Credit: Courtesy of Tomorrow's Neighborhoods Today

Onondaga County legislators approved a plan Tuesday to spend $500,000 on a public art program to beautify the county. 

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. 

“We’re suggesting to firm up and add some public art in towns and villages and an idea to help with tourism around the area,” said Legislator Tim Burtis, who represents Cicero and the legislature’s third district.

The county plans to pay for the program with taxes collected on hotel room occupancies.

The proposal passed 14-2. Democrats Mary Kuhn and Bill Kinne, who is also running against Ryan McMahon for county executive, voted against the proposal.

Kinne said the proposal should be paid for with the county’s budget rather than through the hotel room occupancy taxes. He also said he doubted the money would be disbursed fairly throughout the county.

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 is similar to one in 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. 

City as Canvas 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. 

Central Current interim managing editor Chris Libonati contributed reporting for this story.

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