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Comment period on Consensus report extended

Tom Magnarelli
Onondaga County residents attend a public hearing on the Consensus CNY report recently in the Town of Salina

Residents of Onondaga County will have more time to have their say about reorganizing local government. There have been calls for more time to look at an 80-page report that includes 51 recommendations for changing the way government works in central New York.

The deadline for public comment had been March 16. But Friday morning, Consensus CNY extended the comment period by six weeks, to May 1.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says, initially, she wanted quicker action from Consensus CNY, the group that’s spent the last year and a half looking at ways to modernize and streamline local government. Now that it’s issued a report, she’s asked the group to slow down a bit, and give residents more time to offer opinions. 

Credit Consensus CNY

Mahoney understands the March 16 timeline, which is to get a proposal to consolidate city and county governments on the November ballot during a high turnout presidential election year, but suggests the decision is too big to rush.

“I think there is a method to the madness of this schedule, but I have been assured by the people at Consensus, that they can extend the public comment period, and give this part of the process more time for people to weigh in without affecting that date in the fall, at least initially,” said Mahoney.

There have been several public meetings outlining the 80-page report in detail.  The biggest concerns Mahoney hears come from two areas. Syracuse residents are concerned they’ll lose their voice in a county-wide government, and suburban residents who don’t want their tax dollars bailing out a city that’s very expensive to run.

“I don’t know what that government should look like, and I know there’s criticism about there being no meat on the bones from Consensus,” she said. “But I would suggest that the possibility exists that we could do better. And that’s what this public comment period is for.”

Three more public meetings are scheduled, but with the extension of the public comment period, more meetings are being scheduled. with a final report expected to be issued at the end of April. 

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.