Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh Vetoes ‘Mural Project’ Amendment in fiscal year 2021-22 budget

It appears that after consideration, the $75,000 Mural Project of sports figures will be vetoed by Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. There has been a spirited debate on social media and among  resident observers regarding the merits of this project. There were claims that it would be an “economic development boost” to downtown Syracuse.

6 of 9 members of the Syracuse Common Council voted for this amendment. The mural project was not unveiled to the public until the last minute. Initial calls from the Council were to take funds earmarked for Economic Development and allocate them to the mural.

The mural was not without its detractors, not unlike the famed American patriot, Paul Revere; local entrepreneur Rickey Brown sounded the alarm, “The Mural is coming, the mural is coming” figuratively riding a horse down the middle of S. Salina Street, ringing a loud bell.

An erroneous report on Fox News today, stated that the Council and Mayor had approved American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), funds for the mural project. Late this afternoon Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh issued the following statement:

“Today, I signed the budget ordinance for the fiscal year 2021-22 City of Syracuse budget. I thank the Common Council for its timely review and adoption of the budget. I am pleased to see my Administration’s budget enacted to help our residents and City continue their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In anticipation of funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), I signed amendments to address housing challenges worsened by the pandemic. I vetoed the amendment to fund a mural project using ARPA funds for two reasons. I have expressed reservations about the process used to prioritize the project since it was first presented by members of the Common Council.  In addition, upon reviewing the ARPA interim guidance issued after the Council’s budget vote, it appears unlikely the project is eligible under the federal guidelines. 

I continue to believe arts and culture should be assisted as a part of our recovery plan. I reaffirm my commitment to ensuring the local arts and culture community is provided equitable access to available resources through our recovery plan. I will also ensure that any expenditure using ARPA funds is made in compliance with federal guidelines and allocated, in accordance with the City Charter, as part of an open and transparent process.”