Tag Archives: Legislators

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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

Legislators discuss closing all transfer stations

by Carol Thompson

Several Oswego County legislators have confirmed there has been discussion in regard to closing the county’s transfer stations in order to close a budget gap that is expected to grow worse in 2014.

A resident contacted The Valley News last week, alleging to have overheard “several county employees” at a fast food restaurant speaking about the potential for closure and further alleging the information had been passed from a legislator to a department head.

When contacted last week, several legislators confirmed that the matter has been discussed in the Republican caucus, but would not further elaborate or speak on the record.

The county has been struggling financially as legislators attempt to close a budget gap, due in part to the court’s lowering of the assessment of the Oswego Steam Station, owned by Oswego Harbor Power, LLC.

“There was a discussion about closing all the transfer stations except Bristol Hill and it is still being discussed,” one legislator noted. “They are talking in 2014.”

All legislators said it is going to be looked at for 2014 and the towns and trash haulers will be involved in future discussions.

One option, according to one legislator, is to have a municipal pickup with each town competitively bidding out for the service.

The county operates five transfer stations: Bristol Hill, Hannibal, Hastings, Pulaski and Oswego as well as an Energy Recovery Facility.

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 to take up full agenda tomorrow

by Carol Thompson

When the Oswego County Legislature meets tomorrow, a number of items will be on the floor for consideration.

Sheriff Reuel “Moe” Todd has requested a budget transfer of $234,000 to replace 12 Crown Victoria patrol cars at a total cost of approximately $312,000.

Todd said the request is made due to excessive mileage as well as wear and tear. The funds would cover the cost of nine marked cars and three unmarked vehicles.

Solid Waste Director Frank Visser has requested a budget transfer of $35,000 for repairs at the Energy Recovery Facility. A section of the concrete tipping floor has begun to deteriorate. Two man-doors are also in need of replacement.

The legislature will also consider awarding a contract to Eastern Shore Associates to be the insurance broker of record services.

The county solicited request for proposals and received two responses. Following a review of the firms, Eastern Shore Associates was recommended.

A resolution to schedule a public hearing on the tentative 2013 budget for Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. will be considered. The legislature traditionally meets in the afternoon and adjourns for the evening public hearing to allow more residents to attend.

The legislature will also consider a public hearing in regard to waiving the property tax cap for the fiscal year 2013. The measure is being taken as a precaution. If approved, a public hearing will be held Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.

Legislators will vote to pay the cost of this summer’s mosquito spraying. The total bill is  $52,132, with one-half the cost expected to be reimbursed by the state.

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

Legislators continue to whittle county budget

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley made it clear during Thursday’s meeting of the legislature’s Finance and Personnel Committee that the county’s budget woes are due to the burdensome unfunded mandates that the state continues to pass down to local governments.

Department heads offered small cuts that brought the budget under the mandated property tax cap by approximately $58,000, however, without more cuts there will be a property tax increase.

“None of us are having a real good time with this,” Beardsley said, adding that the county has been strapped with $4.8 million in additional costs passed down from the state. “Additional is the key word.”

In the last four years, the state has passed down from $12 to $15 million in additional costs, Beardsley noted. The chairman added that the fiscal position the county is in is not self-inflicted.

Beardsley said it is not the fault of the department heads and that no one should think they are not doing the best they can. It is the unfunded state mandates that have created the financial problems for the county, he stressed.

Legislators have passed a number of resolutions requesting state representatives ease the burden of the unfunded mandates. The resolutions were delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Patty Ritchie and the four assembly representatives.

The county received no response or assistance, legislators claim, leaving them to cope with the additional costs.

A public hearing will be scheduled during tomorrow’s meeting of the full legislature and special committee meetings will be held later this month so that legislators can further work on the budget.

Currently, property owners will see a tax increase under two percent, however, the goal is to have no tax increase.

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