Common Council Voted Monday to Defund Greater Syracuse Land Bank, Cuts to Police, Fire Department Budgets

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Mayor Stephanie A. Miner issued the following statement today subsequent to the Common Council’s vote on the city of Syracuse budget. The Council voted to defund the Land Bank and made $2 million in cuts to the police and fire department budgets.

“Today’s disheartening actions from the Common Council demonstrate a lack of understanding for the serious challenges affecting the city of Syracuse. I will be vetoing the disingenuous and fiscally irresponsible budget passed today by the Council,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner “The Land Bank has repeatedly demonstrated its success revitalizing our neighborhoods, returning more than 450 tax delinquent properties back to the tax rolls. Its future is reliant upon the city’s continued support and our shared commitment of neighborhood revitalization.”

The city of Syracuse has provided more than $1 million in funding to the Syracuse Land Bank annually since its inception.

Mayor Miner added: “Also critical to thriving neighborhoods are strong public safety forces. By cutting the overtime budgets for the police and fire departments, the Council is putting our city at risk. It is nonsensical to think that overtime can be cut at the same time a new class is added. My administration will graduate a new class of firefighters this Friday and a new class of police officers in June.”

Police Chief Frank L. Fowler said, “The thought of having a class of new recruits is very attractive; however, to do so at the expense of cutting our overtime budget would have a crippling effect on our current operations.

SPD Chief, Frank Fowler

Each year the calls and the demand for police services increases. Our only way of meeting these high demands is through the use of overtime.  A cut of this size would pose an adverse effect on our immediate operations by decreasing our ability to man much needed crime fighting details and minimum staffing. When we hire a new police officer, it takes about a year before they are properly trained and legally eligible to function on their own.”

The administration, which is not compelled to spend money allocated by the council, will not hire a new class of police officers this year, as was included in the council’s budget. It has hired several new classes of police officers and firefighters throughout Mayor Miner’s tenure and will deploy more fire training and police academy graduates this summer.

Fire Chief Paul M. Linnertz said of the cuts, “It sounds good to tell the public they are cutting overtime when in fact, they are not.  The Councilors know, or should know, that they are not actually cutting funding from the overtime line of the operating budget.  The overtime line is one of the only expenses that can operate in the red.  To balance the Fire Department’s budget operating funds will have to be cut to reconcile the overtime deficit. It is my opinion that the Common Council reduction of the Fire Department’s budget by $1,000,000 will have a significant impact on the day to day operation of the Department.”