University Politics

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud doesn’t currently have stance on potential merger

Daily Orange File Photo

In a recent interview with The Daily Orange, Syverud said he doesn’t have a position “on any particular proposal because I don’t know yet what the exact proposal is," in regards to the city-county merger.

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud said he doesn’t have a position on the potential merger between the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County.

The citizen group Consensus has proposed merging the governments and other services of the city and county. The group released a 112-page report earlier this year detailing its final recommendations on the merger. Included in its recommendations is the consolidation of the two governments, as well as law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, courts and other services.

In a recent interview with The Daily Orange, Syverud said he doesn’t have a position “on any particular proposal because I don’t know yet what the exact proposal is.”

“I’ll read it carefully when it comes out and, should the university community in the process … suggest it’s important for Syracuse University to take a position on it, we will,” Syverud said. “But I haven’t done that yet.”

The Consensus report called for a referendum on the merger to be held this year, with the consolidation efforts to begin next year. But Linda Ervin, the floor leader and representative for the Onondaga County Legislature’s 17th district, has said it wouldn’t be feasible to hold a referendum this year.

Consensus has proposed that city and county governments be combined into one legislative body with 33 legislators. The legislative body would be composed of 29 districts and four at-large representatives, with each representative carrying one vote. Nine out of the 29 districts would be drawn in combined, city-suburb “hybrid” districts.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has voiced her opposition to the merger idea, while Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has said she supports it.

And though SU has not taken an official stance on the merger, it did host a debate earlier this month between area officials on the merger. In a packed Maxwell Auditorium, James Walsh, a former congressman, and William Byrne, chairman of the board of Byrne Dairy, argued for the merger against Miner and Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci, who argued against it.

Syverud said in the interview that merging local governments “is the hardest thing that any elected officials could try to achieve.”

“So I’m very supportive of each of our local elected officials working through how to do that in the interest of their constituents, and I think they’re doing their best in good faith,” he said.

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