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Posted on: March 2, 2020

Mayor's Message - March

Syracuse City Est 1935

“Dark! The hollow voice cracked in alarm… Get Down! Seagulls never fly in the dark! If you were meant to fly in the dark, you’d have the eyes of an owl! You’d have charts for brains!”1

My Jonathan-moment came on December 16, 1971, sitting in my ’65 Mustang. There was this girl in the passenger seat. I was comfortable with the term girlfriend. I’d even accepted fiancée! But suddenly, a “hollow voice cracked in alarm”, there sits your wife! I’m too young to have a wife! I can’t possibly have a wife! At that moment, “we” replaced “me”! May I share our financial path? You may relate. During my undergraduate years, Jayne worked for the Regional Accounting Office of JC Penny in Salt Lake until the birth of our daughter. In 1976, she gave me a second princess. I worked for RC Willey while at the U. When my studies were drawing to a close, Willey’s management approached me, and asked if I’d be interested in becoming a permanent part. I elected to leave and seek a dental degree. There were four dental schools in Chicago. With the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence ringing in our ears, we declared our independence from family and friends, took the profit-sharing earned at Willey’s, and moved to the Windy City, without a place to live, a job, or acceptance to school.

I grossly underestimated the cost of living. Within weeks, we had depleted all savings and the Willey’s package. Apartment costs were $300-$400 a month. In the winter, heating oil was as much. I graduated in 1982, with two more boys, another on the way, rich with school debt, and no retirement plan; Social Security credits excepted. We deemed ourselves young; no worries!


Home in Syracuse, I began to practice dentistry. For the first five years, the economics of the day forced us to continue our borrowing pattern. Three additional children were added, seven by the time I reached 37. The retirement plan… still Social Security credits only.


To young adults and the newly married: Financial planners share the truth; Social Security is not enough! After all of our contributions are accredited, our Social Security package doesn’t come close to meeting our today-need. Thank heavens we invested in later years. Do as much as you can. Do it now!


The parallel is surprisingly the same with our city. In your mind, substitute the revenues generated from single-family residential property taxation for Social Security income. The city will have significant needs in the next twenty years, particularly in the replacement of aging roads and infrastructure. If we rely only on single-family residential taxation, the demands will far exceed the revenue stream. We will be waving goodbye to RC Willey later this summer. They’ve been a loyal, decades-long, revenue partner. It’s time for our city to invest in new-found revenue and job resources if we’re to keep services affordable and of high quality. The council is about to present a general economic development plan. Please watch for this item on future city council agendas. We’d like to hear from you.
Michael Gailey, Mayor

1 Johnathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach, 1970, Simon and Schuster

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