Over the last 15 months, we as a County Government have delivered on our promise of “Unprecedented Collaboration”
County Executive Ryan McMahon Appoints Monica Williams as Chief Diversity Officer for Onondaga County
The speech is a snapshot of where Onondaga County is, and where the County Executive wants to take us into the future. McMahon rose to the position of County Executive following the resignation of Joannie Mahoney. In November of 2019 he won the seat on his own, and what we’re seeing is his vision for the county, and his plans for implementing an aggressive yet reasonable agenda.
Continuing his focus on economic development, the address touched on a variety of issues that are important pieces of McMahon’s plan for Onondaga County. In short, the state of the county is healthy and improving.
Rather than eviscerating the poor over Medicaid, McMahon goes into detail, “Medicaid for the truly needy is not the overarching problem in New York. Rather, a number of legal loopholes have been created over the years that allow individuals with greater financial means to access Medicaid.”
A list of acknowledgments; solid fiscal condition, creating the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, an opinion regarding recent controversial changes in Criminal Justice Reform. The address appears to be a comprehensive review. Leaving no stone unturned, other points made centered on Education, the Syracuse Surge, and how do we get people to jobs when traditional means fail?
Below are highlights of the State of the County, a copy of the actual State of the County Address is available Full Text J. Ryan McMahon State of The County 2020.
Major Investment by others in Syracuse and Onondaga County
Allyn Foundation building the Salt City Market and investing in the Blue Print 15 strategy.
JP Morgan Chase award Syracuse an advancing Cities grant. We are one of five national winners, the others being Miami, Chicago, San Diego, and Louisville.
Digital Alliance between Syracuse University, the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, and Microsoft. Microsoft is making Syracuse their Northeastern Hub for Smart Cities and will have a physical presence in our Syracuse Surge footprint.
JMA Wireless invest $20 million in the former Coyne Laundry plant, and bring 100 jobs to this facility for 5-G Manufacturing in the heart of our Syracuse Surge footprint.
Bankers Health Group investing $40 million, creating 300 new jobs in our Inner Harbor. We see an $18 million Tech Garden Expansion, which will provide more incubator space, drive growth, innovation and jobs.
Ten year extension of the County/City Sales tax agreement. This agreement will allow our regions two largest governments to plan and manage our budgets moving forward.
Rainy day fund, at $73.3 million. This is $7,000,000 more than the 10% fund balance goal set forth by this County Legislature.
Medicaid for the truly needy is not the overarching problem in New York. Rather, a number of legal loopholes have been created over the years that allow individuals with greater financial means to access Medicaid, and in particular long term care services. In fact it is long term care services that make up 46% of all Medicaid spending in New York State.
Justice Reform Issue – two immediate reforms
Two immediate reforms to this law from our partners in the NYS Legislature:
- First, give counties the ability to staff jails to the population in the jails.
- Second, change the 15 day discovery mandate on our District Attorneys to 45 days. Discovery has little to do with bail reform and 15 days is an expensive mandate on our local governments. Not to mention it makes it more difficult for witnesses of crime to cooperate with our law enforcement partners.
Relationship with the City of Syracuse
Here are three 2020 initiatives Mayor Walsh and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon have come to an agreement on and are preparing the appropriate legislation as needed for the County Legislature and the Common Council to consider:
(1) A Shared Services agreement between County and City Information and Technology departments
(2) Move forward with putting the City and County Planning, Economic Development, Community Development and Neighborhood Business development offices into the Carnegie Library
(3) Create a Shared Services Working Group for the Syracuse and Onondaga County IDA’s. This group will assess administrative procedures and functions appropriate for consolidation or shared services. This will create operating efficiencies and improve customer experience with our two IDA’s
Minority Workforce – Office of Diversity and Inclusion
In 2019 I asked you to “Think Differently” and help me diversify our County work force. I set forth an ambitious goal of hiring 20% minority employees by 2022. While there is still work to do, I am happy to report that since taking office, my administration has increased our minority hiring to 30%. Our workforce is now starting to truly reflect the community that we live in.
Created the Office of Diversity and Inclusion- will help us build out our talent pipelines from our minority communities.
2019 Onondaga County awarded $55.5 million in contracts with $18.5 million going to MWBE companies.
Poverty-Poverty in our community has dropped again. It is now at its lowest rate in ten years. Our communities renewed efforts are having a positive impact but there is still much to do.
2019 also saw record low unemployment – hovering around 3.7% with over 8000 private sector jobs created.
Transportation-It is no secret that one of the biggest barriers for many in our community is access to reliable transportation. One of the successful proposals from this round includes a partnership with Centerstate CEO, CENTRO and Enterprise which will launch a vanpool program in Central New York. The program will fill gaps in our transit system to connect workers in underserved areas to remote job locations.
Education-The Syracuse City School District recently announced that their graduation rates have risen again to 64.5%. “When we began our partnership with Syracuse City schools 10 years ago, graduation rates were in the 40’s. We are clearly on the right track and will keep pushing forward until we see every child entering high school walk across the stage with a diploma in hand. “
Youth Employment-We also continued our partnership with Mayor Walsh and the City of Syracuse with our Summer Youth Jobs program. Over 1400 youth participated in 2019. Work is dignity, no matter what your age. This program has been a huge success and we will work with all of our partners to make sure the program grows again in 2020.
Drugs/Addiction-Onondaga County continues to show leadership in combatting this public health issue and we are seeing promising results. After reaching a peak in 2016, deaths due to Opioids have declined 40%. In 2019 we lost 107 neighbors due to this epidemic. Out of this number, 101 of these deaths were related to pills – not needles.
Syracuse Surge- I also want to congratulate Mayor Walsh and all of our partners for the progress we saw in 2019 with the Syracuse Surge – a strategy for inclusive growth in the new economy.
Countywide STEAM school- In 2019, Chairman Knapp, Leaders May and Ervin and our County Legislature took a historic step and seized on a once in a generation opportunity to partner with the City of Syracuse, SCSD, OCM BOCES and New York State to create a Countywide STEAM school.
This school, located at our historic Central Tech Building in downtown, will offer specific technical training to both urban and suburban students.
After hearing from your constituents, the Arts community, and the business community, the County Legislature sent a memorializing resolution, which was a critical step to get our State partners to act.
‘Let’s work together’
McMahon ends his address with this proclamation; “Let’s work together, double down on our partnerships we have made and continue to be a shining example of how local government is supposed to operate.
Let’s realize that no matter who you are, where you live, the color of your skin, the name of your God, your gender or your sexual orientation – we have more in common than we do differences.”