Ahhh, Room To Stretch Out!

Syracuse’s population has fallen to a record low according to a new report by the U.S. Census. There are 139,000 folks in my town now. That’s a decline from 147,000 in 2000 and 225,000 in the 1950’s.

Two things jump out at me, one good and one bad.

GOOD: If Syracuse falls below 125,000 people NY State will consider us a small city and all future school board budgets will have to be approved by a public vote. This would be great. The school board would never pass another budget and the district would be in open revolt against its own residents. Why would this be great? You don’t think that the school district would prioritize hiring city residents and getting current employees to move back in to the city, just to keep us above the magic 125,000 figure? They have over 4,000 employees. If they think its tough dealing with the Common Council, try marketing ever-increasing school budgets to residents already hard pressed by fuel and heating costs, property taxes and water rates.

BAD: Will the Feds consider us too small to merit our very own entitlement grant under the Community Development Block Grant? That’s currently a guaranteed $7-$9 million a year (and with Barack taking over maybe a bump from the lean Bush years.) City’s too small for their own grant compete for funding out of NY State’s CDBG allotment. It’s an application process and some years you may get a grant, some years you may not. And it will be nothing close to millions of dollars. Goodbye to all the housing non-profits and the community centers.

Update: My typically snarky response to our population loss, with its legitimate cup half-full/cup half-empty policy implications is totally blown out of the water by Sean Kirst’s excellent column in today’s Post Standard. For the non-snarky, humanistic and tug-at-your-heartstrings perfect take on our situation, walk in your bare feet across your porch, pick up the copy of the Post that you paperboy tossed there this morning and read Sean’s column.

2 thoughts on “Ahhh, Room To Stretch Out!

  1. Well I think one problem that is never adressed is similar to the banking crisis.The reluctance to mark to market the real estate in Syracuse.Most properties in Syracuse city are over valued by a factor of 2 or three on the city taxroll.many are abandoned or empty and need to be demolished.maintaining the fantasy that it is because of “slumloards” and that the properties simply need rehab.is unproductive since they have no value due to the lack of demand for apartments due to the decline in population.So doing what Utica did and calling in the military to buldose the buildings down is what is needed.The problem there is a]city has no money to pay for demolition.b]demolition further erodes tax base since no longer can maintain fake assesments…must”mark to market” value of the land without boarded up building.c]Everyone elses city taxes will have to go up to compensate for the loss of the phantom assesed houses share of the tax roll.It is identical to the bad mortgages on the banks books.if they are marked to market the bank is insolvent.Syracuse is insolvent since the majority of the housing slock is over valued by a massive amount..Similar to when SU buys properties and everyone else who is not tax exempt must suck up more to compensate for there tax exempt status.This is key problem that is never adressed..Waiting for supply and demand to have use for these buildings in a declining population could well take 100 yrs..unless something causes a influx of residents.It is a tough problem but swept under rug for decades


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