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Mahoney proposes term limits, other reforms for Onondaga County government

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is proposing what she calls a government redesign package, which would create term limits, and clarify salaries and outside income rules for elected officials in Onondaga County government.

No countywide elected official or county lawmaker could stay in office for more than eight years at a time, under the proposed legislation Mahoney sent to county lawmakers this week. It would also return countywide official salaries to what they were when each official began their first term, and clear up language regarding a ban of outside income for full-time employees.

This proposal follows lengthy debate and a lawsuit last year, after county lawmakers raised their own salaries and that of selected county officials. Mahoney says this would stop anything like that from happening in the future. But she says, for her, the timing of this proposal has more to do with an era of government sharing services that is looming.

"It really does have to do with the conversation that’s gone on about sharing services, and creating a government that people really want to do business with, they want to be partners with. They don’t want questions about what other interests people might have,” Mahoney said.

Voters have to approve the term limit and salary portion of the proposal. In order for that to get on the ballot this November, Ononcaga County Legislators would have to approve the proposal by September. It would apply to anyone elected to a county position after 2018.

For officials already in office like Mahoney, for example, that means if she runs and wins a fourth term in 2019, her salary would go back to what it was in 2008, when she was first sworn into office. And she could only run for two more terms.

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.