Fulton Common Council discusses domestic violence, campaign signs, STAR registration

By Ashley M. Casey

 

Fulton mayor Ronald L. Woodward Sr. has proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. He presented the proclamation to representatives from Oswego County Opportunities’ Services to Aid Families Education program at the Oct. 1 Common Council meeting.

“[I] urge all citizens to observe this month by becoming aware of the tragedy of domestic violence, supporting those who are working toward its end and participating in community efforts,” Woodward’s proclamation read.

Meredith Needham, SAF Education program manager, and Sara Gozzi, SAF educator, accepted the proclamation on behalf of OCO.

A few council members spoke on the urgency of the issue of domestic violence in the community.

“It hits close to home,” said Fifth Ward councilor and council president Norman “Jay” Foster. He told the council and meeting attendees that his aunt had suffered abuse at the hands of her husband. “In my ward there’s a lot of issues with (this). You get out there and try to see what’s going on. It’s all about quality of life for the neighbors.”

Third Ward councilor Peter Franco also attested to the local effects of domestic violence. He commended the work of OCO’s SAF program employees.

“I was a police officer for a few years before I became a councilor, and domestic violence was really our biggest issue,” Franco said. “I want to thank (Needham and Gozzi) for doing what you do — it takes a lot.”

After the meeting, Needham and Gozzi said that SAF will be offering support throughout the county for communities to create their own campaigns against domestic violence.

“We’ve talked a lot about community change and how we can get it out to the community,” said Gozzi. “The leadership (in the county) is supportive of ending domestic violence.”

Needham said that SAF has reached out to City Hall in Oswego to light their building purple on Oct. 10 to raise awareness of the issue. “Silent witness” displays in Fulton and Pulaski include a shadow figure of a woman with information about domestic violence, surrounded by purple flags to represent the people SAF served in 2012.

Gozzi said that SAF is working with Oswego County pizzerias to put information about domestic violence on pizza box tops.

Needham said that providing communities with the tools to create their own campaigns would be more effective than SAF simply stepping in and doing all the work.

“It’s letting communities change themselves,” she said.

SAF is asking all Oswego County residents to wear purple Oct. 10 in solidarity with survivors of domestic violence.

“(The goal is to) get everyone in the community to say, ‘I know domestic violence exists, and I’m not okay with it,’” Needham said.

STAR registration explained

The council welcomed Kris Nuñez and Kay Kearney from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) to present on the new STAR registration process.

Under new state legislation, Basic STAR recipients are encouraged to register this year with DTF either online or by phone. This is to eliminate intentional and unintentional fraud and to make sure only

qualified homeowners receive STAR exemptions. Basic STAR recipients will not have to re-register every year after this application for 2014.

In August, homeowners should have received in the mail a packet containing property information, instructions on how to register and a unique STAR code. Visit tax.ny.gov and click on “Register for STAR” to register. You may also look up your STAR code on this website. Call 518-457-2036 with any questions or to register by phone. The deadline is Dec. 31.

The new legislation does not apply to senior citizens who receive Enhanced STAR benefits.They must continue to register with their local assessor.

VanBuren revamp contractor announced

The city has selected a contractor for minor repairs and painting of the VanBuren Park tennis courts. On the recommendation of recreation superintendent Barry Ostrander, the council unanimously voted for the low bidder E-Z Paving, which bid $25,900 for the job.

The other bidders were Nagle Athletic Services and Super Seal Sealcoating Co. Bids were accepted until 2 p.m. Sept. 20 and then read publicly at 2:15 p.m. that day.

Issues around town

A public hearing was held regarding the zone change on the block surrounded by Highland Street, South Third Street, East Broadway and Park Street. The block, which contains 14 residences, was changed from R-2, Residential, to R-1A, Residential, which allows single-family residences on smaller parcels of land.

There were no objections from the public or the council.

“I’m very encouraged by doing this,” said Foster. “It’s a good, healthy move to make … to promote better neighborhoods.”

Frank Castiglia Jr., who is running for county legislator in the 25th District, used the public forum to express a complaint about excessive campaign signs on city property.

“If it was my way, I’d say just put one of each candidate per block,” Castiglia said. “Yard signs put on city-owned property is a little bit annoying because if they have to do mowing, they have to move the signs.”

Woodward said that any signs found on city-owned property were removed.

“We throw them away,” he said. “They’re not supposed to be there.” Woodward stressed that signs were allowed on city right-of-way areas because that is public right-of-way as well.

Castiglia also asked about the city’s use of bond anticipation notes. Woodward explained that these are short-term bonds that must be paid off within five years, or within the useful life of the object they are used to purchase. Police cars, for example, are considered to have a three-year useful life by New York state. If not paid within that period, the bond goes to long-term or permanent financing.

Woodward said the city’s current bond anticipation notes are being used for equipment and vehicle purchases, as well as asbestos encapsulation and water damage repair at the fire department and municipal building.

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