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Oneida County executive moves to consolidate county's 47 governments

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Payne Horning
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WRVO News
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente delivers his 10th state of the county address, a record number for the county.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says the number of governments in the county is unsustainable. In his annual State of the County speech Tuedsay, he renewed his call for downsizing the size of government, noting that sales tax revenues in Oneida County are down by $3.8 million. The county has 47 government units and 345 taxing jurisdictions. Picente said that ultimately leads to overlapping public services.

"This structure is financially and operationally irresponsible and unsustainable," Picente said. "If it were snowing, would you pay five different people to plow your driveway?"

Picente's efforts toward downsizing governments and reducing tax jurisdictions in the past have focused on trying to incentivize consolidation. A 2013 project offered public dollars to help municipalities pay for the costs of dissolution and the villages of Bridgewater and Prospect have since dissolved into larger towns. But, Picente said the results were too moderate, so he plans on using the county's sales tax dollars strategically to push villages and towns toward consolidation.

"No longer will we nor can we subsidize layers of governments that we cannot afford," Picente said. "This current structure currently doles out dollars to all levels with no regard for economic impact. A new formula must reflect the needs and contributions of the larger governments."

Lauren Mattia with Northland Communications, who attended the speech, said there is a lot of duplication in the community.

"His direction in trying to consolidate our efforts in this region is exactly what we need to prosper in the long term," Mattia said.

The new sales tax formula is still being developed, yet the mayors of Rome and Utica have already pledged their support. The Oneida County Board of legislators would ultimately have to approve the change.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.