County budget hearing has little impact

On the day after a public hearing on proposed controversial cuts and changes to next year's Onondaga County budget, it appears legislative leaders are still committed to the elimination of the Sheriff's Office's Air 1 helicopter.

Both Republican Legislature Chairman Jim Rhinehart and Democratic Floor Leader Mark Stanczyk predict lawmakers will go along with the proposal to sell off the helicopter when they meet next Tuesday.

Thursday night's public hearing on the budget attracted about 250 people to the Oncenter, including a number of Sheriff's deputies and others who support the helicopter. The legislature's Ways and Means Committee recommended doing away with Air-1 as part of a package of cuts and revenue enhancements amounting to $50 million. County Executive Joanie Mahoney's proposed budget totals $1.2 billion.

Some lawmakers also want to eliminate 29 deputy sheriff positions. Rhinehart says many of those positions are unfilled anyway. He says in reality only seven deputies stand to lose their jobs, and he predicts most of them will stay on the force to fill positions lost to retirement and attrition.

A number of people spoke out against controversial cuts to the arts Thursday night. Rhinehart says he met with the County Executive's office today about making sure the Cultural Resources Trust Fund can fund the arts programs eliminated from the county budget.