January 26, 2016

Consensus? We'll Find Out

Consensus Report
With little surprise, a preliminary report was issued today recommending consolidation of governmental services across the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County.

The report, from Consensus, the Committee on Local Government Modernization, was long awaited and frequently hinted at by politicians including our Sonofa Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and his pal, County Executive OnJoanie Mahoney.

Today's releases include the full report  as well as a summary version. I have yet to plow through all of the documents, but wanted to share some of what's in the report, including this from the summary:
Our public servants have an opportunity to lead us in the direction of a bold new vision for the Syracuse-Onondaga community. One that will make our community even better and more reflective of what we desire and deserve. We can do better. The next step in that journey is here. 
Noting that the preliminary recommendations "have not yet been formally accepted by the full commission", they recommend the following in the Governance bucket:

  • Establish a process toward creating a new city-county government and service delivery structure that leverages function and scale similarities of the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County.
  •  Create a formal mechanism and process whereby towns and villages can join the new city-county framework over time. 
  • Vest the new city-county government with responsibility for specific regional matters, including the regional land use plan, overseeing infrastructure planning and economic development using a county-wide model.
  • Local government leaders must work together to see local relief from statutes and mandates that drive up cost and limit government efficiency.

Other buckets of recommendations include infrastructure, municipal operations, public safety, and economic development and include cost-saving ideas ranging from combining economic development agencies, parks, courts and more, as well as expanding 'shared services' across the county, modernizing processes and technology, and more. 

Who else has done this successfully, you might ask?  Indianapolis, Nashville and Jacksonville, and the Twin Cities area in Minnesota are referenced in the reports.  

What comes next? Public comment - lots of options, from emails to Facebook to public meetings - heck, you can even host a meeting --are included in the report.  

I encourage those of you in the Syracuse area to read either the summary or the full report, and make your voice heard. You have until mid-March to get your word in edgewise.