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City of Syracuse wants to keep better track of workers city contractors are hiring

Tom Magnarelli
The Syracuse Common Council.

The city of Syracuse’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development is asking the Common Council to approve a year-long contract with a software company to monitor the hiring practices of the city’s contractors. The goal is to continually gather information on who is benefiting from city contracts.

The proposal would require new contractors to use the software to track information on who they employ. The information would include workers' gender, ethnicity, pay rate and where they live, something that Councilor Jean Kessner said is important.

“We’re awarding contracts to people," Kessner said. "We’re asking them, please employ local people. Do they? What about the race of those people? I think this very much would allow the city to know the status of things.”

Paul Driscoll, the commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development, said the idea came after Councilor Khalid Bey’s proposal to enact legislation that requires a certain percentage of city residents be employed by city contractors. Driscoll said Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration is uncomfortable with that idea because they do not have the data yet on what percentage of contracted workers live in the city.

Bey said he is not willing to wait for a year’s worth of data before submitting legislation.

“Myself, Urban Jobs Task Force, another organization called Operation Proclamation, CenterState CEO and the trades are all sitting down to craft it into something that we all will be satisfied with," Bey said. "But at any rate, something is hitting the books.”

Bey said he wants to propose legislation in February. He said he does agree with using the software.

"It's needed," Bey said. "We need a more effective way, a more concrete way to ensure that businesses who are doing business with the city are meeting their obligation."

The Common Council is studying the software contract and could vote on it as early as Monday.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.