Onondaga County budget vote dominated by 'political theater'

Oct 11, 2017

Onondaga County lawmakers passed a $1.3 billion budget Tuesday amidst an afternoon of political theater. The political posturing was evident in debate over issues ranging from funding for libraries, to detailing county cars.

A two-year-old political feud between Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and county comptroller Bob Antonacci simmered beneath the surface of a more than two hour budget debate Tuesday.

Antonacci allies Kevin Holmquist and Casey Jordan proposed cut after cut to Mahoney’s amended budget, as well as reversal of cuts to Antonacci’s office. They all failed. Republican floor leader Pat Kilmartin says their proposals were nothing but pure politics.

“They want to pay homage to the comptroller, they want to bash the county executive, they hate the Amphitheater, and they want to pound on a pay raise issue that was talked about two years ago. Let’s move on to more important issues,” said Kilmartin.

Holmquist defends his opposition to the spending plan, suggesting that the county is in fiscal crisis and cuts to the comptroller’s office are politically motivated.

“She gutted his office,” said Holmquist. “Sadly these county legislators agreed to it. And that’s going to create a poisonous political atmosphere.”

Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon refereed the sometimes emotional banter between political factions. 

“To sit here and say this isn’t about politics, I disagree,” said McMahon. “It’s all about politics. It’s been all about the fights on the 14th floor for too long.”

He called the budget successful, but in the end challenged everyone to drop the politics.

“In all these political decisions, they aren’t amounting to anything to move the community forward,” he said.

The spending plan holds the line on taxes and spending, and lawmakers also approved some increases in fees at county parks.