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Consensus government consolidation report anniversary nears

Consensus CNY

It’s been almost a year since the Consensus CNY creleased more than 50 recommendations for modernizing government in Onondaga County. After months of meetings and public forums early last year, the volunteer group has yet to release a final report, and one local legislative leader says whenever it finally comes out, central New Yorkers won’t see big changes anytime soon.

The most dramatic among the 51 recommendations in the 80-page preliminary report was a proposal to merge the city of Syracuse with Onondaga County into a single metropolitan government. It’s a concept that has many detractors: a mostly minority city population is concerned it’s needs won’t be heard and more suburban citizens fear their taxes will end up bailing out a city with major financial problems.

No matter what comes out in the final report, though, Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon doesn’t expect governments to jump into action.

"We are going to crawl through that process," McMahon said. "That is not going to be done quickly. The Consensus group will need a home rule message from the legislature if they want to do anything. And to think we are going to change government the way it’s been in this community for decades overnight is not real realistic.”

McMahon says regarding the other Consensus recommendations that range from consolidations of courts to parks, the legislature stands ready to take a deep look at ways to make government more efficient -- as long as there are willing partners in other local governments to join in. But he doesn’t think it’s top of mind for many central New Yorkers anymore.

"If they could put forth something to show real property relief, not $100 a year, but thousands of dollars a year, then people would talk about it," McMahon said. "But I don’t know what that report is going to say.”

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.