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Mayor Ryan Looks Back

As 2013 comes to a close, so does Matt Ryan's tenure as Binghamton Mayor.
As 2013 comes to a close, so does Matt Ryan's tenure as Binghamton Mayor. During his 8 years, Ryan has led the city through the national economic recession and a period of increased development downtown. NewsChannel 34's Peter Quinn sat down with him as he reflected on his two terms.

Mayor Matt Ryan says one of his biggest accomplishments is breathing new life into downtown Binghamton. He says his administration has helped spur $200 million of private investment in the City.

"Investments in the City of Binghamton have sky-rocketed, four and five times what they used to be. Now, we see a lot more people living downtown, a lot more people making investments in downtown. The reason that's important is if you have a healthy downtown, that spreads to people wanting to live in your City," said Ryan.

The Weissman family taking over and reinventing the former Binghamton Regency, now Hilton DoubleTree, was a huge step, as were investments, one by the Weissman's, into large multi-million dollar student housing complexes. Next year, more than 1,000 students will call downtown home. Ryan also touts the City's use of the State funded Restore New York program. He says his administration has helped eliminate 120 blighted properties, including through rehabilitation and demolition.

"We really became the poster child for Restore New York," said Ryan "We got the award two years in a row for blight initiatives and cleaning up blight, so obviously we're very proud of that and many of those properties are back on the tax rolls."

The Mayor never backed away from a fight or controversy. He believed the roundabout downtown was needed and took a lot of heat for it, but we have it. In June of 2010 the Cost of War clock was put up on the side of City Hall, which calculated the monetary value that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were costing. And, he has been an outspoken critic of fracking. Ryan has even called Governor Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, out on the issue.

Mayor Ryan says he has left the next Mayor in solid financial shape. He says there is now more than 6-million dollars, in the City's savings account or general fund balance to help the City weather future financial storms. Ryan says he used about 1/6th the amount of fund balance as his predecessor did while keeping the average tax increase over an 8 year period, about the same as in times when the economy was better.

"We had to make some tough choices. We did those responsibly by inviting in people, inviting in the unions, inviting everyone in to talk about what sized government we can afford. We're over 60 positions smaller than we used to be," said Ryan.

As to what's next for the Mayor.

"My wife got a job in Ithaca, back in August, and so I'll be moving up there, but I'll be around and will be keeping an eye on what's going on. I'm not sure what my future brings me, going to relax a little bit and think about it and see where it brings me."

Ryan was unable to run again because of term limits. Newly elected Republican Mayor Rich David takes over on January 1st.
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