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Onondaga County Exec. McMahon's Budget Plan Holds Taxes and Spending Nearly Flat

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Scott Willis
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WAER-FM 88.3

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon returned to legislature chambers Friday to present his first budget to his former legislative colleagues.  He says his previous time as a county lawmaker is valuable as they consider his $1.336 billion spending plan…

"Having that experience prepares me well to address some of the issues I know that they're concerned about in advance.  But also through the negotiation process, one might say I have a leg-up on them."

McMahon says spending is up less than one percent.  The budget will use no fund balance for the second straight year and is projects a $6.6 million surplus.  He says that means they’re able to reduce property taxes to yet another historic low of $5.00/$1,000, and make strategic investments.

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER-FM 88.3
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WAER-FM 88.3
Democrats Linda Ervin and Peggy Chase wait for McMahon to present his budget.

"With the success we're having in the local economy now, this allows us to try to pinpoint areas where we can drive further process on the human services side and on the infrastructure side.  That's where this budget is really targeted."

For example, McMahon wants to continue to consolidate the sewer system, and is asking lawmakers to approve an 83 cent increase in monthly sewer unit charges to cover maintenance costs.  On the human services side, McMahon told legislators that he’s increasingly concerned about the strain on the foster care system that’s forcing some children to be placed out of state.

"The status quo is not something I can live with.  That's why I'm asking you to help me open a new county-run group home called the Syacmore House.  This home will house our most vulnerable children, keeping these kids connected to their families, their schools, and their neighborhoods."

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Legislator Jim Rowley didn't waste any time digging into the proposed budget.

McMahon says the children, most of them teens, will get the supports they need.  His budget also includes a proposal to create an office of diversity and inclusion in an effort to build on early successes of diversifying the county’s workforce.  Lawmakers will soon begin spending several weeks combing through the proposed spending plan.  The county's fiscal year begins January 1.

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER-FM 88.3
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WAER-FM 88.3
Legislators Chris Ryan and Brian May chat before the budget address.

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 srwillis@syr.edu.