Immediate Release

 For Information Contact:

Thursday, July 28, 2020

Brian Adey

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 another .5%
  • 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 Government.

  • In 2006, our goal is to achieve a reduction in force of 100 positions.
  • An early retirement incentive will reduce jobs through attrition.
  • An outside evaluation of the County workforce will serve as a guide to determine the appropriate amount of employees for each department.
  • 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.
3)  Increase operational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • 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 accountability

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 this example.
  • 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 Government’s reorganization.