View from the Assembly — let’s fix the tax code

It is widely understood that New York state is a high-tax state.

New York state citizens are acutely aware of this fact. It is hardly surprising then that the governor, being the politician that he is, has appointed not one, but two, commissions to examine how to reform New York’s tax system.

The first commission he appointed, with the Orwellian name, “New York State Tax Reform and Fairness Commission,” released its report last month. Notwithstanding its name, the report contains some good ideas on how New York should reform its tax structure.

The report begins by acknowledging we are a high-tax state.  In the 2012-13 fiscal year, state and local governments levied about $146 billion in taxes.

Of that $146 billion, $64 billion is attributable to state taxes and the remaining $82 billion came from local tax collections.

Of the $82 billion raised in local taxes, $49 billion was raised through property taxes.

Although the report raises the issue of local taxes, the majority of its suggested changes deal with reforming our state’s tax system, not our local tax systems.

First, the report acknowledges the state’s use and sales tax system is antiquated and needs to be modernized. I agree with this conclusion.

At the very least, we need to simplify the system. I have heard from many small businesses about how difficult it is for them to understand exactly on what they need to collect sales tax.

For example, if you sell bagels, you do not charge sales tax on plain bagels, but if you toast it, slice it and put butter on it, then you must charge sales tax.

There are all sorts of inane examples along these lines that businesses encounter on a regular basis. The report states the structure is “unduly complex” and makes “voluntary compliance more difficult, increasing the cost of doing business in the state and creates financial risk for vendors who ‘get it wrong’ and adds to the government’s tax administration costs.”

If nothing else, in the upcoming legislative session, we should make revenue neutral changes to our sales tax system to take out much of the complexity that has arisen over the years.

Second, the report also acknowledges our state’s estate tax has not kept pace with changes made to federal estate tax laws.

As characteristic of our high-tax reputation, New York is one of only 17 states that has an estate tax. Moreover, there are only two states that have estate tax exemption amounts lower than New York’s $1 million amount.

I was pleased the report notes New York’s estate tax may be a factor in taxpayer migration from New York to states without an estate tax.

In Central New York, we have seen many change their residency to Florida (a state without an estate tax) in effort to avoid NY’s estate tax.

It is hard enough competing with Florida on the basis of the weather. We shouldn’t also be giving people an economic incentive to move there.

To try to alleviate this problem, the commission recommends in its report to raise New York’s exemption from $1 million to $3 million.

This is a start.  However, I would rather see us eliminate our estate tax entirely or, at the very least, match the exemption amount to the federal amount which is $5.25 million.

Third, the commission recommends an accelerated phase out of the 18-a surcharge. This surcharge is a 2 percent assessment on electric, gas, water and steam utilities.

Like all taxes on businesses, they are passed on to the consumers. This assessment is no different. It places an additional burden on New York families and businesses because we already pay high utility bills notwithstanding our taxes.

In last year’s budget, the legislature and governor agreed to phase out this charge over a three-and-a-half-year period. As mentioned, the commission recommends phasing this out more quickly because it has such a detrimental effect, particularly on businesses.

I agree and indeed sponsor legislation to fully repeal this surcharge.

The commission also recommends many other changes to our state’s tax code. Some of its other recommendations I agree with, some I do not.

However, I am pleased at least there is some focus being brought to what is a primary economic problem in our state.

As mentioned above, the governor also has appointed a second commission to look at our state’s tax system.

Apparently, this second commission is supposed to focus on coming up with proposals to relieve New Yorkers from our high property tax burden.

I look forward to seeing its proposals and hope that they will be broad based.

Solutions will have to get at the reasons why we have high property taxes in this state and not simply shift the burden of our taxes from one group of citizens to another.

I will provide an update once their report becomes available.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, by email at or by calling 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

Seguin named manager at ARISE

Lisa Seguin has been named manager of the Oswego Medicaid Service Coordination, Consolidated Support Services, and Family Support Services programs for ARISE in Oswego.

Seguin’s experiences and strong commitment to the mission of independent living and self-direction make her extremely well-suited for this role.

She began her career with ARISE in 2003 as a Medicaid Service Coordinator (MSC).

Two years later she became a senior MSC.

This year she was approved as a broker and began to provide Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities trainings.

In the community, Seguin is known for her work on the Family Support Services Council in Oswego as well as on the state level.

She pursued self-directed services (Consolidated Support Services) for her daughter Kateri, who has Down syndrome, when this option was first introduced in Central New York.

The families that work with Lisa have commented on her good listening skills, compassion and her passion for focusing on the abilities and strengths of everyone with whom she works.

Volney students ‘on a roll’

Volney Elementary School students were treated to a spirit assembly Nov. 26 in recognition of their positive behavior and for being role models.

The entire student body united in the auditorium to sing “You Can Count on Me” prior to Interim Principal Michael Egan recognizing one student from each classroom for exemplifying the character trait of gratitude.

In addition to the classroom role models, 22 students were awarded certificates for being “On A Roll” models.

The monthly classroom role models were Brady Jacobson, Zackery McDougall, Branden Garner, Cassie Clarke, Santina Cunningham, MaKenna Grant, Gabriella Runge, Hunter Riebel, Zachary Ranieri, Nicholas Shaw, Ben Roberts, Noah Morales, Amara Fischel, Mallorie Smart, Brandon Burch, Erin Phillips, Destiny Miller, Rain Frank, Alicia Merritt, Emily Tice and Heidie Hall.

Students earning recognition as the monthly “On a Roll” models included Hunter Stein, Ellie-Mae Barnum, Deven Searor, Aiden St. Germain, Cadyn Reed, Danielle Boyce, Mackenzie Kerfien, Amber Dumas, Sydni Casler, Daymon Hooper, Alex Knapp, Lexis Casler-West, Ethan Jacobson, Sydney Osborn, Noelle McDougall, Serenity Lauckarn, Logan Wilson, Kalista Reynolds, Mason Williamson, Isabella Robillard, Travis Loomis, and Robert Moon.

To cap off the assembly and get the audience ready for Thanksgiving, Jessica Hyman, Lyle Beeman and Cassandra Seaton read “Giving Thanks” as a slideshow played in the background.

Fulton Community Theatre announces 2014 season


A recent edition of The Valley News carried a story announcing the upcoming 2014 season for Fulton Community Theatre.

The story stated the organization has put on its productions at Holy Trinity Catholic Church for the past four years. The story did not say the plays for 2014 will be held at Holy Trinity.

None of the venues for the 2014 plays has been announced.

Original story:

The quirky aspects of love, lust, class warfare, family and crossword puzzles will be in abundance in the upcoming year as Fulton Community Theatre announces its 2014 season.

For its 24th-anniversary year, Fulton Community Theatre is planning productions of six productions, including a Central New York debut, return engagements of two musical events and three classic plays by four of the most celebrated playwrights of the last century.

The community theatre is coming off a very successful 2013 season, which saw seven productions, increased audience attendance, and major improvements to the Jubilee Hall stage at Holy Trinity Church in Fulton where the theatre has performed for the last four years.

The 2014 season is as follows:

Up first, just in time for Valentines Day, Fulton Community Theatre will bring to the stage the Central New York debut of “2 Across” a romantic comedy by Jerry Mayer, whose writing credits include several stage plays, as well as writing for television shows such as M*A*SH, All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The comedy tells the tale of two strangers who meet on a commuter train. They are alone in the car, each is married, and both are doing the New York Times crossword.

She’s an organized, sensible, psychologist. He’s a free spirited, unemployed ad exec. She is a crossword pro, he always quits. They learn from each other, argue, laugh, reveal big problems, they kiss.  Will they meet again?

FCT’s production of 2 Across, directed by Michael A. Bolio, will run weekends, Feb. 15, 16, 22, and 23, 2014.

In April, the theatre will mount a return engagement of the rock and roll Easter Cantata “Tenebrae” that made its world debut in 2013.

The musical piece, which features the talents of “The Sent Forth backing a chorale of voices and narration, will play for one night only on Friday, April 11.

In June, Fulton Community Theatre will bring back to Central New York a production of “You Can’t Take It With You”, the classic comedy of family and social classes by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

The 1930s comedy, which has been dubbed the “funniest play every written” centers around the eccentric Sycamore family.

Penny paints and writes risqué plays. Her husband Paul builds fireworks in the basement with an ice cream man who came one day and never left. Grandpa Vanderhof keeps snakes and doesn’t pay income taxes, since the government wouldn’t use the money properly if he did.

When daughter Alice falls in love with Tony Kirby, the son of a wealthy family, more than fireworks ignite as families and social classes clash.

The production, directed by FCT Artistic Director William Edward White, will play weekends — June 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22.

Also returning for another season is the 13th edition of the theatre’s long-running “An Evening on Broadway” cabaret series. Directed by Kathleen DeGolyer, this year’s theme will explore the works of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Timothy Rice. Dates for the production have yet to be announced.

For September, Fulton Community Theatre will bring to the stage Paddy Chayefsky’s “Marty”, the timeless classic about a lonely butcher who has given up on ever finding love, who stumbles upon a chance of happiness one night at a dance.

The story, which was adapted into the 1955 Academy Award-winning movie starring Ernest Borgnine, began life as a 1953 teleplay for the Goodyear Television Playhouse on NBC.

For the Fulton Community Theatre production, director White will draw upon the original teleplay, which has been seldom seen since its original live broadcast. The special event will run Sept. 12, 13 and 14.

To cap off the 2014 season, the theatre will present Neil Simon’s “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.” The comedy, which Simon wrote in 1969 for character actor James Coco, unravels the misadventures of Barney Cashman, a quiet, married man who wants to join the sexual revolution before it is too late.

A gentle soul, with no experience in adultery, Barney’s quest for seduction brings him in contact with a sexpot, a free-spirit, and his wife’s best friend.

The production will run weekends Nov. 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16, 2013.

For more information, including upcoming auditions for the season, please contact FCT at its website,

Lanigan Elementary students learn history while getting in holiday spirit

First-graders at Lanigan Elementary got into the Christmas spirit recently, and learned a little about Fulton history too, with a visit to the John Wells Pratt House Museum.

The museum had on display decorated Christmas trees as part of their 25th annual Parade of Trees.

This year’s event drew in a total of 11 themed trees decorated by local organizations, clubs, youth and children’s group. Julie Galvin’s class from Lanigan Elementary decorated a tree with the theme “Sweet Christmas.”

All of the tree’s ornaments were made from candy; a marshmallow snowman, peppermint wreaths and candy cane sleds.

Gracia Thompson’s class at G. Ray Bodley also decorated a tree, with the theme “Home is Where the Heart Is.”

Ornaments were made from foam hearts, and embellished with beads and sequins.

Students on the field trip were able to vote for their favorite tree in each of the three categories — adult, youth and children’s. They also toured the Pratt House and learned about factories that used to call Fulton home, including Nestlé and Hunter Arms.

Bodley Bulletins, by Julia Ludington

The holiday season is upon us.

On Dec. 16 and 17, GRB will have its annual Band and Orchestra Holiday Concerts, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Be sure to attend and support our music groups. You will not be disappointed with the music that celebrates this time of year and all that comes with it.

If you are interested in ordering your yearbook at a discounted price, make sure to turn in your order before the Christmas recess.

Turning it in by this time will save you $10. Additionally, ordering a yearbook ahead of time instead of waiting until the end of the year will guarantee that you receive a copy.

See Mr. Senecal in room 228 for more information.

The Yearbook Club is in need of 2013 spring and fall sports photos. If you have any you feel would be a good addition to the yearbook, you can submit them online at The school code is fultonian.

If you are a senior and would like your yearbook to be personalized, it costs an extra $5. The deadline for personalization is Jan. 17.

Seniors, also be sure to turn in your graduation cards by Dec. 16, stating the name you would like to appear on your diploma. Please no nicknames — only your legal name can be used.

There are numerous scholarships available in the guidance office for anyone who is applying to college this year. Make sure to stop by soon — deadlines are approaching.

Today, the varsity and JV boys wrestling teams have a match at 6 p.m. at J-D High School. Tomorrow, the varsity boys’ and girls’ bowling teams will take on CBA at Strike & Spare Lanes in Mattydale at 3:30 p.m.

I hope everyone has a good week and that some will be able to make it to one or more of GRB events coming up.

Oswego Middle School takes on mural challenge

Upon entering the Oswego Middle School art room, immediately visitors’ attention is turned toward a massive ceramic sea aquarium mural.

Student teacher Cassandra Mazur has conducted a collaborative project with seventh- and eighth-graders to create a lasting memory for students.

“Over the course of the last month the 140-piece ceramic mural was created by a group of 93 students. The mural measures 6 by 8 feet,” she said.

“It focuses on collaborative community art. It began with a simple idea and transformed into students learning about group collaboration, ceramic tile making and personal artistic expression. The story of this mural is about imagining a vision, believing in all possibilities, working with others, trusting the process and spreading inspiration,” she said.

Initially, the project began by introducing students to ceramic tile murals found throughout history and in everyday life.

“I created a full size ocean themed drawing of the mural to provide a solid framework for the students to work from. Students spent the next two weeks sculpting the tiles,” Mazur said.

“They were given templates of the larger design to trace on to the clay tiles. That design would become altered and personalized by students through various sculpting techniques.

“This process allowed students to apply their own unique style and artistic fingerprint to the tiles which in turn made the work unique and one of a kind,” she said.

Students then spent another week glazing and adding color to the tiles. The seventh-graders were in charge of glazing the border tiles, which include the words “Inspire, Love, Imagine, Create, Dream and Believe,” while the eighth-graders were assigned to specific tiles according to their artistic styles.

Those who preferred detailed work were in charge of painting the fish, turtles and smaller coral reef. Others who preferred to work at a faster pace were assigned to water and the larger coral reef.

Mazur said this was a positive experience as “You never heard ‘I’m not artistic’ because everyone was helping each other through the process and fully contributed their own unique abilities.”

Erin Platten, an Oswego Middle School art teacher, was extremely positive concerning the experience.

“She came to me with this huge idea of creating a mural. I could see the passion she had and the excitement, and I do love a good challenge and new opportunities for my students,” Platten said. “She worked very hard to design the project, and put endless hour and purchased many materials.”

“We had many discussions along the way about the process and the outcome and we both learned a lot. I really enjoyed the experience and watching my students learn and grow from a totally different perspective,” Platten said. “They really seemed to enjoy the overall project and it is a lot of fun to watch students, faculty and staff come into my room and ogle over the mural. I can see it being a conversation piece for years to come.”

Mazur noted there is further credit that needs to be given.

“Once we had all the tiles fired and out of the kiln, they were ready to be installed,” she said. “Albert Lemire, an employee of Raby’s ACE Hardware story in Oswego, donated his time to install the mural on the wall. The final mural would not have been possible without him.”

Patten noted, “The mural is beautiful and a real testament to Cassie’s love and devotion for teaching. She will be a wonderful teacher, and I think that by beginning big and being successful she will go forth and do amazing things.””

Fulton swimmers splash into new season

By Rob Tetro

The Fulton varsity swim team has high hopes for the 2013-14 season.

Coach Dexter Hinman said Fulton hopes to have a winning record. Individually, the Red Raiders want to be a team that qualifies most of its athletes for Sectionals.

Hinman feels his experienced team is ready to put in the hard work and dedication that is needed to succeed this season.

This season, Fulton returns many athletes from last year’s team and will feature a couple of athletes from Phoenix.

The Red Raiders top returning athletes are seniors Ross Gardner, Lacey Reich and Jacob Strauss, junior Kyle Buck and sophomores Andrew Distin and David Tallents.

Supporting Fulton’s top returning athletes are seniors Breanna Baker, Anna Guernsey and Alyssa Harley (Phoenix).

Also: Juniors Adrianna Dodge, Emma Harvey, Austin Nairn, Zachary Perry and Grace Trepasso, sophomores Caleb and Zachary Almeter, Justin Grower, Joshua Hotaling, Sage Hourihan, Casey Jones, Grant Marriner, Timothy McAfee, Lorcan Murphy, Dakota Stoughtenger, Kaitlyn Trudell (Phoenix) and Abbey Zych.

Freshmen on the team are Miwa Burdic, Michael Mankiewicz, Ryan Morehouse, Deidre Murphy, Breanna Stoughtenger and Sarah Tallents.

Hinman named Ross Gardner, Anna Guernsey, Lacey Reich and Jacob Strauss as Fulton’s team captains for the upcoming season. Hinman points out Guernsey, Reich and Strauss are natural leaders. Their impressive work ethic has earned them the respect of their teammates.

The Red Raiders expect to be challenged every time they get into the water this season. However, there is a date on Fulton’s schedule the team already is looking at.

The Red Raiders will be taking part in an invitational in Rochester this season that will feature other coed teams.

Despite the many challenges that await them, Hinman expects Fulton’s depth will allow them to compete consistently. Unfortunately, Hinman suggests his team will be rebuilding in at least one area. This season, the Red Raiders will be developing new divers.

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