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      Stadium task force highlights Mayor's state of the city

      Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced the creation of a "stadium task force" in her State of the City address Thursday night. She says such a task force would find answers to the many questions she has concerning the $500 million project which she has been accused of blocking.

      I t was Mayor Miner's fifth state of the city. A crowd of about 400 people packed Saint Patrick's Loft, a former catholic school on Tipperary Hill that has been converted into apartments. Miner says the location showcases the theme of her speech, "embracing change."

      A mong other things , M iner unveiled plans to cut pension costs , improve South Avenue and Grant Boulevard, streamline government and appoint a director to assist the gang truce program.

      W hat received the most attention was the creation of a stadium task force. " I think we can all agree, if this is worth doing, it is worth doing right." Miner said to the applause of the audience.

      M ayor Miner has received both praise and criticism for putting the brakes to a half billion dollar plan to build a sports arena at the site of the former Kennedy Square housing project. She was left out of high level discussions involving Governor Andrew Cuomo, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Syracuse University. The mayor says S.U. now understands why she has many questions surrounding the project. She told reporters that the task force would get answers to those questions. "If you're going to make a once in a generation investment or decision, that you should have a process where people can ask questions and get answers and it should be transparent."

      C onspicuously absent from the State of the City was any mention of taxes and whether they would go up or down. Miner explained, "If you focus on taxes you miss the larger picture of the financial condition of our city and obviously I talked about the financial condition. Taxes or revenues are one small piece of it."

      T he answer to the tax question will come in April when Mayor Miner submits her proposed budget.