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Mahoney pushes consolidation in State of the County speech

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Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO News
Empire State Development Corporation president & CEO Howard Zemsky and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney used her State of the County speech last night to push the concept of consolidated government.  

Mahoney ran down a litany of speeches, quotes, editorials and newspaper articles from the last 23 years that sounded eerily familiar to the soundbites coming out of today’s Consensus CNY forums. Consensus is the community group that’s proposing 51 ways to modernize government, including creation of a metropolitan government. Mahoney explained why the look at past efforts:

“What I’m hoping we’ve learned is to not just do the whole thing all over again,” said the county executive.

Debate and political discourse over the past 20 years ended with the consolidation of the purchasing departments of Onondaga County and the city of Syracuse. That merger has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, and moved ahead seamlessly. It’s this kind of experience Mahoney says can be replicated.   

"I am going to venture a guess the it will be very much like the purchasing conversation. We will talk about it. We will plan for it. We will do it. And it will result in millions of dollars saved for the community.  A better future for our youth as a result, and the people who live here will probably not even notice,” said Mahoney.

Mahoney says contrary to current complaints about the Consensus process, this hasn’t happened last minute. And she went out of her say that it isn’t being driven by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She says all the governor is guilty of is supporting the community’s latest efforts by allocating money for the process. Cuomo has said in the past, that the government consolidation issue is the reason central New York won $500 million in Upstate Revitalization Initiative.   

And Mahoney had a jab for Syracuse Common Councilor Khalid Bey, who’s asking for another 18 months to discuss the issue.

“I have some sobering news councilor.  We’ve actually been debating it since before you were born. And if you take an honest took around, the city hasn’t gotten stronger during the debate. Maybe it’s time to actually do something.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.