OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ As Deborah Engelke prepared to speak at Monday night’s Common Council meeting, she wondered why no other member of the public had signed up to speak.
After all, she thought, she wasn’t the only one who thought the proposed city sewer fee hike was a bad idea.
Apparently, she was correct. When the resolution came to a vote on the council floor, the aldermen voted 7-0 to table it.
Councilor Mike Myers (R-Second Ward) made the motion to table.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We want to look a little further into our budget and see what else we can slash and cut before we decide to do something that drastic,Ã¢â‚¬Â Myers explained following the meeting.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My concern is, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a small business person in Oswego and what would affect me is not just the $200 that I would be paying for my property, but also all of the residents who have less disposable money to spend at shops like mine or downtown,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Engelke, the owner of a small used book store/tea shop on East Utica Street.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The president just had a stimulus package that encourage people to have money to spend. It seems that by taking away some of that disposable capital, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have less money to stimulate the economy. My concern is, that there has to be another way to come up with this money than tapping into the residents who are already getting squeezed pretty tight,Ã¢â‚¬Â she continued.
At last week’s committee meetings, Mayor Randy Bateman proposed tripling the sewer fees as an alternative to raising property taxes.
The proposed increase was a result of recommendations from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Justice, according to the mayor.
The three agencies recommended the city restructure sewer fees to make the sewer system self-sustaining, Bateman explained.
Myers said he has had several calls from residents concerned about the possible fee increase.
“I have to take into consideration some of the things that they have talked to me about,” he said, adding that other councilors have also received calls. “We need to look farther. People are aware of the situation that we are in; but before we ask people to pay more we need to see what we can do, to look a little deeper and see if we can make some cuts first. Maybe there are places we can consolidate. We need to take some time and look at the budget.”
The Common Council’s workshops for the tentative 2010 operating budget have been scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber.