Consensus — the commission on local government modernization – is helping to shape a vision for more effective and efficient local governance in Onondaga County. Through Consensus, our community is taking a leadership role in New York and defining for ourselves how we want to be organized and governed locally. With data driven solutions, our government structures, designed in the 18th century, can be modernized to meet the needs of the 21st century, with local resources focused equitably and effectively to help our economy and protect our community assets. We’re building Consensus to find these solutions together.

Consensus is led by three distinguished co-chairs: Neil Murphy, who most recently served as president of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Catherine Richardson a retired attorney with the firm Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC; and former US Congressman James Walsh.

Sixteen community and business leaders have joined the three co-chairs to review:

  • The number and types of local government in Onondaga County and the costs associated with those governments.
  • The nature and extent of services delivered by various types of local governments.
  • Opportunities and barriers to restructuring local government functions and services and the extent to which more efficient practices can improve the performance of local government and the delivery of public services.

Commission members will also make recommendations relative to:

  • Strengthening and streamlining the structure and operations of local governments.
  • Improving the effectiveness and reducing the costs of local government operations and services.
  • Facilitating the merger, consolidation and partnering in the delivery of services by and between local governments.

Bi-partisan support for the creation of the commission and its work on behalf of Onondaga County residents includes a $250,000 state grant secured by State Senator John A. DeFrancisco, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and supported by State Senator David J. Valesky.

The commission has received broad support from the community. Together, SYRACUSE 20/20, CenterState CEO, FOCUS Greater Syracuse, the League of Women Voters of Syracuse Metropolitan Area, Onondaga Citizens League and the Homebuilders & Remodelers Association of CNY called for the creation of a local government modernization commission. It was also one of four key initiates outlined in the region's business plan – The CenterState Agenda for Economic Opportunity.

Onondaga County is the first county in New York to create such a commission. The analysis and recommendations made in Onondaga County will serve as a blueprint for other communities across the state.

With strong support from County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Mayor Stephanie Miner, in 2013, the Onondaga County Legislature and the Syracuse Common Council passed joint resolutions seeking state funding to hire an outside consultant who will support the efforts of Syracuse 20/20 as it studies how municipal services are provided and what opportunities exist to modernize. The commission is expected to complete its analysis and make its recommendations to the community by the end of 2015.


CenterState CEO
NYS Senator John A. DeFrancisco
NYS Senator David J. Valesky
County of Onondaga
City of Syracuse
FOCUS Greater Syracuse
League of Women Voters of Syracuse Metropolitan Area
Onondaga Citizens League
Homebuilders & Remodelers Association of CNY