Oswego Common Council adopts 2014 city budget

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego Common Council adopted a budget for 2014 Monday night that will raise taxes by about $4.46 per $1,000 of assessed value for Oswego taxpayers.

That is much less than the original budget proposal that was going to raise taxes more than $8 per $1,000.

Also, the budget adopted Monday night reinstates 15 jobs that were going to be cut from the Department of Public Works and keeps Gallagher Pool open. Three positions in the codes enforcement office still remain cut in the adopted budget.

Also, the new budget includes 10-day unpaid furloughs for all city workers. Common Council President Ron Kaplewicz said this will have to be negotiated with employee unions, but he said it will be made clear to them that if furloughs are not taken, then job cuts will have to be made.

It was standing room only at the council chambers at City Hall as about 120 people showed up for the public hearing on the budget Monday night. Twelve people spoke, many about keeping the codes enforcement office and DPW workers.

Mayor Thomas Gillen’s preliminary budget increased taxes about 82 percent – from $10.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $18.25 per $1,000. Owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay $575 more in taxes in 2014 than in 2013 if cuts weren’t made.

The adopted budget raises taxes about 44.7 percent — from $10.03 per $1,000 to $14.49 per $1,000. This means owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay about $312 more in taxes in 2014.

For more information on the budget and budget hearing, pick up a copy of Saturday’s The Valley News.

 

Oswego city budget public hearing at 7 tonight (Dec. 23)

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego residents will get their last chance to comment about the proposed city budget at tonight’s public hearing.

The hearing is at 7 p.m. in the Common Council chambers at City Hall. The council may vote to adopt a budget after the hearing, or, if more changes need to be made, could meet later in the week to adopt a budget.

So far, the council have whittled the budget down about $4 million, which has knocked about $4 a $1,000 off the proposed tax rate increase.

“They have taken my budget and edited it,” Mayor Thomas Gillen said. “They were pretty strong with the red pencil.”

With Gillen’s preliminary budget, taxes were set to increase about 82 percent – from $10.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $18.25 per $1,000. Owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay $575 more in taxes in 2014 than in 2013 if cuts weren’t made.

But cuts have been made.

Gillen said some jobs that are vacant will not be filled. Fifteen positions are being cut in the Department of Public Works. Three people are being laid off in code enforcement. The city also is looking at unpaid two-week furloughs for city workers.

To date, the tax rate has been cut from $18.25 per $1,000 to $14.39 per $1,000.

Gillen said he isn’t happy with the layoffs.

“People are unhappy with the tax increase. I understand that,” he said. “But I think their anger may be clouding the decision making process.”

Common Council President Ron Kaplewicz, R-7th ward, said this is going to be a tough year to get through a budget.

“The options are: raise taxes, cut people or cut programs and services,” he said. “We’re looking at what we need to do for 2014. This is like tough love. We’re just beginning to take a hard look at how we do business.”

Some of the primary problems affecting the budget:

** A loss of assessed value in the city of about $50 million. When the city loses assessed value, other taxpayers have to make up that money to keep the services and programs going.

** An addition of about $400,000 for health insurance changes due to the federal Affordable Health Care Act.

** $300 million in city property that is not on the tax rolls. Kaplewicz said some of these properties, such as the hospital and the YMCA, obtain services from the city but do not pay taxes.

Gillen is worried cutting the Department of Public Works will leave the department short if the city is hit with a huge snow storm. He said people who have come to Oswego from other places “marvel at the way we remove snow” and he wonders if there will be enough people to keep snow off the roads if people are laid off.

There are 81 budgeted positions in DPW, but three positions are vacant so there are 78 employees right now.

Kaplewicz said part of the city’s problem is it didn’t raise taxes for so long that now, it has to have a huge tax hike to keep up with increasing costs. He said for 15 years, “tax increases were almost negligible.”

“I believe that was a mistake,” he said.

Another chance to learn about Oswego County’s muck farms Jan. 6

The Oswego County Farm Bureau will be hosting a series of Coffeecake Meetings on the first Monday of the winter months at 1 p.m. at the Mexico branch of the Oswego County Federal Credit Union on Route 3 (5828 Scenic Avenue).

The first will take place at 1 p.m. Jan. 6 with special guest speaker, Jim Farfaglia, author of “Of the Earth — Stories from Oswego County Muck Farms.”

Farfaglia also has agreed to do a book signing and will have books available for purchase.

These meetings are free and will be open to the public as well as Farm Bureau members. As the name implies, light refreshments will be served.

Future meeting speakers will include Josh Hornesky, a resource conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In And Around Hannibal, by Rita Hooper

Can’t believe it’s almost Christmas – I’m suspending the “schools” series till after the first of the year.

Christmas is the time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I’m not too sure how many folks know that anymore. Seems to me we talk more about Santa and Frosty than we do the Prince of Peace. More about Black Friday and the bottom line than the reason for gift giving.

Our lives have been made richer by the treasured memories of our holidays past – the warm smells of traditional foods, mulled cider and wines, Christmas goose and turkeys, fish or oysters on Christmas eve, pierogi, latkes and sufganyot for Passover, mince pie or paneltone, figgy or plum pudding with that wonderful foamy or hard sauce.

Do you head to the woods to get that fresh cut tree or up to the attic to get that old tried and true that only hurts you if you have an allergy to dust? Do you put it up Christmas Eve or a week or two before? Do you think about the history of each of the ornaments as you put them on?

I remember as a child, running home from school so I could get to the cards before anyone else did and display them on the piano. Now most of my Christmas greetings come by cyber space but I look forward to them just the same. I remember when I was a preacher’s wife, I would make garlands with the cards and hang them around the rooms. I musta had too much time on my hands!

I used to spend a week making cookie doughs and then Sunday afternoon we’d all gather at the dining room table and shape and decorate them. Now I make only the favorites and send packages of them to those not able to be home for the holidays.

Over the years I have amassed a sizable Christmas village – Hannibalville.

It features Hooper Lane – the street with the churches on it and Rita’s Point – the lighthouse of course! James Way and Starr Trek are housing developments and Lake David and Courtney Pond are joined by London’s Bridge. Alyssa Lane goes to the park and Noel’s Inn is the nativity. You’d think I’d named the folks in my family so I could use them in my village!

I still love to watch the classic Christmas movies and take in a live play or concert.

And of course Hannibal has it’s own traditions of the tree lighting, church services and Christmas Bureau. My husband and I did the shopping for new gifts for the Christmas Bureau for 20 years beginning in the 70s. When we began, we were allotted $1 to buy a new gift for each child.

This Christmas, as you gather around the dinner table, share what Christmas was like when you were a child … maybe that was when all Christmas trees looked like Charlie Brown specials … or when the only toy you got was a stuffed animal that your mom made for you, or maybe you only got a lump of coal in your stocking.

The traditions of family and holidays keep moving and changing but they make us who we are … keep the spirit and meaning of Christmas alive this blessed season and see you in church!

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Hannibal Senior Dining Center meets at noon for dinner at the Senior Center (Library Building) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Come early for coffee and news or to work on a jigsaw puzzle or play games or just some chit-chat! Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation, 564-5471. This week’s menu is:

Monday, Dec. 23:  Pasta with sauce and meatballs, Italian vegetable, dessert

Wednesday, Dec. 25:   CLOSED:  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, Dec. 27:  Homemade macaroni and cheese, stewed tomatoes, vegetable, cookie

Come join us for good food, conversation and games.

The Hannibal Methodist Church will gather at 8:30 p.m. for its Candlelight Christmas Eve Service.

Rita Hooper 706-3564

Twohoops2@juno.com

News in brief

“A Festival of Lessons, Carols and Candlelight” will be hosted by the First United Church on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

The service will feature the reading of familiar Christmas scripture, the singing of traditional Christmas carols, the music ministry of the Chancel Choir and the United Voices Quartet, and the lighting of candles at the close of the service.

Ella Matteson Hicks and Burton Phillips, choir director, will each present a solo to the service. The public is welcome to attend. The facility is accessible to the physically disabled.

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An Old Fashioned Christmas Pageant will be one of the highlights of the Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve at the Fulton Alliance Church.

Children age 4 through sixth grade have been working very hard on acting and memorizing their lines and look forward to presenting our church a play about the birth of the Christ Child.

The event will include familiar Christmas carols, scripture, and beautiful angelic faces.  It will be followed by a message from the Rev. J. Spurling, senior pastor, and the traditional candlelight service.

The Fulton Alliance is located at 1044 State Route 48, Fulton, 1/2 south of the city line.

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The Mass schedule has been announced for the holiday for St. Joseph’s and St. Stephen’s churches in Oswego.

They are:

Christmas Eve — 4 p.m. Vigil at St. Joseph’s; 7 p.m. Vigil at St. Stephen’s; Midnight Mass at St. Stephen’s

Christmas Day — 9 a.m. Mass at St. Stephen’s; 11 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s

New Year’s Day — 9 a.m. Mass at St. Stephen’s; 11 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s

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State Street United Methodist Church in Fulton will have two services Christmas Eve.

There will be services at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. The 5 p.m. is family oriented while the 11 p.m. service is a traditional candlelight service.

State Street United Methodist Church is on State Street, Fulton.

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Embroidery has always been a popular needle art, stimulating the imagination and at the same time providing a wonderful look.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County 4-H Program will be holding classes in which youth will have the opportunity to learn how to embroider.

The workshops series will be offered Tuesdays, Jan. 7 and Jan. 21. Classes run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Oswego County Cooperative Extension Office in Mexico.

This hands on program is open to all youth ages, 8-19. Pre-registration is required by Friday,  Jan. 3.  An $8 registration fee includes your pattern and embroidery supplies. It is requested that an adult accompany a child.

To register for this learn how to embroider class or to receive information about Oswego County 4-H, call Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County at 963-7286, Ext. 302 or by email at mmm65@cornell.edu.

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The office of Dr. Padma Ram is relocating to 300 State Route 104 East, Oswego effective Monday Dec. 23.

Lake Ontario Prompt Medical Care will be opening January 2014.

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Three men recently graduated from the New York State Police Academy.

They are: Justin A. Morrison, Fulton; Derek T. Collins of Constantia; and John M. McGuire of Central Square.

A total of 180 men and woman took part in the 200th session graduation ceremony from the Basic School of the New York State Police Academy.

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Mayor Tom Gillen has scheduled the Organizational/Special Meeting of the Common Council for 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2.

At the beginning of the meeting, City Court Judge the Honorable James Metcalf will swear in the councilors for their two-year terms of office.

 

 

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