Updated 04/09/2012 10:28 PM
Mayor presents Syracuse budget without tax increase
Mayor Stephanie Miner laid out her budget for the City of Syracuse Monday night. Our Katie Gibas spoke with the mayor and tells us what city residents can expect.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's a fiscal storm for the City of Syracuse. But despite that, the Mayor's proposed budget calls for a flat tax rate and no hike for water or sewer rates.
"It is a tremendously trying fiscal time for the taxpayers and the people of the city of Syracuse, and we on our side have been very cognizant of that. We have really tried to cut down out expenses and maintain the level of service the people of this city expect," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
Kathleen Joy, Common Council Finance Committee Chair, added, "The city is in a tough financial circumstance, as are the residents here. The majority of our properties are tax exempt, so increasing taxes really doesn't do much to close that budget gap."
Because of an increase in some home assessments, the city saw a slight jump in property tax revenue. The mayor decided to give half a million dollars of that money to the city school district. Miner has also pledged one million dollars for "Say Yes to Education."
"It takes a while to steer that big ship, but I think if we keep chipping away at it and supporting it, and supporting our school district as a whole, I think we'll see a lot of results and a better community," said Joy.
Mayor Miner also proposes increasing employees' contributions to their health care plans, up to 25 percent on a sliding scale. She's also called for a wage freeze for the third year in a row.
"For every percentage increase we have in salaries, it has a multi-million dollar impact on our budget. So that's a very fragile number and when you start talking about two percent or three percent, the whole budget can collapse," said Miner.
While the last several years have been tough for the city, the mayor says this year isn't too bad considering, but still a tough budget year. But she imagines next year will be even more difficult.
"It was very tough when we were starting to put the numbers together, but we were able to get some help from the state, which is going to be a short-term solution to our pension issues, so it will give us another year to put together another longer-term solution with both our collective bargaining units and the state leadership," said Miner.
The common council will have the next month to work with the budget and make changes.