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As $18 million deficit looms over budget, Syracuse mayor says cities need more funding

Tom Magnarelli
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed budget includes increases to schools and police, but also an $18.5 million deficit. Miner said the city’s fiscal problems are similar to what other upstate municipalities face.

Miner said the budget highlights include new technology investment in gunfire sensors and more funding for schools than last year, although not as much as the school district voted on.

“If you want to have a strong community, you have to make important investments,” Miner said.

But it comes at price. The budget dips $18.5 million into the city's rainy day fund balance, which would leave only $27 million left. Miner said she believes it will be the most taken from the fund balance during her administration. She attributed that to things like higher pension and healthcare costs.  

“We are not in a bean counting business," Miner said. "But we are in a business where we are providing vital services to the people in our community at a time when the state and federal government have walked away from these services.”

Miner said the state has frozen aid to cities for eight years with no meaningful mandate or pension reform.

"There has to be a reassessment of how we fund our cities," Miner said.

She said Syracuse's community centers will be a month late in receiving their federal aid this year, which could disappear altogether in the future.

The city's budget also includes $1 million each for the Land Bank and Say Yes to Education.

There is no increase in property taxes.

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.