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Onondaga County's Budget Hole Could Increase Without Better Sales Tax Payments

Onondaga County Executive's Office

The number of Onondaga County employees at risk of being laid off or furloughed could increase if sales tax payments don’t go up. The latest payment that arrived Thursday gave a small bump, but County Executive Ryan McMahon said it needs to be higher.

“The number we needed to see improvement in sales tax data, not .2% improvement, but better improvement,” said McMahon. “We have a cleanup payment later this month, and then we have a very important October payment. That October payment really needs to get stronger or else the number we need to fill our hole is probably larger.”

The county executive’s team is now talking with the union that represents a large majority of the county workforce about including furloughs in the mix of cuts to help employees preserve health insurance during the pandemic. McMahon said his office is open to that, but he can’t imagine a result that doesn’t involve some layoffs.

The cuts need to happen by the end of the year in order for the county to finish with a balanced budget. McMahon said they had been holding out for assistance.

“I was told in May there was a good likelihood that we would get some federal help. Then in June. Then in July. Then the messaging in August got a little murky,” said McMahon. “We had reason to believe that there was help coming. We also had reason to believe that the State of New York wouldn’t cut us 20%, but that’s happening too. So we’re left solving this problem by ourselves.”

The first round of cuts is expected early this month. McMahon said they have identified certain departments for these cuts, but are not discussing it publicly yet.

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, economy, and identity.