OSWEGO, NY – At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Administrative Services Committee, councilors tabled a request by the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce regarding a variety of programs. The sticking point – funding.
The chamber requested approval of the 2014 agreement between the city of Oswego and the chamber for the support of the chamber’s various programs designed to encourage and promote the economic development and commerce for the Port City.
The request included:
- $12,375 for the Independence Day Parade
- $3,000 for Veterans’ Stage Concerts
- $2,750 for Pumpkin Fest
- $3,000 for Project Bloom
- $2,375 for the Oswego Farmers’ Market
During discussion, one possible funding cut that was suggested was $8,000 for the July Fourth fireworks display.
“I think it’s hard to come to the Fourth of July Celebration and not have fireworks,” said Beth Hilton, executive director of the chamber. “But if you (want to cut), then that’s the city’s prerogative.”
“We raised taxes and now we want to cut the fireworks show that, I don’t know the exact number of people, come here to see. But – it’s families. Who are we taking away from?” said Councilor Bill Barlow. “Are we going to again punish the families that pay the taxes in the city of Oswego? With the amount of taxes that they pay, they deserve a Fourth of July fireworks.”
Councilors Mike Myers and Fran Enwright were not present at the committee meeting.
Councilor Mike Todd suggested tabling the resolution until those two councilors could be present and discuss the matter. Councilor Eric VanBuren seconded the idea.
“If you want to sit down with us, we can show the numbers we’re dealing with. We just had another discussion today about ‘if the city cut the funding, what would we do?’ We might be able to do away with this; or we might be able to keep this or this might need to be condensed into this to keep this,” Hilton said. “There are some options there if we need to have our funding cut. But, as Councilor Barlow said, at what point are you punishing the families?”
“I appreciate that and certainly agree with Councilor Barlow,” Council President Ron Kaplewicz said. “We have to explore every option that we can.”
For example, he pointed out there are a great many businesses that benefit greatly from events like Harborfest, yet aren’t making a contribution to the event itself.
“I’m not trying to place the hardship on businesses. But, if we’re all in this together, we’re all in this together. If there are opportunities to generate a little revenue, from other than the city, we need to explore that,” he said.
A number of the chamber’s events do get support from city businesses, Hilton noted.
“They definitely contributing their fair share,” she said.
However, funding as a whole, is decreasing, she acquiesced.
“We had a meeting with one of our large corporate sponsors and we’re about at half with them compared to where we were about two years ago,” she said. “It’s tough, that’s for sure.”
By tabling the request the city didn’t create any hardship for the chamber.
The only “somewhat” time sensitive event is the farmers’ market and they have already made contingency plans for that, Hilton explained.