County Legislature Will Not Vote On City-County Merger This Year

Feb 16, 2017

County Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon speaks about the Consensus report.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

The chairman of the Onondaga county legislature says they will not bring a proposal for a new metropolitan government to the ballot this year.  The decision comes a week after the consensus commission recommended the combination of city and county government in its final report.  Ryan McMahon says the debate has just begun and the decision will not be rushed.

"As chairman of the legislature, I believe it is not practical to vote on something as a referendum until there is widespread agreement on what the government would look like, its authority, and its charter. Recommendation number 50 does not address any of these issues. Therefore, it will not receive a vote from the county legislature in 2017. "

McMahon has formed a legislature subcommittee to study the first 49 recommendations in the report.  Legislator Kevin Holmquist will serve as chairman, and says most leaders are eager to get to work without metropolitan government as a distraction.

"Hopefully, the four or five advocates for number 50 can get off of that, move that off the table and stop that debate because that’s going to frankly inhibit our progress on one through forty-nine if they insist on try to jam that down our throats, which nobody wants."

Holmquist says he is unaware of any elected official who supports moving ahead with a metropolitan government except perhaps county executive Joanie Mahoney.  Chairman McMahon hopes the subcommittee can find common ground on the remaining recommendations.

"The hard ones are ones we could do in this room with the executive branch and county government. A lot of these next recommendations are ones that will have to be done with partners who haven’t necessarily been willing in the past to do some of these things. So the best way to do this is have it be bipartisan, have it be diverse."

McMahon hopes they have proposals ready to go in six months.