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Onondaga County gets large sales tax payment, but not enough to solve budget problems


Onondaga County reported an increase Monday in sales tax received over last year. But county officials say while it's welcome news, it won't solve the county's budget problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The county received a $17.2 million sales tax payment that County Executive Ryan McMahon called "curious, but encouraging." It was up nearly $7 million from the same time last year. 

But McMahon warned it’s not a panacea for the county’s budget woes.

"Remember this is a moment in time. It’s not last week, it’s weeks ago. Everyone received stimulus checks," McMahon said. "Everybody may have been spending these. We saw consumer spending going up. So it may be a shot in the arm that may be temporary."

Even with more encouraging sales tax numbers, McMahon ticked off areas that haven’t rebounded. Hotel room occupancy tax is off $5 million. Gaming revenue from the Oneida Nation is off $2 million. And there is $7 million in additional costs the county has incurred that may or may not be reimbursed by FEMA.

"We have costs related to personnel and overtime during the pandemic. We have costs related to PPE, tests, ventilators, and preparing and planning for worst case scenarios with the pandemic," McMahon said. "We have departments that are essentially out of their budget."

Add it up and the county expects to be $80-100 million in the red.  McMahon said if those numbers hold it will be time for the county to start more aggressively lobbying the federal government for aid to local governments.