Tag Archives: County Treasurer John Kruk

Controversy erupts over how to pay county employees

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County employees belonging to the Civil Service Employees Union settled their most recent contract agreeing to a lump sum payment of $1,000. How the payment is to be made resulted in a cyber war of words last Friday.

The employees who are to receive the additional payment are under the assumption that it is a payroll adjustment to compensate for the lack of a raise during the year or more that they worked without a contract.

Oswego County’s CSEA union president Bill Reed and county officials were in disagreement as to how to distribute the payment.

That led to an e-mail exchange that involved employees.

At issue is whether the payment should be made a bonus or treated as additional pay.

There is a stark difference in the amount the employees will receive under the Internal Revenue Service tax code.

If treated as a bonus, the employees would receive $577 after taxes. If paid as additional salary, the payment would be subject to only regular deductions.

In response to a string of e-mails, County Treasurer John Kruk wrote, “As County Treasurer, it is my responsibility to ensure that Payroll and all related deductions are paid according to State and Federal Law.”

He added, “I have attached Section 31.3402 of the Internal Revenue Code which states how the $1,000 Supplemental Wage check on January 17th to CSEA CO-OP Union Members should be handled. These deductions were outlined in a letter to the Union on October 9, 2012 offering an alternative option to include the $1,000 payment in your normal payroll check which would result in deductions at your normal rate.”

Kruk said the treasurer’s office would be glad to change the $1,000 payment to be included in the regular check if Reed so advised.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

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Legislators pass 2013 budget with zero tax levy increase

Legislatorsby Carol Thompson

A few last minute adjustments to the 2013 draft budget, including the use of almost $1 million in retirement reserves, resulted in the Oswego County Legislature’s passage of a budget with no increase in the tax levy.

In a bipartisan manner, the Republicans and Democrats alternated the offering of cuts until the goal of no tax levy increase was reached. “It took a concerted effort by both sides of the aisle to get to a zero tax increase,” Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley said. “There was cooperation like I’ve never seen before.”

The meeting was unlike budget meetings of the past. Traditionally, the Republicans and Democrats spar for hours over cuts. This year, the meeting took approximately 90 minutes with several recesses called to allow the two sides to come together to discuss cuts.

Spending will remain at about $193 million, the tax levy will be unchanged at $42,664,531, and the generic tax rate is $7.095 per $1,000 assessed property value or only slightly higher, depending on property assessments, Beardsley said.

The generic tax rate increase of 2.1 percent will result in either an increase or decrease in property taxes, depending on the individual town and city equalization rate. The tax levy came in under the state mandated two-percent tax cap.

All totaled, legislators borrowed approximately $5.9 million from reserve funds and increased the sales tax revenue line by $2 million, something County Treasurer John Kruk cautioned legislators may not happen.

Kruk said the county has never collected the projected amount in sales tax and for that reason, legislators should monitor the revenue monthly.

The legislature agreed to cut travel expenses and a nurse position was eliminated from the sheriff’s department. The legislators unanimously approved the restoration of funding for Air One that had been removed at the committee level.

The cooperation on the floor was attributed to Beardsley’s willingness to work with the Democrat caucus, Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said. That included meetings with Beardsley in the day prior to the meeting.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

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County budget draft shows 7.3 percent increase

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County legislators got their first look at the proposed 2013 draft budget at the legislature’s Finance and Personnel Committee meeting held Tuesday.

The spending plan calls for an increase of 7.3 percent in the tax levy.

At least one million will need to be cut to meet the state’s mandated property tax cap, County Administrator Phil Church said.

There are cuts that can be made, which are known as “feel good” reductions. As an example, legislators are listed as having a salary increase of $370 each.  The draft budget was handed out to legislators and the public, with committee Chairman Art Ospelt noting that discussion would take place at upcoming committee meetings.

County Treasurer John Kruk said he was concerned with a $2 million increase in anticipated sales-tax revenue.

“I will ask you to look at the amount for sales tax,” Kruk said. “I have some concerns there.”

Ospelt said the line could be looked at a subsequent meeting and Kruk said he will address his concerns with the appropriate committee.

Church said there are positives and negatives to the proposed budget.

“Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives,” he said.

The positives include an anticipated increase in sales tax revenue and no raises for management or bargaining units, with the exception of a $1,000 lump sum for CSEA union members and the mandated salary increase for the district attorney.

Also on the positive side is that there is reduced reliance on fund balance and reserves. Also, seven positions that have been vacant were removed.

The significant negative factors, Church said, include an increase of $1.3 million in state retirement costs, Safety Net costs increased by $1.15 million, Medicaid increased by $451,961 and the assigned counsel program increased by $343,586.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

County’s delinquent property redemption deadline nears

by Carol Thompson

The deadline for redeeming property seized by Oswego County for back taxes is nearing.

County Treasurer John Kruk said Aug. 10 is the last day residents have to prevent their properties from going on the auction block.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Kruk gave members of the legislature’s Finance and Personnel Committee an update on the upcoming property tax auction that is held each year to sell properties that have been seized by the county for delinquent taxes.

This year, the auction will be held Sept. 8 at the Fulton War Memorial. The auction is traditionally held at the Oswego County BOCES complex, however, due to ongoing building renovations, the location had to be moved.

Kruk said there are approximately 190 parcels listed to go to auction and all properties have been posted. He added that there most likely will be many redeemed prior to the deadline.

Kruk said the number is unusually high this year. “Normally there are between 80 and 100,” he said.

“That’s the bad part,” Legislator Art Ospelt commented. “That’s not good.”

Oswego County takes title to residential and farm properties after the taxes have gone unpaid for approximately four years. Title is taken for vacant land and commercial properties after two years of non-payment of taxes.

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