(WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh presented his 2023 budget for the City on Monday.
Walsh’s $294 million budget plan proposes investments in schools, public safety, sanitation, and litter pickup. It also keeps property tax rates level for the third straight year.
“Syracuse has maneuvered through challenging times in a sound fiscal state. The City is experiencing investment and growth, which is creating additional revenue without increasing property tax rates,” said Mayor Walsh. “With this budget, we are able to invest in better services for residents and in our city workforce. We will increase funding to schools; put more police officers on our streets; build healthier neighborhood business corridors; and introduce more parks programs for children, adults and seniors. We will also invest in sanitation pickup citywide and expand our crackdown on nuisance properties.”
Budget highlights include:
Schools – The Syracuse City School District will receive nearly $68 million from the school tax levy, an increase of more than $1 million.
Public Safety – The Syracuse Police Department will continue to transition more administrative functions to civilian positions to free up more police officers to be on the streets in patrol and to help reduce crime. The budget provides funding to complete the conversion of 17 positions currently filled by sworn officers to civilian staff. The budget also funds expanded police diversionary response strategies to involve qualified mental health professionals and supports community violence intervention programs.
The Syracuse Fire Department will increase on-duty professional firefighter staffing for the first time in nearly 50 years. The department will add an around-the-clock firefighter to the Squad Company located at Station One in downtown Syracuse. The Squad Company provides lifesaving responses citywide to all structure fires and the highest-priority medical calls.
Neighborhoods – The Department of Neighborhood and Business Development (NBD) will bring on a dedicated Business Corridor Manager to focus on maintenance and growth of commercial business districts in neighborhoods around the city.
Lead Abatement – The Division of Code Enforcement will fully implement the City Lead Abatement and Enforcement ordinance allowing city inspectors to conduct more lead inspections in rental properties and requiring abatement by landlords. The budget funds staffing a lead paint program coordinator and office manager who will work with Code Enforcement inspectors to conduct and process inspections. It also includes funds for dust wipe sample kits and lab testing.
Parks – The Department of Parks Recreation and Youth Programs will implement the new Health and Wellness, Family Recreation and Therapeutic Recreation bureaus. The department will expand its schedule of events and programming for city residents, including activities such as kayak rental, ice bicycles, and outdoor movies.
Quality of Life – The budget increases funding for the Department of Law to address concerns impacting quality of life: nuisance abatement actions, property seizures, code enforcement, zoning, and public safety. The investments will increase city efforts to pursue compliance through legal action and help improve the timeliness of city response to neighborhood issues.
Sanitation and Litter – The Department of Public Works (DPW) will increase staffing for trash, recycling and litter pick up. DPW will add a new assistant supervisor for sanitation and two new members of the Environmental Services crew dedicated to litter collection. The department also expects to receive ten new sanitation trucks before the end of 2022 and will begin the implementation of uniform trash and recycling carts citywide. The department will continue to prepare for the introduction of semi-automated trash collection.
Road Reconstruction – The Department of Public Works will reconstruct at least 24 miles of city streets. It will fund 20 miles of slurry real resurfacing on streets without curbing.
Interstate 81 – The City will hire an Interstate 81 City Project Director to provide planning and oversight for city assets and infrastructure and ensure the interests of city residents are protected during the massive infrastructure project. The budget also funds retaining a national urban master planning firm working for the City to plan and design opportunities for city neighborhoods not covered by the state or federal government.
Communications – The Office of Communications, created by Mayor Walsh in 2019 to improve public information and community engagement, will introduce a digital marketing apprentice in partnership with MACNY to increase the performance of communications across the City’s 28 social media platforms, including its YouTube channel as well as its new website. It will also bring on a new position to keep the community informed about the impact of the ARPA investments in the city.
The Council will review the plan and conduct public hearings on department spending proposals over the next month. It will act on a final city budget by May 9.
For a complete look at the budget, you can head to https://bit.ly/syr-propbudget2023. There, Mayor Walsh highlights plans for higher revenues without an increase in property taxes, municipal sidewalk maintenance, and more.