Letters to the editor

Man mourns Caravan

Allow me to express my condolences to the family of Vince Caravan.

He deserves much credit for being a good newspaper man. He always gave the opposition a chance to have their say, even thought i might have been in direct opposition to his point of view.

I can say that with experience, because I am on the opposite end of the political spectrum from him and wrote my opinion to him more than once. He didn’t have to print any of my views, but he did. Why? Because he was a good publisher, loved his job and took it seriously.

I have also written to him when I was in agreement with what he said in his column “Vince the Caravan.” Even though I now live in Florida, I grew up in Oswego, have always read The Oswego Valley News and still get The Valley News by mail.

Ralph Riker

Silver Springs, Fla.

Castiglia questions county budget 

It’s that time of the year:

It’s not just the holiday season but it’s also budget season.

Holiday season is fun and budget season Isn’t.

I have been looking over the first draft of the budget for Oswego County. I will not have a vote on this budget but I and all of you will have to live with it for the next year.

What I find surprising is the fact that in a budget of $196 million, that there is $30 million listed as “Fringe Benefits.”

Now your initial response might be “Oh My God” but you have to look and see what they call “Fringe Benefits.”

They are: retirement and Social Security.  These are basically untouchable and therefore we somewhat have to live with them.

What we shouldn’t have to live with is the fact that the county Legislature receives almost $88,000 in “Fringe Benefits” when it is a job that is part-time and is a job that they all chose.

In the $88,000 is almost $20,000 for reimbursement for mileage and other travel reimbursements. I’m sure that the part-time workers at McDonalds and Rite-Aid don’t get paid mileage to go to work.

Why should an elected official take taxpayer money to pay for them to attend meetings? It’s just not right.

Somewhere in the budget is reimbursement money for attending seminars. Why? Also in the budget is $57,870 for books and periodicals and $34,935 for memberships and dues. That is a total of $92,000 of what I would call real “Fringe Benefits.”

Now this over $90,000 is for all the county departments. Either way why should a taxpayer that can’t afford to have more than basic cable have to pay for these “Fringe Benefits.”  It’s just not right.

Also in the budget is $100,000 in a contingent account for the Legislature. You and I both would ask — Why?

Oh did I fail to mention that there is almost $10,000 worth of raises for the county Legislators. I don’t feel any elected official has the right to vote themselves a raise. Do you?

All this money isn’t coming from some corporate giant — it’s coming from TAXPAYERS.

The reason I bring all these items up is the fact that almost always the county legislators are asked to look over the budget and make suggestions as to where there might be a way to cut the budget and save the taxpayers some money.

Now I know that so far this budget as it stands goes up only some 1 percent and there doesn’t seem to be any increase in the tax levy.

What you may not see though is the fact that this year they are going to take some $5.5 million out of tax stabilization fund in order to balance the budget (according to the paper).

I don’t know if they did this last year or the year before but what I do know is that doing this kind of thing is what put the city of Fulton into the shape they are in now.

I am going to suggest that although the county administrator has done a “good job,” we can no longer be satisfied with “good” we need “great” and the way to start is by cutting the entire budget by 5 percent saving over $9 million.

That way he wouldn’t have to take the $5.5 million from the tax stabilization reserve fund.

I know the first words are “You don’t understand it’s not that easy.” I say nothing worth having is ever easy. Also they may say “What should we cut?” I would say the same thing my boss at the business school only had to say to me once.

“Frank, if I have to tell you where to cut and what to do I don’t need you.”

With that, you must keep in mind the fact that these cuts must, I repeat must be made without cutting staff or services and you can’t outsource.

Frank Castiglia Jr.

County Legislator Elect, 25th District

 Fulton 

Editor’s note: The legislature’s Government Committee removed legislator raises from the proposed county budget Oct. 28. The Finance and Personnel Committee confirmed the tentative budget without raises Nov. 6. 

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