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County Budget Struggles As U.S. Senate Is Yet To Take Up Bill Including Local Funding

Onondaga County Executive's Office

Onondaga County and the rest of Central New York expect to be able to enter Phase Four by the end of the week. This allows entertainment, recreation, and arts businesses to reopen with certain guidance.

But County Executive Ryan McMahon said even though he’s pleased that more businesses will be resuming operations, the county’s budgetary challenges continue to mount. The Senate not expected to take up the most recent stimulus bill until mid or late July.

“That’s going the wrong way on the calendar. Local governments, state governments need time to know what our partners in the federal government are going to do,said McMahon. “We’ve always said no is an answer. To us, it’s not an acceptable answer. But that gives us more time to make the decisions we need.”

Locally, McMahon said he expects the Onondaga County Legislature to vote on a temporary energy tax at a special meeting later this month or in early July. Though the budget situation remains daunting for the county, COVID-19 data is still improving.

The number of active cases is down and the average number of community spread cases per day remains below 10. Hospitalizations are also falling, though some nursing home residents are still in the hospital waiting to test negative. McMahon said it’s still important to get a plan in place.

“Because we need to have this infrastructure in place ready for the fall if there’s a second spike so this doesn’t happen,” said McMahon. “But the immediate need isn’t as critical as it was three weeks ago.”

Universal testing at the Syracuse Community Health Center is open again this week, as well as mobile testing units throughout the county. More information is on the Onondaga County Health Department’s website.  

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, poverty, and identity.