Picente: Oneida County Finishes 2008 $541,063 Under Budget

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. today announced that Oneida County finished its 2008 fiscal year $541,063 under budget.

“This is outstanding news for the taxpayers of Oneida County, and is an achievement that came about because, in the final analysis, we held the line on spending,” Picente said. “We achieved this very important outcome by monitoring every phase of our fiscal operations. With the internal controls that exist, we have been able to limit purchasing, monitor departmental spending, and track the state reimbursements that are such a major part of our revenue side.”
 
Picente said that by staying under budget, County Government was able to reduce the amount used from its fund balance, which helps improve the county’s fiscal position in 2009 and beyond. “By taking less from our reserves, by watching what we spend, and by holding down costs, we are able to succeed despite these difficult times. Unlike counties that have been in a fiscal free fall due to uncontrolled spending, we are in a sound position to continue to provide essential programs and services as well as continue to keep county property taxes down.”
 
Picente noted that Oneida County’s 2008 end-of-year results were achieved despite two very serious fiscal negatives:
 
            State mandates: “Repeated state hits through mandated programs pushed our Department of Social Services about $1.3 million over budget,” Picente said. “That is a concern to me because if the new state budget shifts more costs onto the backs of counties, this will threaten my plans for holding down local property taxes.”
 
            Sales tax: For the year, sales tax revenue dropped by almost $700,000.Although early indications from 2009 show sales tax revenue coming in near projected figures, Picente said that limited consumer spending due to economic concerns could be an important factor in the county’s overall 2009 fiscal standing. “We are monitoring the revenue side of the budget very closely, and we will continue to manage our budget in 2009 the way we did in 2008 – by focusing on only the spending that is essential or mandated,” Picente said.
 
Picente said that Oneida County’s fiscal 2008 showing highlights the county’s ability to manage in difficult times. “To come out of a budget year in which the wheels fell off of our national economy in the final months of the year is really an outstanding tribute to all the people who helped to keep this budget under control at the departmental level and in our Finance and Comptroller’s offices. We have weathered some of the worst financial times in recent memory, we have withstood some very serious challenges, and we have emerged stronger financially. The storm is not over, but our results for 2008 show that we are up to the test.”
 
In addition to the positive showing for 2008, Picente noted two other positive fiscal factors:
  • Economic stimulus funding through the federal Recovery Act will direct $19 million towards Oneida County over the next two years to help deal with Medicaid costs.
  • Oneida County this month learned that in its annual fiscal checkups from credit rating agencies, all three maintained the county’s credit rating. The ratings are: Moody’s, A3; Standard & Poor’s A+; and Fitch’s, A-.  “These ratings are proof that in a time of unprecedented turmoil and challenges, Oneida County is standing strong,” Picente said.