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The software glitch that almost cost Syracuse $5.7 million

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh speaks about budget mishap, June 18, 2023.
Emma Murphy
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh speaks about budget mishap, June 18, 2023.

The city of Syracuse is working to fix a nearly $6 million error in the upcoming budget after officials say a computer miscalculation of property tax revenues left them with a $5.7 million gap due to a glitch with state computer software.

The glitch wrongly included two land parcels that are not taxable, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said Thursday.

Walsh said that although the miscalculation was not due to human error he takes responsibility.

"Let me be clear what happened is unacceptable. And while we have not been able to attribute the error specifically to any human action, it doesn't discount the fact that an error took place and that the information that we, as the administration, presented to the Common Council was inaccurate," Walsh said.

Walsh said a proposed option for making up the lack of funds is raising Syracuse' property taxes 7% but he said city officials will instead meet Friday to approve the use of other funds that will allow them to keep the property tax increase to the 2% already approved.

“So by taking this action, the council will be able to essentially preserve the budget as approved, the spending plan will remain the same. And the $5.7 million that we lose in revenue from that the software error will be borne by the fund balance which currently sits over $100 million.”

The Syracuse Common Council will meet at 11 a.m. to approve the change and avoid an additional hike in property taxes.

Tarryn Mento is an award-winning digital, audio and video journalist with experience reporting from Arizona, Southern California, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Tarryn produces in-depth and investigative content for WAER while overseeing the station's student reporter experience. She is also an adjunct professor at Syracuse University.