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Politics and Government

Onondaga County Comptroller has harsh words for Consensus CNY

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci.

Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci is speaking out against the Consensus CNY commission’s preliminary report on local government consolidation released earlier this year. 

Antonacci said regardless of what local governments try to do, real savings will not be seen until there are state government reforms.

Antonacci had harsh words for Consensus.

“The bottom line is what we’re being sold is a Trojan horse,” Antonacci said. "We're being sold a bag of goods that if you buy into this you're going to save money and the truth is, it's not going to happen."

In its preliminary report, the Consensus CNY commission said $20 million can be saved on redundant services, although Antonacci said it is unclear about what those are.

"No matter what we do, it's a a drop in the bucket,” Antonacci said. "All of the money is in Albany, all of the money is in state mandates not in the local governments. We are as efficient as we can be. Even if you lop them all, you're saving a couple million dollars over 450,000 people. No one is even going to see the difference."

The commission recommends service providers in the county, made up of 35 municipalities, start sharing staff, resources and operations.

"There is way too much out of our control at the local level and it is because of the state of New York," Antonacci said. "There is just way too many taxes, too much spending out of our local control."

Antonacci, said the reason county property taxes are so high is because of state taxes and mandates, particularly Medicaid, which counties have to share the cost.

“If you can put your spending on someone else’s checkbook, where’s the reform going to come from?" Antonacci asked. "If your parents are going to constantly pay your bills, how are you going to change your habits?”

The Republican said real reform requires changing the rules of government on states mandates.

“If we don’t make those a little more efficient and a little bit more taxpayer friendly, you can call this government whatever you want, it’s not going to save you any money,” Antonacci said.

Onondaga County spends about 17 percent of its total budget on mandated programs. The good news, as Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney put it in her most recent budget presentation, is that state mandates did decrease by about $8 million.