Legislators pass 2015 county budget

Staff Report

The Oswego County Legislature passed the 2015 budget Thursday night, approving an almost $197 million spending plan with a 1.15 percent increase in property taxes — a far smaller hike than the legislature initially planned.

The county budget will be $196,850,567, which is $305,040 less than the 2014 budget and $700,000 less than the tentative budget for 2015.

The budget includes a tax levy of approximately $53.8 million with a tax rate of $7.49 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The levy in the draft budget released in October was $55.4 million and the rate was $7.72 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“I want to thank both caucuses. It wasn’t easy on either side of the aisle,” said Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner, R-New Haven. “Nobody wants to increase taxes. It’s a lot of better than where we started.”

“Unfortunately it had to be a slight increase. It was a good budget. There’s some things we’re pretty proud of,” added Gardner.

“I’m never happy with any tax increase,” said Majority Leader Terry Wilbur, R-Hannibal.

The budget passed without support from the Democratic legislators.

“I’ll be voting no on this budget,” said Minority Leader Michael Kunzwiler, D-Oswego, adding that many of his ideas for cutting the budget were rejected.

“There’s too many unknowns in this budget. It’s projected revenue we don’t know we have. I hope they’re right,” said Kunzwiler, referring to the idea that revenue from the nuclear plants could fluctuate due to ongoing litigation.

Members of the public expressed their concerns to the legislature regarding the budget in a hearing prior to the vote.

“I want to say that we in the libraries have a passion for teaching and service. Most of our salaries are below poverty level. We can’t cut anything. The expenses keep climbing. I’d like to encourage you to visits your libraries. See where your money is going,” said Beth Ripka.

Ed Taverni, a former teacher, was not happy with the way he has seen the county develop since moving here in 1977.

“Year after year services are taken away,” Taverni said. “I see our roads and public health getting worse. It’s putting everybody in a terrible situation,” said Taverni.

Wilbur said one of the merits of next year’s budget was that it did not rely significantly on the fund balance.

“We have a plan where we’re not relying on that. In next year’s budget it will be even less,” said Wilbur.

According to Church, the fund balance will be approximately $20 million, or equal to 10 percent of the budget, which could be put toward infrastructure projects and emergencies.

One of the primary concerns with the budget was the ongoing tax litigation with the nuclear plants. Payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) agreements with both the Entergy and Exelon nuclear plants have expired, placing both facilities back on the tax rolls.

The county is in litigation with both facilities, prompting an increase in legal fees in the county budget.

The county also budgeted an extra $400,000 for housing local jail inmates at jails in other counties due to overcrowding at the Oswego County Correctional Facility.

The final budget was also reduced by $700,000 in part due to a reduction in public assistance as a result of declining demand since August and new disability funds from the federal government, according to county officials.

Legislators also cut $109,000 budgeted for gas and oil to reflect the decrease in the price of gasoline.

Legislator Frank Castiglia, D-Fulton, made a motion to cut $33,500 of fringe benefits that the legislators receive including mileage reimbursement and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) that legislators receive to pay for minor medical expenses.

“There’s $48,000 worth of fringe services that should come out. What are we going to give up?” Castiglia asked.

Legislator Shawn Doyle, R-Pulaski, defended the mileage reimbursement saying that the county has been paying compensation to legislators since the 1840s.

“I don’t know any part-time job that gets $14,000 in benefits,” said Castiglia said of the FSA.

Doyle replied that since no more legislators are able to receive health insurance, “I think it’s fair the only remaining people that have it.”

The motion failed to pass the legislature, as did a motion to eliminate the FSAs.

Kunzwiler added that he suggested that the county study its airport and staff to look for areas to cut, while Legislator Amy Tresidder, D-Oswego, suggested the county look to downsize the legislature to save money.

Legislator Doug Malone, D-Oswego Town, made a motion to eliminate all unfilled positions.

“We hired 21 people. I was in the legislature the year we voted to layoff 80,” said Malone, whose motion failed.

Church explained that he doesn’t believe that there are a lot of open positions. He pointed out that some positions fall under state and federal mandates, such as correction officers.

“That’s not good management,” Church said, explaining that it doesn’t take into consideration the nature of the positions and the services that they provide to the public.

“We have a very deliberate process on every position on whether to refill a position or not,” Church added, explaining that when a position becomes vacant, it usually takes at least four months to fill.

According to Church, the county has saved $2.1 million in that fashion.

Gerald M. Zeitlin

Gerald M. Zeitlin, 77, of Oswego died Tuesday December 9, 2014 at his home. He was born in Philadelphia, Pa. He was a graduate of Cornell University (BEE 1960), and the University of Colorado (MSEE 1969). He pursued further graduate studies in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley. He devoted his energies to the Open SETI Initiative. Mr. Zeitlin had held a private pilot certificate since 1981. Mr. Zeitlin served in the United States Army, where was a 1st Lieutenant. Mr. Zeitlin was predeceased by his wife Mary Louise Zeitlin in 2013. Mr. Zeitlin is survived by his sister Susan Baer of Pa., stepchildren Jennifer Kagan of Syracuse, and Eliot Kagan. Services and burial were private. The Sugar Scanlon Funeral Home, 147 W. 4th St., is in care of the arrangements

William M. DuBois

William DuBois OBWilliam M. DuBois, 70, of Phoenix, N.Y.,passed away at University Hospital, Syracuse on Thursday December 11, 2014. Born in Fulton to his late parents, Ethel (Young) and Lloyd M. DuBois on May 5, 1944, he was a graduate of Fulton High School, and attended college. Bill was a highly decorated US Army veteran, serving in Vietnam from 1965-1967. He received the Purple Heart, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation Badge. Bill also received NYS military awards as well.

Bill was later employed by The Nestle Co., Fulton, as a candy technologist, serving 27 years. Later he worked for BOCES in Liverpool for 10 years. He attended St. Stephen’s Church, Phoenix.

Bill was a member of the Phoenix Memorial Post, VFW, Post 5540; an outdoorsman; enjoyed poker games, and very active with his grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his sister Delores Dawn Lockwood in 2003.

Surviving are his loving wife of 47-plus years, Susan M. (Benjamin) DuBois; two sons Michael W. and his daughter-in-law, Nora DuBois of Baldwinsville, and Marc E. DuBois of Baldwinsville; two brothers, Gary (Ann) DuBois of Oswego, and Lloyd M. (Beverly) DuBois, Jr. of Fulton; four sisters, Syndey (Don) Wallace of Hannibal, Janice Nielson of Phoenix, Brenda (Gary) Ingersoll of Fla., and Linda Conn of Fulton; six grandchildren, Aaron DuBois, William DuBois, George DuBois, Aiden DeBois, Maegan DuBois, and Charlotte DuBois; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; friends.

Services were Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in St. Stephen’s Church, 469 Main St., Phoenix, with the Rev. Philip Brockmyre officiating. Spring burial with military honors will be in Mt. Pleasant Southside Cemetery of Volney on Co. Rt. 45.

Calling hours from 2 to 4 p.m., and 6 to 8 p.m.  Monday at the Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home, 431 Main St., Phoenix, NY 13135

Memorials in Williams memory may be made to: V. A. Medical Center, 800 Irving Ave., Syracuse, NY 13210, or SUNY Upstate Cancer Center, 750 E. Adams St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

Ward “Bud” Shortslef, Jr.

Shortslef OBWard “Bud” Shortslef, Jr., 92, of Sterling, passed away Thursday at St. Luke Health Services in Oswego. He was born in Oswego, a son to the late Ward and Amanda (Walrath) Shortslef and was a life resident of Sterling. Ward was a graduate of Hannibal schools. He retired from Sealright in Fulton and had returned to work as a laborer at Ontario Orchards. Ward was a member of the Bluegrass Association and enjoyed farming and bluegrass music. He was predeceased by a son, Dale Shortslef; three brothers, Arthur, Menzo and Robert Shortslef and by a sister-in-law, Anna May Shortslef. He is survived by a son, Gary Shortslef on Manlius; five grandchildren, Crystal Hatten of Sterling, Dawn Delacruz of Fulton, Andrea Shortslef of Oswego, James Shortslef of Hannibal and Kristy Pritchard of Sterling; 11 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Evelyn (Eugene) Pritchard of Sterling and Theresa (Michael) Naklick of Fla.; two brothers, Neil (Hope) Shortslef of Sterling and Harold (Louise) Shortslef of Fulton as well as several nieces and nephews. Graveside services will be held in the spring at Springbrook Cemetery, Sterling. Calling are  4 to  7 p.m. Monday at Foster Funeral Home, 837 Cayuga Street, Hannibal.

Dorothy R. Blake

Dorothy R. Blake, 86, of South Hannibal, passed away Friday at Auburn Community Hospital. She was born in Jacksonville and lived most of her life in South Hannibal.  She was the widow of Robert D. Blake, who died in 2001. Dorothy was predeceased by a grandson, Scott W. Blake, Jr., who died in January 2012.

Surviving are five daughters, Linda DeMott of Phoenix, Robbin Griffin and Penny Everson both of Fulton, Becky Hatch of Ocala, Fla., and Karen Abitz of Dubuque, Iowa; four sons, Randy Blake of Lysander, Robert Blake, Jr. and L. Ray Blake both of Cato and Scott Blake of Wilmington, N.C.; a brother, George (Louise) Phelps of Beauville, N.C.; 28 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; one great-great-granddaughter as well as several nieces and nephews.

There are no calling hours. Graveside services will be held in the spring at Jacksonville Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association, Syracuse, NY Office, 6390 Fly Rd., 2nd Floor, East Syracuse, NY 13057.  Foster Funeral Home, Hannibal has care of arrangements.

Dorothy M. Durfey

Durfey OBDorothy M. Durfey, 82, of Fulton died Friday December 12, 2014 in Michaud Residential Heath Services, Fulton. Mrs. Durfey was born in Oswego the daughter of the late William and Gertrude (Deno) Manwaring. Mrs. Durfey was a salesperson in the appliance department at Montgomery Wards, in Fulton. She was a member of the Fulton Woman’s Club. Mrs. Durfey is survived by her husband of 64 years Jack Durfey of Fulton, and children Richard (Elizabeth) Durfey of Oswego, Debora (William) Chapman of Ogdensburg, Patricia (John) Kulie of Windfield, Illinois, Barbara (Donald) Clonch of Hannibal, her siblings William (Barbara) Manwaring of Oswego, Barbara Fragale of Oswego, Nancy (Joe) Caza of Fulton, Diane (Adrian) Richardson of Oswego, she has 7 grandchildren Sean, Kimberly, Allison, Katielynn, Patrick, Paige, Douglas, and 8 great grandchildren. Funeral services will be conducted Thursday 11 a.m. in the Sugar Funeral Home, Fulton.  Spring burial will be in Peck Cemetery. Calling hours will be Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the funeral home 224 W. 2nd. St. Fulton

Barbara Jean Blount

Blount OBBarbara Jean Blount, 74, of Fulton, went to Heaven on Saturday. Barbara was born in Fulton, a daughter to the late Arlene and Joe Hayden and lived most of her life in Fulton. She graduated from Fulton High School in 1958. Barbara had worked at Nestle’s, was a salesperson with Montgomery Ward, a gym teacher and bus driver with Faith Heritage School and worked in the seafood department at Tops Supermarket before becoming the Assistant Seafood Manager at Wegmans in Clay and then relocating to their Dewitt location, where she retired in 2001. Upon her retirement, Barbara and her husband, Charles, spent the winter months in Lakeland, Fla. She was a member of the Fulton Alliance Church where she had been involved with the Pioneer Girls. She enjoyed sewing, quilting, beading and making crafts. Barbara is survived by her husband of 56 years, Charles R. Blount of Fulton; four children, Kathy (David) Green, Linda (Wayne) Atkinson, Ken (Cheryl) Blount and Alice (David) Lamb; siblings, Carol (John) Weaver, Joe (Judy) Hayden Jr.,  John Hayden and Richard (Sue) Hayden; 15 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren as well as several nieces and nephews. Memorial services are 6 p.m. Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at the Fulton Alliance Church, 1044 State Route 48, Fulton. Foster Funeral Home, Fulton has care of arrangements. For floral offerings, the family has requested dish gardens to be sent to the church for her memorial service.

Philip A. Manitta

Manitta OBPhilip A. Manitta, 89, of Fulton, died Saturday in The Grand at Chittenango. Mr. Manitta was born in Skaneateles the son of the late Salvatore and Angelina (Vasco) Manitta, and later moved to Fulton in 1937. Mr. Manitta co-owned and operated Manitta Bros. Grocery Store in Fulton. He served in the United States Army as a sergeant during World War II, from 1949 until 1954. Mr. Manitta is survived by his wife of 57 years Columbia “Chickie” Manitta, and daughters Phyllis (Dave) Hutchinson of Pa., and Annette (Martin) Bargabos of Canastota, and siblings Dominic “Doc” (Gloria) Manitta of Fulton, Lucille Runeare of Fulton, Emily (Joe) St. Phillips of Fulton, Mary (Joe) Jonientz of Liverpool, three granddaughters Rachel, Celia, and Ella, and several nieces and nephews. In addition he was predeceased by his sisters Josephine Borek, and Anna Koczan. Funeral services will be Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Holy Trinity Church, Fulton. Spring burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Fulton. There will be no calling hours. The arrangements are in the care of the Sugar Funeral Home, 224 W. 2nd St., Fulton. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Alzheimer Association.

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