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Oneida County Executive proposes $493 million budget, focusing on worker shortages

Payne Horning

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente is proposing a $493 million dollar budget for 2023. It includes no tax levy increase, and major investments in areas of mental health and suicide prevention for veterans, and the Oneida County Opioid Task Force. It also reflects one of the biggest problems many county governments are facing right now: a shortage of workers.

Picente said it’s the craziest scenario he’s seen in his more than 15 years at the helm of county government. There are currently nearly 400 vacancies spread through every department.

"To have almost 23 or 25 percent of our workforce vacant in areas that are crucial to public safety and human services, such as corrections and Child Protective Services, in particular, those are two of the bigger areas, it presents a challenge," Picente said.

The budget includes an extra $10 million in salary accounts, with a recent corrections contract that brings Oneida County in line with other Corrections jobs. The budget adds no new positions, and will potentially eliminate more than 130 positions that have been vacant for a few years.

"We want to reevaluate them, or see whether they can be completely eliminated or filled in a different capacity in those respective departments," Picente said. "So it’s a cost saving and a realignment of our government services."

The departments hardest hit are Corrections and Child Protective Services, which also include many minimum standards set by the state. For the first time ever the county is advertising for jobs. County lawmakers are reviewing the spending plan and will vote on it November 9.

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.