Tag Archives: Oswego County Legislature

Reapportionment vote postponed

OswegoCountySeal_WEBby Carol Thompson

A special meeting of the Oswego County Legislature that was to be held Tuesday was postponed with no reason given.

A public hearing on the proposed legislative district lines was held Dec. 13 with legislators taking no action. The special meeting was called for Dec. 18 and the cancellation notice went out Dec. 17.

The proposed reapportionment map is expected to be heavily debated when it comes up for a vote.

Also on the agenda was the consideration of a contract award for the asbestos abatement project at the Department of Social Services complex in Mexico.

The project, which has increased substantially in cost from the time it was first proposed, hence, legislators requested that they have the opportunity to review each bid. The legislature has also set the organizational meeting for Jan. 3 at 2 p.m.

At that time, a chairman and vice chairman will be elected and each caucus will name their pick for majority and minority leader.

Legislator seek chairman seat

by Carol Thompson

Who will lead the Oswego County Legislature next year will be decided in the upcoming weeks. The leadership will deal with one of the most difficult budget years in almost a decade.

Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley faces a challenge from Legislator Linda Lockwood for the top position. Each candidate was asked a series of questions.

When asked what the first priority will be, Beardsley said the office of chairman does not allow time for a single priority.

“There tends to be a number of issues at any given time,” said Beardsley. “The issues at the forefront right now are the asbestos abatement at DSS, the negotiations with Entergy, contract negotiations with our unions, reapportionment and a day-to-day assessment of our financial situation.”

Lockwood responded, “First priority, pick committees, work with department heads and start working on strategies for next years budget.”

There has been discussion in regard to closing the county’s transfer stations. When asked if this measure would be supported, Lockwood said, “The solid waste department was to be self sustaining. The way the economy is, it is difficult to maintain these transfer stations. The subject will be given much thought and I am hoping an equitable solution can be made.”

Beardsley responded, “Due to continuing mandate increases our county, like many others, faces financial difficulties in 2014 and beyond. We must asses our business model in its entirety on a regular basis. All aspects, including but not limited to solid waste, must be reviewed to insure they operate in the best interest of the taxpayer.”

The minority legislators have long complained that they have been left out of important decision making and Beardsley has been working with the Democrats to ensure they are apprised of all issues.

He said if re-elected, he will continue to work with the Democrats.

“In the first paragraph of my State of the County Address I stated ‘a chairman must preside fairly over the discussions on this floor, and who treats all elected representatives equitably, listening to your concerns and ideas, and fostering cooperation to reach goals that are in the best interest of our residents, taxpayers, and businesses. I pledge to you that is the type of Chairman I will be’,” he said. “I believe I have kept that pledge in 2012 and intend to keep it if re-elected as chairman.”

Lockwood said she has no problem working with the minority. “I have worked on committees with many of the minority members. I have always respected their opinions. I am sure there will be many opportunities for us to work together.”

The chairman is elected by the legislature, however, Beardsley and Lockwood were asked what they would say to the taxpayers if they had a vote.

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 hearing to be held this Thursday

County budget hearing to be held this Thursdayby Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Legislature will hold a special meeting and several public hearings Thursday at the Oswego County Government Office complex located in the City of Oswego.

Residents will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed 2013 budget, which is expected to come with a tax increase for property owners.

The draft tax levy was at  $45,776,060 a few weeks ago. It may have been lowered somewhat as budget information was passed out at a recent committee meeting, however, it was not shared beyond the legislators.

Because the assessed valuation is down, the rate per thousand will go up unless the legislature can make some significant cuts. Democrat legislators said Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley has reached out to them for input.

The Democrats have suggested eliminating all of the non-essential deputy positions. Many had been previously eliminated, however, some have been returned.

Another suggestion is to eliminate the most recent 20 positions created. Also under consideration is the elimination of a $1,000 benefit the 25 legislators are eligible for to pay for uninsured medical expenses.

The legislature will also use reserve funds to offset a large property-tax increase.

The reason for the decrease in the tax levy is due in large part to a court case won by Oswego Harbor Power, LLC.

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 approve electronic monitoring of offenders

electronic monitoringby Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Legislature voted Thursday to allow the Probation Department to use a GPS tracking system and electronic bracelets to monitor criminals who are awaiting court action.

The system is expected to help alleviate jail overcrowding by providing around-the-clock tracking of offenders in their homes.

A contract with Sentinel Offender Services would cost the county an estimated $4 to $9 a day per offender. The probation department would initially lease 10 units and expand capacity as the need arises. The program would be funded through bail fees and existing alternatives to incarceration funds.

Oswego County Probation Director Deborah Meyer worked with Sheriff Reuel “Moe” Todd to seek alternatives to incarceration. Legislator Jake Mulcahey commended them for the work they did to provide a solution to the jail overcrowding.

The cost of boarding prisoners in facilities outside Oswego County has exceeded $1 million since the beginning of 2012.

A number of officers within the sheriff’s department have begun training and testing the equipment.

In a related matter, the legislature approved the purchase of nine cars for the sheriff’s department, reduced from a request for 12 at a cost of $234,000.

Legislator Doug Malone said he had a problem with the purchase of the cars because the legislature approved new cars for the sheriff earlier this year.

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

Former legislator prohibited from speaking at meeting

by Carol Thompson

Reapportionment was a heated topic during Thursday’s meeting of the Oswego County Legislature and a former legislator wasn’t allowed to speak at a meeting held just prior to the regular session.

Former legislator Barbara Brown attended the meeting of the legislature’s reapportionment committee and asked to speak.

“Is anybody allowed to speak regarding this today?” she asked.

“Barbara wait your turn, I’ll ask you,” Legislator Dan Chalifoux, who chairs the committee, responded.

When he gave her an audience, he asked, “Does it have to do with the public hearing?”

“It has to do with the reapportionment,” Brown said with Chalifoux cutting her off before finishing her sentence.

“Does it have to do with the public hearing,” Chalifoux again asked. “That’s what this meeting was called for.”

Brown said she did not approve of the proposed reapportionment plan.

“If it’s about drawing the lines Barb, you need to come to the public hearing and speak,” Chalifoux said.

Brown said that there will be a lot of people at the public hearing.

“Whoever you want to bring, Barb,” Chalifoux responded.

“I’m not bringing them, they’re coming by themselves,” Brown said.

Farfaglia said Brown could stay for the legislature session and address her concerns at that time.

With Chalifoux not allowing her to speak at the committee meeting, Brown addressed the full legislature.

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

County legislators strive for no tax increase

by Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Legislature’s standing committees have met and made cuts to the 2013 draft budget.

Next on tap is a meeting of the Finance and Personnel Committee that is expected to make more cuts in anticipation of lowering a proposed seven percent tax increase to zero.

The Health and Human Services Committee spent nine hours last week chopping away at department budgets — and legislators aren’t finished.

Every budget line is being scrutinized this year, unlike past years when budget talks were minimal.

Legislator Shane Broadwell discussed the county’s phone system during a committee meeting, which will now be looked at. Broadwell did not respond to repeated requests to interview him further on the issue but the legislature chairman said the phone system charges will move beyond the discussion stage.

“They are going to be reviewed,” Legislator Chairman Fred Beardsley said. “I think we’re pretty much going to take a look at the phones throughout the county to see how many we need and how many are duplicated.”

Beardsley said a general assessment will be done county wide. “I think the first thing we need to do is assess where we are,” he said. “We just started looking at this but I believe there is some duplication there.”

The legislature hasn’t reviewed its phone system in many years. Legislator Amy Tresidder proposed a review when she took office over two years ago, however, it was not addressed at that time.

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