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Mahoney worries anti-Syracuse sentiment will dominate county sales tax negotiations

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney addressing the county legislature.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has started publicly making her case over how she would like to distribute the sales tax revenue collected in the county.

Mahoney said she is worried about potential anti-city sentiment ruling the day, in negotiations that create a formula to share sales tax revenue between the county and local governments. So, she turned a portion of this year’s State of the County speech into a primer about ways the county helps town and village governments.

“What I’m really trying to illustrate is we’re all in this together,” Mahoney said. “We can’t have a city that doesn’t have the resources to take care of itself and then have thriving suburban communities around it. It's not as if the county shares with the city and doesn't do anything for the towns and villages. The county also does a lot for the towns and villages.”

For example, the county will take care of any uncollected taxes in towns and villages, something it doesn't do for the city.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is facing a multi-million dollar deficit as he prepares his first budget as mayor. Walsh says he appreciates Mahoney’s perspective.

"As we’re looking at the sales tax agreement and other financial issues, we have to look at it holistically, and understand that we need to be treating the city and the surrounding municipalities in an equitable fashion,” Walsh said.

Every ten years, county lawmakers determine which governments get what share of sales tax revenue. The last time it happened in 2010, there was heated debate between city and suburban interests.  Ultimately, lawmakers agreed on a deal that was beneficial to the city.  Talks have already started regarding the next deal, which needs to be in place by 2020.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.