Onondaga County is looking to ensure the stability of its 15 villages for the next decade. County Executive Ryan McMahon says the renewed Enhanced Village Improvement Program aims to help them address public safety, neighborhood development, and other needs.
The proposed program will begin with $5.25 million in 2020 and will increase to $6 million by 2029.
"The new village infrastructure program was not tied to sales tax, but it was a side piece of legislation. This builds off of that. This provides more flexibility and more funding to the villages so they can continue to do what they do.”
McMahon says villages are important because they serve as the hearts of the suburbs. Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson says the state’s two percent tax cap combined with no sales tax revenue means villages have had to postpone infrastructure projects like paving roads. Then there are everyday expenses.
"Villages are small cities. We have police dpeartments. We have fire departments. We have DPW's. We have codes. We have have courts. We have clerks. We have parks and rec. We have senior centers. We have libraries. We have cemeteries. We have everything a city has, just on a smaller magnitude. We have the same pressures that the city of Syracuse is having. But the city has a stable sales tax base. This helps us get a stable formula that we can use and budget with."
Olson says his village’s housing market is strong, just like it is for downtown Syracuse.
“We see a trend of people moving into the suburbs. We're seeing people moving out of others areas and into the suburbs because they want the quality of life, they want the schools, they want the safety. But we're also seeing the trend of retirees moving into the city. It think it's a good blend right now.”
The village improvement program goes to the County Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee this Friday. The full legislature could take a vote at its December 18th or January 2nd session.
The proposed extension of the funding plan provides a small clue into what's ahead for the sales tax revenue sharing formula being worked out between the city and the county. Villages were largely left out of the previous agreement, prompting the need for the additional funding. McMahon wouldn't disclose any details on sales tax negotiations.