Syracuse mayor pleads for solutions from state lawmakers

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner joined mayors from across New York in Albany today.

They are trying to convince lawmakers they need more money from the state.

Miner says like all governments, Syracuse is in the midst of a fiscal crisis. "Unlike other government levels, however; cities bear the direct responsibility for providing vital services on which our residents, workers and visitors rely on every day," Miner said. "Police and Fire protection, water, trash and snow removal are obligatory functions of any healthy city."

Miner says the city is working to cut costs, boost revenues and consolidate services. But it isn't easy. "The city has non-controllable expenses that cripple our ability to save ourselves from what appears to be impending insolvency," she said. "Employee costs have skyrocketed and comprise approximately 72% of the City's overall expenses."

Miner says pensions are by far the biggest uncontrollable cost. "The Pension System is a New York State benefit. Pensions are a State controlled, State run and State authorized fund-local governments simply receive a bill," Miner said. Your decisions dictate vesting, retirement eligibility, benefits and employee contributions. This is not a case where local Syracuse officials made bad decisions and we are now looking to you to help rectify the results of those decisions. People in your positions-in fact, well-meaning people- made decisions regarding the pension benefits that have put all of us in the eye of the fiscal storm."

From 2000-2010, Syracuse had a 729% increase in pension costs. The cost of pensions in 2000-
2001 was $2.4 million and jumped to $19.9 million in 2010-2011. "I ask that, as we navigate these difficult times ahead, we create solutions, rather than simply defer problems for our successors," Miner said.