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Citizens Tax Reform Panel Finds Little in Fulton to Reform

An informal committee of citizens that formed to look at the way the city spends its money came to a surprising conclusion.

“Everyone on the committee came to the same conclusion, that the city does a great job on taxes,” said Tim Farrell, who put the committee together with his wife, Jo.

The committee analyzed the city budget, looking for ways to lower taxes or spending.

“None of us could come up with a direction to go in,” Farrell told the Fulton Common Council recently.  “It seems that all of our problems can trace to being forced on us by the state.”

The city spends more than $700,000 a year on overtime for its police and fire departments, but state and federal labor laws make it difficult for the city to negotiate changes to its contracts with the police and fire unions that would reduce overtime, Mayor Ron Woodward has said.

The state is imposing very high increases on local governments and schools for the local share of the state worker retirement system.

Because there’s no state budget and the state is running low on cash to pay its bills, Gov. David Paterson has delayed paying its bills to local governments and schools, forcing some of them to borrow money at taxpayer expense to pay their bills.

And rules on the removal of asbestos and other potentially hazardous materials from homes is imposing high costs on the city’s innovative program to rehabilitate homes and sell them at a profit to first-time homebuyers.  A brand new federal rule on lead removal will add costs to these home projects.

Woodward noted that all of the city’s union contracts are up for negotiation next year and that he’s “holding his breath” that state aid cuts won’t be any more severe than they have been so far.

2 Comments

  1. No improvements? Really? How convenient.

    Ok, since we are doing such a good job with tax money here in the City of Fulton, how about LOWERING our property taxes, even 1 or 2% just as a token gesture? How about removing the delivery charge on our water bills, now that we have all these new water districts in the surrounding towns that are paying into the system? If we are doing so well, how about finding me a street in the City of Fulton I can drive 3 blocks without losing the undercarriage of my vehicle? How about finding some business to develop in this city so that we can realize more tax dollars and fix some of these things, and not at the cost of the citzen’s wallets constantly? Let’s not forget about the ZERO support the city has for the college, of which could spur some of this development.

    No Mr. Farrell, and I do applaud your efforts don’t get me wrong, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. True, the state is part of the problem, but has this city devolved to the point that we must live off the state government’s scraps they throw alone? Have we lost so much that we can no longer be remotely self efficient (within reason fo course)? If so, someone needs to get out there and find business ventures and INVITE them to the city. We have tax incentives and zones to offer, let’s get it done! This can not be done, however, with a non-progressive city.

    Real change and reform will come soon enough, and you will see exactly how great the city with a future can be!

    Ralph Stacy, Jr.
    4th Ward Resident, City of Fulton

  2. I think the key statement in the article is this:
    ““None of us could come up with a direction to go in,” Farrell told the Fulton Common Council recently.”

    Really? No one could come up with a direction to go in. That may be Fulton’s problem. There is no one in leadership who believes there is anything wrong here. Possibly because they all have good jobs and are doing fine?

    Let’s get some leadership who can come up with a direction. Forward springs to mind.

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