SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After months of debate, the Onondaga County Legislature has approved the County Executive’s plan to spend $85 million to build an aquarium in Syracuse’s Inner Harbor. The legislature had 9 votes in favor and 8 votes opposed.

By putting the project on the legislative agenda, County Executive Ryan McMahon showed the confidence he had enough votes. Of the 17 legislators, 9 had to vote in favor.

How they voted. Click to enlarge

Proponents argue the tourist destination would attract 500,000 visitors per year, spurring more sales tax revenue, a source of income the county budget relies on.

The funding comes from left-over money in past budgets when drastic cuts were made during the pandemic.

Opponents question the accuracy of the attendance projection, worry about sustaining the facility in future years, and argue the $85 million is better spent fighting the high poverty levels in Syracuse.

County Executive Ryan McMahon counters, claiming his budget already well-funds social services. His team has also argued just because you can fund more social services jobs on paper doesn’t mean the jobs can be filled.

Watch the Onondaga County Executive’s post-vote press conference