The Onondaga County Legislature will vote later this week on how to spend more than $1.4 billion over the next year.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon proposed his 2023 budget on Sept. 15. Over the last two weeks, the Legislature has met to discuss the budget and potential amendments.

The Legislature will hold a meeting on Thursday at 5 p.m. followed by a public hearing about the budget at 6 p.m. in its legislative chambers.

Legislators will then vote on the budget on Oct. 11. at 1 p.m.

Check out how the budget breaks down department by department, how the county pays for its operations and proposed amendments to the budget proposed by McMahon.

How the county plans to spend your money

Five county departments individually account for at least 5% of the county’s budget. Each of those departments cost more than $80 million to fund. They are:

  • Department of Social Services
  • Department of Child and Family Services
  • Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office
  • Water and Environment Protection
  • The Health Department

County insurance accounts for another $83.4 million. Onondaga County Community College costs the county $68.1 million, clocking in at 4.8% of the county’s budget.

The biggest cost to the county comes in the form of “general expenses,” which includes debt payments and the payment of sales taxes to other municipalities. That costs $273.6 million to fund.

In all, those costs account for 77.4% of the county’s budget.

Here is a complete department-by-department breakdown of planned county spending:

Increased spending for Child and Family Services

One of the biggest spending increases in this year’s county budget was for the Department of Children and Family Services. The department will receive an additional $22.7 million this year, a 17.4% increase over last year’s budget.

The spending increase will go toward the following services:

  • The county’s youth bureau (+$7.1 million), which provides services to run-away and homeless youth. Last year, the youth bureau’s entire budget was just $1,056,655.
  • Children welfare services (+$7.7 million), which investigates complaints of the maltreatment of children
  • Mental health services (+$3.1 million), which gives money to families going through the county’s children welfare or juvenile justice systems
  • School-based initiatives (+$5.5 million), which organizes in-school children and family services and aims to address personal and family issues that affect school performance

The department’s juvenile justice services saw a $450,870 decrease in spending from last year.

Sheriff to add road deputies, reduce staff at Jamesville

The sheriff’s office will receive an $11.8 million boost to its budget, an 11.4% increase over last year’s budget.

Nearly half of that increase — $5.6 million — will come from increases in salaries and the department’s overtime budget.

The department’s budget calls for an additional 10 patrol deputies and an additional patrol lieutenant.

At the same time, the sheriff’s office is budgeted to lose 11 senior corrections officer positions. Corrections officers work at Jamesville Correctional Facility.

The county’s prison has seen a dramatic decline in the number of people held there. The prison currently has 123 fewer people than last year at this time.

The Onondaga County Jail is currently holding 89 more people than it held at this point last year.

How the county pays for it all

Nearly two-thirds of the county’s projected 2023 revenue will come from three broad sources: property taxes, sales tax and government aid. 

Those three areas have accounted for an increasing portion of the county’s revenue. They accounted for about 61% of the revenue in 2020 and now account for a little more than 64% of the county’s revenue.

That can largely be attributed to an increase in projected sales tax revenue.

County officials projected sales tax revenue to have increased $62.6 million since 2020, or 16.4%. The sales tax collected by the county is projected to fund 2.5% more of the budget in 2023 than it funded in 2020.

Here’s a breakdown of the county’s major revenue streams:

Proposed budget amendments

The Onondaga County Legislature’s Ways and Means committee proposed a set of amendments, that would keep the budget at the same total projected spending as the county executive’s.

Here are some of the amendments proposed by the Legislature:

  • $50,000 for capital improvements at the Museum of Science and Technology
  • $30,000 for deer and tick data collection and 4-H youth development
  • $10,000 more for the Onondaga Major Felony Unit as part of the Stop DWI program
  • $50,000 for the Syracuse Police Athletic League
  • $50,000 for the Syracuse Northeast Community Center’s supported employment program
  • Additional $100,000 for the water chestnut mitigation program
  • $106,223 for two additional clerks at the Onondaga County Board of Elections
  • $25,000 for first responder recruitment and retention
  • $5,000 for the Juneteenth celebration

The legislature also reduced spending elsewhere to make room for these expenditures.

More on the County Budget

Chris Libonati

Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or libonati@centralcurrent.org.