Syracuse Common Council

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As central New York starts to see some significant snowfall, the city of Syracuse is no longer moving forward with the private contractor it selected for its sidewalk snow removal program. Negotiations ended with the contractor last month over too many unanswered questions over how the pilot project would work.   

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The Nottingham High School Junior Varsity Football team in Syracuse was honored by the city council for fully embracing one of their teammates who has Down syndrome. Brandon Pearson, 16, was recognized for his hard work and dedication to the team.

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Onondaga County and the city of Syracuse have avoided the acrimony that’s happened in the past, when it comes to deciding how to split the sales tax revenue that is generated in the county. Leaders have agreed to extend the current agreement another ten years.

City of Syracuse

The city of Syracuse has once again changed its snow plow license law, after updating it in October. The city’s common council was divided among themselves and Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration over how to deter illegal snow dumping, while also not overburdening businesses.

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One race that may have flown under the radar this past election, was a councilor-at-large seat on the Syracuse Common Council. Michael Greene, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year, won the election overwhelmingly, after losing a Democratic primary council race last year.

Greene won with 70 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Norm Snyder and Green Party candidate Frank Cetera.

Greene said the first time he ran for office, last year, was a challenging experience.

City of Syracuse

The Syracuse Common Council is expected to vote Monday on getting rid of a required city license for snow plow drivers. Last winter, Mayor Ben Walsh's administration began actively enforcing the license law, which has been on the books since the 1970s.

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Syracuse may get rid of requiring snow plow contractors to have a license to operate in the city. This comes just a month after the common council voted on updating some antiquated aspects of the law.

NPR

The latest results of races in New York state for state Assembly and Senate, as well as results in the races for Onondaga County sheriff and Syracuse Common Council at-large seat. Check back as updates are available.

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The city of Syracuse is trying to make it easier for food trucks to do business. But at least one food truck owner has questions over the new laws governing their operation.

Syracuse Common Councilor Michael Greene said other cities have a vibrant food truck culture that Syracuse is lacking. So, the council approved lowering the license fee from $1500 to $500 and expanding the locations where food trucks can set up shop.

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The Syracuse City School District is entering into a three-year agreement with the city of Syracuse, in which the district will pay for any additional school resource officers. But having police officers in the schools is still a contentious issue among some of the stakeholders.

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Syracuse Common Councilors Monday approved the latest contract between the city and police department, but it was not without some concerns.

Lawmakers voted 7-2 to approve a contract for 2016 and 2017 that include two-percent raises each year. But while they agreed on this pact, many lawmakers have eyes on the next contract, which is being negotiated now. 

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A Syracuse common councilor, who has been absent for four months, returned to the council Wednesday. Councilor Chad Ryan said he was at a treatment center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a severe substance abuse issue.

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Syracuse Common Councilor Chad Ryan has been absent from the council for four months because of what's described as a medical issue. Ryan was recently removed as the chair of the council’s public works committee.

On Monday, the council approved the purchase of 17,000 street lights from National Grid for $38 million. The agenda item was on behalf of the Department of Public Works. Council President Helen Hudson said she needed council oversight of it and with Ryan gone she asked Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene to handle it.

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The city of Syracuse is entering into a three-year agreement with a dog licensing system. The goal is to raise the city’s participation rate in the state mandated dog license program.

Syracuse has only a seven percent participation rate, slightly lower than the national average. DocuPet, a Canadian corporation based in Kingston, Ontario, helps municipalities improve the experience and participation in the dog licensing program. CEO Grant Goodwin said it is important to license pets so they can be identified.

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The city of Syracuse could spend $38 million to buy 17,000 street lights from National Grid and convert them to LED lighting with smart city technology. The project is expected to save the city money, operate more efficiently and improve its digital connections.

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The city of Syracuse will pay the legal fees of a self-described ‘Christian evangelist’ protester after a federal judge ruled his free speech was violated. Some residents were demanding Syracuse common councilors not approve the payment.

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Bike-sharing could soon be coming to the city of Syracuse. The Syracuse Common Council is expected to vote Monday on allowing Gotcha Bike to run the city’s bike-share program for a two-year period.

Neil Burke, a transportation planner with the city’s Department of Public Works, said Gotcha Bike was selected from a lengthy process to design and operate the program at no cost to the city. Burke said there will also be a revenue sharing agreement with the city.

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A federal judge has ordered the city of Syracuse to pay a judgment of more than $100,000, following a lawsuit from a protester of the city’s annual LGBTQ pride parade. The ruling states the protester’s free speech was violated.

James Deferio, a self-described ‘Christian evangelist,’ who preaches and protests events like the CNY Pride Parade with a banner and “personal voice amplifier,” brought a lawsuit against the city after police ordered him to move across the street from the festival’s entrance in 2014 and 2015.

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Questions still remain regarding a proposed law in Syracuse that would make it illegal to tether a dog outside in high heat or freezing temperatures for two hours without proper shelter. Wednesday’s public meeting on Adrian’s Law raised concerns from some Syracuse common councilors and dog owners.

Officer Rebecca Cosgrave, the animal cruelty investigator for the Syracuse Police Department, said she responds to hundreds of calls every year of dogs outside in extreme hot or cold weather, which can result in heat exhaustion or frostbite.  

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“Adrian’s Law,” the legislation meant to stop dog owners from tying up their dogs outside for hours in high heat or freezing temperatures, is getting new life in the Syracuse Common Council after failing to pass the Onondaga County Legislature in April.

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Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have been operating in Syracuse for less than a year, but the local taxi business has lost substantial business. Now, local taxi drivers are going to city hall with the hopes of leveling the playing field with the ride sharing giants.

Ramona Bellavia of Bellavia Transportation has been working in Syracuse’s taxi industry for almost 30 years.

“I loved going out on weekends and having the university kids and the younger crowed," Bellavia said. "But now, they live with technology."

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In a 4-3 split, the Syracuse Common Council rejected a waiver item to allow the parks department to buy bulk food and paper products from Walmart. Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene said Walmart is not the ideal corporate citizen, in terms of how much employees receive in wages and benefits.

Syracuse Common Councilors Monday unanimously approved Mayor Ben Walsh’s first city budget.  The $245 million spending plan didn’t stray much from Walsh’s original proposal.

Majority Leader Steven Thompson said aside from some changes in school spending prompted by the state budget, lawmakers agreed to Walsh’s budget blueprint. It is a spending plan that includes an $11 million deficit, something that was an accomplishment for the first-year mayor. Early projections showed the city facing a more than $25 million deficit.

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Syracuse Common Councilors began budget hearings this week over Mayor Ben Walsh’s proposed $245 million spending plan, and anyone can watch. It marks the start of live streaming of council activities, offering residents the chance to watch what happens on the city website, or YouTube channel.

Council President Helen Hudson says it’s about time it's easier for residents to watch government in action.

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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s first proposed budget asks lawmakers to use $11 million from the city’s savings account to cover a budget gap. It’s a deficit Walsh says is less than originally anticipated, after asking individual city departments to change their budget requests.

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The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is hoping the city of Syracuse comes through with some funding to keep the non-profit agency afloat. 

Land Bank Executive Director Katelyn Wright said without some help, the organization that buys dilapidated tax delinquent city properties with the goal of selling or demolishing them, will be out of savings soon.

“If things keep going the way they’re going, we’ll deplete our fund balance by the first quarter of 2021,” said Wright.

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The Syracuse Common Council passed legislation expanding its rental registry to require interior inspections of all rental properties, including one and two-family dwellings. But some councilors said the law is overreaching, ineffective and a possible cash grab.

Requiring interior inspections of rentals has been two years in the making for Councilor-At-Large Khalid Bey. He said there were no requirements for interior inspections of one and two-family rentals, where most complaints come from.

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The Syracuse Common Council and Onondaga County Legislature will soon begin live-streaming their meetings to the public. The goal is give more residents the opportunity to see their government in action.

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Residents in the city of Syracuse recently weighed in on what they want the city to do about snow covered sidewalks. Now the city has outlined options to address the problem.

Corey Driscoll Dunham, Syracuse’s director of operations, said the feedback from the city’s snow safety summit shows people want the city to take a more active role in sidewalk snow removal and they said they are willing to pay a fee for it. Dunham said the city has three options: citywide municipal sidewalk snow removal, priority area snow removal, or an enhanced ordinance and city approved contractors.

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Legislation that would require interior inspections of rental properties in the city of Syracuse is being held. Some on the Syracuse Common Council are divided on the issue.

Councilor Khalid Bey said Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration asked him to hold the legislation so the new corporation counsel could become versed on it over the next two weeks.

“The next agenda, we’ll be right back talking about it," Bey said. "We’ll gage where the administration is. By then, I would think that they will have determined if they need three months, six months to prepare.”

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