SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced Monday morning that the proposed 2024 budget will continue Syracuse’s path to fiscal sustainability by enhancing city services.

This includes a $310 million budget enhancing services for parks, public works, police, fire, schools and neighborhood quality of life.

“Our city and region are preparing for ‘Next Level Growth.’ This budget demonstrates our plan is taking root. Revenue fueled by growth in property values increased at three times the rate of the prior year, and the City continues to experience solid sales tax gains,” said Mayor Walsh. “ARPA funds and our strong fund balance are still supporting our recovery from the pandemic. They are providing a bridge to closing our structural budget deficit, but they won’t last forever. A 2% property tax increase, only the second increase in the past six years, is a fiscally responsible step toward a sustainable future.”

The City of Syracuse’s vision is to make Syracuse a city that embraces diversity and creates opportunities for all.

The city is focused on executing the following four objectives to reach ‘Next Level Growth’:

  • Achieving fiscal sustainability
  • Delivering city services effectively, efficiently, and equitably
  • Increasing economic investment and neighborhood stability
  • Providing quality constituent engagement and response.

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 8.

Enhancing city services

In the plan to enhance city services, it includes the following improvements:

  • Citywide implementation of uniform covered trash carts with semi-automated pickup
  • Night and weekend hours for youth activities at selected parks and recreation facilities
  • Restructured Department of Neighborhood & Business Development with enhanced planning and permitting capacity to administer new zoning codes and accommodate increased development and growth
  • 24-hour, seven-day-a-week city ambulance service staffed by Syracuse firefighter-paramedics
  • 24-hour scheduling for Fire Department made permanent
  • New firefighter and police classes
  • Police cadet program for young people ages 18-34 to start careers in policing in the city
  • New police contract including improved officer schedule for more efficient and effective deployment
  • Increase in alternative response services for persons in crisis
  • Expanded dog shelter facility with a greater capacity for stray dogs
  • Increased litter collection staffing for Environmental Services Bureau

The proposed spending plan includes $500,000 to assist with improvements to Syracuse City School District facilities. The money would be used to cover the required local share for projects not funded by the Joint Schools Construction Board. Potential projects include stadium construction, turf replacement, window replacement, and roof repairs.

This would also allow the District to invest up to $25 million as these projects are 98 percent reimbursed by state funding. The budget also includes a $4 million fund to address pay equity for nearly 300 city employees not covered by labor contracts, pending the completion of a compensation study.

Property Tax and Water Rate Increase

The plan not only enhances city services but relies on growth in sales tax and property values and proposes a 2% increase in the property tax rate to address the structural budget deficit that has plagued the City for decades. The proposal reduces the City’s use of American Rescue Plan Act (APRA) relief and fund balance compared to the prior fiscal year.

Facing significant inflation including increased labor expenses, the budget forecasts a 5% growth in spending. That would be salary, pension, health insurance, and Social Security costs all rise with fuel, natural gas, and electricity alone increasing by 55%.

Departments are holding the line on new expenses and rearranging how they operate to control costs while labor and many other expenses increase at a rate higher than the rate of revenue growth.

The City of Syracuse welcomes the public to provide their insights on the 2023-24 Proposed Budget with the Balancing Act tool online platform. The platform provides major categories of revenues and expenses with explanations and dollar amounts to provide you with an overview of our Proposed Budget.

With this tool, they believe they can develop a more transparent and informed budget to better serve the residents of Syracuse.

Mayor Walsh’s full fiscal year 2024 budget is available for review here.