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Oneida County Records Sixth Straight Year With Operating Budget Surplus

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

For the sixth straight year, Oneida County has ended its fiscal year in a high note.

County Executive Anthony Picente says the county ended 2012 with a surplus of $8.4 million. But, the surplus is actually better when compared to the original budget numbers and the estimated $1.8 million deficit projected for 2012.

In total, the county found itself with about $10.2 million in excess funds to be used to pay other bills and fund programs.

County Comptroller Joseph Timpano says the surplus will be allocated into several areas.

“The operating surplus of $8.4 million is going to be allocated toward economic development, pension retirement, [building assessment] cases, and also the unknown fiscal impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act,” Timpano said.

Money set aside for those upcoming business assessment cases include cases with Family Dollar, WalMart Distribution, National Grid and Sangertown Square. If those four cases don’t end in the county’s favor, the grievances would cost a total of about $4 million.

As for the surplus itself, Timpano noted that the better than expected result is expense driven, as revenues have been less consistent.

“We’ve stabilized our expenses from year to year,” Timpano said. “They only rose less than a half percent when you compare the 2012 actual to the 2011 actual. That’s a result of strong fiscal management. A few years ago we had some layoffs and we were able to provide the same level of service, but at reduced employee levels. At that time, our payroll had decreased form $2.8 million to $2.5 million. To this day, two years later, it’s still at $2.5 million.”

The extra balance was due in part to record sales tax revenues topping more than $92 million. The budget had only anticipated a revenue of $90 million. Additional savings came from a year-over-year decrease in health insurance of two percent and an 18 percent drop in utilities, thanks to greater efficiency and better bidding processes.

Timpano says the question remains to be seen if Oneida County can maintain its streak of operating surpluses.

“Right now, we’re within budget. Hopefully, we’ll continue to be that way and hopefully be able to report favorable numbers next year, too.”

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