Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says his proposed budget positions the city for recovery from the pandemic after withstanding the first wave of damage. His nearly $265 million budget comes in about $12 million more than last year, and uses about $21 million, or one-fifth of the federal relief package.
"There is no property tax increase in this budget. City services are restored to pre-pandemic levels. And, the budget supports COVID-19 recover with funding for housing quality, public safety, schools, and parks/recreation/youth programs."
On the public safety side, Walsh says the police department’s budget is flat, yet still provides funding for new academy classes, reform efforts, community engagement, and critical crime and safety programs.
"...including special details for gun violence suppression, burglaries, street racing, dirt bikes and ATVs, fireworks, and other quality of life issues. We're also glad to report that we are reinstating funding for Shot Spotter, which was a victim of our contingency budget in light of COVID revenue restrictions."
The program assists police in detecting gunfire that might otherwise go unreported. Tied to public safety is what Walsh calls a more coordinated, proactive effort to ensure safe housing at the city’s large residential complexes after the murder at Skyline apartments. He says the High Occupancy Monitoring Enforcement Unit, or HOME, aligns police, law, and other departments.
"The fire department will hire a new inspector that will focus solely on these types of properties. We are bringing on a new codes staff. We'll have inspectors assigned to this work. There will be more visible activity at these properties; you'll see city staff there more often. Again, we've already spent a lot of time at Skyline and other properties."
The department seeing the biggest jump in funding is information and technology. Walsh says his proposed 50 percent increase will address cyber security issues that have been neglected for over a decade. In the end, he says it will pay dividends to taxpayers by delivering better services. The mayor also wants to reinstate a position in parks and recreation, and add personnel in DPW for a litter collection unit. Common councilors will spend the next few weeks reviewing the spending plan and recommend any changes.