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      Onondaga County lawmakers look at ways to trim the budget

      Onondaga County lawmakers are trying to find ways to trim the county's budget, looking to slash about $50 million total.

      The proposed cuts include selling off the Onondaga County Sheriff Office's Air One helicopter and eliminating the positions of 21 sheriff's deputies. The union representing the deputies has said the cuts show a blatant disregard for public safety.

      Some of the other items that stand to be cut from the budget include the closure of Pratts Falls county park. Lawmakers also want to take $12 million out of the county's reserve fund for unexpected expenses.

      The Onondaga County Legislature's Ways and Means Committee is recommending the cuts as a cost saving measure in the upcoming budget.

      In addition, more than $300,000 in funding for the arts could be cut from the upcoming budget. Eleven cultural and arts organizations would be impacted by the cuts.

      Under the proposed budget, the MOST, Onondaga Historical Association, Erie Canal Museum and the YMCA of Greater Syracuse would lose 10%, and the Syracuse Symphony would lose 50% of its art funding from the county. The Cultural Resources Council, the Red House Arts Center, CNY Jazz, Syracuse Film Festival, and Syracuse Stage would all have their county funding eliminated.

      Jeffery Woodward, managing director of Syracuse Stage, says the cuts send the wrong message about the place of arts and culture in the county.

      "We in the cultural community recognize that this is a very difficult economic time, but art support in this county is about 1.2 million dollars a year. That is less than one tenth of one percent of the county budget. I think the cuts send the message that the county does not value culture or the arts in this community," he says.

      Tonight, the public has a chance to speak out at the Ways and Means Committee meeting. The committee is holding its public hearing on the 2011 Onondaga County budget. The meeting starts at 7:00 PM in the ballroom of the Oncenter.

      For more information on the proposed budget visit www.ongov.net.

      What do you think of the proposed budget cuts? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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