Griffo Will Implement
Sales Tax Cut
County Executive Releases Financial Forecast;
Outlines Multi-Year Vision for Oneida County’s Fiscal Health
Oneida County Executive Joseph A. Griffo today
announced that the county’s 1.5% sales tax will be cut by a third starting
December 1, 2006.
“Although the state legislation that enabled the tax
calls for it to remain at 1.5% through November 30, 2007, I plan to begin
reducing the 1.5% sales tax a full 13 months before that time. I am
proposing that the tax be reduced by .5% on December 1, 2006, with a second
.5% reduction on September 1, 2007,” Griffo said in a letter to the Oneida
County Board of Legislators.
Griffo said that reductions in Medicaid, for which he
and members of the Board of Legislators had lobbied, are a major cause for
the early cut in the sales tax’s level. “Although the state’s Medicaid
cap and does not undo the damage caused from years of spending by a bloated
system that recent reports have revealed is riddled with fraud and abuse, it
lowers the burden county taxpayers must face and creates a system where we
can forecast Medicaid costs without sudden spikes. My first priority is to
pass along the savings to county shoppers by lowering the tax.”
Griffo cautioned that the two tax cuts do not mean the
county’s fiscal challenges are over. “That does not mean County
Government is on Easy Street, the bucks are just rolling in and that
free-spending ways of the past can return. Far from that,” Griffo wrote to
the legislators. “Property tax increases in the single digits are going to
be necessary to support public safety, public works and mandated services.”
Griffo also noted that the county’s projected 2006
cost for Medicaid will not be available from state officials until this
November, and that a final 2006 budget number will not be available until
mid-2006. “We know there is a savings. We want to pass that onto the
people of Oneida County. But we also need to be fiscally responsible because
even in a reduced form, Medicaid will still cost county taxpayers at least
$50 million a year. Taking the cut in two steps in this fashion protects our
fiscal integrity and gives taxpayers a break,” Griffo said.
Griffo’s fiscal forecast focused on “Four Steps to
Fiscal Stability.” They are:
1) Tax stabilization and relief.
- The 1.5% additional sales tax, which is due to
expire Nov. 30, 2007, will be cut to 1% as of December 1, 2006.
- As of September 1, 2007, the tax will be cut by
- Limit property tax increases to single digits.
- Collect the taxes owed by the Oneida Indian Nation.
NY State has promised to begin collecting sales taxes on sales to
non-Indians in March of 2006.
- We expect the 2006 county budget to spend less than
the current $282 million. Prime cause: Medicaid reform that was enacted
because Oneida County took a leadership role in pointing out the damage
Medicaid was doing to all of Upstate New York.
- During 2006, 2007 and 2008, we expect to rebuild
the depleted fund balance to $12 million to avoid costly short-term
borrowing, meeting Wall Street expectations, addressing state
Comptroller recommendations and provide adequate cash reserves.
- To ensure Medicaid reform translates into lower
costs, not shifting our costs around, we will continue to fight
regulations that take away revenue we need to provide services mandated
by the state. In the past 12 years, mandates have risen from 75% of the
budget to 84%. We led the fight to reform Medicaid; we must do the same
with all mandates.
2) Reduce the size and scope of County
3) Increase operational efficiency and
- In 2006, our goal is to achieve a reduction in force
of 100 positions.
- An early retirement incentive will reduce jobs
- An outside evaluation of the County workforce will
serve as a guide to determine the appropriate amount of employees for each
- Departmental reorganization will begin in the 2006
budget, and continue into the 2007 budget once we have the report of the
community business leaders who have been reviewing County Government.
- Encourage automatic removal of positions not funded
outside of County Government when funding stream ends.
- Managed Competition will increase efficiency.
- The number of county vehicles will be reduced.
- Streamlined Contract Administration will reduce
costs and eliminate duplication.
- Continue Quarterly Progress Reports, which we
initiated, on budget to monitor spending and maintain fiscal discipline.
- A ban on supplemental budget appropriations without
revenue to cover the costs.
- Require departments to budget from scratch
accounting for each penny of expenditure each year.
- Direct all department heads to examine their
services to assure that the maximum amount of revenue available from the
State and Federal Government is obtained.
- Encourage the further consolidation of services
with local municipalities ie: Public Works and Public Safety
- Initiated communications with the State Comptroller’s
Office to discuss opportunities for improvement in management and fiscal
4) Strict accountability to the voters.
- No raise for the County Executive in a year when
property taxes increase; other elected officials may elect to follow
- Salaries of Department Heads who are appointed by
the County Executive will be fixed for the duration of the term of a
county executive, beginning Jan. 1, 2008, after the completion of County