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Miner says land bank will suffer under new city budget

Tom Magnarelli

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says she is planning on vetoing the budget approved by the Syracuse Common Council this week. One of her big beefs with the budget is the elimination of funding for the Greater Syracuse Land Bank.

The city has subsidized the land bank for the last four years, at the rate of $1.5 million a year. The agency, which is not a city department, buys tax delinquent properties seized by the city and either demolishes them or puts them up for sale. It also is funded through state grants.

Miner says it’s been successful at getting rid of blighted properties, and slashing this funding will cut in half the number of properties the land bank will be able to turn around.

“And a lot of these properties have been abandoned, and the city has walked away from them for 10, 15, 20 years. We finally had a way to take down these things. We talked to neighbors, we talked to advocates. We finally had a process to take care of this, and the council has walked away from this responsibility,” Miner said.

In a statement from council members, Majority Leader Steven Thompson and Finance Chair Nadar Maroun says the land bank is sitting on a $4 million fund balance, equal to two years of operating revenues, so it doesn’t need any further subsidy for it to fulfill its mission. They say that considering the city is in significant fiscal stress, this was the most prudent way to proceed.

Miner is also critical of cuts to the Say Yes to Education program, as well as police and fire overtime in order to hire more police officers. If votes hold from the budget resolution, the council has the six votes needed to override any veto.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.