The Syracuse Common Council loses a familiar face this year in four-term councilor Nader Maroun. The democrat was known for asking his share of questions and not blindly following the democratic mayor.
“I’m always an advocate of robust debate. It’s not a matter of whether you’re aligned with a particular administration or not. Listen well to what the administration is putting forward, but be prepared to do your homework and understand the not-so-obvious consequences of decisions that you make.”
His advice to the incoming council, which will include four new faces, is to do your homework on the wide variety of issues the city faces.
“The learning curve for some of the new councilors will take some time. Understand the issues; ask the questions. Don’t just go along and give your vote. When you get the agenda on Wednesdays, ask questions of department heads; ask questions of your constituency. Come back prepared to vote intelligently based on that. People are counting on you to do that.”
Maroun spent a lot of time on neighborhood issues and projects … but his biggest concern going forward is the city’s budget.
“We’re a year or year-and-a-half left in terms of our rainy-day fund. State aid has been flat for the past 7-8 years. We have a declining sales tax. We have a reduced tax base. If the city is not going to be solvent, then we’ll have a fiscal control board from the state. And that will mitigate the council having much influence.”
A lot of experience leaves the council; Maroun joins Jean Kessner, Joe Nicoletti and Van Robinson as long-time lawmakers who faced term limits or didn’t seek re-election.