Legislators approve Oneida County Budget
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Starting in January, Oneida County residents will be paying more on their taxes. The Oneida County Board of Legislators approved the 2013 budget 28 to 1 Wednesday which brings a slight property tax increase. County Executive Anthony Picente's 2013 Budget calls for a 2.3 % increase on property taxes. Although the increase exceeds 2 %, Picente says it is within the state's tax cap legislation because of state determined credits the county has received due to previous savings. The property tax increase increase means for a home assessed at $72,000 residents will now be paying approximately 20 dollars more a year. Picente says with state mandates it's now hard to balance a budget without increasing property taxes. "90 % of our budget is driven by state mandated costs, Medicaid is still growing, still a major component in what we have to pay," said Picente. "When we're paying over a million dollars a week in Medicaid costs while providing essential services such as fixing roads and bridges and public safety, those expenses on average go up every year just like everyone else's expenses." While Picente says this is a very good and sound budget, he says the county could do even better if mandated costs could were eliminated or just alleviated in the slightest bit. "Think about the cost of mandates," said Picente. When Medicaid is costing us over a million dollars a week, think about eliminating even 10 % of that cost 5 million dollars off of the Medicaid bill which is over 55 million dollars that would provide a huge saving where we could reduce the tax rate and at the same time provide more services." Picente says the county's cuts in recent years have prevented the tax increase from having to be even higher. He says in the past 5 years the county has reduced over 250 positions and that they will continue to consolidate to save the county and taxpayers money. The one legislator who voted down the county's 2013 budget was Dave Gordon of New Hartford.