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What Services Should be Shared Between Municipalities? Public Can Weigh in on Ideas


Onondaga County residents will have a chance Thursday to offer their input on County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s shared government services plan.  The public hearing follows a series of meetings Mahoney held with local government and school district officials.

There are just shy of 100 ideas to streamline and reduce the cost of government, some from the county executive herself, and others from the consensus commission and municipalities. County Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon says t 

"There are some things that make sense in the document.  There are some things I think haven't been vetted enough."   

The plan is part of a state mandate requiring county executives to submit a plan that results in property tax savings, which the state could match. 

"Obviously some parts of the plan will happen and they'll be eligible for some funds, so those municipalities will do OK in that process.  Especially for some of our smaller government partners, some of the savings may not sound like a lot to us...$7,000, $15,000 here and there.  But to them and their budgets, that's real money, and that could be really helpful."

The legislature’s Democratic Floor Leader Linda Ervin hopes state money is not an overriding factor…

"I think we should do things deliberately so we get the right result, not quickly because we want to get the monies the state is offering us.  If we can do something by the deadline to get the monies, then, sure."

Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon says the recommendations from the Consensus Commission started conversations that put municipalities in a better position to talk about shared services.

Ervin says consolidating trash collection and sewer districts are good places to start, and variations of those ideas are included in Mahoney’s proposal.   Chairman McMahon acknowledges his chamber doesn’t really have much of a role in the process, other than perhaps to endorse all, some, or none of the proposals.  He says the power lies with local town and village officials.

"You can talk about these ideas, and then if the elected leader representing that municipality doesn't think it's a good idea, it's not going to happen anyway.  That's the forces everybody to get maximum buy-in to get anything done.  But it takes a lot of time and its very cumbersome."

Mahoney’s proposal omits the most controversial and debated recommendation: creating a metropolitan government.  McMahon said early on that the consensus proposal was a non-starter.  Legislator ervin agrees the community isn’t ready.

"The timing for that is not now.   There's no appetite to talk about metropolitan government.  Maybe later.   If we're going to get anything done, let's do what we can do to share some services and save some dollars, and think about how we want that to look later."

The shared services panel can revise Mahoney’s proposals based on input from lawmakers and the public.  Their deadline to vote is September 13th.  

Thursday’s public hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m. at East Syracuse-Minoa high school on Fremont road.  More hearings will follow later this month and into September.  More information on the shared services plan is here.  Comments can also be submitted via email at

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at