement with the county’s 15 villages, Liverpool Mayor Gary White knew the county would share far less than the $550,000 it had annually forwarded to the village over the past decade.
But he didn’t know the resolution passed by the County Legislature on May 4 had stipulated how the money had to be spent.
“We were supposed to get $281,000 per year” for the next 10 years, White reminded village trustees at their Nov. 15 meeting. That figure represents Liverpool’s share of $4 million annually which the county will now share with its villages.
On Nov. 15, however, White and mayors across the county were informed by Onondaga County Chief Fiscal Officer James Rowley that their portion of the sales tax revenue must be spent on “infrastructure projects.”
“So now we see that this money’s coming with a lot of strings attached,” White said.
Rowley’s letter was a big surprise, the mayor said.
“My understanding is that the money cannot be used for our general fund,” White said. “That was never explained at the time of the agreement.”
The Legislature’s resolution states that, “The infrastructure grant provided by the county for the purpose of assisting the village in undertaking projects involving public improvements designed to enhance and promote regional growth, particularly improvements that reduce undesirable sprawl and encompass green technology and sustainable growth.”
Villages have until Jan. 1 to submit their infrastructure plans, which must be personally approved by County Executive Joanie Mahoney. Village Trustee Nick Kochan said the stipulations are the result of “executive fiat.”
Two days after the board of trustees meeting, White met with the Onondaga County Association of Mayors in Solvay.
“The rest of the mayors are just as concerned about this as I am,” he said. “This is a big can of worms we’ve got to deal with.”
The county’s reluctance to share sale tax revenues was prompted not only by its own budget shortfalls, but by Mahoney’s government-consolidation initiatives.
The May 4 resolution states each proposed infrastructure project will be analyzed for its “anticipated opportunities for regional growth and shared services among local governments.”
When interviewed in June shortly after the legislature revamped the sale tax formula, White said, “The county made no bones about its intent to strip our funding to force transparency and thereby force consolidation. And that’s an irresponsible approach to take.”
Liverpool’s budget for 2009-10 was $2.7 million, and nearly $600,000 of that sum came from its share of the 4 percent county sales tax. Trustees lowered the 2010-11 budget to $2.2 million, and village taxes remained flat.
Kochan has asked village residents to step forward with ideas about how to deal with the tightening budget.
“Down the road we’re going to have to make some very hard choices,” he said.
Four DWI arrests in October
Liverpool Police Chief Bill Becker informed the village board of trustees at their Nov. 15 meeting, that officers issued 121 citations for violations of the state’s vehicle and traffic laws during October. In addition, 36 warning tickets were issued for minor motor-vehicle violations.
Four arrests were made for driving while intoxicated, seven traffic accidents were investigated and four parking tickets were issued
Officers made 328 residential checks during the month while investigating a total of 350 incidents.
The chief reported that, although winter parking hours are in effect on village streets, no vehicles have yet been towed.
“We plan on working closely with village DPW crews once the snow starts to fly,” Becker said.
New village court clerk
White announced that longtime Village Court Clerk Joni Sprague has left the village to accept a position at the Onondaga County Court. On Nov. 2, the village board convened a special meeting to approve the hiring of Kimberly Hall to replace Sprague. Hall, who previously served as deputy clerk for the town of Skaneateles, began work here Nov. 8.