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Onondaga County Cuts Over $80 Million In 2021 Budget To Cope With COVID-19 Effects


Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is taking unprecedented steps to deal with the long term impacts of COVID-19 by dramatically slashing the proposed 2021 County Budget. 


“This budget, all funds, is 1.25 billion dollars, which is 84 million dollars less than the 2020 adopted budget,” McMahon said.“That marks a 6.3% decrease.” 


McMahon said the county took costly actions to purchase PPE in response to the start of the pandemic in March that will affect the budget, all without direct federal aid. He also emphasized the human cost of the pandemic in the county.


“We knew the disease could be deadly, and it did not spare our community. As of today, our community has lost 212 neighbors,” McMahon said. “These are families, who in many cases have still not been able to properly mourn their loved ones. I ask that we take a moment of silence to remember those we’ve lost and their families.”


McMahon added that the smaller budget is partially due to a decrease in sales tax, and will lead to more furloughs and austerity measures. 


“We are anticipating a negative 7% growth in sales tax, a dramatic change from a budget that had anticipated a 3% growth in sales tax.” McMahon said.


McMahon said county furloughs would have been worse without employees opting for early retirement during the spring and fall. As part of a cost-saving measure, the County Executive also introduced a plan to merge the information technology infrastructure for the City of Syracuse and the County. 


“This consolidation, long overdue in the eyes of many, will create efficiencies. It's going to strengthen our cybersecurity network, while saving both the city and county money.”


McMahon also paid recognition to “first responders and frontline heroes” who have courageously been caring for the community ever since the pandemic began. Though he knows there will be more difficult times to get through, he said our community has already proven it can overcome any challenges. 


John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.