Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon stands at the podium announcing the formation of a subcommittee to consider Consensus consolidation recommendations. Also pictured are county legislators Kevin Holmquist, left, and Casey Jordan, right. (Hayleigh Gowans)
By Hayleigh Gowans
The Onondaga County Legislature will address 49 of the recommendations the Consensus committee has made for consolidation of services between the city and the county — but it will not consider a full merger of the governments of the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County.
Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon, speaking at a Feb. 16 press conference, announced the formation of a consolidation subcommittee to understand the consolidation recommendations and paths for implementation, and then make recommendations to the legislature as to which ones should considered. McMahon said he believes many consolidation of services already have occurred within the county governments, but there is always room for improvement.
“As chairman of the legislature, I believe it is not practical to vote on something for a referendum until there is widespread agreement on how the government will look like, its authority and its charter. Recommendation number 50 does not address any of these issues, therefore it will not receive a vote from the county legislature in 2017.” said McMahon.
He also said he spoke on behalf of the Republican-majority caucus that they do not support the implementation of a merger of the governments of Syracuse and Onondaga County as there has not been enough information on the structure and implementation yet.
The members of the local community that have been named to the subcommittee on Consensus are: County Legislator 10th District Kevin Holmquist (R) as chairman; Town of Clay Supervisor Damian Ulatowski; Village of Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall; Greg Sogromo, owner of Dunn and Sgromo Engineers; Syracuse Common Councilor 3rd District Susan Boyle; Syracuse Common Councilor At Large Helen Hudson; and County Legislator 17th District Linda Ervin, Democrat floor leader.
Homlquist said he believes recommendation 50 should not be considered due to the lack of support and information.
“You’ve got over 500 elected officials in Onondaga County and only one elected office supports it and that, of course, is the county executive [Joanie Mahoney] and she stands alone. I am unaware of a single elected official at the village level, town level, city level or county level that supports the recommendation of number 50,” said Holmquist. “It also has no support in the community and it doesn’t have support within the consensus group itself.”
McMahon said to his knowledge, the only legal routes to putting the Syracuse/Onondaga County merger to a public referendum is if the county legislature approves it, or if the state government passes a proposal to merge the two entities, a path he believes is a “top-down” approach.
To read the final report of the Consensus Commission, go to cgr.org/consensuscny.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features. I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.