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Consolidation committee looks for services that might be easy to share

Ellen Abbott
The first meeting of the special committee organized by the Onondaga County Legislature to look at sharing services

While the idea of merging the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County isn’t getting much traction, a special legislative committee has begun work that could lead to some other kinds of government consolidation.

The Consensus Commission proposal to create one large metropolitan government is dead on arrival, according to county lawmakers, but some of the 49 other proposals in the Consensus report could have legs.

A special subcommittee is now looking over those ideas, first by identifying consolidations that could be easy to accomplish, according to chairman Kevin Holmquist.

"Everybody on our committee has at least two or three items they would perceive as low-hanging fruit. And there’s going to be disagreements, but there are definitely things we can compromise on. We are very optimistic that we can get a lot of things done from these recommendations,” Homquist said.

Some of the ideas that came up at the first meeting included consolidation of information technology and purchasing departments. After tackling these kinds of easy lifts, Holmquist says the group will attack some of the more politically sensitive consolidation proposals.

The committee includes members representing Syracuse and suburban governments, as well as county lawmakers. Holmquist is proposing an aggressive schedule, with the goal of results by summer.

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.