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DiNapoli says Syracuse's finances suffer from "systemic problems"

New York State's financial overseer is warning Syracuse's finances face "systemic problems."

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli Wednesday issued his 2013 fiscal profile of Syracuse. It says Syracuse is relying too much on sales tax revenue, instead of property taxes.

DiNapoli does say New York’s fifth largest city still sits well with credit ratings agencies, but it’s susceptible to changing economic conditions.

“Unfortunately, as the economy continues to recover slowly from the financial meltdown of 2008, communities like Syracuse are likely to experience more financial difficulties," DiNapoli said in a statement.

DiNapoli said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner recognizes the need to be more efficient and she has confronted the city’s financial problems since taking office. He adds she still faces an uphill battle.

Among the comptroller's findings:

  • Syracuse has lost $4.3 million in state aid since the 2008-09 fiscal year
  • The city has exhausted 53 percent of its constitutional debt limit and has $292 million in outstanding debt
  • Since 2008, the city’s general fund balance has declined 37 percent to $39.5 million from $63 million
  • Expenditures in the city have increased at an average annual rate of four percent from 2001 through 2011

Miner issued the following statement about the report:

The Comptroller’s '2013 Fiscal Profile' confirms what I have been saying for almost three years: The economic model New York State created for the financing of city services is no longer functional. We will continue to make the best decisions we can, and will continue to seek ways to balance operating budgets without borrowing in ways that increase the total burden on taxpayers. We need to work together with other cities and the state to confront the growing fiscal crisis for all our cities. Only through collaboration and sharing innovative ideas and new approaches to governing will we be able to solve this crisis.

The fiscal profiles are part of an effort to paint a clearer picture of the financial situation of New York's largest cities, the comptroller says.