SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A state board, charged with helping the City of Syracuse dig itself out of a looming financial crisis, has released its recommendations for the city to cut costs.
Mayor Ben Walsh requested the study by the State’s Financial Restructuring Board to avoid the state taking over the struggling city’s finances, as it did with the City of Yonkers.
The report, released Tuesday, found ways for the city government to change its operation and save millions of dollars across multiple city departments.
In many areas, the Mayor Walsh Administration has already identified the cost-cutting measures, is already implementing them, or is somewhere in between.
Mayor Walsh beat the state’s study with his bright idea for the city to buy its street lights, currently owned and operated by National Grid. As that acquisition unfolds, the city is already upgrading the nearly 18,000 bulbs to LED and each new light head comes with a smart node that connects the light to a network.
As the light upgrades continue this summer, the state report offers Syracuse to be in the running for a $2 million award to help with the project. An additional $2 million award could be given to the city if leaders implement a modern time-keeping and payroll system for its employees.
What may be the report’s most resisted change, the State suggested the Syracuse Police Department save money by making officers work 40-hour weeks instead of the current four-day-on, two-day-off format. In the past, the Syracuse Police Benevolent Association has defended its members’ schedule. They would likely fight to keep it as the city would need to negotiate a new schedule. The change would yield $3.4 million in savings, according to State calculations.
From SPD to DPW.
The study advises the city’s Public Works Department to purchase semi-automatic garbage trucks. Used in some of Syracuse’s suburbs, the trucks have an arm that lifts and dumps trash bins as it moves along the road.
“The FRB’s findings are further validation that we’re on the right path to achieving fiscal sustainability for the city,” says Mayor Walsh. “Working with the Council and with our other government partners, we have initiatives underway in nearly all of the areas that the FRB has identified to improve the city’s fiscal sustainability. We thank Governor Cuomo and the FRB for its thorough review and for their ongoing support.”
Mayor Walsh and the Common Council will review the report and develop action plans for review and approval for funding by the Board.
To read the full report, click here.