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Onondaga County may need 12 layoffs to balance budget

Ellen Abbott
Onondaga County Ways & Means Committee meeting Monday to discuss potential layoffs.

Onondaga County almost wiggled out of a multi-million dollar budget deficit with no layoffs, because of an early retirement buyout plan.

But after all the numbers were counted, the county is still looking at a half a million dollar hole for next year. County Executive Joanie Mahoney is proposing cuts that include 12 layoffs to close that gap. That means lawmakers have to go back to the budget drawing board.

Onondaga Legislature Ways and Means Chair David Knapp calls it a mini-budget review, scouring the Mahoney administration budget proposal and perhaps seeing if there’s any way to avoid those layoffs.

“There’s things we can do. We can make cuts in other programs to restore different things. Or looking at fund balance, a little bit here and there. It’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of pieces of the puzzle,” said Knapp.

Onondaga County’s chief budget officer, Steve Morgan, briefed the Ways and Means Committee this week on the budget adjustment. He says 205 people took a $10,000 buyout to retire early, but some of the positions need to be re-filled, leaving that budget gap. Morgan says it’s possible to avoid layoffs, with a caveat.

"If you add something here, it has to come from somewhere else. Because at the end of the day, it has to be zero,” said Morgan.

The legislature has already planned two meetings this week to evaluate the Mahoney administration proposal. Lawmakers plan to vote on a final budget adjustment Monday. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says the goal is to keep emotions out of the process, and realize that without the retirement buyout, they could be facing a much tougher decision.

“If we didn’t get to where we did, you’d be talking about massive layoffs. You’d be talking about 200, 250 people if we didn’t do what we didn’t.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.