Ithaca Public Employees Continue Pressure on City Hall
According to the Ithaca Times at a meeting of the City Administration Committee, Ithaca public sector union leaders condemned what they called an “unproductive” and “disrespectful” relationship with City Hall. While they praised the decision to remove City Attorney Ari Levine from contract negotiations, they seemed to criticize the very idea of the city having an attorney present at all. They said the process was “bankrupting and busting” the unions. Despite these stark depictions, many city employees in Ithaca enjoy compensation higher than those working for surrounding municipalities. According to the Ithaca Voice, in 2016 the average city employee salary was nearly $46,000 about 9% more than Elmira’s. The same report showed that one Ithaca police lieutenant was making as much as $162,000 making him one of the highest paid public employees in the Southern Tier. Ithaca public employees also make significantly more than the average income within the city. According to the Census Bureau, in 2020 the average income in Ithaca was about $23,500.
Watching Progress on Ithaca’s Green New Deal
The Finger Lakes chapter of the Climate Reality Project has published an online scorecard tracking Ithaca’s progress toward its Green New Deal goals. Local activists are carefully watching Ithaca’s decarbonization and climate justice efforts—particularly following the sudden departure of the city’s sustainability director, Louis Aguirrez-Torres in late October. The scorecard shows work in many areas is underway but is stalled or not started in several others. One of these stalled projects is a key component of the plan’s climate justice mission “Justice 50.” Ithaca Sustainability Coordinator Rebecca Evans told the Cornell Sun that City staff and the Mayor made a decision to put several projects on hold while a Sustainability and Climate Justice commission is formed early in 2023.
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