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Syracuse Prepares for "Terrible Possibility" That Federal Aid Won't Come in Time...Or At All


The City of Syracuse is preparing for the worst if financial relief doesn’t come soon from the federal government.  Mayor Ben Walsh says the city continues to see significant revenue losses as key revenue streams slow to a trickle. 

He says they continue to advocate aggressively for federal aid to stem the bleeding. 

"While I remain cautiously optimistic that we will see federal aid, every day that goes by makes it that much more difficult to account for these revenue losses.  We can't hold our breath.  We have to plan for the terrible possibility that we may not receive aid or that we may not receive it soon enough."

Walsh has tasked his department heads with identifying $25 million in savings, which he calls an extremely difficult assignment.  It would happen in phases, starting with increasing efficiencies by providing the same services using fewer employees and resources.  Phase two would likely mean residents would start to feel the impact.

Credit Screenshot / City of Syracuse facebook
City of Syracuse facebook

"So, some services would remain but decrease in quantity, quality, or freqency.  The final phase would be eliminating services completely...prioritizing what services we will continue to deliver to ensure safety and well-being," Walsh said.  "This is an exercise that I hoped to never have to go through.  I know the department heads feel the same way.  We hope we never have to implement it.  But I wouldn't have undertaken this exercise if i didn't think there was a possibility that we may have to continue to make these difficult decisions."

Walsh says the city’s financial woes could be compounded by the state’s own fiscal pressures if leaders decide to cut back on aid to cities.  He says there’s been no confirmation that will happen, but there are indications the funding could be delayed at best, which would create cash flow shortages in the short term.

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