It was a positive State of the City that Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner presented in her yearly address to common councilors last night. But beneath the reports of economic development progress, public safety initiatives and new schools construction, lurks more fiscal challenges.
"We are projecting an eight million dollar surplus for the current year," declared Miner to applause in her State of the City speech Thursday evening.
That was the good news.
But there wasn't much applause for the bad news, which came next.
"The city balanced the 2012 budget with $20.9 million in one-time-only state spin-up aid. We will not have access to this money again. All of this results in beginning the 2013-14 budget cycle with a gap of $20.9 million," the mayor said.
And with state aid flat in the foreseeable future, Miner says budget makers have no choice but continue to cut a budget that's already been pared to the bone.
"We can't borrow, we can't do anything else, we'll have to make tough decisions," said Miner. "We've been doing it for three years, we'll continue to do it and we will do it in a way that is fiscally responsible and responsible to the people of this city."
Miner says pension costs have eaten up all the city's revenue forcing the city to consider cutting services and employees. She isn't on board just yet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to have municipalities borrow to pay pension costs, which she criticized publicly after the governor's budget address earlier this week. Miner was picked by Cuomo to be co-chair of the state Democratic Party.
The mayor presents a budget to Council in about two months. Miner is running for re-election this year.