By Colin Hogan
Fulton officials revealed the city’s $15.7 million proposed 2015 budget Tuesday which, in spite of an increase in spending, holds the line on property taxes.
City spending for 2015 would total $15,710,583, according to the proposed budget — up $114,395 from this year’s $15,596,188 in appropriations. General fund revenues would total $9,324,102 — up $140,669 from $9,183,433 in 2014 — with $6,464,816 to be raised from the property tax levy, which city officials say would be achieved at the same tax rate as 2014 of $19.662 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said the biggest factor in establishing a balanced budget has been reducing personnel. In all, he said the city will be spending over $200,000 less than it did this year on personnel.
“Most of our way of balancing the budget was in personnel,” Woodward said. “We had some retirements that we didn’t fill, or where the person has come back to work part time.”
For example, after public works commissioner Dan O’Brien was appointed to replace retiring city clerk/chamberlain Jim Laboda, the city chose not to seek a new public works commissioner, and instead promoted one of the department’s supervisors to lead it. That eliminated one position in the public works department without any layoffs.
The city is also saving money on personnel by re-hiring some of the full time employees who are retiring this year, such as the personnel director, deputy clerk and dog warden, as part-timers. Woodward said this cuts the costs of those positions roughly in half, with less being paid in salaries and insurance, and without the expense of retirement contributions.
“In New York state if a person retires, they can come back and work on a part time basis as long as they don’t earn more than $30,000 a year. Of course, when these people retire, they’ve got a lot of years in and are making a higher wage. If you bring them back on a part time basis to fill the full time positions, you pay half the salary, you’re not paying retirement, you’re not paying as much insurance and, because the salary is less, the amount of Social Security the city has to match is less.”
Employee benefits and retirements continue to be a growing burden in the budget. Next year, the city will spend $3,119,687 in medical insurance costs — an increase of $265,932 from this year. That comes alongside a $317,119 increase in fire and police retirement costs, from $1,230,597 to $1,474,134, and an increase of $84,384 in other state retirement contributions, from $243,102 to $299,737.
Last year, Fulton spent 9.68 percent of its budget on employee retirement costs. In 2015, that will grow to 11.29 percent, the budget shows.
Should the budget be adopted as is, spending on the fire department would decrease about 3.5 percent, from $3,017,868 to $2,913,451. The police budget would also shrink from $3,194,850 to $3,144,095, or 1.4 percent. Woodward said both departments are operating with less personnel, but noted that scenario can often increase the amount of overtime being paid.
City water appropriations would total $1,403,437, down $4,621 from 2014. Meanwhile, revenues are expected to reach $1,290,280, down $43,000 from 2014, leaving a difference $113,157 to be paid out of fund balances.
Sewer expenses would total $1,898,590, down $66,572 from this year, while revenues are expected to total $1,807,190, up $93,400 from this year, leaving $91,400 to be paid out of fund balances.
By Colin Hogan
Plastics and rubber manufacturer Davis-Standard will be expanding its operations in Fulton — a change expected to bring some new jobs to the economically struggling city.
According to a release posted on the company’s website, Davis-Standard will be relocating “manufacturing operations from Bridgewater, New Jersey to Fulton, New York,” where it currently has a facility on North First Street.
To accommodate the new operations, Davis-Standard will be leasing space from the adjacent Universal Metal Works facility, which is also in the process of expanding.
On Monday, the City of Fulton Planning Commission granted UMW site plan approval to undergo a 20,000-square-foot addition on the south end of its 33,000-square-foot facility. Documents filed with the city show that about half of that space would be used by UMW to streamline its spray painting, assembly and manufacturing process, while the other half would be leased to Davis-Standard for the relocation of its blown film operations.
“They had a very good site plan. We deferred to Brace (Tallents, of Fulton’s code enforcement office) and he said it was a very thorough plan and couldn’t find any problem with it,” said Dennis Merlino of the planning commission.
Merlino said the planning commission has been working closely with Universal Metal Works President John Sharkey III and Vice President John Sharkey IV on the plans for the project, which is now expected to move forward promptly. On Nov. 10, the Sharkeys told the planning commission that they already have a lease and deposit from Davis-Standard, and that they would like to have the expansion completed by July 2015.
According to the special use permit application filed with the city, between five and 10 new jobs would be created locally by Davis-Standard moving its New Jersey operations to Fulton. Merlino said the planning commission has been told that future job growth is likely, as well.
“I, personally, am thrilled that they are expanding in Fulton. I think this is just the kind of thing Fulton needs most right now,” Merlino said.
Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said the expansions are a good sign that businesses are still interested in operating in Fulton.
“I’m very excited about it. This shows there are still people interested in Fulton,” Woodward said, “and it’s going to create some jobs and bring some jobs here, which is what we need.”
Calls to leadership at both UMW and Davis-Standard’s Fulton facility were unreturned as of press time Thursday, but in the news release, Davis-Standard Vice President of Global Operations Allen Lee said the relocation will help the company’s manufacturing operations become more efficient.
“Having the largest, most focused global manufacturing footprint in the industry will ensure that we continue to deliver our brand of world-class products and support to our customers around the world,” Lee stated.
By Nicole Shue
The John Wells Pratt House Museum in Fulton will soon lose one of its most beloved employees to retirement. Alec Seymour, head of maintenance at the historic house, has decided to pass on the hammer.
“It’s hard to let go. I’ve seen this place blossom and come alive,” said Seymour.
Seymour began doing maintenance on the house in the mid 1980s.
“I haven’t left since,” quipped Seymour, noting that with a house of its size, there is always a long to-do list.
Seymour moved to Fulton in 1966. He spent four years with the Air Force, and 34 years with a local telephone company. If you’ve visited the Pratt House in the last decade, Seymour was most likely your tour guide. Many Fultonians know him as man who collects antique telephones. He loves answering questions about his extensive collection, especially from students on his tours.
“Things like pay booths are a thing of the past,” said Seymour. “I have elementary kids visit that have never seen a rotary phone. That’s hard to imagine.”
Although his days of painting and scraping the old house are over, Seymour still plans to give tours “until they kick me out.”
Seymour enjoys seeing the relics that people bring in. When the house first opened to the public, just about any old treasure was accepted. Now the Pratt House primarily features objects with ties to Fulton.
“I always ask people questions about their items when things come in,” said Seymour. “There is so much to learn, and so many things still out there stowed away.”
Hundreds of old black and white photos have been donated to the Pratt House over the years. The problem is that most of the subjects in these photographs are unidentified.
“In the olden days people didn’t move as frequently,” said Seymour. “Now, pieces of Fulton are all around the country.”
Seymour recommends that everyone identify their old family photos by writing names and dates on the back. This is especially helpful when people come in with genealogy questions.
In addition to being a paid employee of the Pratt House, Seymour is also the exhibit chairman. Every year after the Parade of Trees, Seymour builds and changes the two downstairs displays. In the coming year, first responders and all things miniature will be featured.
“I like seeing the displays come together and tell a story,” said Seymour. “The Pratt House highlights what I think is impressive about the area. The house has a lot to give everyone. Fulton has a gem here.”
Seymour said that what really keeps the house going are the volunteers. Friends of History has over 200 members, with 30 regular volunteers. Every item that comes through the house is given a number and recorded. When an item moves from room to room, it has to be documented. Volunteers who do these tasks sit on the accession committee.
The Pratt House is currently looking for volunteers to help answer the phones, write letters, direct tours and do outdoor upkeep. The museum is open Wednesday to Friday.
Sue Lane, director of the Pratt House, said that in 2015, she is also looking to increase membership and member participation.
Michael E. Novak, 78, of Phoenix, N.Y., passed away peacefully at home with his family by his side on Sunday December 7, 2014. He was born on January 16, 1936 to his mother, Virginia (Terramiggi) and his late father, Edward Novak in Fulton, N.Y. A graduate of Fulton High School on the west side, he served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956.
Mike was a master carpenter and the owner/operator of Novak & Sons Home Builders Co., Phoenix. He was a member of the Carpenter’s Union Local 12, Oswego, and the Local 747, Syracuse. Mike was a life member of Phoenix Memorial Post, VFW Post 5540; Phoenix Rod & Gun Club; and an avid golfer.
He was predeceased by his loving wife of 49 years, Kathleen F. (Milligan) on May 31, 2008; his son, Charles A. Novak on July 5, 1981; his sister, Katherine Geswaldo in March of 1988; and his brother John E. Novak on Nov. 9, 2014. Surviving are his three children, Michael J. “Micky” and daughter-in-law Gretchen (Gang) Novak of Phoenix, his twins Mary Ann and son-in-law David Quintal of Pennellville, and Martin J. Novak of Phoenix; five grandchildren, Jessica Novak, Nicholas Novak, and Nathan Novak, Steven Quintal and Katrina Quintal; one great-granddaughter, Brook Quintal; his mother, Virginia (Terrimiggi) Novak Albino of Syracuse; a brother-in-law, Louis Geswaldo of Syracuse; his sister-in-law, Gloria Novak of Liverpool; several nieces, nephews and cousins; and many close friends. Mike was so very proud of his family as a whole, especially his children, grandchildren,and great-granddaughter.
Services were Thursday at the Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home, Phoenix, with Deacon Frank Forish officiating. Burial followed in Phoenix Rural Cemetery, 126 Chestnut St. Memorials to: Friends of Oswego County Hospice, P. O. Box 102, Oswego, NY 13126.
Frank was born February 11, 1934 in Elmira, N.Y. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine of 60 years; his five children Deborah (Thomas) Akers, Donna (Michael) Weigelt, Diane (Thomas) Putnam, Darlene (Rick) Favata, Frank (Caryn) Barilla; three sisters Carmella VanRensellaer, Theresa Witchtowski, Rose Moshier; 10 grandchildren Joey, Angela, Josh, Karissa, Brianna, Rachel, Gavin, Garrett, Isabella and Jacob; and four great-grandchildren Judah, Lydia, Luella and Lyla.
He was the owner and operator of Barilla’s Auto Service, as well as many properties in Oswego alongside his wife Lorraine, from 1958 until he was no longer able to work due to his illness.
Frank was also active in local politics, serving as Third Ward Alderman and chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Most importantly, Frank can be remembered as a hardworking and loving husband, father, and grandfather to his family. “I Love You More!”
Private, family services will be held. The arrangements are in the care of the Sugar & Scanlon Funeral Home, 147 W. 4th. St. Oswego.
Doris J. Leonard, 94, of Hannibal, went to be with the Lord Saturday at Crouse Hospital. Born in Auburn, she had lived in the Hannibal–Martville area for more than 60 years. She had many friends through the New York State Christmas Tree Growers Association as well as from the Martville United Methodist Church. She was predeceased by her husband, Paul D. Leonard, who passed away June 22, 2003. Doris is survived by her twin daughters, Charlotte (Raul) Herrera of Webster and Sharon (Bob) Koch of Palmyra; two sons, Tom (Linda) and John (Colleen) Leonard, both of Hannibal; nine grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews. Services were Friday at Foster Funeral Home, Hannibal. Spring burial will be at Bethel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, Doris’s family suggests contributions to Martville United Methodist Church, c/o Donald Hass, 13609 Ira Station Road, Martville, 13111.
By Colin Hogan
A dense crowd of local children eagerly greeted Santa Claus upon his arrival in front of city hall Thursday for the 11th annual Fulton Tree Lighting Jubilee.
Coordinated each year by the city and run by teams of volunteers and sponsors, the event serves as Fulton’s official Christmas season kick-off with Santa, himself, on hand to flip the big switch.
“It’s really great to see all these kids here, and for them to be able to see Santa,” said city councilor Tom Kenyon. “This is the kind of thing we as the city need to keep going each year, because it’s so important. When you see these kids’ eyeballs light up when Santa arrives, it’s worth it.”
Before Santa’s arrival at 7 p.m., visitors filled both the parish house at All Saints Episcopal Church, where they were able to make all sorts of arts and crafts as part of “Santa’s Workshop,” and the city’s community room, where a full slate of local musicians provided live entertainment up until the lighting. Performers included Robin Whiting, Kathy Lowmaster, Rachel Salvetti, Aliana DeMott, Classic Touch Barbershop Quartet, Briana Simmons, Gina Holsopple, Allison Parker, Joshua Bastone, Stacia DeMott, the Bridge Church Worship Team, Jordan Van Bouden and Clarissa Traub.
“This has turned out to be such a good, positive night for everyone,” said city councilor Norman “Jay” Foster. “You can see all these kids having a good time, we’ve had some really great entertainment going on. We’re very blessed today.”
After he lighted the tree, the crowd followed Santa back to the community room, where families patiently waited in line for a photo with the jolly couple, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and several of Santa’s helpers.
Fulton Parks and Recreation Superintendent Barry Ostrander said, while this year’s turnout was lower than previous years’, the event still drew a “good-sized” crowd that was “very manageable” and filled with satisfied children. He noted that the event received less publicity this year than it had previously.
“We’re probably missing a good one-third of the crowd we normally get,” Ostrander said, “but if you look at this line here, it doesn’t seem like there are any less pictures with Santa being taken this year.”
Ostrander praised the many volunteers, sponsoring businesses and groups that had a hand in the event.
“This is all run by volunteers and local businesses, and we couldn’t do it without them,” Ostrander said.