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Onondaga County budget passes along party lines, Dems reject 'inequities'

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Onondaga County Courthouse where the Legislature meets.

Republicans in the Onondaga County Legislature passed the county’s 2021 budget along party lines. Democrats rejected what they’re calling inequities in the Republicans’ budget priorities.

The county is down 500 positions compared to last year. So, Democratic Minority Leader Linda Ervin knew it was going to be a tight budget. But she’s never voted against a budget, until now. There were raises in the new budget for some department managers in the transportation, facilities, water and law departments, which may have been automatic, but could’ve been stopped, she said. Meanwhile, Republicans voted to decrease the salaries of the two election commissioners by $7,000, to $93,000 a year.

“So, you decrease, on the one hand, these two people who are doing a stellar job with the election this year, which was difficult at best, and yet still, you give increases, on the other hand, to some other people,” Ervin said. “It just wasn’t the appropriate way to handle business.”

Republicans also rejected Democrats’ amendment to add 20 positions to social services.

“We could’ve dipped into the fund balance for a couple million dollars to put those people back to work,” Ervin said. “We’ve got people out of work. We’ve got people who need our social services department to be responsive to them.”

Democrats insist if there was ever a time to dip into the county's $77 million rainy day fund, now is the time. The 2021 budget basically keeps the tax rate flat and does not have any new layoffs. But it’s estimated that filling the hole in this year’s budget could cost $20 million.

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.