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Onondaga County passes sales tax agreement, village funding, resolution on I-81

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Onondaga County Legislator Casey Jordan speaks in the legislative chamber.

The Onondaga County Legislature passed an agenda Wednesday that legislators said will determine the success or failure of the county for years to come. In addition to some significant financial decisions, the county passed a resolution on the future of Interstate-81.

New York State is expected to make a decision this year on whether the I-81 viaduct in downtown Syracuse will be replaced with a community grid, tunnel or larger elevated highway. The Onondaga County Legislature wants a seat at the table and voted to call on the state to include a county representative in the decision making process. Republican Legislator Casey Jordan would be that representative.

“I think the public has voiced a view with what should be happening with the decision on I-81," Jordan said. "My concern is that voice isn’t being given any great weight.” 

But Democratic Legislator Tom Buckel said the vote was just showmanship.

“It’s concern by some legislators that they’re not going to like what the decision is," Buckel said. "Unfortunately, it’s meaningless.”

Some residents in the city say they support the community grid, while some outside of the city, do not.

The legislature also passed millions of dollars in funding the village improvement program. Legislator Brian May said that program was changed to make it less restrictive to what villages could spend the money on. 

"The village mayors and trustees, they know what they need to do first or best," May said. "This gives them the ability and flexibility to go forward with things as they see fit. They deserve that flexibility. They know their municipality better than the county does."

A sales tax agreement with the city of Syracuse was also approved. Legislator Kevin Holmquist said in the past, the issue split the county and villages against the city in divisive community debate.

“And that didn’t happen, because we have great leadership with our county executive, our mayor of the city of Syracuse and the leadership here in the county legislature,” Holmquist said.

Towns will also get some help on infrastructure projects.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.