UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente kept his $457 million budget proposal speech short and to the point early on the morning of Tuesaday October 7th, when he spoke in front of the Oneida County Legislature. For the second year in a row, the county executive’s budget was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You know you’re looking at several million dollars a year in added expenses because of COVID,” Picente said.
While the vaccines themselves are free, vaccinating the county has been expensive. Each vaccine pod can cost the county anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000. The vaccines are just one part of the total COVID costs the county has to account for.
“When we do a pod we are using health department staff there are outside people we are bringing in to work with that you know same with contract tracing we hired people we also moved people from other departments when the courts were closed so we made different arrangements,” Picente said.
The Oneida County budget has multiple revenue streams but the three biggest are property tax, sales tax and Oneida Nation Revenue. For the ninth year in a row the proposed budget does not raise the property tax levy, but this does not mean that everyone is paying the same rate, some people will see a slight increase, and others might see a small decrease.
“Everybody’s will fluctuate,” Picente explained. “Some go up some go down but it is minimal because it is a zero because we are not seeking any more money on that levy.”
The county’s 2022 six-year capital plan will total $29 million. A big part of the capital budget is the building of a parking garage for the new Wynn Hospital. During his speech, Picente noted that the City of Utica backed out of their agreement with the county and MVHS to build a new garage, and while he says the garage will be built with or without help from the city he also noted that it is not too late for them to be a part of what he calls, “the largest and most significant project in the City of Utica in our lifetime.”
“Like I said we’re moving forward,” Picente said. “The other point I made though is there are other things we can do if they don’t want to partner on the garage they’re sitting on a lot of money too.”
The city received $64 million in Federal Recovery money through the American Rescue Act, and Picente is hoping the county and the city will be able to work together to put that money to good use.