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Note to new county leg: keep pressure on Sheriff regarding Air-1

— The Onondaga County Legislature held their regular session on Dec. 6 with a packed house and a long agenda. Many residents were there to oppose the resolution to sell the Sheriff’s Department’s helicopter. This resolution was defeated by a vote of 1-18. However, many of the legislators share my same feelings about the Air-1 Helicopter; we believe now is not the right time to sell it. The Sheriff should be given time to complete the FAA Part 135 application, which will allow Onondaga County to bill insurance companies for medical flights, as well as raising funds for the operation of the helicopter through the newly established Air-1 foundation. That being said, the time to reconsider this should be during next year’s budget deliberations. If the Sheriff does not raise the funds, or secure the approval for charging for medical flights, the county cannot continue to provide a regional service on the backs of Onondaga County taxpayers. My only hope is that the new legislature keeps the pressure on the Sheriff to complete what he has said he is going to do.

Another agenda item that attracted a lot of speakers to the public comment portion of the session was the resolution to allow Wilmorite Corporation to apply for a license to open a racino in Onondaga County. This resolution passed by a vote of 11-8. Many of the opponents of the racino felt that legislators that are ending their term, like me, should not vote on this matter. My feeling is that I was elected by the people for a term that ends on Dec. 31, and I am going to continue to do the job that I was elected to do until the last day of my term. The new legislators will have plenty of opportunities to vote on this matter next year, assuming the State of New York grants Wilmorite the license. A local law allowing gaming at the location will have to be approved and the contract for the convention center hotel along with the racino will need approval of the next legislature. This resolution simply puts Onondaga County in the application process.

Lastly we approved the final agreement with Anheuser-Busch InBev and Onondaga County for a payment in lieu of taxes for the company. Many of you have heard that the brewery is beginning construction on a new line for 24 oz. cans. With this tax agreement and the expansion project, I look forward to Anheuser-Busch InBev being a long time resident of Lysander and Onondaga County.

Rich Lesniak represents the first district, which includes the Town of Lysander and the western portion of the Town of Clay. Rich welcomes constituent feedback; he can be reached by email at richlesniak1@verizon.net.

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