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Common Council begins work on Syracuse budget

The Syracuse Common Council is getting its hands on the mayor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which doesn’t call for a tax increase.

More than half of the city’s $660 million budget goes to the school district.

For the rest of the budget, on the upside, the mayor’s office expects to see increased revenue from sales tax, parking fees and property tax collection -- thanks to the land bank, the agency tasked with handling the cities massive list of vacant properties.

But health care and pension costs continue to rise. And state aid for city operations will remain flat. The mayor also has proposed hiring 25 new police officers and 25 new firefighters.

Councilor Bob Dougherty admits the budget doesn’t do much to stem a looming financial crisis.

"We can’t roll up the sidewalks because of our fiscal problems," he said Wednesday before the council's first budget hearing. "However, there’s got to be some relief somewhere down the line. Clearly, we’re not receiving enough state aid, but what else has to happen?"

Last year, the council battled with the mayor’s office over the closure of a firehouse and senior center. So far, no contentious issues like that have come up this year.

"It would be nice to think that the administration can work with the council to come up with a long term strategy for financing the city, both in terms of indebtedness and current operating costs," said Councilor Jake Barrett.

The council will hold hearings on the budget over the next month. It’s due by May 8.