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Syracuse council saves STAR rebate, raises parking meter rate, in passed budget

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
The Syracuse Common Council.

Syracuse homeowners will continue to get their STAR rebate checks, now that the city’s common council has approved a budget that keeps a property tax increase below the state’s tax cap. But to make up for the lost revenue, the city is going to raise the parking meter rate.

Coucnilor-at-Large Tim Rudd said the biggest thing councilors heard about the budget from residents, is that they did not want to lose their STAR rebate, which for the average Syracuse homeowner, is about $220 a year. In Mayor Ben Walsh’s proposed budget, a 3.5% property tax increase would blow past the state’s 2% tax cap. Now, Rudd said, the tax increase will stay under the cap at around 1.1%.

“We are going to increase parking meter rates to raise $600,000," Rudd said. "That’s basically how we reduced the property tax levy, without having to cut departments.”

Currently, the city charges $1.25 an hour for parking meters. Rudd said it has the potential to go up to $2 an hour, comparable to the rates in Rochester and Buffalo.

Walsh said while raising the parking meter rate was not something his administration chose, the revenue has to be made up one way or the other.  

“I’m sure there will be constituents that aren’t happy about the parking rate increases, but we are working on a path of fiscal responsibility, and that requires difficult decisions,” Walsh said.

Councilor Joe Carni voted against the budget, and its amendments, including a $50,000 increase to the city’s audit department.

"Just adding a new position in, when we're asking other departments to make as many cuts as they can without cutting services to our constituents, is in my opinion, not a best practice," Carni said.

The budget and its amendments, passed the council by a veto-proof majority.   

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.