County Sets Budget Public Hearing

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego County legislators officially set the date for the public hearing on the proposed 2011 county budget.

The public hearing on the tentative spending plan will take place Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. It will be held in the Legislature Chambers, 46 E. Bridge St.

The $189,363,300 budget plan for next year is about $4 million higher than this year’s. However, the tax rate is $7.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down from $7.16 per $1,000 in 2010.

The final tax rate might be even lower, thanks to reductions made at the committee level.

Recently, members of the legislature’s Finance and Personnel Committee voted unanimously to cut the 3 percent raises for the county legislators and cut the 2.4 percent incentive raises that department heads receive if they pass their annual performance evaluation.

They also axed several personnel positions from the budget.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the minority made attempts to make further cuts before the final draft of the budget hits the floor of the legislature next month.

The Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee recommended to the legislature that the sheriff should be authorized to purchase 12 new vehicles for the road patrol. The cost would be $285,000 (taken from the capital reserve fund).

Legislator Mike Kunzwiler made a motion to amend the resolution from 12 down to 10 vehicles.

The motion to amend failed and the resolution was approved; both votes were divided along party lines.

Kunzwiler and the other three Democrats (Doug Malone, Amy Tresidder and Jacob Mulcahey) voted to amend and then opposing the original resolution.

Moments later, Mulcahey encouraged his fellow lawmakers to vote against another expenditure.

The Health and Human Services Committee had recommended the county spend $30,000 to replace 20-year-old fabric chairs and tables at the Department of Social Services offices in Mexico.

The county would be reimbursed 75 percent for the cost, leaving a net cost to the county of $7,500.

“Let me just give you the bottom line here. We are going to spend $30,000 on furniture.  I think what we need to do in these tough economic times is to spend that money on job growth and retention,” Mulcahey said.

The motion was carried, again divided along party lines.

“There were 659 jobs saved or created this year (thanks to the county’s Industrial Development Agency),” Legislator Morris Sorbello pointed out after the vote. “So, there are some good things happening within this community.”