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Mayor Miner’s $700 Million Budget Includes $293 Million for City Operations

Syracuse City Hall

Miner: This Budget Includes Investments in Important Technology, Innovative Solutions to Infrastructure Challenges, and Continued Support of Forward Thinking Programs While Benefiting from Good Financial Choices and Growing Economic Development

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Mayor Stephanie A. Miner released her 2017-18 budget today, a spending plan of more than $700 million which will fund city operations and the Syracuse City School District (SCSD).

“This budget includes solid investments in important technology like ShotSpotter, innovative solutions to our infrastructure challenges, and continued support of forward thinking programs like Say Yes to Education that make a difference in the lives of our residents,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner. “These investments, combined with good financial choices including refusing to borrow for pension costs and growth in economic development show that we are a city on the move that is able to deliver results for its residents.”

Mayor Miner

This year’s proposed budget leaves flat the funding level of the SCSD at $407.1 million. The Board of Education adopted a spending plan of $427 million this year, prior to this weekend’s passage of the state budget which included an increase in aid of $12 million in aid. The Mayor has pledged to continue working with the school district and state to determine how best to address the funding difference.

This year, the federal government has not released its funding schedule for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The City’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development (NBD), which oversees CDBG funding, has been notified the allocation will not be released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development until June –later than typical. The city would not be able to draw these funds until sometime in August. CDBG funding is a major source of income for housing programs and community centers throughout the city of Syracuse.

Mayor Miner added, “The continued disorder in Washington, DC impacts the lives of every Syracuse resident. Their inability to develop an agenda for American cities and carry out the basic duties of governance is hindering our ability to budget, which will make it harder to deliver for our constituents. This includes funding for public housing and community centers which provide after school programs, senior supports, and other important services for our neighborhoods.”

Other highlights of this year’s budget include:

ShotSpotter

This budget will include $260,000 in funding for ShotSpotter, a new technology which will allow the Syracuse Police Department to respond more quickly to shots-fired incidents. ShotSpotter uses audio technology which can pinpoint the location of shots fired and alert nearby officers where to respond. This will dramatically decrease response time and

Land Bank

The budget will include $1 million in funding for the Greater Syracuse Land Bank to continue their work revitalizing city neighborhoods. In 2016, the Land Bank acquired more than 350 properties and sold 150, including 33 new owner-occupied properties. Since its inception, the Land Bank has returned more than 450 properties to the tax rolls.

Say Yes to Education

The Mayor’s budget proposal will include $1 million in funding for Say Yes to Education. There are nearly 3,000 Syracuse City School District (SCSD) graduates enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges since 2009, we are already seeing the success stories of our graduates. In 4-year institutions, graduates average a retention rate of 75%.

Economic Development

Last year saw more than a $250 million in new construction in Syracuse. These projects put people to work, revitalize neighborhoods, and, importantly, generate revenue for the City through permitting. The city received $2.7 million in revenue from permit fees last year and is optimistic this successful growth trend in Syracuse will continue. The Mayor has conservatively projected $2.4 million in construction permit fees in this budget proposal.

We are pleased that, because of efforts in business and neighborhood development, the City will see an increase in its assessed values this year of $19 million. This means our property tax levy will increase, with an additional $178,000 in revenue for the City and an additional $303,000 in revenue for the SCSD.

This year, the City of Syracuse will receive $2.8 million in payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements negotiated by the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA). This is a slight decrease from previous years, as projects that previously received support begin to transition out of PILOT payments and back onto the assessment rolls, paying taxes at their full assessment.

AIM Aid

Aid to the city of Syracuse from New York State will remain flat at $71.7 million, as it has been throughout Mayor Miner’s administration.

Sales Tax

The city is budgeting for $83 million in sales tax revenue in FY 17-18. This amount is based on projections received from Onondaga County. This year, the county’s projections show $81.9 million in sales tax receipts, a $600,000 increase from last year. According to the State Comptroller, overall sales tax receipts in Onondaga County were down 1.1% during calendar year 2016.

This budget continues Mayor Miner’s stewardship of the city’s finances. The city continues to enjoy solid bond ratings, with an A rating with Stable outlook from Fitch and S&P and an A1 rating with Stable outlook from Moody’s. Additionally, the New York State Comptroller’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System has placed Syracuse in the “no designation” category with a score of 32.5. This is a better score than the cities of Yonkers, Niagara Falls, and Albany, as well as Monroe County. Locally, we have outperformed the town of Camillus and villages of Fayetteville and Marcellus.

This year, the budget for the city of Syracuse will be $293.1 million. Funding for the SCSD is set for $407 million, but will be finalized with new aid amounts.  The city has budgeted for the use of $18.5 million of fund balance. In budget years past, the city has consistently used less fund balance than originally budgeted. In FY 16-17, we projected the use of $12.1 million in fund balance and, as of the mid-year report, now only plan on utilizing $10.6 million. In FY 15-16, the city projected a use of $9.2 million and actualized only $3.5 million in fund balance expenses. There will be no increase in property taxes or sewer rates. The budget proposal includes an increase in water rates of $1.95 per unit which we project will bring in $1.3 million in additional revenue to the water fund.

The full text of the budget is available on the city’s website, www.syrgov.net/budget.

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