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Politics and Government

Lawmakers look for ideas to help financially struggling cities

State lawmakers were looking for suggestions to prevent municipal bankruptcies in New York state at a hearing in Syracuse Tuesday on the first stop for the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Local Government.

The situation in Detroit hung over the hearing. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner warned that cities like Syracuse continue to edge towards the brink of insolvency because revenues can't keep up with expenditures. And until the state helps with that, more cities in New York state will continue to spiral towards insolvency.

"Every mayor and county executive that I know and have spoken to says we need the state's help to prevent the kind of harm that we're going to see happen to the people of Detroit, happening to people of Syracuse and other cities in New York," said the mayor.

Miner also said the state needs to help struggling cities, that continue to flounder in red ink.

"The Lundine Commission came up with a recommendation that the state has within its authority to mandate a percentage of health care contributions. That would go a long way in helping. You could also allow municipalities the ability to charge non-profits a service fee for services institutions utilize that don't pay for it," she said.

The mayor also suggested that help should not be in the form of a one-time handout of state aid, a control board or loan that can't be repaid.

This Senate panel will continue to get feedback on the issue of municipal finances in western New York and Long Island.