Onondaga County tax rate goes down in proposed budget

Onondaga County taxpayers will see their tax rate go down to the lowest level in 50 years, if county lawmakers agree to the spending plan which was revealed Friday by County Executive Joanie Mahoney.

The proposed budget calls for a proposed 2014 Tax Rate of $5.23 per thousand. That is down from $5.28 in 2013, Mahoney's office says. Mahoneu unveiled the budget in an address before the Onondaga County Legislature Friday morning.

In addition to announcing a lower tax rate, Mahoney will also call for the allocation of a $1.5 million economic development fund. That money would be, "used to push projects over the finish line to create jobs and further spur development," Mahoney said. The money in that fund will be reviewed by an advisory board to make sure the funds will be used to create jobs.

The budget also includes free parks admission for all veterans and active duty members of the military. .

The County Executive reports overall spending is down 3.5% from 2013, and for the first time in recent memory, the steep curve of state mandates has shifted down. While mandates still consume $171 million of local taxpayer dollars, the leveling off is welcome news. Sales Tax revenue is also growing, Mahoney said. For 2014, Onondaga County projects sales tax revenues to increase by 2.75%.

The legisalature intends to go review the budget over the next two weeks. Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, David Knapp told reporters that the budget controls spending but he and other lawmakers will look for areas to cut. Knapp said they will "take a scalpel and not a hatchet" to the budget.

Legislator Kevin Holmquist told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that he is upset that the County Executive did not go along with a request by the Sheriff's Department to hire an individual needed to clear out a backlog of applications at the Pistol Permit Bureau. Holmquist criticized Mahoney for "inexplicably" ignoring the request even though thousands of gun owners are forced to wait more than a year to process a pistol permit. Holmquist is promising to add the position to the Pistol Permit Bureau.