Posted on Apr 8, 2021 / 02:00 PM EDTUpdated: April 8, 2021 / 4:09 p.m. EDT
SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) – On Thursday, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh proposed his budget for 2022, which includes a spending plan of $ 264.9 million. It will restore urban services to pre-pandemic levels and will invest in housing equality, public safety, schools, and parks and recreation programs. A property tax increase for city dwellers is not included.
“With responsible decision-making in coordination with the Joint Council, the city of Syracuse withstood the first wave of tax damage caused by the pandemic. This budget brings relief to residents as we can cope with the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the city's finances, ”Mayor Walsh said. "The harmful effects of the pandemic are still being felt, and more than ever, people need the city government to ensure they have access to quality housing, clean and safe neighborhoods, and great parks and recreational spaces."
What's in the budget?
A new unit to enforce housing quality and safetyStaffing for improved enforcement and compliance with regulationsMultiple investments in city parks, hiking trails and urban forestsStaffing for improved maintenance and management of sidewalksNew police and fire classes to compensate for retirementMore funds for schools
Mayor Walsh's proposed budget includes new staff in the Code Enforcement Department and the Syracuse Fire Department to help create a new High Home Occupancy Monitoring and Enforcement (HOME) department, one Cross-departmental city team tasked with proactive monitoring and enforcement of housing conditions in large residential complexes. With representatives from Codes, Police, Fire Brigade, Law, Neighborhood and Business Development, the HOME department is tasked with enforcing regulations to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of tenants. Improving the quality of existing affordable housing; Developing new safe living initiatives; and help both tenants and landlords who need help.
Budget data for fiscal year 2022
Budget of $ 264.9 million
No increase in the property tax rate
More funding for priorities vital to recovering from COVID-19: quality of housing, public safety, schools and parks
Uses $ 20.7 million in support for the American Rescue Plan
There is still more than $ 105 million in federal aid available
While the proposed budget holds the Syracuse Police Department's overall budget at a flat rate, it funds further investment in ongoing reform efforts and community engagement, such as the new Police Athletic League, and also funds key crime and security programs, including specific gun violence suppression details, Break-ins, street races, dirt bikes / ATVs and fireworks as well as the reinstatement of ShotSpotter.
Mayor Walsh's budget will increase resources for parks, recreational and youth programs to support the Onondaga Creekwalk, which has been expanded to the south side of the city, and the newly opened Empire State Trail along Erie Boulevard. A new dedicated employee from Parks will oversee the cleanliness and maintenance of the two popular hiking trails.
The mayor's budget will also be used to reinstate a park department manager who will focus on the appearance of the more than 100 park-maintained public spaces across the city. The crew chief, who works from the municipal greenhouse, must ensure that the areas that range from corner green spaces to strips of grass in the middle of the streets enter each growing season with appropriate care and attention.
The budget also includes a new forest technician as the Parks Department Forestry Department continues restoring embankments and buffer areas along the Creekwalk and reducing overgrowth in city parks. The ministry is also preparing to release its Urban Forest Masterplan this year, a multi-year program based on community contributions to increase the canopy of trees in the city.
The plan is funding the reopening of seven urban outdoor pools this summer. Last year the city opened four pools, two of which were paid for through an online community fundraiser. The pool at Burnet Park will be closed for maintenance and repairs this summer.
The budget and capital plan also includes:
Personnel to enforce the code for quality of housing, lead enforcement, and rental register compliance. Investing in information technology, digital infrastructure, and city cybersecurity. A new department for environmental services in DPW with additional staff for the collection of garbage activity and need for public communication and engagement of the residents in the departments for public works, engineering, planning and water. Purchase of outdoor recreational equipment for “pop-up” family events on urban waterways. Installation of a new playground in Grace Massena Park on the west side of the natural playground in Onondaga Geddes Playground using natural materials collected by the city's forestry department and built by the city's carpenters. Continuing the centralization of the city's financial services with the integration of water funding into the city's payment center. Improvement of the accessibility and timeliness of the answers to inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act
Senator Chuck Schumer offered this statement on Walsh's budget:
“Despite countless calls, zooms and visits to senior Syracuse officials over the past year, I have seen firsthand the incredible sacrifices made to face the global health and economic pandemic that they are on the front lines with struggled in Salt City. This is why, as the majority leader, I have made local funding my top priority in the American rescue plan and worked so hard to ensure that local governments – like Syracuse – get the funding they need to not just recover and rebuild from COVID, but also to rebuild stronger and more vibrant communities. Today is the first step towards a better future for Syracuse and I look forward to working with Mayor Walsh and the Joint Council to achieve that goal. "
Mayor Walsh's budget presentation will be broadcast live on the following video player: