Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner vetoed a small tax increase Wednesday that was approved last week by Common Councilors. In her letter to the city clerk, Miner says her objection is based not only on the extra spending, but also on the process.
She says the Council "sprung" a last minute tax increase on residents inside $6.8 million in budget amendments, with no public dialogue beforehand.
In a release from Miner's office, she says:
"I realize raising taxes is occasionally necessary for a government that must deliver basic vital services. But it just as important at all times that the public be aware of, and included in, any discussion about new taxes and spending. The Council's lack of notice and public dialogue for their tax increase only serves to add to the public's discontent with the levels of government they elect to serve their interest."
Miner went on to veto other line items including decreases to the Public Works Utilities and the Department of Corporation Council budgets, and also increases to the Common Council's professional services, capital projects, and the city auditor.
Council Finance Committee Chair Kathleen Joy said last week that the 1.5 percent tax increase, or $12 a year for the average homeowner, would be more than offset by expected tax rebates from a three-year state program.
The Council budget is running a deficit of $20 million, so it relies heavily on reserve funding. Joy said last week that consistent feedback from the public at open meetings and hearings has told the Council it must do "something across the board to help close the gap, to pay for services residents expect: road improvements, public safety, parks departments - all of those things that our citizens use every day."
Last week, Joy was optimistic that the tax line items would pass easily across Miner's desk:
Joy also said that the opportunity for rebates from the state (and thus a tax increase locally) wasn't available even a month ago, before Governor Cuomo's budget and the unveiling of the Property Tax Relief initiative that benefits local governments and school districts who consolidate and share services, thereby reducing burdens on taxpayers.
Councilors have until June to override the Mayor's vetoes.