City of Syracuse making drastic cuts due to lack of federal help

Local News

SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced $18.1 million in spending cuts on Friday to cope with loss in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was a day I’d hoped would never come and if the federal government had acted sooner, we wouldn’t be here.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh

Walsh said that if the city waits any longer to enact these cuts, the cuts could become permanent and there could be more damage done.

Furloughs, not layoffs

Walsh said that the furloughs, which are not permanent layoffs, will save about $1.7 million.

These furloughs will be long-term, seasonal, or for two days out of the month.

For example, Walsh and his office will be taking two days off a month.

In the case where employees are being furloughed for two days a month. That may not sound bad, but when you do the math and realize that amounts to about month of pay over the year, it is going to have a significant impact on households and working families, and I don’t take that lightly. That’s painful.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh

This will affect more than 400 city employees. It will likely go into effect sometime in October.

The furloughs are also subject to union approval.

Biggest departments see biggest cuts

The biggest departments will see the biggest cuts, according to Walsh.

The police department has 25 budgeted positions that will now remain unfilled. They are also dealing with overtime reductions and delays with buying new vehicles.

The fire department has 50 budgeted positions that will also remain unfilled now. They are also dealing with cutback purchasing and a delay in station improvements.

Department of Public Works has a hiring freeze — while having 51 spots open — 289 furloughs and repairs/cleaning, sewers, construction cleanup/road-striping will be delayed in 2021.

The pilot Sidewalk Snowplow program was also included in the cuts.

Parks will also face closings and delays. This could affect school-year youth programs, fitness/golf programs, grass mowing, pools and other facilities.

Other cuts

The city will take a hiring freeze that will affect 153 positions. These are mostly positions with the Department of Public Works and fire departments.

Walsh estimated that the hiring freeze would save around $6.2 million.

The city will also have overtime restrictions that will mainly affect the police department and the Department of Public Works. These will be on top of the ones that were made when the budget was approved.

Walsh estimated that the extra overtime restrictions would save around $2.8 million.

The city will also have service restrictions/eliminations that will mostly affect parks and the Department of Public Works. Walsh said this could save the city around $1 million.

There will also be purchasing cutbacks, capitol project delays/cancellations and union concessions to Local 280.

Those combined should save the city around $6.2 million, according to Walsh.

These cuts will go into place now in order to spread cuts across a long period of time.

Walsh blamed the pandemic and federal inaction for the cuts.

I have heard crickets from D.C. over the past week or so and that’s disappointing and frustrating.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh

To watch the full Aug. 21 press conference, click the player below:

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