Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is optimistic that the ideas in her shared services proposal will save enough money to earn matching dollars from the state. The roughly 100 ideas aim to streamline and reduce the cost of local government. Mahoney released her plan last week, which is a combination of proposals from her office, and others from the consensus commission and municipalities.
"We can implement virtually everything in this shared services report that will then save us money and have the added benefit of qualifying as a state match as the carrot that was used to bring us all to the table. Most people won't see a change in their daily lives.”
But many of the ideas in the plan don’t yet list the potential savings, which could make them a harder sell for residents. Mahoney explains it can be hard to calculate until they know how many municipalities are willing to go along.
"It was important in this first draft to let people know what kinds of things we're thinking about, what we're agreeing on, and we're working very hard in the next few weeks to put flesh on the bone to show you what we can save.”
Mahoney says this model should allow local governments to reap the larger benefits of sharing services while, at the same time, protecting the identities of towns and villages. She’s heard that loud and clear from residents, and through conversations with leaders over the past several weeks. Mahoney says it’s a giant step forward.
"The supervisors and mayors met four times as part of this process, and they typically didn't do that in the past. I attended supervisor and mayor meetings, which I don't typically do. All of that conversation will make any conversation about where we go next easier.”
Whether that’s toward a metropolitan government, Mahoney isn’t sure. She says her goal under this state mandated effort is success…not to make political statements or further any agenda.
"To make it successful, we only put things in the plan that people were willing to do. What Consensus did was give us a roadmap for what they think the best goal is for the community. My goal was to successfully move forward."
The public had their first chance to offer feedback Thursday night. Other hearings will be held later this month and into September. The shared services panel can revise the proposal based on input from residents and county lawmakers. It must be approved by September 15th.
The report can be seen here. The website also includes an e-mail address to leave comments.