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Town, Village and City Officials Say Deadline Set by Governor for Shared Services not Feasible

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John Smith/WAER News
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Local representatives from towns and villages across Onondaga County are asking for more time if the Governor wants them to develop a shared services proposal to save money.  They say the state needs to take responsibility for billions of dollars in unfunded state mandates.

“The Governor, when he was the (State) Attorney General had a dissolution law.  That didn’t work.  Then, he went to the tax cap law.  That didn’t work.  Now, he’s done the shared services thing.  This (proposal) is not a bad idea, it just needs more time.”

Fayetteville Mayor and President of the Onondaga County Mayors Association, Mark Olson suggests that if Governor Cuomo wants address local property taxes, he has to address the source.

“In 2004 when I took over as Mayor our pension bill was $63,000.  Today, with one more employee than I had in 2004, it’s $499,000.  The taxpayers paid that.  Those are the reliefs and the mandates and the things we’re having problems with that the Governor just doesn’t want to talk about.”

Olson says the Consensus Commission on government modernization took nearly three years before releasing its report to the local community in February. 

Camillus Town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan also serves as the President of the Onondaga County Supervisor’s Association.  She says previously negotiated shared service agreements reached by towns and villages don’t count towards the Governor’s request.

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Credit John Smith/WAER News
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(L) Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson and Town of Camillus Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan.

“We already share our Assessor with the Town of Elbridge and I spoke with her and there are other areas that she would be pleased to pick up, other towns.  So there are things in that, but it takes time.”

Coogan adds the Town of Camillus could perhaps look into shared services between police and fire departments in the future.  Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner feels that the Governor’s request is a façade.

“An inappropriate political grandstanding that says let’s get local governments… they’re the ones driving local property taxes up.  It’s not true, its state mandates.  And yes, we’re happy to get together and share services.  We’ve done that before and we’ll continue to do it.”

She adds 70 percent of Syracuse’s tax levy is the City Schools Budget.  The Town Supervisors and Mayors sent a letter to Governor Cuomo and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney expressing their concerns.  A copy of the letter shared with WAER states they feel an August 1st deadline to develop a shared services plan is disingenuous.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.