Valley Viewpoints: Budget cuts

by Frank Castiglia, Fulton

It’s the second week in the month of December and it’s time to see “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

And yes, the honorable mayor of Fulton is telling us doom and gloom about the city budget.

Every year for at least the past four years, he has said almost the same thing. He is struggling with the budget and doesn’t know how he is going to do it without raising taxes. He says how the city is down to the bear bones with budget cuts. Then he comes up with a plan that is lower than the one he projected and everyone thinks he has done a wonderful job.

Well, just like all those movies that I mentioned, they are fairy tales and so is his story. Yet, we hear it every year and do nothing about it.

I’m going to now explain how the budget could be reduced and save the city money without reducing the workforce.

I’m going to try two forms of learning: Rote Learning, which is learning through repetition, and Hypnopaedia Learning, which is process of learning while asleep.

I haven’t had a chance to see the proposed budget yet. It won’t be out until the week of the budget meeting, but it should have a reduction in police cars (two police officers per car) cutting the fuel costs 1/2 and maintaining 1/2 as many cars.

Maybe the budget will include cell phone costs and have over $900,000 dollars of overtime. Reduce the number of workers on the yard waste crew (use them elsewhere); the waste is in the idling of a dump truck for up to six hours with a driver inside.

Let’s see how much we can save: cell phones, $10,600; fuel for police cars, $25,000; and maintenance of cars, $10,000. That’s $45,000 — and we could save more gas if we didn’t drive the four-wheel drive SUV all year round.

What about the yard waste crew? We can save $12,000 by having a three-man crew, $1,400 in fuel savings and $56,000 if the city cuts overtime for nonpublic safety personnel by 20 percent,  and   $130,000 in public safety personnel overtime costs.

If you add up these savings you come up with $244,400 — just what he says his budget gap is. Surprise, surprise.

Now everyone knows that the sale of the Birds- Eye plant is almost a done deal and when you add in the taxes and revenues from that and the income from the sewage treatment, again the gap is bridged.

Also, the fact that we are going to gain the income from not having to pay taxes on the waste treatment plant or least get a refund from Granby, again the gap will be made up. Surprise, surprise.

Now how do we raise money if we don’t make these cuts or these cuts have already been made and there is still a gap you will ask. Well, here is a big one.

We have the same problem we have had for at least 10 years now. That is 15 percent of the population cost us almost 90 percent of our public safety budget.

We have 680 rental properties that currently have rental permits in the city of Fulton (that doesn’t include the Towers, Mills, or Pathfinder Court. Now a rental permit cost $30 per unit for five years. That means it cost a landlord up to an avg. $25 a year (that is if they have multi-family houses). So a owner of one of these rental units makes a gross income of around $9,600 (two-family unit), $14,400 (three-family unit)$24,000 (multi-family), if you add all the rental properties up in the city of  Fulton you will come up with around $272,000 a month or $3,264,000 a year That is 1/5 of the city’s budget.

Now about 75 percent of that money is public assistance money. What I am suggesting is that we charge $500 for a rental permit for two year that would bring $340,000 of income into the city every two years. It could be more if the city charges extra for each unit over two that is in each building; say $100 extra with a max of $500 extra. That would bring in about another $36,000.

Like I said. almost 75 percent of the income the landlords get is taxpayer money and we should be able to get some of it back to help pay or bills.

This will not go over real big with the landlords of this city but it’s time we stop having to pay while they make money. This added revenue would again close the budget gap and then some. Surprise, surprise.

I said I would use two methods of getting my point across. Well I have repeated most of these to the common council for almost three years so through Rote learning I hope to have this sink in.

The other is Hypnopaedia learning —  this is because most of the times when I start talking at the common council meeting some of them fall asleep. Either way, I hope this gets someone other than the DPW, police, fire and landlords’ attention.

Last of all: To the fine person that wrote me a nice letter last month, I wish you would sign it next time so I can add you to my Christmas card list. I always sign my letters I put in the paper.

Also, please take a course in reading and listening comprehension. I never have said the city works jobs are easy; I only have said in order to save their jobs, we should use them wiser. Also, I love Fulton or I wouldn’t want to save it.

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