This story was reported by Chris Libonati, Caitlin McGonagle and Anais Mejia.
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon proposed a $1.476 billion budget for 2024 on Friday that included a property tax rate cut along with a number of other initiatives.
That’s about 3% more spending than in 2023.
McMahon proposed cutting the property tax rate from $4.26 cents per $1,000 in assessed value to $3.62 per $1,000 in assessed value. The county executive said the rate cut would help offset rising assessments across the county. Collected sales taxes are projected to keep rising. McMahon said he expects collected sales taxes to rise 1% in 2024.
“This gives back all our assessment growth and cuts our property tax levy by $9 million,” McMahon said.
The Onondaga County Legislature’s review of the budget will start on Tuesday at 9 a.m. and continue through Oct. 10, when legislators vote on the budget. There will be a public hearing on the budget Oct. 5.
Read more about the initiatives that McMahon proposed:
$2.5M to address the county’s lead crisis
McMahon proposed allocating $2.5 million to address the county’s lead crisis.
Because of the area’s aging housing stock, lead paint can still be found in homes. Last year, about 5% of children tested for lead poisoning in the county tested positive. Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays in young children, among other problems.
In the past year, the county has spent $8.7 million on the lead crisis, including money used to restart the county’s lead testing van.
The $2.5 million will be put toward enrichment services for children with elevated blood-lead levels who do not immediately qualify for services in addition to money to relocate families who need to move because of lead hazards in their home.
Some of the funding will cover temporary housing or cover the cost of a first month’s rent and a security deposit.
Renovations at Hopkins Road Park and Onondaga Lake Park
McMahon proposed spending $19 million on two parks during Friday’s budget presentation.
The first $6 million of that sum would go toward reviving a proposal from two years ago. In 2021, McMahon proposed spending $25 million to make Hopkins Road Park in Salina into a sports complex. The Onondaga County Legislature moved money for the project into a contingency. Legislator Mary Kuhn proposed spending $2 million to fix up the park’s softball fields, though McMahon vetoed a proposal to do so at the time.
Some of the $6 million would go toward building a super field at the park.
“Let’s not let this opportunity pass, don’t ever say I can’t,” McMahon said.
McMahon said renovating the park could help the surrounding hotels in the Town of Salina that he believes will see fewer tourists when the Interstate 81 viaduct is removed.
McMahon also proposed spending $13 million to upgrade Onondaga Lake Park. Under the proposal, the county would expand the marina, fix a retaining wall and dredge the lake to return it to its previous depth.
The county executive said he believes the renovation would provide an economic boost for Liverpool.
Making the county’s Diversity and Inclusion office a ‘one-stop shop’
As the county ramps up for the arrival of computer chip-making company Micron, McMahon proposed making the county’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion into a “one-stop shop” for training and workforce development.
He proposed spending $1.5 million on the office to offer:
- Pre-qualification and assessment services
- Construction management training
- General business, organization and professional training
Making capital improvements to daycare centers
Through the county’s Early Childhood Career Pathways Program, McMahon said the county has helped 34 new home family daycares open with another 18 in the process of opening. The county believes the program has created 280 to 560 daycare spots for children countywide.
McMahon proposed including $750,000 in the 2024 budget to help daycare centers make capital improvements. Each grant could be up to $50,000. The program would create at least 15 grants.
Extension of home improvement program with Home HeadQuarters
McMahon proposed spending $2 million to extend the county’s Onondaga County Neighborhood Initiative in conjunction with Home Headquarters.
Under the program, Home HeadQuarters disburses loans with a 1% interest rate to homeowners. The loans can be used to update a home’s electrical wiring, plumbing, roof, windows or siding, McMahon said. According to HomeHeadquarters, the loans are payable over the course of seven years.
Peer specialists to help those in recovery
The county plans to add peer specialists to the Onondaga County Health Department to help people trying to recover from addiction.
McMahon said the county wants to create a “single point of access” program for those who struggle with addiction to begin recovery.
“The after-effects of the pandemic are historic among our adult population as well,” McMahon said. “Challenges involved with mental health and substance abuse are constant reminders that we have much to do.”
McMahon did not say how many positions the county planned to add.
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