If we are going to improve the economy and create jobs in Oswego County, we need elected officials from both parties to work together to get things done. Since I took office as a County Legislator, I have attempted to do exactly that. Sadly, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have blocked common-sense legislation that I propose simply because of my party affiliation.
During my campaign last year, I made a promise to the people of Fulton and Granby that I was going to be an advocate for fiscal responsibility and lower taxes. In keeping that promise, I offered a proposal that we reinstate a real property tax exemption for home improvement projects. This was a program that was on the books in Oswego County from 2003 through 2008. Under that program, homeowners could make improvements to their property without being immediately hit with a higher property tax bill. Instead, the increase would be phased in over five years. Many other counties and local governments have similar laws on their books, including the City of Fulton.
Throughout the year, I worked with county administration officials to bring back this program. I was under the impression all that time, that the discussions we had were being conducted in good faith and that the Community and Consumer Affairs Committee would vote to send this legislation for a full vote by the legislature. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, I even made a compromise from my original proposal believing that it was a step in the right direction.
At the Community and Consumer Affairs Committee meeting in July, my proposal was unanimously blocked by Republicans on the committee without explanation. A decade ago, the County Legislature passed this measure without a single negative vote.
To get this legislation considered, I was left with no choice but to bring this directly to the full legislature. After I did so, I attempted to explain my motion but was rudely cut off, twice, and not allowed to speak. Some legislators behaved unprofessionally and disrespectfully. In the end, I was not allowed to finish my statement and – not surprisingly – the legislation was not even brought to a vote. All of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, except for one, voted to block this common-sense proposal.
By opposing my legislation, these members of Legislature prevented the property tax break from going forward and, I believe, they failed to do right by their constituents. I have no doubt, that this program, properly promoted, would have been an incentive for many residents to make needed home improvements, get some property tax relief, and even help create residential construction jobs.
Despite this clearly partisan behavior by the majority, I remain resolute and will continue trying to work together with legislators of both parties and will continue fighting for what I think is right.
Oswego County Legislator