Artists working on a mural in Syracuse's South Side. Photo courtesy of Tomorrow's Neighborhood Today (TNT).

A proposal in the Onondaga County Legislature could make $500,000 available for artists, towns and local governments to beautify the county.

County officials have proposed using taxes collected on hotel rooms to pay for the public art. Typically that money is used to promote tourism. 

Legislators will vote whether to make the funding available Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. 

If approved, local governments within the county will be able to apply for the money through Oct. 20, according to Justin Sayles, the spokesman for Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. The money will be disbursed as reimbursable grants. 

Applications for the funding will be sent to CNY Arts and an independent advisory committee who will then recommend projects to McMahon’s office. 

The proposal follows in the footsteps of the City of Syracuse, which made $250,000 in federal stimulus funds available to create murals across the city. Syracuse’s Common Council approved that program — called City as Canvas — in March of 2022 in collaboration with Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today, a group that convenes meetings of residents in each part of the city. 

The program promised to bring at least eight murals to the city in its various neighborhoods. So far, murals have gone up in the Near West Side, the South Side, the East Side, and downtown.

The remaining murals expected to be completed this year are currently underway. Those murals will be located on the North Side, the East Side and South Side. 

Stephen Butler, the executive director of CNY Arts, declined to comment on the county’s proposal, citing concerns about being perceived as lobbying for the proposal. 

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