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Budget woes, but hopes for consolidation

A conversation with County Exec Mahoney and Deputy Billy Fisher--Part 2

Since Part 1 of this conversation with the county's two top administrators appeared in the City Eagle Sept. 3, the first question hasn't gotten any easier to answer.

The road to the budget got even more rugged. When they presented the proposed county budget to the county legislature on Sept. 15, the Post-Standard headlined: "Mahoney's budget 'a little scary'." And while she has noted that county employees seemed a little more understanding when she talked to them on elevator rides, union leadership and letters to the Post-Standard reader's page seemed uncompromising in their opposition.

There was then, however, good news about the activity of county government. Mahoney cited a turnaround on the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. Human Services administrator Ann Rooney was credited with maintaining crucial programs in the face of brutal funding cuts, especially in day care centers. A food stamp program emerged as exemplary to the point where other counties are copying it. A regional approach to common issues was seen as reducing rivalry between city and county, and between Onondaga and other counties. Part 2 picks up on the discussion of (apparently now not such a dirty word) consolidation, and an idea for downtown development.

Consolidation--it seems we have to duck when using the word--could go a long way toward helping with the current crunch, for both the city and the county. Any progress?

Joanie Mahoney: Consolidation seems to have come over to the good side. People talk about consolidation like it's not a bad thing anymore. We have had some big successes and are having some ongoing conversations. I have been in this office with town supervisors talking about their departments of transportation, and the county department of transportation, and how can we work together better. I have offered to town supervisors help with their budgets. If there are things that they think are more appropriately handled at the county level, then we are doing those things. That has, like the Clay police consolidation, been more easily accomplished.

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