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Syracuse Mayor focuses on fundamentals during annual state of the city address

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Ryan Delaney
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WRVO file photo
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner delivering her state of the city address at WCNY studios Thursday.

Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner has laid out her agenda for 2015. It focuses on the fundamentals of local government and recurring themes from her.

Miner, a Democrat, is entering her fifth year in the city's top elected office. In an address at the studios of public broadcaster WCNY, she talked about the successes the city saw in 2014, such as its high school graduation rate finally rising above 50 percent. 

Then she touched on the tension within the Syracuse school district that has embroiled it for much of the past year.

"Drawing battle lines only guarantees failure. Our moments of great adversity must inspire a higher sense of unity," Miner said.

Miner spent a lot of time on a theme she’s used for several months: infrastructure. She says she wants to go after special lighting districts in the city, which she says aren’t properly paying their bills for fancier street lighting, by $1.7 million dollars.

Miner wants to consolidate the number of districts and increase the collection of the charges it takes to pay for them.

She proposed using that extra revenue to create a dedicated infrastructure fund to pay for upgrades to streets and the city’s frequently failing water mains. 

"This plan will detail system needs, prioritize critical investments and enable us to begin shifting from reactive emergency repairs, to proactive system improvements," she said.

She says water crews recently dug up a water main that had been in service since 1893. 

"The frequency of breaks and the limited nature of resources have dictated a pay as it breaks approach to water service," she said. "But we are determined to do better."

The mayor says the first task of a new Innovation Team the city received a grant to create will be the city’s infrastructure needs. For more high tech infrastructure, Miner says the city is hiring a consultant to study improving broadband internet access.

"Modern infrastructure is more than roads, bridges and pipes," she said.

But the mayor also highlighted the city’s "exploding" health care and pension costs, the latter of which increased 355 percent over the last decade. 

And she unveiled plans to launch a new data-driven proactive policing program to reduce gun violence. While the city's homicide rate remained flat last year, Miner said other violent crime statistics were down.

Correction: The original version of this story stated the city's pension rate has risen 355 percent over the last year. It's risen that much over the past decade.