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      Clay police merger - one year later

      When news about a possible merger of the Clay Police Department and the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office came out last year, critics argued that the savings were overstated and the service would suffer. Clay resident John Lepkowski says he thinks those concerns are a thing of the past. "Actually, it's been an improvement, says Lepkowski. I see more police surveillance than before."

      Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh agrees and says that after they solved a few minor issues concerning benefits, records and training, the consolidation has brought more than just the additional deputies. "We've been able to coordinate some investigations that might not have been coordinated, says Walsh. I think we've been able to do some things that we wouldn't have been able to do had they been separate entities."

      The money saved just adds to many people TMs good feelings. Clay taxpayers saw their town taxes cut by twenty percent as a result of the consolidation. County Executive Joanie Mahoney says it's being talked about all across the state as an example of how to do it. I'm proud of the fact that we started it here, and it's going to mean better things for taxpayers here if we can reduce the costs."

      Mahoney also noted that many other regions of the country don TMt have as many layers of government and operate more efficiently. "Parts of the country where the government was set up after the northeast, that aren't so fragmented, said Mahoney. We have tiny, little government entities and when you pay to keep each one running as an independent government, it's too expensive for our taxpayers to do that."

      Mahoney says that she TMs open to future consolidations within the county and hopefully on a broader scale.