A $400 million budget proposal is now in place for Oneida County's upcoming fiscal year. For four years, the county has not seen an increase in property taxes, and the county executive announced today that will remain the same for 2018.
Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente, attributed the partnership with The Oneida Nation as a main source for our budget--bringing in $60 million for the last few years.
"Make no mistake about it. Without this revenue, we would have had to raise property taxes at least five percent a year since 2014," Picente said.
Picente said both sales and property tax revenue play a significant role. But it's agriculture that takes the cake as our largest industry. $1 million will be set aside for a new program and an Ag-Incubator.
"The Farmland Protection Program is significant because it also puts zoning in place so that we can highlight and amplify what we're doing on our farms," Picente said.
Also included in the budget is a six year, $12 million flood mitigation project.
"The weather patterns are what we don't know anymore and we can't predict. But, we can fix the streams, we can add detention ponds, we can look at the culverts and the roadways that need to be repaired. That's going to take a lot of money--and the towns and the villages, as I said, can't do it alone," Picente said.
But there's one plan not accounted for just yet...and Picente said it's one of the most important changes for the future of Oneida County.
"We are ready to move forward on a new healthcare facility for this entire region. This hospital is essential to our future. A community with old, outdated healthcare infrastructure not only won't grow, it will wither and die," Picente said.
A fear Count Legislator, Lori Washburn, said she once had for the City of Utica. But the recent investments have changed this view.
"Look at the city, it is taking a turn in the right direction. I know people are afraid of change sometimes. But sometimes we just have to take that risk," Washburn said.
Washburn and all other legislators have until the second week of November to approve the budget.
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