8:54am

Wed July 18, 2012
Regional Coverage

Miner hosts meeting to discuss upstate cities' financial woes

Some of upstate New York's mayors are putting their brains together to deal with looming fiscal nightmares.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner held a summit Tuesday with the mayors of three other cities - Yonkers, Rochester and Albany - to begin brainstorming ways to deal with their municipal financial crises.

Albany's Jerry Jennings, Yonker's Mike Spano and Rochester's Thomas Richards met at Syracuse University's Maxwell School, along with financial advisors, for several hours.

No immediate solution was found, but Miner says the meeting went well.

Syracuse could go broke in three years due to ballooning pension and health care costs, Miner warned earlier this summer. Cities need to come up with new ways to cover those costs, she says.

"Property taxes can no longer be the solution to paying for services, we’ve just outstripped it," says Miner.

With pension costs increasing about $15 million last year, Miner says a 2 percent property tax increase wouldn't nearly be helpful enough because it would only generate $600,000 a year.

Upstate cities need assistance and flexibility from both state and federal governments, the mayor says.

"The solution to these trends and these problems, we in the city don’t control ourselves," says Miner.

The mayor of Buffalo did not attend the event. Upstate's largest city is already under the guidance of a state control board.

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