Onondaga County Legislature

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney wants to offer a voluntary, $10,000 buyout for eligible county workers to retire this year. The Onondaga County Legislature would have to approve the program.

Jason Smith / WRVO News File Photo

The Onondaga County Legislature has solidified the future of minor league baseball in Syracuse.  Lawmakers agreed Tuesday on a new deal for the Syracuse Chiefs to rent the county-owned NBT Bank Stadium for the next decade.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A judge has denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Onondaga County comptroller against the Onondaga County executive and legislature over pay raises. The defendants will now have to respond to the lawsuit by August 8.

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci said the attorneys representing the county executive and legislature will now have to address whether the resolutions the legislature passed in December giving pay raises to themselves and the county executive were legal. The defendants said this has been done before. Antonacci said that is false.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature passed a resolution urging the state Assembly to take up a bill passed by the Senate that prohibits any new unfunded mandates. Legislator Casey Jordan took up the measure and said the Senate's bill would require funding of any state program or expenditure item that impacts lower levels of government, to be paid for by the state.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature has agreed to contribute its share in funding a plan to clean up a portion of Ley Creek, which is polluted with toxic chemicals. The money will be reimbursed to the county by the company responsible for the pollution.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County legislators are questioning the expenses and revenues coming out of the new Lakeview Amphitheater along Onondaga Lake. Legislators want more information regarding who pays for what on everything ranging from buses to bathrooms. Legislator Kevin Holmquist said a lot of money is exchanging hands. He is pushing for a facility-use fee for the future upkeep and maintenance of the amphitheater.

Onondaga County is jumping on the Uber bandwagon.

State lawmakers are considering changes in state insurance laws that would allow ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft in upstate and other parts of the state they are currently prohibited. The Onondaga County Legislature, by unanimous vote, is encouraging them to do it.

“We are so far behind the eight ball on this,” said Legislator Kathy Rapp.

That’s why the Republican supported a memorializing resolution that asked the state to make the changes that would allow ride-sharing services in the Syracuse area.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It may not be the original plan to turn Murphy’s Island over to the Onondaga Nation, but Onondaga County lawmakers have promised to turn over some other piece of land along Onondaga Lake to the nation.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The dispute over pay raises for Onondaga County elected officials will have its day in court next month.  

The raises lawmakers voted themselves and County Executive Joanie Mahoney last December continue to make waves. County Comptroller Bob Antonacci is taking the county to court. He claims that the move violated the Onondaga County charter. Since announcing the lawsuit, accusations of politics have been flying back and forth between the two sides.    

Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon is among those named in the suit.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers are trying to figure out the future of the historic Carnegie Library building next to Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse.In the past, there's been talk about moving some county offices there, but there’s been no movement on that issue recently.  

So Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon wants to find out what it’s worth on the open market. He’s asking the Onondaga County Legislature to approve a 90-day request for proposal to gauge private sector interest in the building.

New York Invasive Species Information

Onondaga County’s ash tree management plan could be losing some momentum. The plan to take down or treat trees infected by the emerald ash borer could face cuts in its anticipated funding.

The Onondaga County Legislature Ways and Means Committee have balked at the $1 million bond that would pay for this year’s fight against the emerald ash borer infestation. They say $750,000 is a better figure in light of the county’s stagnant sales tax numbers. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The fight over pay raises for the Onondaga County executive and legislature now involves the county comptroller’s office. The question is whether the raises were legal.

After the legislature voted raises for themselves and the county executive, Bob Antonacci, the county comptroller, made it known that he believed the county charter and county laws say that raises can only happen during the budget process or through a local referendum.

The third time wasn’t a charm for Onondaga County CSEA workers, as members of the county’s largest union have again rejected a contract offer.

The vote wasn’t close: 1057 workers were opposed to the agreement, only 747 agreed with it. 

This is the third negotiated deal between Onondaga County and employees of several departments, including the district attorney’s office, the Department of Social Services and OCC.   

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

An attempt to reverse pay raises for some Onondaga County elected officials is still alive, but barely. Republican Legislator Kevin Holmquist railed against the 15 and 30 percent raises for legislators and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney when they were voted on last month. Now, he's trying to get those raises rescinded.

Holmquist couldn’t get the votes to consider it at the Legislature’s organizational meeting this week and had to settle for potentially taking it through the committee process.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County legislators and County Executive Joanie Mahoney will be getting raises in January.

It will be the first raise for everyone since before the recession, when they took a break from pay increases. And, that’s been part of the problem. Because there haven’t been pay increases in such a long time, the current proposal raises pay for the county executive by almost 30 percent, and for lawmakers by 15 percent.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Raising the pay of elected officials can often be a prickly political endeavor. Onondaga County lawmakers now find themselves in the midst of it while considering potential raises for themselves and other elected county officials, including the county executive.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has not had a raise in the eight years she’s been in charge of county government. Neither have members of the county legislature. All agreed in the wake of the recession in 2008 that raises would be inappropriate. But now, the politically hot topic is coming up again.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney won re-election by more than 19 percentage points last night. She said voters want Republicans and Democrats to work together and Onondaga County is moving past the negativity of a polluted rust belt region towards a bright future.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature unanimously passed its 2016 budget which focused on saving taxpayers' money while tackling some of the big issues facing the county.

The budget includes a cut to property taxes and cuts to proposed increases in sewer and water rates for Onondaga County residents. County legislature chairman Ryan McMahon said the budget will help spur the economy.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Democratic candidates for Onondaga County Legislature are calling for tougher financial disclosures among elected officials and more accountability to the public. Among the four candidates proposing changes are Kevin Tees, running in the 14th District based in Clay, and Tim Rudd, running for the 15th District in Syracuse.

All four have listed five items they believe the county government can do differently.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A political newcomer is running for the seat on the Onondaga County legislature, currently held by legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon. Tim Rudd says he’s a candidate in the district that includes parts of the city of Syracuse and the town of Geddes.

Rudd had one issue to talk about in his introductory news conference: campaign ethics.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Onondaga County Legislature has put its support behind a so-called hybrid option to replace Interstate 81 through Syracuse, the same day the Downtown Committee put its weight behind the boulevard plan.

It’s another example of the suburban versus urban divide that has developed over this lengthy debate about the future of Interstate 81.

The Downtown Committee compared the two options the state transportation department is formally studying right now: a rebuilt viaduct, or the highway’s diversion around the city and replacing it with a boulevard.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers will again be able to weigh in on the decision about the future of Interstate 81. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon will ask lawmakers to stand behind the option he believes is the best compromise among the plans being discussed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

An officially designated convention center hotel in Syracuse has been a goal of Onondaga County officials for decades. It looks like they’ve found it in the soon-to-be renovated Hotel Syracuse.

Onondaga County lawmakers Tuesday designated the Hotel Syracuse as the convention center’s official hotel. It’s a key move in rehabilitation of the hotel, which has been shuttered for a decade.

Legislator Kathy Rapp says the county legislature’s move ultimately unlocks some state money developer Ed Riley will be able to use, as he plans to bring the landmark back to life.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Construction can now begin on an amphitheater on the western shore of Onondaga Lake.

Onondaga County lawmakers agreed Monday to borrow almost $50 million to build the venue. Opponents, like Republican Kathleen Rapp, voted against the plan, suggesting it doesn’t have enough of an economic punch.

“It’s like your family budget," Rapp said. "You’d like to do everything. I would love to do this amphitheater, but not at the cost of giving up other things that would give far bigger return to taxpayers.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Update: The Onondaga County Legislature voted today to borrow $50 million to build an amphitheater along Onondaga Lake. The vote passed by a 12-5 margin. The five members of the legislature who voted against the proposition were Kevin Holmquist, Judith Tassone, Kathleen Rapp, Casey Jordan and Peggy Chase. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The future of an amphitheater project on the western shore of Onondaga Lake comes down to a vote by Onondaga County lawmakers next week. 

The amphitheater is part of a $100 million project to revitalize the communities on the western shore of Onondaga Lake. The state will pay for infrastructure improvements and housing projects in Solvay and Geddes but Onondaga County will have to pay for the $50 million amphitheater, by way of a 30-year bond.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Onondaga County says part of its jail overcrowding problem could be eased with a little help from New York State. Lawmakers are asking the state to make changes in a policy regarding state prisoners who’ve run afoul of their parole.

Right now, Onondaga County is forced to take state prisoners, who have violated parole, and keep them in the local jail while the justice system decides whether to send them back to state prison. County officials say that policy is squeezing an overcrowded county jail even more.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A proposal for a jail oversight board in Onondaga County is on the table after 16 months of discussions and community input.

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says this committee creates a place to go if something goes wrong at the jail.

“The incident can be reviewed by peers of the community, representatives of the community," McMahon said. "And then if it turns out the incident isn’t an incident, then they know there was due process. And if it is, then the committee’s job is to make a finding of fact and to make a recommendation.”
 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Onondaga County Comptroller’s Office will start an audit of so-called take home cars used by employees of various county agencies after the work day is done.

Onondaga County Legislator Chris Ryan says the idea is to get a kind of macro look at how county employees use these government-owned vehicles.

"What we’re trying to find out through an audit, is the amount of vehicles out there, how many miles, what are they being used for, how many times have they been responding out of hours with such vehicles,” Ryan explained.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Today is Purple Heart Day -- the annual, nationwide commemoration of the thousands of American soldiers either killed or wounded while serving in the military who have received the medal. And it is an extra special day for one central New Yorker.

Dan Hunnicutt is an acting chaplain in Oswego County who runs a ministry with his family meant to help veterans. He often wears his medals when he goes to meet troubled vets as a kind of conversation starter. He now has a new one to share.

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