Onondaga County government will consider 200 layoffs to balance coronavirus losses

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Losses from coronavirus are projected to short Onondaga County government $125 million it planned to spend this year.

When the county legislators approved the county executive’s 2020 general fund budget set for $965 million, they were all banking on the revenue they’re used to collecting, made up of sales tax, property tax, state aid, federal aid and room occupancy tax.

Coronavirus is targeting many of those projected amounts.

With car dealers just selling again and Destiny USA still mostly closed, $100 million will be lost in sales taxes, more than one-third of what the county was banking on.

With hotels checking in minimal guests, the Syracuse Nationals called off and the State Fair in jeopardy, the $7 million expected from room occupancy tax will also be dramatically obliterated.

On top of those reductions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned of cuts to state aid owed to local governments as much as 20 percent to 35 percent, unless the federal government bails the state out.

Those hits total around $125 million in money Onondaga County planned to spend now totally gone.

In his daily briefing on Tuesday, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said, “You cut us 25 to 30 million bucks, it’s going to people. There’s nowhere else to cut.”

He challenged the Onondaga County Legislature to accept their responsibility and make tough decisions.

That same day, the legislature tabled a vote to approve a sales tax on homeowners’ energy bills. Since that energy tax is already approved by New York State, it would have been a quick way to make new money.

While the legislature can still approve that option later, it will begin to decide which county departments will get staff cut.

Legislature Chairman Dave Knapp tells NewsChannel 9 that the current budget hole will require 200 layoffs, on top of more than 160 people who are already taking an incentive to retire to free up the money spent on their salaries.

Knapp said, “That’s difficult — to look at folks and say ‘Boy, thanks for everything. This is where we are.’ Not a conversation we’re looking forward to having.”

The legislature will need to start deciding what types of positions are eliminated next week.

The sooner the people are cut, the quicker the county can save money from their salaries to fill the budget hole.

Instead, local leaders hope the state comes through with its promised funding and the federal government passes another stimulus bill that benefits local governments.

More from NewsChannel 9:

For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan.

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