Category Archives: Oswego News

Packed house for Oswego City budget hearing Dec. 23

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego Common Council unanimously adopted a budget for 2014 Monday night that will raise taxes by about $4.46 per $1,000 of assessed value for Oswego taxpayers.

That is much less than the original budget proposal that was going to raise taxes more than $8 per $1,000.

Also, the budget adopted Monday night reinstates 15 jobs that were going to be cut from the Department of Public Works and keeps Gallagher Pool open. Three positions in the codes enforcement office still remain cut in the adopted budget.

Also, the new budget includes 10-day unpaid furloughs for all city workers. Common Council President Ron Kaplewicz said this will have to be negotiated with employee unions, but he said it will be made clear to them that if furloughs are not taken, then job cuts will have to be made.

It was standing room only at the council chambers at City Hall as about 120 people showed up for the public hearing on the budget Monday night. A fire department official was counting poeple are they filed in to be sure the number did not exceed the fire code limit.

Twelve people spoke, many about keeping the codes enforcement office and DPW workers.

Barry McConnell, representing Local 200 United of the Service Employees International Union, told the council it would cost only 68 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to keep the 15 DPW workers on the job.

“I guarantee they will serve day after day, week after week and month after month,” he said of the workers. A huge contingent of SEIU Local United 200 employees were in the council chambers for the one-hour budget hearing.

Resident Sue Matthews told the council they have to continue pressing state officials for mandate relief.

Most local governments and school districts face mandates given to them by the state that they have to pay for and local officials say these mandates are too much of a drain on their budgets and taxpayers.

Cliff Wahrendorf told councilors they should try to come up with a way to obtain a user fee from properties that are tax exempt but still rely on city services.

Mayor Thomas Gillen and many councilors have said these properties, owned by city, state or county entities or nonprofits, receive snow removal, police and fire protection from the city but provide the city no payment in return and this is another drain on the city budget.

A couple of speakers also talked about raises being given to the police department and two councilors were serve as president and vice president of the council.

Common Council President Ron Kaplewicz explained the raise for him and vice president Mike Myers were approved nearly a year ago — at the 2013 reorganizational meeting in January. So these were not new raises

For the police, he said during police contract negotiations in the spring, it was found the city was losing a lot of young officers who were leaving to go to other departments where the pay was higher.

Kaplewicz said councilors decided lower pay scales had to increase to keep these younger officers in Oswego.

“After 10 years here, they could move to Fulton and make $10,000 more,” Kaplewicz said. “So we bumped the base salaries.”

Gillen’s preliminary budget increased taxes about 82 percent – from $10.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $18.25 per $1,000. Owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay $575 more in taxes in 2014 than in 2013 if cuts weren’t made.

The adopted budget raises taxes about 44.7 percent — from $10.03 per $1,000 to $14.49 per $1,000. This means owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay about $312 more in taxes in 2014.

 

New restaurant opens on Oswego Harbor

Alex’s on the Water, a new restaurant and bar located at 24 E. First St., Oswego, is open for business.

The restaurant is adjacent to the Best Western Plus Captain’s Quarters on the lower level of the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center.

It is owned and operated by the Broadwell Hospitality Group, an Oswego-based hospitality company.

“We are very pleased to introduce Alex’s on the Water to the Central New York restaurant and dining scene,” said Alex Broadwell, Broadwell Hospitality Group’s director of marketing and accounts. “Alex’s truly offers amazing food with an incredible view.”

“We could not be happier with the tremendous feedback we have received about the restaurant, menu, and our waterfront setting,” she added.

Alex’s on the Water is located along the Oswego River overlooking the Historic Oswego Harbor on Lake Ontario.

An expansive exterior patio with seating, a full bar, fireplace and docking accommodations is also available.

Alex’s on the Water is open Monday through Sunday at 4 p.m., and Executive Chef Thomas Waite presents a diverse and expansive menu of starters, small plates, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, seafood, chicken, steak vegetarian and gluten-free entrees.

In addition, the restaurant also has a large specialty drink menu, wine and beer list, as well as dessert menu available for their patrons.

For additional information on Alex’s on the Water, visit its website at AlexsontheWater.com or like the restaurant at Facebook/Alexsonthewater.

Alex’s on the Water is available for walk-in dining or by reservations at 343-7700.

Broadwell Hospitality Group also oversees the management and operations of the Best Western Plus Captain’s Quarters Hotel, Quality Inn & Suites Riverfront Hotel, Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, Alexandria’s Premier Lakeview Weddings, Bayshore, GS Steamers and the Captain’s Club.

Grant allows Oswego Pre-K to expand

Submitted by Oswego school district

The Oswego City School District recently learned it would be the recipient of the Expanded Half Day Pre-kindergarten Grant.

The funds received would allow the district to add an afternoon class of Universal Pre-K at Kingsford Park School and expand a current morning class at Leighton Elementary to full-day.

“The UPK teachers and staff strive to create a warm and nurturing environment for all our 4-year-olds,” said Cathleen Chamberlain, assistant superintendent for instruction and curriculum.

“The goals of the program are to meet the individual needs of four-year old children in the areas of social, academic, language, emotional and physical development,” she said.

The afternoon class at Kingsford will run from 12:45 to 3:15 p.m. and follow the regular school calendar. Transportation can be provided home; however, it is the parent’s responsibility to get the children to school.

This program will begin sometime in January. To qualify, a child’s birthday must fall between Dec. 2, 2008 and Dec. 1, 2009.

“We currently have a few openings for the Kingsford class,” Chamberlain said.

“If you are interested in placing your child in that class or have any questions, please call the curriculum Office at 341-2013. A registration packet will need to be filled out and returned to us,” she said.

Porky & Buddy discusses leaving dogs out in the cold

Dear Porky & Buddy,

You recently wrote about Section 353-b of the Agriculture & Markets Law which basically requires that all dogs left outdoors have to be provided with a dog house.

I am writing to say that I personally think that law is ridiculous. I have a purebred Siberian Husky, Scarlet. She is three years old and I am here to tell you that SHE WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH A DOG HOUSE!

She loves cold weather, the colder the better, and never ever wants to come in the house, much less a stupid dog house.

Am I really breaking the law by not having one for her?

Ken

 

Dear Ken,

In a word, yes. Quit complaining and go out and get Scarlet a dog house, or better yet, install an electronic door in your house so she can come in any time she wants.

You might be surprised what good company she is, as Huskies are notorious for adoring their humans and really should not be left alone by themselves for long periods anyway.

The bottom line is this: We love the New York dog shelter law.

Maybe you don’t think it’s necessary, but we hear of dogs that have simply frozen to death, alone on a chain with no food or water, in a blizzard.

And in the summer they die of heat stroke or dehydration.

That should not happen to dogs!

The shelter law has very specific requirements and it is easy to enforce (much easier than the anti-cruelty laws, which are very vague). It has saved a lot of dogs from a miserable life outdoors.

Furthermore, it specifically requires owners to provide shelter for their dogs that is appropriate to their breed, physical condition and the climate.

It does not require you to force Scarlet to go in the dog house, just that you have it available for her.

You love your dog, we assume. It’s not too much to ask and in a very severe storm it could save her life.

Porky & Buddy

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. 

Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego.

Call us at 207-1070 or email us at ochscontact@hotmail.com.

OES installs officers

Lake City Victoria Chapter No. 205, The Order of Eastern Star), sister organization to Lake City Masonic Lodge No. 127, held its 2014 installation of new officers Sunday, Nov. 24 in the Oswego Masonic Temple, 765 E. Seneca St., Oswego.

The officers include: W Carla Salisbury- Worthy Matron; RW Grant DeLong- Worthy Patron; RW Cynthia Sanders- Associate Matron; Br. Leo Monette- Associate Patron; W Lillian Schute- Conductress; RW Rita DeLong- Associate Conductress; RW Natalie J. Woodall- Secretary; RW Nancy Costello- Treasurer; W Mildred Miller- Trustee; W Edwin Miller- Trustee; Br. Earl Wilson- Trustee; and W V. Jean Sanders- Warder.

Also: W Carol Reed- Sentinel; RW Earline Wood- Chaplain; RW Alan Wood- Color Bearer; Sr. Bettie Monette- Marshall; Sr. Bethany Reis- Assistant Marshall; Sr. Christine Dennison- Adah; Sr. Benita Reynolds- Ruth; RW Erma Cota- Esther; RW Mary Mason- Martha; RW Eileen Esford- Electa.

Special music was provided by Dan Williams, and visiting dignitaries included RW Rita DeLong- DDGM. A reception was held after the ceremony in the Masonic Hall.

For more information call the Lodge:  207-0127.

Oswego Common Council adopts 2014 city budget

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego Common Council adopted a budget for 2014 Monday night that will raise taxes by about $4.46 per $1,000 of assessed value for Oswego taxpayers.

That is much less than the original budget proposal that was going to raise taxes more than $8 per $1,000.

Also, the budget adopted Monday night reinstates 15 jobs that were going to be cut from the Department of Public Works and keeps Gallagher Pool open. Three positions in the codes enforcement office still remain cut in the adopted budget.

Also, the new budget includes 10-day unpaid furloughs for all city workers. Common Council President Ron Kaplewicz said this will have to be negotiated with employee unions, but he said it will be made clear to them that if furloughs are not taken, then job cuts will have to be made.

It was standing room only at the council chambers at City Hall as about 120 people showed up for the public hearing on the budget Monday night. Twelve people spoke, many about keeping the codes enforcement office and DPW workers.

Mayor Thomas Gillen’s preliminary budget increased taxes about 82 percent – from $10.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $18.25 per $1,000. Owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay $575 more in taxes in 2014 than in 2013 if cuts weren’t made.

The adopted budget raises taxes about 44.7 percent — from $10.03 per $1,000 to $14.49 per $1,000. This means owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay about $312 more in taxes in 2014.

For more information on the budget and budget hearing, pick up a copy of Saturday’s The Valley News.

 

Oswego city budget public hearing at 7 tonight (Dec. 23)

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego residents will get their last chance to comment about the proposed city budget at tonight’s public hearing.

The hearing is at 7 p.m. in the Common Council chambers at City Hall. The council may vote to adopt a budget after the hearing, or, if more changes need to be made, could meet later in the week to adopt a budget.

So far, the council have whittled the budget down about $4 million, which has knocked about $4 a $1,000 off the proposed tax rate increase.

“They have taken my budget and edited it,” Mayor Thomas Gillen said. “They were pretty strong with the red pencil.”

With Gillen’s preliminary budget, taxes were set to increase about 82 percent – from $10.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $18.25 per $1,000. Owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay $575 more in taxes in 2014 than in 2013 if cuts weren’t made.

But cuts have been made.

Gillen said some jobs that are vacant will not be filled. Fifteen positions are being cut in the Department of Public Works. Three people are being laid off in code enforcement. The city also is looking at unpaid two-week furloughs for city workers.

To date, the tax rate has been cut from $18.25 per $1,000 to $14.39 per $1,000.

Gillen said he isn’t happy with the layoffs.

“People are unhappy with the tax increase. I understand that,” he said. “But I think their anger may be clouding the decision making process.”

Common Council President Ron Kaplewicz, R-7th ward, said this is going to be a tough year to get through a budget.

“The options are: raise taxes, cut people or cut programs and services,” he said. “We’re looking at what we need to do for 2014. This is like tough love. We’re just beginning to take a hard look at how we do business.”

Some of the primary problems affecting the budget:

** A loss of assessed value in the city of about $50 million. When the city loses assessed value, other taxpayers have to make up that money to keep the services and programs going.

** An addition of about $400,000 for health insurance changes due to the federal Affordable Health Care Act.

** $300 million in city property that is not on the tax rolls. Kaplewicz said some of these properties, such as the hospital and the YMCA, obtain services from the city but do not pay taxes.

Gillen is worried cutting the Department of Public Works will leave the department short if the city is hit with a huge snow storm. He said people who have come to Oswego from other places “marvel at the way we remove snow” and he wonders if there will be enough people to keep snow off the roads if people are laid off.

There are 81 budgeted positions in DPW, but three positions are vacant so there are 78 employees right now.

Kaplewicz said part of the city’s problem is it didn’t raise taxes for so long that now, it has to have a huge tax hike to keep up with increasing costs. He said for 15 years, “tax increases were almost negligible.”

“I believe that was a mistake,” he said.