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Syracuse city budget includes funding to crack down on living conditions in apartments like Skyline

A screenshot of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh's budget

If the city of Syracuse’s proposed budget passes, it will use part of the $126 million it’s receiving from the American Rescue Plan stimulus package to bring city government back to pre-pandemic levels. Mayor Ben Walsh introduced a $265 million budget Thursday that returns City Hall to normal, and it couldn’t have happened without the federal help.

“I want to be crystal clear here. The American Rescue Plan rescues city finances and services this year,” said Walsh. “This is exactly what the ARP intended to do for cities."

This budget only needed about 1/5 of the federal COVID funds to balance the budget. What happens to the rest, about $100 million, will be a joint decision between the Walsh Administration and Syracuse Common Council.

"We are asking council to hold separate budget hearings on the process to go over our preliminary plans. We wanted to keep the two separate, although they are certainly related,” Walsh said.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
A 93-year old woman was killed at Skyline Apartments in Syracuse in February. Part of Mayor Ben Walsh's budget includes money to crack down on problematic apartments like Skyline

Among the initiatives in this budget, is a new city unit that will crack down on poor living conditions in some of the city’s big housing complexes. Walsh said this in response to the recent troubles at the Skyline Apartments. A 93-year-old Syracuse woman was killed earlier this year in the housing unit, marred by drug use and crime. The “High-Occupancy Monitoring and Enforcement” (HOME) unit will build on ways the city is already dealing with these housing issues.

"This is really just the latest iteration of a long list of actions we’ve taken. But clearly there is a need for more,” he said. “So this is a tangible way in which we can formalize what we’ve been doing across departments and hopefully do more."

The budget also includes money for more firefighters and police officers, for more employees to clean up parks and streets, and new playgrounds.

Syracuse Common Councilors will start holding budget hearings next week and will vote on the spending plan in May. Residents can follow the budget process via a new public budget simulation tool.

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.