Grant Awarded to Consensus to Engage Public Around Government Modernization

February 17, 2015 – Consensus, the multi-partner commission focused on local government modernization, will soon be seeking public opinion on more effective and efficient governance across Onondaga County with the help of a $50,000 grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. The grant will be used to solicit input from community members on local government and the impact it has in their lives.

In its recently released Baseline Review Report, conducted by the Center for Governmental Research, Consensus found that every taxpayer is served by at least two of the 36 general purpose governments established within Onondaga County. Total spending by government entities within Onondaga County grew 40% over the past decade, compared to a 29% rate of inflation, pointing to the need for change.

Now that the baseline report is complete, Consensus will launch a major public education, outreach and engagement campaign this year, with final recommendations expected by year end. Community input will be collected through public meetings, social media, surveys, focus groups, town halls and the Consensus website.

“It is our strong belief that such significant decisions as to the form, structure and scope of local government must be driven by broad, informed and inclusive community dialogue,” said Cornelius Murphy, Consensus Co-Chair. “It is crucial to bring a wide range of voices into the process to help further understand the data that is collected and establish the community’s priorities for government modernization.”

The Community Foundation grant  will be combined with similar funding provided by The Gifford Foundation, The John Ben Snow Foundation, The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation and The Allyn Foundation to conduct focus groups, phone and online surveys with community members, coordinate a speakers’ bureau for educational opportunities, and facilitate community meetings.

“Consensus’ public outreach plan is helping a large, diverse group of community members be heard about the efficiency of their local governments,” said Peter Dunn, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We hope that this inclusive feedback process not only helps inform the recommendation phase for modernization, but also sparks conversation and serves as a community building exercise.”

Consensus, the Commission on Local Government Modernization, was launched in 2014 to help shape a vision for more effective and efficient local governance in Onondaga County.  It is comprised of 17 public and private partners, including SYRACUSE 20/20, CenterState CEO, Onondaga County, FOCUS Greater Syracuse, League of Women Voters of the Syracuse Metropolitan Area, Onondaga Citizens League and Homebuilders & Remodelers Association of CNY, and has received bi-partisan support from New York State Senators John A. DeFrancisco and David J. Valesky.  It is led by co-chairs Cornelius (Neil) B. Murphy, Former President, SUNY ESF; M. Catherine Richardson, Retired Attorney, Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC; and James T. Walsh, former U.S. Congressman and current Government Affairs Counselor, K&L Gates LLP.  To learn more about Consensus and to read the baseline report, visit: http://www.consensuscny.com .

Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region. The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of more than $172 million. It awarded $9.5 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations and since its inception has invested nearly $130 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of nearly 650 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges.

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