Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci and County Executive Joanie Mahoney are at odds over proposed changes for the 2017 budget, each accusing the other of leveraging political moves for personal reasons.
Mahoney’s proposed budget would relocate six of Antonacci’s current payroll staff members to other departments, such as personnel, where they would continue to perform similar functions for the county.
Antonacci claims that the restructuring is an act of political retaliation. In January 2016, Antonacci filed a lawsuit to rescind pay raises for Mahoney and other members of the county legislature that had been passed in the previous year’s budget.
“I certainly think the lawsuit may have motivated this change,” Antonacci said last month. “We were never consulted on this change and we obviously did not request it. So yes, I think revenge is certainly a possibility.”
Both Mahoney and Deputy County Executive Bill Fisher, however, insist that the changes were proposed because of the anticipated implementation of a new payroll software system, PeopleSoft. More than 85% of public accountants advise even small businesses to use expert payroll providers, and the six clerks from Antonacci’s office would continue to provide payroll processing for the county’s 32,000 employees.
“He misleads the public by insisting this is all about him,” Fisher said in a public hearing last week.
One of Antonacci’s current clerks, Erica O’Brien, also spoke at the public budget hearing. She said her duties mostly entail payroll audit and pre-audit, and that the oversight should remain within the Comptroller’s department.
“The County Executive gutted my office,” Antonacci has claimed. “[Mahoney] is firing fiscal watchdogs because she doesn’t like to be held accountable.”
The debate over the changes in clerk staffing took up the majority of last week’s public hearing. The County Legislature will vote on the budget on Tuesday, October 11.