Fulton considers state fiscal recommendations

By Ashley M. Casey

On the recommendation of the state comptroller’s office, the Fulton Common Council approved a policy that forbids the city’s fund balance from dropping below 10 percent of the adopted budgeted general fund at the July 1 meeting.

“The main objective in establishing and maintaining a fund balance policy is for the city of Fulton to be in a strong fiscal position that will allow it to weather negative economic trends,” the policy reads.

This policy ensures that the city will have a minimum amount for emergency and unforeseen spending. The city cannot create a new year’s budget that would put the unassigned fund balance (money not designated for a specific purpose) under 10 percent of the budget. The target is to keep that fund balance between 10 and 15 percent of the general fund.

“It doesn’t mean if there’s an emergency you can’t use it,” Mayor Ron Woodward explained. “What it means is you can’t appropriate anything under that balance.”

More on state recommendations

The state’s Financial Restructuring Board released its recommendations to get Fulton out of fiscal stress June 30.

Chief among the board’s suggestions is combining city services with Oswego County.

Mayor Woodward told The Valley News that the county could take over Fulton’s property tax foreclosures. Woodward said the county is researching the issue.

“Right now, they don’t do it for either city, Fulton or Oswego,” Woodward said. “They do it for the towns and villages.”

Woodward did not provide an estimate of what the savings to the city would be.

If the city does consolidate services with Oswego County, it will be eligible for a $50,000 state grant.

The state has also offered a possible $250,000 grant to redevelop the former Nestlé property, but that will only happen if the city forecloses on owner Edward Palmer. If the foreclosure were to happen this year, Fulton could be eligible for that development grant next year.

Palmer and Aldi had agreed to have finished demolition of the Nestlé buildings and begin construction of an Aldi grocery store by July 1, but that plan has not materialized yet.

“That’s a horse of a different color,” Woodward said of the Aldi issue. “If the owner of that property keeps the contract with Aldi … it’s a moot point. (The state) can’t give a private citizen money for demo, but they can give it to municipalities.”

Woodward said he spoke to Palmer recently.

“He’s going through with the demolition. He believes Aldi is coming,” Woodward said. He added he’ll believe it when he sees it: “It’s like I’m from Missouri: ‘show me.’”

Woodward said another issue is the city’s per capita spending on fire and police protection. He said contract negotiations between Fulton and the fire and police unions will begin within the next couple of weeks.

“I’m hopeful,” he said. “Anything we can do to make it better, we need to do. Anything we can do to relieve the tax burden on Fulton people and businesses, we need to do.”

Also at the Common Council

  • The council voted to move $57,440 into two accounts related to sewage treatment and disposal. This money comes from a state grant for the Inflow and Infiltration project, which disposes of non-sewage water such as storm flow and drain water from sump pumps. This clears space in the sewage system for actual sewage water.
  • David Miner was appointed to fill Hugh MacKenzie’s seat on the Fire and Police Commission, and Bonnie Travet was appointed to the Civil Service Commission.
  • Sealed proposals for the sale of the property at 609 Academy St. are due in the city clerk’s office by 2 p.m. Aug. 4.
  • A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. July 15 (the next Common Council meeting) to discuss a zone change for the city blocks surrounded by Rochester Street, Route 481, East Broadway and South First Street. The properties are currently zoned C-2 Commercial. The city seeks to change that zone to C-2A Commercial, which allows for mixed residential and commercial use.
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