Council Hacks Oswego Tax Hike Nearly in Half

OSWEGO, NY – During a special budget meeting Wednesday night, the Oswego Common Council sliced the mayor’s proposed tax hike for 2014 about in half.

But, there were casualties.

The mayor had proposed at tax hike of nearly 82 percent and a rate of $18+ per $1,000 assessed. Councilors have it down to around 40 percent and a rate of $14.39 per $1,000.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, the Code Enforcement Department will no longer exist in the city of Oswego, according to the council’s budget amendments. Those duties will be shared by the police and fire departments. The one part-time investigator will be absorbed by the police department.

There will also be reductions in engineering and zoning. The city’s part-time tourism position would also be cut.

Also on the chopping block are 15 positions within the DPW.

The public safety clerk position won’t be filled. Other vacant positions will not be filled, either.

Councilors are also looking to institute a 10-day city-wide unpaid furlough in the coming year. And, the city’s swimming pool could also be closed in 2014.

“It’s an unfortunate victim of the budget,” Council President Ron Kaplewicz said. “At least we’re getting things down to a more manageable number.”

The council will continue to examine ways to reduce the city’s expenses while trying to find new sources of revenue, he added.

“We have to be creative in 2014. We’ll continue to look for ways to redefine and reinvent ourselves as a city,” he told Oswego County Today. “We have to take a hard look at the way we operate and make changes.”

The council will continue to seek alternatives throughout the new year, he said.

“We’re still looking at changes, we’re looking at everything. It’s the cost of doing business; how we all pay for services we receive as a community,” Kaplewicz said. “We’re looking to make more changes. We’re looking at each and every department.”

The council is schedule to vote on the proposed spending plan at its Dec. 23 meeting. However, if they feel they can do more to reduce the burden on the taxpayers, they could hold off and schedule a special meeting on Dec. 30 or even on New Year’s Eve, he added.

A public hearing will be held Thursday at the middle school, staring at 6:30 p.m. An up to date assessment of the budget plan will be presented, followed by time for questions.