Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente is warning of a dire financial reality for local governments unless the state and/or federal governments provide significant relief in the next month.

Holding his first LIVE COVID-19 briefing since June 29, Picente said Oneida County is down approximately $20-million in revenue, citing revenue dips of $6-million in sales tax, $7-million less than anticipated from the revenue sharing agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation, along with an additional revenue gap caused from spending several million dollars on PPE and for overtime, which were both unbudgeted.

Add to that a reduction in reimbursement funds from New York State for things like drug treatments and addition programs, and mental health, he said. He added that when the state is making those payments, they're coming late.

Picente estimated at this time last year, Oneida County had approximately $31-million cash on hand - a fluctuating total that is used to pay bills, cover loan payments, and to pay for things like the county's share of Medicaid and other mandated programs.

Today, he said, Oneida County has roughly $10-$11 million on hand.

Picente said it's been nearly 30-years since the county was in a situation where it had to borrow from lenders just to stay current on its bills. He vowed to do everything possible to avoid such a borrow-to-pay-bills scenario.

While not getting specific, Picente said there would be cuts as he and legislators work on the budget for 2021. They could include reduced payments to places like libraries and possible layoffs. ''Everything is on the table, except public health and safety,'' he said.

Schools

Discussions are ongoing among county leaders and the heads of area school districts. The process involves reviewing state guidelines and monitoring coronavirus numbers to keep Oneida County's more than 34,000-grade school students and 6,000 faculty members safe. Picente said the goal is open schools in Oneida County 'in some capacity' this fall. The county exec. also noted there would be significant costs associated with ensuring those 40,000 faculty and students would have the appropriate PPE and hand sanitizer when at school.

Additionally, Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to release more information on the state's intent to educate children before the end of the month.  The state has already moved to cancel all fall sports for the upcoming school year.

County Needs Nurses

County Public Health Director Phyliss Ellis said the county health department is looking to hire RN's. The need is brought on by the additional need for things like contract tracers amid the pandemic, and some retirements within the county health department, she said.

For more information or to apply, visit OCGov.net/Personel.

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