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Politics and Government

Onondaga County Republican legislators oppose Consensus government merger plan

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Tom Magnarelli
/
WRVO News
Chairman Ryan McMahon at the Onondaga County Legislature chambers.

The Republican majority of the Onondaga County Legislature is coming out against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for government consolidation and the Consensus plan to merge the city of Syracuse and county governments. Some legislators said the governor and the Onondaga County executive are alone in their support for a merged government.

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon said while he appreciates the governor’s focus on lowering property taxes, he said the way to go is to provide relief from state mandates like Medicaid that are passed on to local governments.

“If the state of New York paid its own bill, as far as mandated services, we would not have a county property tax, folks," McMahon said. "It would be gone.”

Cuomo’s proposal would require local governments to come up with consolidation plans that would save money and be put before voters in November.

On the Consensus plan for a merged government between Onondaga County and the city of Syracuse, McMahon said there will be no vote on it from the legislature this year.

“It doesn’t address anything as far as what kind of government structure you’re looking at," McMahon said. "It does not talk about the charter. It doesn’t talk about who does what. So, you don’t even know how it’s going to work. I believe it is not practical to vote on something for a referendum until there is widespread agreement on what the government would look like, its authority and its charter.”

The new city-county government would have 33 legislators plus an executive. McMahon said the best way to move forward is by figuring out which of the other 49 recommendations by Consensus on consolidating services can be implemented.

Legislator Kevin Holmquist said Cuomo and County Executive Joanie Mahoney are the only ones pushing for the merged government. He said it doesn’t have the support of the community or even all the Consensus members.

“The governor and the county executive have poisoned the waters, that they insist on this top-down, arrogant, condescending approach to try to dictate to everyone else," Holmquist said. "Other than them, the rest of us are all together and we’re excited about those other 49 and possibly other recommendations.”

Holmquist will lead a legislative sub-committee which will include outside elected officials from the city of Syracuse and other towns and villages to study the recommendations.