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Syracuse Common Council rejects mayor's veto

Finance Committee Chair Corey Williams, center, and fellow councilors Pat Hogan and Patrona Jones-Rowser vote at Monday's budget session May 6, 2024.
Scott Willis
Finance Committee Chair Corey Williams, center, and fellow councilors Pat Hogan and Patrona Jones-Rowser vote at budget session May 6, 2024.

Syracuse Common Councilors today rejected vetoes from Mayor Ben Walsh tied to the new city budget approved earlier this month. Councilors declined to spend $200,000 dollars on a study of unionized worker salaries. Finance Committee Chair Corey Williams says the council is united and unwavering.

“We took a month to discuss many, many, many different things," Williams said. "We had an extensive conversation amongst our colleagues and we created the budget that we put forth that we believe was good for the city and we stuck with it.”

Williams declined to comment on the specifics of their veto. In a statement, Mayor Ben Walsh says his office made a commitment to employee labor leadership that they’d conduct a compensation study for certain union employees, similar to a study conducted last year for non-union workers. He says it’s consistent with his goal of ensuring equity in compensation among all city employees, and is needed ahead of next year’s labor negotiations.

In other business, councilors approved a measure that asks the state permission to impose a three percent tax on hotel rooms. Councilor Williams says it’s an easy way to raise revenue that doesn’t impact residents.

Over the past couple of years, we have increased taxes twice," Williams said. "We've increased sewer rates, we've increased water rates and we've really squeezed the people. And so if we have an opportunity to generate revenue that doesn't impact our residents, it's something we really want to take advantage of.”

The anticipated $2 million in annual revenue from the tax will be used to chip away at the city’s $25 million structural deficit. The tax needs state approval, and has sponsors in the assembly and senate.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at