Valley Viewpoints

In today’s edition of Valley Viewpoints, County Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr. reflects on how the legislature plans to save money.

It’s going to save money!

I have been an Oswego County Legislator for six very short months.

In those six months I have been witness to some of the most illogical spending of taxpayer money. Now some of the spending was necessary, but should have been in the budget in December, but wasn’t.

Why not? It may have meant a tax hike.

All spending was presented to the committees by department heads with such finesse it should have gotten a standing ovation. Now as I said in committee and in the legislature they may be needed, but can we do without them or ask why they weren’t in the budget that was just passed in December

In February, I stated that the unappropriated fund balance had been depleted by some $12 million in just three years and if we continued spending at the rate we are spending we would have to do a double digit tax rate hike very soon.

I was told in that meeting more or less not to worry. Well guess what. We are in trouble now. We are short over a half million dollars in sales tax revenue, we are looking at ways not to close four out of the five transfer stations. We have closed one transfer station a day during the week and increased tipping fees to try and increase revenues.

What is next?

Now comes the use of the five magic words that will always get your request passed — “It’s going to Save Money.”

With all the above mentioned situations going on, we have at least three department heads that have used these words to get resolutions passed.

The first one wanted to upgrade a person and said doing so would save money. I told the department head that he was just getting that person a raise and I couldn’t support it.

The next one was the department head in my story “Don’t ask don’t tell.” The last one was the department head that said he wanted to reclassify eight of his workers. Again I said you are just giving your people a raise. He said he was going to save around $5,000.

He said he was going to eliminate one position with this upgrade. The position he was going to eliminate had been budgeted for but not filled. That means if he didn’t’ need it in six months he didn’t need it at all and would have saved some $30,000 plus benefits.

Also by doing this upgrade he was giving his people another raise on top of the raise they just got six months ago. They also would possibly get another raise in six months again.

Again he is going to save money.

I’m not against giving upgrades and purchasing services when everything is going great, but they aren’t. It is also a slap in the face to both the taxpayers and transfer station workers. The taxpayers because we are telling them that we are hurting financially and we need to cut services, raise fees and taxes, but we can give out upgrades (raises).

If we can’t figure out a way to keep all the transfer stations open we will be laying off a group of workers, but we can give out upgrades (raises). I would rather say no to raises and purchases and save everyone’s job and not increase taxes.

The raising of taxes may be a reality no matter what. I really think that the transfer station situation being brought out now was planned so taxpayers will accept a large tax increase in order to keep all of them open.

I say learn how to operate them efficiently — I know a private contractor could. Only a government-run operation could have a monopoly and still run in the red.

I for one cannot and will not support a tax increase in order to keep all transfer stations open without some changes. I’m sorry I just can’t ask my taxpayers I represent to pay more in taxes.

I hope the next six months will show more promise and less spending.

Frank Castiglia Jr.
County Legislator
25th District 

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