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Mayor's budget invests in schools, police, and infrastructure without raising property taxes

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh presents his fiscal year 2023 budget to the common council.
City of Syracuse
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh presents his fiscal year 2023 budget to the common council.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh presented his 2023 budget to Common Councilors Monday. It includes a number of investments, including increased spending on police, schools, and city workforce.

The budget totals $294 million, and there won’t be a property tax increase. However, city residents will have to pay a $20 fee to support the municipal sidewalk program and they'll pay around 9 dollars more per quarter for water.

Walsh believes the cost increase for residents is worth it.

"The city department of water delivers vital services that keep us healthy and supports our economy 24 hours a day…” Walsh said. “Making Syracuse more walkable for all our residents not only protects our health, but it also makes getting to work, school, the store, our parks, and everyone else more accessible.”

Walsh’s 2023 budget also invests in the Syracuse Police Department. There is funding for community violence intervention initiatives and expansion of police diversionary response strategies.

Walsh said there's also supports for the Syracuse Police Department as they transition some administrative positions to civilian roles.

"...To free up more police officers to be on the street to patrol and to help reduce crime. The budget provides funding to complete the conversion of 17 positions currently filled by sworn officers to civilian staff," Walsh said.

Other budget highlights include $68 million from the school tax levy for Syracuse City School District, two new positions within the Department of Public Works dedicated to litter pick-up, and funding to fully implement the lead abatement and enforcement ordinance.

sales tax increase budget 2023
City of Syracuse
A graph showing the increase in sales tax collection year over year in Syracuse.

The increase in city spending comes with an increase in sales and property tax collection. Walsh said sales tax was up 10% over the last two fiscal years, and property tax was up 3.1%. Despite the growth, the city’s expenses still exceed its revenue. But Walsh is hopeful fiscal sustainability is in Syracuse’s future.

"We have a solid platform, a bridge, to get Syracuse to fiscal sustainability. Together, we must again make smart decisions to get us there," said Walsh.

Public hearings on the budget will be held over the next month. The Common Council will vote on a final budget by May 9th.

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.