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Politics & Government

Tax on Energy Bills Approved to Help with Onondaga County Coronavirus Budget Hole

Chris Bolt/WAER News

The Onondaga County Legislature unanimously approved a measure that will speed development of a warehouse project in Dewitt.  The project is believed to be a support center to aid with deliveries from the huge warehouse facility being built in Clay. 

Some 200 jobs are expected to be created through the Dewitt location, in addition to 1000 at the project in Clay.  Legislator Mary Kuhn supports the project, which is getting no special incentives.

“The fact that this could come through with no pilot (agreements), the fact that the developer is taking care of all the road expansion and sewer connection, and I think that the Town of Dewitt did an excellent job with the environmental impact.”

The Dewitt Town Planning Board will consider a final site plan next month.

But a more contentious issue divided lawmakers at their special session today.  They approved a temporary residential energy tax by a 10-to-6 vote.  It’s expected to cost the average household about six dollars-a-month.  Legislature Chair Dave Knapp reluctantly supported the tax, due to a possible $100-Million budget deficit due to the coronavirus.

“Obviously this is a really tough issue.  Nobody is really excited about this.  Unfortunately, we are in absolutely unprecedented times.” 

Majority Leader Brain May disagrees.

“It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.  I just think about the people affected by this and it will weigh heavy on my heart.  I’m really disappointed that we’re grabbing for a 3.7% solution when we’ve got a lot of things to think about going forward.” 

The increase would end in November of 2022, unless the legislature renews it.