DiNapoli: Syracuse faces ‘long-term systemic problems’

Tim Knauss, reporter of Syracuse.com, posted this report about the central New York city which has an uphill battle to recover from severe financial difficulties:

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli today issued a fiscal profile of Syracuse that paints a picture of a poverty-stricken city that is deep in debt and short on tax revenues.

“Syracuse is suffering from long-term, systemic problems,” DiNapoli said in a news release. “Unfortunately, as the economy continues to recover slowly from the financial meltdown of 2008, communities like Syracuse are likely to experience more financial difficulties.”

Mayor Stephanie Miner has said much the same thing for the past couple years. She issued a statement today saying DiNapoli’s report confirms the need for cities to work together with the state to look for solutions.

Among DiNapoli’s findings:

— Half of Syracuse’s property is tax-exempt, compared with a median average of 32 percent for other cities in the state. As a result, the city gets only 13 percent of its revenue from property taxes, while the statewide average is 26 percent.

— More than one quarter of Syracuse families — 25.6 percent — live in poverty. The state average is 10.8 percent. Nearly 11 percent of all Syracuse housing units are vacant.

— With outstanding debt of $292 million, Syracuse has exhausted 53 percent of its borrowing capacity under the state Constitution. The median average for other cities is 23 percent.

— Syracuse’s expenditures increased an average of 4 percent per year from 2001 to 2011, higher than the statewide city average of 3.4 percent.

— The city’s fund balance, or rainy day fund, declined from $63 million in 2008 to $39.5 million in 2011.

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