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.