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Commission looking into ways to improve government efficiency in central NY

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Tom Magnarelli
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WRVO News
Young professionals from the nonprofit 40 Below were briefed by Consensus CNY in Syracuse

By the end of 2015, the group Consensus CNY will release a full report on how to modernize government in Onondaga County.

Consensus CNY is a 19-member commission with former Rep. James Walsh serving as co-chairman, collecting data on local government to find areas to improve.

Melanie Littlejohn, one of the commission members, spoke with young professionals in Syracuse from the group 40 Below about the initial findings for Onondaga County.

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Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News
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WRVO News
Melanie Littlejohn is a committee member for Consensus CNY.

"Competitiveness for us still remains a huge issue. Did you know that since 1970 the population has been flat? If there's an area for improvement, we hope it comes out of groups like this," said Littlejohn.

The commission is looking at governmental spending. Governments in Onondaga County spent $1.7 billion in 2013. That’s a 34 percent increase from 2003, with employee benefits being the largest spending factor.  About $148 million went towards 15 local law enforcement and 57 fire protection agencies in the county. 

"We have 36 general purpose local governments in the county. So when you look at the different levels you begin to start asking questions. Are there any ways we can gain efficiency?" Littlejohn asked.

Consensus CNY will continue to hold more public meetings and their initial report can be found on their website ConsensusCNY.com.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.