Syracuse Common Councilors Amend 2019-2020 City Budget to preserve New York State Star Exemptions

Syracuse Common Councilors to Amend the 2019-2020 City Budget, to reflect a $1.5 Million decrease in Property Taxes to preserve New York State Star Exemptions and stay under the Property Tax Cap. There was concern that if the budget had passed as presented, Syracuse homeowners would lose their Star Exemption, which for many means an annual check from New York State.

Reduce Property Tax Levy by $1.5 Million

The Common Council heard from many city residents who were concerned about the financial impact of losing STAR exemptions at the same time as needing to pay more in property taxes. In response, the Council has decreased the property tax levy by $1.5 million which will be shared by the Syracuse City School District ($900,000) and the City of Syracuse ($600,000). In order to offset the decrease in City Property Tax Levy, parking meter receipts will increase by $600,000. This will keep the property tax increase under the cap set by New York State.

Revenue Adjustments Slightly Decrease the City’s Use of Fund Balance

Based on historical revenue receipts for building and property permits, state aid mortgage tax and state aid highway expected revenues increased allowing for a slight decrease ($327,000) in the use of fund balance. “Decreasing the use of fund balance is an important step toward financial sustainability,” said Finance Chair Timothy Rudd. “This change does no harm to departments or city services but demonstrates every dollar matters.”

Increased the Department of Audit by $50,000

The auditor has an important role providing independent financial oversight of city government. The auditor is an intentional check that insures the efficiency and accountability of local government. At this time, the Council sees value in making sure the tax payers are protected by an Audit Department with the capacity to oversee city departments and ask critical questions. This goes beyond the role of the audit performed by the Bonadio Group which primarily focuses on the interest of bond holders, rather than tax payers. This change restores the capacity of the Audit Department to a level comparable to when the current auditor took office. In a budget of over $250 million this $50,000 is a smart investment to taxpayers.