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The Upstate Economy

Helping Syracuse save money: State board offers suggestions, funding for efficiency

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Let Ideas Compete
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One recommendation from the State Financial Restructuring Board is semi-automated trash pick up.

There were no surprises in a report about the City of Syracuse’s finances from the State Financial Restructuring Board. But Mayor Ben Walsh says it offers the city a template going forward, which they hope to move ahead on.

The review offers several suggestions to make city spending more efficient and offers some state aid to help move those ideas along. Some -- like upgrading the city’s payroll system -- is something Walsh knew needed to be changed the first day he walked into the mayor’s office.

"We’ve known that we’ve needed modernized payroll and timekeeping system,” Walsh said. “But it’s expensive to acquire the software to implement it. And for the state to offer two million dollars for implementation, that helps us accelerate the process.’

Other suggestions might not be so easy. For example, the report notes that changing police officers shifts to a 40-hour work week could save millions. Walsh says that is an issue that’s on the table in contract discussions with the police union.

"Looking at the shifts is something we want to discuss. Having this report reinforce that won’t hurt us. Whether it helps, still to be determined,” he said.

Other recommendations include a semi-automated trash pick-up and suggestions for government consolidation. These suggestions come with a potential of $5 million from the state. Some of that is already being spent on new smart city street lights.

"I’m not convinced that all of them are the right approach. But they are ones we are already discussing and considering,” Walsh said. “It’s an ongoing conversation with the county executive.”