Baldwinsville The Onondaga County Legislature held their annual budget session Oct. 11.
The budget session is the final step in considering the proposed budget and the Ways and Means recommendations. Several amendments were introduced on the floor to either increase or decrease the taxes to be collected by the county. There were approximately 36 amendments introduced this year to change the County Executive’s proposed budget or the Ways and Means committee recommendation.
The amount of money the county allocates for the arts comes out of Room Occupancy Tax and is not taxes collected from property owners. This year, the County Executive recommended in her budget that we use ROT to support the Syracuse Philharmonic Orchestra. The Ways and Means committee recommended we give all the arts organizations’ funding to the Cultural Resource Council and let them decide which groups will receive the funding. I sponsored an amendment to remove the funding originally allocated to the Syracuse Philharmonic. In my opinion, this amendment passed for a couple of reasons. The first issue I see is that both potential orchestras, the Syracuse Philharmonic and the Symphony Syracuse are not entirely established at this point in time. If at a later date, one of the orchestra’s establishes itself, and proves that they will not have the same issues that the Syracuse Symphony had, we can readdress the issue of allocating ROT dollars to assist them.
Another issue that garnered a lot of discussion was the funding for Air-One. The Sheriff told the legislature last year that he would obtain the ability to charge for medevac transports, and that with fundraisers he would be able to support the operation of the helicopter. At present he has about $4,000 in the fundraising foundation to offset a $700,000 operational cost. The County Executive placed the salaries of the four pilots in the Sheriff’s Grants budget assuming he would raise enough money to pay for them. The legislature felt that with a $34 million dollar patrol budget that the Sheriff completely controls, he could find the rest of the money for the operation of the helicopter if he wants to keep it running. The2012 tax levy, or the amount to be collected by property taxes, is slated to be $148 million. The Sheriff’s total budget is over $78 million. This means that more than half of all the property taxes collected go to funding the Sheriff’s custody and road patrol.