OSWEGO, NY – “This is positively something that I didn’t want to be the last thing that I did as mayor,” Tom Gillen said Monday night. “But, we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.”
With Council President Eric VanBuren absent, Gillen was forced to cast the deciding vote whether to increase water and sewer rates for Oswego taxpayers.
The voted tied with three ‘yes’ (councilors Pat McLaughlin, Mike Todd and Shawn Walker) and three ‘no’ votes (councilors Fran Enwright, Billy Barlow and Ron Kaplewicz). The mayor voted ‘yes.’
The add-on resolution, which was presented at the end of the meeting, would help raise the $1.5 million necessary for the bond payments for the city’s required water and sewer improvements.
It was recently discovered that the city didn’t have sufficient funds in the sewer enterprise fund to cover the cost of the upcoming work.
According to the resolution: “The current water and sewer rate schedule shall be abandoned and be replaced with the following rate schedule: flat rate water shall be $75/quarter and flat rate sewer shall be $200/quarter. Metered water base rate shall be $55/quarter for the first 10,000 gallons or 1,337 cubic feet and usage over the base rate shall be billed at $1.50 per 1,000 gallons or $1.50 per 134 cubic feet. Metered sewer base rate shall be $150/quarter for the first 10,000 gallons or 1,337 cubic feet and usage over the base shall be billed at $5 per 1,000 gallons or 134 cubic feet. The new water and sewer rates shall be applied to all accounts on the current schedule.”
Gillen called the hike the reasonable thing to do rather than burdening the incoming administration with the controversy.
Councilor Todd agreed.
“I apologize for it. I’m not happy with it. But, we don’t have any option,” he said.
The three councilors who voted no sought to find other options and questioned why the voted needed to be taken Monday night.
“What’s the rush?” Enwright asked. “I think this needs a little more work.”
He also cited the negative impact the increase would have on residents trying to make ends meet on a fixed income.