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Syracuse Common Council approves $310 million city budget with 2% tax hike

The Syracuse Common Council votes on Mayor Walsh's $310 million city budget.
Ellen Abbott
The Syracuse Common Council votes on Mayor Walsh's $310 million city budget.

Syracuse Common Councilors unanimously approved Mayor Ben Walsh’s proposed $310 million city budget. Lawmakers added some items and also are warning for budgets going forward.

The council approved and added $600,000 to total spending for various programs, half of that to boost security at City Hall and One Park Place, home to some city offices. Councilor Pat Hogan said hiring an armed retired city police officer reflects the “tenor of the times."

"There’s been incidents in other public places throughout the country," Hogan said. "It’s incumbent on us to be aware of that. For instance, the Federal Building, there’s armed officers. The county legislature which is a judicial setting, they have armed officers. The Civic Center, there are armed officers. Now City Hall will have armed officers.”

Lawmakers also added funds for city festivals and the Citizen Review Board.

The funds for these added items come from the city’s savings. Finance Committee Chair Michael Greene said that account has been boosted in recent years because of ARPA or American Rescue Plan. But he notes the city can’t rely on them much longer.

"It’s definitely a concern," Greene said. "The city’s structural deficit is quite high. Once the ARPA funds run out, we’re looking at a leeway of a few years, it’s something the city is going to need to address."

The city received $123 million in ARPA funds, and Walsh said his administration is making plans for when it’s gone.

"If you look at what we’re taking from ARPA, to address the structural deficit, it’s only $4 million," Walsh said. "That’s down significantly from the previous years so we are planning for the eventuality of AARPA funds going away.”

Walsh said the loss of ARPA funds is one reason for a 2% tax hike being included in this budget. He expects to sign in the coming days.

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.