Mayor Walsh Asks Council to Authorize FY24 Budget Correction
Published on June 08, 2023
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh requested the Syracuse Common Council authorize a correction of the Fiscal Year 2024 City of Syracuse budget. The change will apply an additional $5.7 million in city fund balance to offset a projected shortfall in revenue caused by an assessment software error.
The problem, detected during the review of an updated Assessor’s report, inaccurately increased the city’s $4.1 billion taxable property base by about $200 million. The City, in coordination with the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS), is investigating the cause of the error. Presently, there is no indication of human error.
The Common Council will hold a special session on Friday, June 9, at 11 a.m. to consider a proposed local law that would allow the Council to accept a change to the adopted FY 2024 budget. The change will hold the property tax rate increase in the approved budget at 2%.
“The proposed local law makes sure that property taxes are not impacted by this situation. It allows us to enact the City spending plan as authorized by the Council,” said Mayor Walsh. “The City’s fund balance is over $100 million and can accommodate this additional draw. Analysts have indicated the additional draw will not negatively impact our bond rating. I thank President Hudson and the Council for accepting my request to convene a special meeting to consider and act on this proposal.”
The proposal to make a larger draw on the fund balance provides the revenue anticipated in the 2024 budget without requiring an additional increase in the property tax rate. Without the proposal, the tax rate could climb by 7.1%. The error does not impact revenue to the Syracuse City School District.
ORPTS, which provides the assessment software to the City of Syracuse and other municipalities, found no evidence in its review that the error impacted the classification of any other properties. The City’s property tax base, initially projected to have grown by 9.4%, increased by 4.2%.
“As anticipated in our budget, the City continues to experience strong growth in its taxable property base. Notwithstanding, the City will need to continue its efforts to reduce the City’s structural deficit,” said Walsh. Based on the corrected tax base data, the deficit climbs from $21.1 million to $26.8 million.
Mayor Walsh charged the City’s Office of Management and Budget and the Departments of Finance and Assessment to develop recommendations and safeguards to avoid a similar situation in the future. Walsh said his Administration will work closely with the Common Council, City Auditor and New York State on the review and recommendations.