Our August legislative session had a light agenda, here are some of the things that we accomplished. We called a public hearing on the acquisition of a force main from Honeywell to continue improvements to the Westside Pumping Station, adopted legislation extending the current sales tax percentage to 2020, accepted a state grant for improvements to the OnCenter and adopted changes to the wireless communication surcharge.
Several years ago, the county conveyed a force main in the Town of Geddes to Honeywell for the remediation work they were doing along the shoreline of Onondaga Lake. With Honeywell’s work in that area wrapping up, the county needs access to the force main to embark on a significant investment into the Westside Pumping Station, the second largest pumping station in Onondaga County. The goal of this project is to upgrade the capacity to include areas from the Town of Van Buren to relieve some of the stress on the Baldwinsville Waste Water Treatment Plant. Renovations will also be done to increase this stations efficiency.
We set the sales tax in Onondaga County at 8 percent again. Since 2004, the state has allowed Onondaga County to add an additional 1 percent to help pay for the cost of unfunded state mandates. However, every two years, we need to adopt legislation, with state approval, to continue collecting the additional 1 percent, maintaining the 8 percent overall sales tax. Half of the sales tax collected goes directly to the state, 3 percent remains in Onondaga County to support our budget and the last 1 percent goes to the city of Syracuse per the sales tax sharing agreement that was adopted in 2010. This legislation keeps the sales tax rate the same.
The Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) has awarded the county a Market NY grant for construction of various improvements at the convention center. The OnCenter is in need of these renovations to encourage increased visitation, trade shows and events. Some of the upgrades include signage, lighting, enhancements to meeting spaces, and the addition of charging stations, new furniture and smart boards for meeting rooms. In the convention business, it is critical that we keep up with renovations to remain competitive.
Next we adopted a local law that makes a few changes to the wireless surcharges collected. Originally, this surcharge was collected on only landlines. As the popularity of cellphones increased, changes were made at the state level that allowed the surcharge to be applied to contract-based wireless phones. In the past decade, there has been a shift away from using landlines and a shift in the wireless industry to prepaid/no contract cellphones. The local law that was adopted ensures that the surcharge will be applied to all phone lines equitably.
Lastly, in the Town of Cicero, they will continue to install streetscape improvements in the Hamlet of Brewerton, along Bennett Street and along a portion of Walnut Street that serves as the entry to the Riverfront Park. This project complements two completed projects awarded the Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grants to improve Riverfront Park and its connection with the commercial area of the Hamlet of Brewerton located along Route 11. The work on this project will include the preparation of final designs, and construction documents for the second phase of streetscape improvements, and the installation of the improvements consisting of ADA compliant sidewalks, cross walks, curbing, lighting, paving and landscaping. If you have not been out to Riverfront Park in a while, stop by — it is coming along nicely.
I hope that you have taken advantage of the great weather that we have been enjoying to get outside and enjoy everything our community has to offer. Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Tim Burtis represents the 3rd legislative district which includes the Town of Cicero and portions of the Town of Manlius. Tim welcomes constituent feedback; he can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 396-3300.