Syracuse Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene proposes plan to spend American Rescue Plan funding

Greene calls for bold action in addressing issues that will improve Syracuse’s quality of life

Syracuse, NY — Michael Greene, a candidate for Mayor of Syracuse and a current Common Councilor-at-Large, is calling for a bold action with the American Rescue Plan’s federal funding. Greene stated the following about the funding: “The roughly $123 million in economic stimulus that Syracuse will receive through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan presents us with the opportunity to transform this city and make it more equitable.

We have acute needs that must be addressed immediately—our housing is unsafe, people need jobs, and the I-81 project is set to begin in the very near future. But we are also in a time of enormous global change—changes in the nature of work, changes in the national housing market, and a changing climate.

This once-in-a-generation funding will allow us to tackle both.”

Greene, as chair of the Council’s finance committee, today submitted to Mayor Walsh a plan to spend the money. Greene’s plan included the following proposals.

Proposed use of American Rescue Plan Funding

The roughly $123 million in economic stimulus that Syracuse will receive through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan presents us with the transformational opportunity to make our city more equitable.

Syracuse has acute needs that must be addressed immediately—our housing is unsafe, people need jobs, and the I-81 project is set to begin in the very near future. But we are also in a time of enormous global change—changes in the nature of work, changes in the global economy, and a changing climate. This once-in-a-generation funding will allow us to tackle our immediate needs, and it will allow us to make sure that everyone in this city has the opportunity to thrive in a post[1]covid world.

As chair of the Council’s finance committee, I believe that collaboration on the issue of how to spend these funds is valuable. However, given that Onondaga County announced its plan in March, these extremely important decisions must be prioritized. Therefore, I am including my proposal for how I believe the City should use the funds from the American Rescue Plan to create a more equitable Syracuse.

Housing – New Construction / Renovation: $10,000,000Funds to be distributed to local non-profit housing developers and CDCs to build new housing and/or rehab existing housing in the neighborhoods where it’s most needed.

SHARP Grants: $7,500,000 – 1,500 new small grants for income eligible homeowners to make exterior and/or emergency repairs to their homes.

Greater Syracuse Land Bank: $2,500,000Funding to stabilize and/or demolish properties in the Land Bank’s existing inventory.

Community Land Trust: $1,000,000Seed funding to hire staff and build capacity for a Community Land Trust. This entity will be controlled by the community, and it will work with the City, the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, and NYSDOT to acquire land, prevent displacement and gentrification, and build wealth in the community.

Housing Vacancy Study: $50,000A prerequisite of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act. Conducting a vacancy study would yield valuable information about the state of housing in Syracuse, and—depending on the results of that study—it may allow the City to enact desperately needed tenant protections.

Equity

Community Coworking Spaces: $8,000,000Money to create new space in City-owned properties—including community centers and libraries—for use by the growing remote workforce. These spaces will be available for use free of charge for city residents, and they will position Syracuse to benefit from the trend towards remote work.

Municipal Fiber Network: $5,500,000Funding to extend the City’s fiber network into neighborhoods with limited access to broadband internet service. This will position the City to provide that necessary service either directly or in partnership with an existing ISP.

Syracuse Public Works Employment Program: $5,000,000Funding for a temporary program to hire city residents to carry out public works projects such as park beautification, tree planting, and litter pickup. This will provide Syracuse residents with much needed jobs, and it will improve quality of life in the city. These job opportunities should be made available to youth in our community.

Citywide Property Reassessment: $2,000,000Reporting from syracuse.com revealed that Syracuse’s property tax assessments are inequitable—property owners in poorer neighborhoods predominantly populated by people of color are taxed at a much higher rate than richer whiter neighborhoods. A citywide reassessment will make our tax system more equitable.

Syracuse Build: $1,000,000Funding for workforce development in preparation for the I-81 project. This will support outreach efforts and paid internships for Syracuse residents learning skilled trades.

I-81 Point Person: $500,000Funding for a new position to coordinate the City’s action on the I-81 project. The person who fills this position will liaise with NYSDOT and the neighborhoods most directly affected by the project in order to ensure equitable outcomes.

Transportation

Sidewalks: $13,500,000Funding to implement the municipal sidewalk program with a 5-year phase-in.

Bus Rapid Transit: $10,000,000Funding to cover the City’s responsibility for the infrastructure improvements necessary to
implement Bus Rapid Transit including physical changes to the City-owned right-of-way.

Street Reconstruction: $6,000,000 – A 1.5 increase in the annual road reconstruction budget in order to bring more streets into good repair and to implement the design standards of the Safe Streets Manual.

Safe Streets Manual: $200,000Funding to write a Syracuse-specific manual to govern street design. This will supersede national manuals and allow the City to reconstruct its streets according to local priorities such as safety and sustainability.

Climate ChangeSkaneateles Lake Intake Pipe: $13,000,000 Funding to extend the Skaneateles Lake Intake pipe further into the lake. This is necessary to combat the effects of increasingly frequent harmful algal blooms on our drinking water—a direct result of climate change.

Flood Mitigation: $10,000,000Funding to study and implement flood mitigation on Onondaga and Harbor Creeks. Flooding along these waterways will become a greater danger as climate change leads to increased precipitation. Apart from the physical threat, flooding also contributes to neighborhood disinvestment by requiring property owners in FEMA’s Special Flood Hazard Areas to purchase expensive flood insurance in order to qualify for government-backed mortgages.

Municipal Resiliency – Shore up Budget Revenue Gap: $22,250,000 Money necessary to account for municipal revenues lost due to the effects of Covid-19.

Modernized Trash Collection: $5,000,000Funding to implement partially automated trash collection. This will protect municipal employees from job-related injuries, save the City money in workers compensation, and it will free DPW to redeploy resources to other pressing projects