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Syracuse-area job losses. Infographic: <a href="">Brookings Institution report</a>
Syracuse-area job losses. Infographic: Brookings Institution report

Are Albany policies "starving" upstate NY cities?

A Cornell University expert says state policies are making it harder for upstate New York's cities to regain their past economic vitality.

Mildred Warner says the region's cities aren't getting the "full gambit" of rediscovery by younger generations because they're not investing enough in areas like quality of life and infrastructure.

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Reported by

Ryan Delaney
Reporter, The Innovation Trail

Basically, that means more people would move back into cities if roads and parks and such were in better condition. "But these need to be invested in; they need to be maintained. And that is often the function of local government and it actually requires money to do so."

Warner says in a service-based economy, it's the quality of life in a city that's the basis for future economic development.

The professor is critical of policies coming from Albany: curbing property tax rates and investing in glitzy economic projects rather than concentrating on basic infrastructure. "And unfortunately, that's the kind of investment that maybe it doesn't make front page headlines, maybe it isn't sexy, but it's really, really critical. Actually," she adds, "state policy is starving the cities. And it's making it impossible to make the kinds of investments in quality of life that they need in order to attract and retain their residents."

Warner says mandates like rising pension and health care costs pose a burden too. As for consolidating services between county and city, Warner says municipalities only see cost savings about half the time, while it will usually result in better services.

Across upstate New York, the cities have higher concentrations of poverty than the suburbs. "So the cities are almost the like the hole in the doughnut. And the doughnut of wealth is around the city. And we've got to have more regional strategies."

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