Mayor Ben Walsh’s first city budget has been unanimously approved by Syracuse Common Councilors this week. The approved budget plan consists of $245 million and stuck closely to Walsh’s original plan.
The spending plan includes an $11 million deficit, which is quite an accomplishment for the new mayor. This is compared to the over $25 million deficit that early projections predicted.
“Let’s face it, the numbers he was looking at it before, $26 million versus $11 million. That’s a big change, so we were impressed with that,” said Majority Leader Steven Thompson.
In the new spending plan, taxes remain steady and there is more money to pay for police body cameras, police and firefighter classes, and infrastructure developments. Aside from minor changes in school spending provoked by the state budget, city lawmakers agreed to Walsh’s budget plan.
This unanimous approval of the budget is impressive, especially seeing as how parents between the ages of 18 and 34 are not likely to be confident when explaining money management to their children. Many people struggle to manage money so it’s quite an accomplishment that Walsh’s original proposal was approved with minor changes. Walsh is only four months into his first term as Mayor.
The unanimous approval and collaboration is a fresh start from the previous years. The previous mayor and the council came into conflict frequently. Last month, Walsh gave a presentation of the budget to the council in person. He was thanked for this action by Thompson, as this was something the previous mayor didn’t do very often.
When it comes to asking for financial help, lawmakers agreed to begin looking for help from the State Financial Restructuring Board. This Board provides suggestions to help local governments who are struggling with fiscal problems. According to Walsh, the Board has helped other local cities like Rochester and Albany find solutions to money problems.
“The financial restructuring board is a resource, an asset for us. One that will provide us with recommendations that are non-binding,” explained Walsh. “So we can choose to accept them, and if we do we have $5 million at our disposal to implement those recommendations. If we disagree with them, we go no further.”
If the city chooses to adopt the Board’s recommendations, it could save up to $5 million in state funding to execute them.
The new budget will go into effect July 1.