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In annual speech, Walsh says COVID-19 slowed progress in Syracuse, but momentum still there

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh isn’t letting the pandemic get him down when it comes to assessing the state of the city. Walsh admits the pandemic may have slowed progress on certain issues, but contends the city’s best days are ahead.

In his yearly speech to the community, Walsh didn’t let a worldwide pandemic that has decimated the city budget, and foisted hardship on many residents, get him down.

"The pandemic has dealt a blow to the pace of our process, but our momentum is still there,” Walsh said.

He said COVID-19 didn’t stop city initiatives. It was still able to build new housing, pave roads and continue work on projects like the Salt City Market, the site of his speech. And Walsh is proposing some new initiatives for the coming year, including a bus rapid transit system and a collaboration with SU to help local veterans.

But the dark side of the pandemic did force the city to slash spending by $18 million. Walsh is hopeful the federal government’s next COVID-relief package will include aid to state and local governments, that would reverse some of the cuts to programs, and furloughs forced on the city workforce. Ultimately though, Walsh said the city survived many of the hardships the pandemic foisted upon it, because it faced those challenges head on.

"I’m really proud of our team for being proactive, identifying the crisis early on and adjusting our budget and spending accordingly, so we can still be standing here in January 2021, and deliver the majority of services that people expect,” Walsh said.

This is an election year for Walsh, who will finish up the end of his first term this year.

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.