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Recent Onondaga County sales-tax payments help avoid staff cutbacks

By Eric Reinhardt


Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon speaking at a coronavirus briefing at the Oncenter in Syracuse in April. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE — The two sales-tax payments that Onondaga County received during the week of Oct. 5 provided the county a big financial shot in the arm, helping it avoid staff cutbacks during October and November.

“Between Monday’s payment [and] today’s payment, we’re not going to have any disruptions to our workforce for the months of October or November,” Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said during his coronavirus briefing Oct. 8 at the Oncenter.

Onondaga County on Oct. 8 received a sales-tax payment of more than $7 million, leaving the sales-tax deficit in the county’s 2020 budget at more than $22 million. 

The $7.3 million payment is a “cleanup” payment for the month of August, down more than $460,000 from a year ago, Onondaga County said. This payment and the $37.8 million disbursement the county received a few days earlier on Oct. 5, covering the months of August and September, will allow the county to avoid layoffs through November.

The Oct. 5 payment reflected a $10.2 million, or 33 percent, increase compared to a similar payment a year ago, which McMahon called “very, very good news.”

The county executive figures that spending from returning college students, back-to-school spending, capital projects, housing projects, and spending at Destiny USA played a role in that nearly $38 million sales-tax payment.

“It shows you that even though at times, it’s a lot of work to keep the economy open and to get kids back to college and there was a lot of anxiety about bringing back in 30,000 kids in the community, there is no question that that spending power drove this payment,” said McMahon. 

Onondaga County’s nine colleges collectively have reported 127 cases of COVID-19 over the past two-and-a-half months, he noted on Oct. 5. The schools include Syracuse University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Le Moyne College, Onondaga Community College, Bryant & Stratton, St. Joseph’s College of Nursing, Bill and Sandra Pomeroy College of Nursing at Crouse Hospital, and Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, according to McMahon. 

McMahon reiterated the sales-tax and county workforce situation in response to a reporter’s question during the Oct. 13 coronavirus briefing at the Oncenter. He also noted that he’ll have more to say during his upcoming county budget address, which is set for Nov. 4.      

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