Walsh proposes tax increase in Syracuse's 2024 budget proposal
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh addressed the city’s Common Council for the 2024 budget proposal on Monday.
The proposal covered increased funding for parks, public works, police, fire, and quality of life among other issues. In order for the funding to be successful and to combat rising costs, Walsh said a 2% property tax increase is necessary.
"I do not take these increases lightly, but they are measured, responsible steps that must be taken now to make up for rising costs and continue closing our structural budget deficit,” Walsh said. “Failing to act now will only set our city up for deeper pain and a fiscal crisis down the road."
Walsh added that making the increase now could prevent draining reserve funds later on.
“We need to provide a bridge to a fiscally sustainable city government,” Walsh said. “A 2% increase in the property tax rate now will prevent raiding our reserves further in the future.”
Following the presentation, Walsh said he anticipates working further with the council on the proposed tax raise.
“Inevitably there will be questions, there will be concerns and there will likely be proposed changes, which is part of the budget-making process,” Walsh said. “I think everyone agrees that anytime you're talking about raising a fee or a tax, that requires and deserves attention. I suspect it will get that from the council.”
In the presentation, Walsh also discussed disappointment in AIM payments, or State Aid and Incentives to Municipalities, which act as the second largest source of revenue for the city. He said the funding has not reflected rising costs.
"While every cost we face goes up every year, state AIM aid has not changed in more than a decade and a half. The state has experienced massive gains in its own revenue, but has not increased AIM. I greatly appreciate the support we receive from NYS in so many ways, but I am disappointed this area of assistance has stayed flat."
Despite this, Walsh said the city’s plans for a strong future are working.
"Investing in city services is making a stronger and more attractive city,” Walsh said. “Revenue fueled by growth and property values increased. We continue to see solid gains in sales tax. ARPA and a strong fund balance are bridging us to a sustainable future."