OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ At a special meeting of the Common Council Monday evening, councilors voted to approve the new sewer rate proposed by the mayor.
The vote came with no discussion and was far from unanimous.
Councilors Shawn Walker (R-Fourth Ward) and Bill Sharkey (R-Sixth Ward) cast dissenting votes.
Councilor Connie Cosemento (D-First Ward) wasn’t at the meeting.
Earlier this month, Mayor Randy Bateman proposed tripling the sewer fee as a means to balance the budget instead of a property tax increase or layoffs.
After conducting two budget workshops last week, the councilors ultimately agreed sewer fee increases would be necessary to close an approximately $1 million void in the city’s proposed $42.9 million spending plan for 2010.
The cost for a flat-rate user will jump from $91 quarterly ($65 for water and $26 for sewer) to $143 ($65 for water and $78 for sewer) in 2010. The base meter rate will go from $18 to $52 a quarter; the usage rate will increase accordingly for those in excess of the base rate.
“When I left here last Thursday night (after the second budget workshop) I was 99 percent sure that they had drawn the line, that we weren’t going any farther with budget cuts, nor did they have any thought about going any deeper with the budget cuts,” Sharkey said following the committee meetings that followed the council meeting.
“I, personally, from the get-go, have voted against every bit of frivolous spending, knowing that we were going to get here (budget shortfall),” he continued. “I have been called every name in the book; I’ve been called cheap, I’ve been called stupid and various words of slang because I have voted against the large ticket items.”
He didn’t vote against everything, just the high-priced items “knowing that we didn’t have any money to start with,” he pointed out. “It’s the large ticket items, that nobody has ever proven that we needed, are what’s got us to where we are tonight. And, I have been consistent in the fact that the taxpayers of the city of Oswego deserved far better than what they got tonight.”
“Right now you got people who can’t afford $91 every quarter. Now it’s going to go up to $143,” Walker said. “That’s not right. I was voted in to be a spokesman for the people in the Fourth Ward. They called me and told me hoe they felt about this; so, I am speaking up for them.”
The council will hold a public hearing on the budget on Aug. 24, prior to its meeting.
Citizens can also be heard at a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in the McCrobie Building.
“It’s going to be a bloodbath. And, we deserve exactly what we’re going to get,” Sharkey added
He encouraged all city residents to show up and “let every alderman know exactly what they think,” he said.