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Syracuse Council unanimously passes 2020-21 budget using $5 million less of fund balance

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)

The Syracuse Common Council unanimously passed the city’s 2020-21 budget using $5 million dollars less of its fund balance than what Mayor Ben Walsh originally proposed. The extra savings are meant to avoid a state financial control board. 

The city will now use close to $9 million from its fund balance, instead of nearly $14 million, which would leave about $27 million left in reserves. Councilor-at-Large Tim Rudd said there’s no definite rule when the state would implement a control board. But it is concerning if the city doesn’t have an appropriate balance left.

“We were using our reserves before we had a crisis and now we have a crisis so we need to continue to use them," Rudd said. "There’s just a lot of uncertainty. We’re trying to be cautious.”

The new budget cuts $1.5 million in police overtime. A half-million dollars is moved from collective bargaining negotiations. And the council is calling for Mayor Walsh to sell $3 million in city property. Walsh said it’s very ambitious, but they’ll try.

“There are some properties that are underutilized or unutilized that do have market value,” Walsh said.

The former Syracuse Development Center on the city’s west side is one example. The city acquired it last year and Walsh said he expects to put in on the market in the coming months. He said they are also looking at the need for the City Hall Commons building downtown, which houses different city department offices.

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.