OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Common Council held the first of two scheduled budget workshops Wednesday night in an effort to find savings to stave off a hefty sewer fee hike in 2010.
The councilors gathered for more than five and a half hours, meeting with the city’s department heads.
The council cut Harborfest overtime from the DPW ($20,000), Police ($30,000), Traffic ($15,000) and Fire Department ($15,000).
Another $5,000 (in overtime) was also snipped from the Police Department.
During preparation of the Oswego’s proposed 2010 operating budget, the city faced a shortfall of $5,070,041 between department requests and projected revenues, according to Mayor Randy Bateman.
After department revisions, the Budget Commission going through the budget line by line, cutting everything to a minimum and realistically adjusting a few revenue lines Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the Port City still faced a shortfall of $2,070,901 to maintain the current tax rate of $8.98 per thousand, he said.
Instead of increasing taxes, he opted tripling the sewer fee.
That would result in an estimated additional $1,208,880, which would be paid by everyone, not just property tax payers, the mayor explained.
The remainder of the shortfall would be made up from a transfer from the sewer and general funds.
However, at Monday night’s council meeting, aldermen voted unanimously to table the proposed rate hike until they had a chance to go over the tentative budget with a fine-tooth comb.
After Wednesday’s workshop, discussion to deal with the method of making up the difference in the $2+ million was up in the air.
Some councilors aren’t supporting a sewer increase, one believes that the DEC cannot mandate, and some still believe that the budget can be balanced by still cutting more than a million dollars.
A public hearing on the budget proposal is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 24 in the Council Chambers.