Common Council Postpones Decision on SURA Payroll Funding

State report questions Agency’s use of funds

Originally reported on Monday, October 22, 2012

City Hall © 2012 Shawnté Wright

By Shawnté Wright SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – The City of Syracuse is receiving criticism for the Syracuse Urban Renewal Agency or SURA. The Agency’s finances have come under fire recently as they are requesting $200,000 for their bi-weekly payroll costs.

At a Common Council meeting Monday, the item vote dealing with SURA’s funding was postponed until a later date when more information becomes available. A report released in 2009 and again an updated version in 2012 is the cause of the controversy.

“The criticism of the report is that you have too many people on the payroll…we shouldn’t be giving them more money…it should be flipped…reduce your payroll and then you probably don’t need the money,” said Councilor Kathleen Joy on SURA’s request for funding.

Councilor Joy says that she and her colleagues want to make sure that they are not doing anything contrary to the facts presented in the report.

SURA was created in 1972 when states and the federal government provided monies for urban renewal and these programs employed people using grants, according to City Clerk John Copanas.

“So now what they’re doing…they’re using contractual money from the general fund of the city to pay for the SURA employees,” said John Copanas.

The controversy also extends to SURA’s lack of civil service testing. The agency hires workers who are not certified by the civil service exam as well as those who have been certified.

Councilor Pat Hogan explained that this is important because workers who are certified lose the protections that being certified provides. They lose their seniority and much of their bargaining power.

“Inappropriate structure [is] being used…the ABO called for the abolition of the organization and I think we need to work towards that goal,” Councilor Lance Denno said.

The Common Council will address this issue again at their regular meeting in November.


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