Valley Viewpoints: Truth, justice, the American way

by Frank Castiglia, Fulton

No, it’s not a Superman show — it was the show put on at the last Common Council meeting on the City of Fulton budget.

First the truth:

General Appropriations: $15,452,097, which is up $292,649 from 2012;

Fuel budget for police cars: $50,000, which is up $1,000.

Overtime budget: $899,600, which is down $33,500 (overall only down four percent since 2009).

Cell Phone budget: $10,425, which is up five percent since 2009 (should be $1,440 only).

Sewer budget: $1,767,919, which is a projected loss of $164,991 (last year’s loss was $241,423).

Water budget: $1,353,877, which is a projected loss of $ 20,597 (last year’s loss was $84,065).

Garbage budget: $825,610, which is a projected gain of $5,670 (last year’s loss was $14,500.

Snow removal: $316,053, which is down five percent.

About the OT budget, I stated that I knew that there was a lot of OT that couldn’t be helped but that some of the OT could be eliminated, such as code enforcement, personnel, treasurer, etc. The answer was “code needs to attend meetings at night.” I said change their start time.

About the cell phone budget, I stated that the costs are up and that only the mayor, police chief/fire chief, and DPW/Water Department commissioner should have a phone. It would only cost S1,440. The mayor said he would look into it. I kind of doubt that it will change. Once someone gets something it’s hard to give it up.

When I brought up the fact that we have been running the sewer and water departments at a negative since 2009 and that the rates will more than likely have to go up, the mayor had nothing to say and just looked confused. Not a real good thing for us taxpayers.

When I brought up the fact that the garbage department had only lost $14,000 instead of the $50,000 that was announced. he said that the final cost wouldn’t be in until February, which means (I believe) that the carry-over goes on next year’s costs and last year’s costs were in this year.

We only had a loss of $14,000 not $50,000 — just tell us the truth that’s all. One of the reasons given by Dan O’Brien for the loss of revenue to the garbage department was the loss of the number of customers. Well, Mayor Woodward says that we have gained 400 people to Fulton. Kind of confusing isn’t it. Must be those 400 people didn’t have any garbage. That or it was really only 41.

I also brought up the fact that with last year being one of the least snowy years in quite some time, how did we go through $400,000, of which $70,000 was in overtime. The mayor explained how the workers on the garbage trucks are the wingmen on the snowplows and the road crew work on snow removal. No answer as to how they went through $400,000.

I also addressed the fact that the Fulton Police Department didn’t need a dodge interceptor muscle car to cover a city with a square millage area of about 3.5 miles. I was told that car had a blown engine and that they were looking into getting 6 cylinder cars in the future. That will help the fuel budget a great deal. Two police officers in each car would cut it in half and still keep the officers and public safe.

Also the fact that the police use SUV’S all year long when they were bought with the premise to be able to get up the Utica Street hill in the winter (I don’t know how we got up that hill the 100 years before that). It was mentioned that they may take them out of 4 wheel drive in the summer. Yahoo  now they will get 10 mpg instead of 8 mpg in the summer time.

I also brought up the fact that the city was losing homeowners because of the high taxes and homeowners couldn’t sell their houses because of the high taxes. The ansswer to that was that the city in the last census gained 400 people, according to the mayor.

When you look at the U.S. Census for the City of Fulton and County of Oswego, you see the City of Fulton gained 41 people and the county of Oswego lost 268. So where the other 359 people came from I don’t know. Unless there was a census taken that I don’t know about. Could be I misinterpreted this numbers again. If so someone should tell the federal government so we can get more state and federal aide.

Now, for the justice:

All five of the councilors who were at the meeting adopted the budget. So, we get about a three-percent tax increase and we may get an increase in our water and sewer bill next year. You get what you vote and pay for. If you don’t speak up. get ready to pay up.

Now for the American Way:

Elected officials are suppose to protect our interests. I know that they have all said that this is the best budget that they could come up with. I respectfully disagree when I see $10,425 for cell phones and $899,600 in OT and a $15,000 difference in revenues — it just isn’t right. I know they will all say that with the state and federal mandates they couldn’t do any better. I say look at all the costs that aren’t mandated and cut them. The contracts with the unions are not state or federally mandated — it’s not easy but that is life. The days of wine and roses are gone; it’s now the days of beer and dandelions. Speak up or pay up.

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