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New Americans liaison, CRB staffer among positions added by Syracuse Common Councilors in new budget

Syracuse Common Council
Maxwell Mimaroglu
/
WAER News
Syracuse Common Council Meeting. April 25, 2022. Syracuse, New York.

The city of Syracuse is likely to add a staff member to the Citizen Review Board and hire a refugee services coordinator under the new budget just approved by common councilors. They’re among five new positions that councilors created for various agencies. Councilor Chol Majok came to Syracuse as a New American 20 years ago as one of the “Lost Boys” from South Sudan. He says the liaison is needed to help the city’s large and growing New American Community.

"They are struggling with culture, language, and everything else in this city. Having someone in that position to be able to facilitate that process makes sense."

Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development Michael Collins knows the various needs of the refugee community through his previous work.

"This position would very specifically work with all of the existing agencies that interact with and support refugees, and begin a more formal interaction between these entities and city government, which to date has not been to the degree of which it could be."

While Councilor Majok was eager to approve funding to hire the liaison, he questioned the need for a new staff member at the Citizen Review Board. That’s the agency charged with receiving and investigating complaints of police misconduct. CRB administrator Ranette Releford explained how the size of the department hasn’t changed in its nearly 30 year existence, yet takes in more complaints every year. And, she's carrying most of the workload.

"I do the data analysis position, the community engagement specialist position. We were also asking for policy analysis position. So, the $50,000 budget will assist us in those roles and aspect. It's definitely needed. It's actually the bare minimum that we're asking."

Still, councilor Majok wondered if CRB board members, who are not paid, could “step up” and do more community outreach.

Councilors also approved additional positions for Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today, or TNT, an assessment/property manager, and DPW road reconstruction manager. Mayor Ben Walsh says most of the council’s amendments align with his administration’s priorities, but he’ll review them before signing off on the budget. It takes effect July first.