Budget

Julia Botero / WRVO News

When Joe Butler, Watertown’s new mayor, started drafting the budget for next year he knew money was going to be tight. He and the rest of city council saw one department as ripe for cuts: the Watertown Fire Department.

A public battle

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The impending closure of the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County is already financially impacting the nearby Mexico School District. School district officials are planning for the loss of $2.8 million this year alone.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is staying out of fiscal stress, based on a system developed by the New York state comptroller’s office.

The city has never been flagged by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for having a government teetering towards insolvency.

“In the three years we’ve been doing this, Syracuse has never been in any stress categories and that certainly is very good news for this community,” said DiNapoli during a visit to Syracuse Monday.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously to approve a city budget for the next fiscal year. The budget still includes a $12 million deficit from Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposal, but more money has been shifted toward road repairs.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

There are 191,000 outstanding parking tickets in the city of Syracuse worth about $7 million, according to the city's Parking Violations Bureau. Some cases involve individuals perpetually scamming the system.

The Parking Violations Bureau uses an outside company that can boot a car that has three outstanding tickets, 90 days or older. The problem is when drivers with these violations go to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles and get a new license plate for that car. Councilor Nader Maroun said in some cases, one driver could have 5-10 different license plates.

Hearings will begin today at Syracuse’s Common Council on Mayor Stephanie Miner’s 2016-17 proposed budget. The budget is a mix of costs and revenues rising in some areas and shrinking in others.

“Government is always challenging, but no more so than today,” Miner said.

In a video and letter to the Common Council released with her proposed budget, Miner said Syracuse will face financial challenges in the year ahead. Her proposed budget faces a $12.1 million shortfall that will be balanced using reserve funds bringing the reserve total down to $42.9 million.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Despite several attempts to secure financial assistance for the struggling FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant, no funding was included for it in New York state's next budget.

Assemblyman Will Barclay and state Sen. Patty Ritchie have both authored bills that would give Fitzpatrick's owner a $60 million tax credit, but neither were included in the budget, nor was a $100 million financial aid package to help pay for the cost of refueling the plant, which would need to be done this year.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie said the recently passed New York state budget includes a record amount of funding for rabies prevention and treatment. State lawmakers allocated more than $600,000 for prevention and research efforts, such as funding Cornell University's program that distributes rabies vaccines to wild animals with low-flying planes and low-cost rabies clinics for pets. There is also 150,000 dollars to help local governments pay for treatment once someone is bitten by an infected animal, which Ritchie said is expensive.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The newly approved state budget includes a minimum wage increase that is the result of several compromises.

Announcing the details in a briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo spelled out a complex plan that would allow New York City’s minimum wage workers to receive $15 an hour in three years, Long Island and Westchester employees to get $15 in six years and the rest of the state to reach $12.50 in five years. The governor admits he had to make concessions, but said the new plan will work.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they hope to have final agreements on the state budget by Tuesday evening, and could possibly print bills Tuesday night, to begin voting on Thursday. But by Tuesday afternoon they were still working on reaching final agreements. 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Lawmakers worked toward a budget deal Monday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated he’s making some concessions on the minimum wage.

Cuomo said he would like budget agreements to come early enough so that all of the bills can be passed by the April 1 deadline. He said he does not want to use what’s called a message of necessity to pass bills faster if agreements come late, but he has not ruled out that possibility altogether.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

When the state budget is approved next week it will likely not include a discount for frequent users of the New York State Thruway. The legislature has rejected Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to use some of the state’s surplus to subsidize tolls.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Supporters and opponents of a $15 minimum wage in New York are blasting reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers have reached a compromise that could stretch out the phase in period, and exempt farmers from the higher pay requirements.  

With the March 31 deadline looming, and the Easter holiday in between, Cuomo and the Senate and Assembly are trying to negotiate a compromise on the governor’s proposal to phase in a $15 minimum wage for New York state.

Entergy

New York Senate Republicans are offering a budget proposal that includes $100 million for Oswego County's James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Senate Republicans say their version of the state budget will include a 9-year phase in of tax cuts that would eventually total a 25 percent reduction for middle class taxpayers.

GOP Leader John Flanagan said when the Senate majority releases it’s budget plan later in March, it will include a phase in of over $4 billion in tax cuts. They include an extension of a temporary tax cut for middle income earners, which would gradually be reduced to a rate of just over 5 percent for those who make $300,000 a year or less.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

A budget watch dog group is giving Gov. Andrew Cuomo a mixed grade on his budget proposals, saying he’s done a good job reigning in spending, but is making a mistake by shifting some significant costs to New York City.

Paul Downey / Flickr

New York's statewide poverty rate is 16 percent, but in upstate cities, that number doubles. In Syracuse, more than 1/3 of the residents live in poverty. Syracuse also ranks the highest nationwide for its concentration of minorities in poverty.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature unanimously passed its 2016 budget which focused on saving taxpayers' money while tackling some of the big issues facing the county.

The budget includes a cut to property taxes and cuts to proposed increases in sewer and water rates for Onondaga County residents. County legislature chairman Ryan McMahon said the budget will help spur the economy.

stgermh / Flickr

A fiscal watchdog group says it’s uncovered what it calls a “secret slush fund,” used by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to fund pet projects around the state, but the governor’s budget office says the grants are subject to oversight.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

New York state’s comptroller finds that local and school property taxes will increase by the lowest percentage in decades, under the rules of the tax cap program recently renewed by the state legislature.

According to the law, property taxes are capped at 2 percent per year or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The projected rate of inflation for the 2016 calendar year is less than 1 percent, at .73 percent, says Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to extend the state’s property tax cap. The law limits annual tax increases, and it’s set to expire next year. Cuomo released a report last week that said the cap has saved more than $800 for the typical New Yorker over the past three years. He calls that success.

But Dryden town supervisor Mary Ann Sumner wants Cuomo to look back a few more years. She says in 2008 when the recession hit, Dryden cut taxes to give people a break. The town leaned on money it had in reserve instead.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Common Councilors have unanimously approved Mayor Stephanie Miner’s $674 million budget, with a few minor changes. Lawmakers added some cash to deal with some perennial problems.

The extra spending amounts to less than $1 million, and covers more water and sewer maintenance and repair, and demolition of hazardous buildings.  

10 interesting figures from Syracuse's annual budget

Apr 27, 2015
Daniel Lobo / via Flickr

A city budget is typically pretty cut and dry, but Syracuse’s annual spending plan can also offer some context for just how big the city is. And so like a budget, this story is all about numbers.

Here are some interesting figures pulled from Syracuse's proposed budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

A youth jobs and high school completion program in Syracuse will be able to continue thanks to a grant in this year’s state budget.

Jubilee Homes has previously been able to run its Youth Build and high school equivalency diploma program with federal grants, but Jubilee’s director Walt Dixie says those dollars have been drying up.

Youth Build is a nationwide program that teaches teens construction job skills; but half of the programs across the country have been defunded.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

With just over a week until the state budget is due, there’s pressure to drop a number of unrelated items in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state spending plan.

Cuomo has tied ethics reform and education policy changes to the budget, and threatened to hold up the spending plan if the legislature does not agree. 

Doug Kerr / Flickr

The city of Utica has climbed its way out of near bankruptcy to post a sizeable budget surplus.

Utica’s government is smaller, shedding about 100 jobs in recent years. "Fire had cuts, police had cuts, city hall employees, we had cuts," said Mayor Robert Palmieri in an interview. "So we really had to do some soul searching and employees now are doing two and three different jobs."

WBFO file photo

Some New York state lawmakers would like the conversation about education reform and funding to focus on getting rid of the gap elimination adjustment. State Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) is one of those who wants to repeal the state’s formula for cutting some funding for local school districts over the last few years.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Education will be a big issue in 2015. Lines are already drawn between public school teachers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and the charter school movement.

Before the New Year even began, the state’s largest teachers union was already making its displeasure with Cuomo known, by protesting outside the governor’s mansion.

New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) President Karen Magee says teachers are angry over what they see as the governor's increasingly negative view of their union and the public education system in general.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says $5 billion in extra money that New York is reaping from bank settlements should not be viewed as a surplus, and should not be spent as though there will be more money coming in the future.

“I wouldn’t call it a surplus,” DiNapoli said. “It’s really more of a windfall.”

And so the comptroller says it should not be used for recurring expenses, like tax cuts or increased school aid, as some legislators have suggested.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Homeowners living in Oswego can breathe a little easier knowing that this year's budget does not include anything close to last year's 43 percent property tax increase.

Mayor Tom Gillen's budget presentation at this week's common council meeting lasted only a few minutes, but spoke volumes. The mayor proposed a $43.3 million budget that includes a property tax increase of 1.4 percent. That translates to about $14 extra for the average $70,000 dollar home.

Democrat Councilor Fran Enwright says this year's budget comes as a big relief for taxpayers.

Pages