To The Editor:
On Tuesday, Dec. 16, the city of Fulton held its 2015 budget public hearing. A few people spoke and I would like to respond to some of the statements.
First of all I thank Bob Weston for his comments. As a former alderman he knows the work that goes into the budget process. He told how “the city of Oswego has 55% more people than Fulton but a budget that is three times as much.”
Oswego also doesn’t pick up garbage and recyclables which, unless the people in Oswego take it to the transfer station themselves, cost four times as much for a private hauler as it does Fulton residents to have the city pick it up.
Dennis Merlino also made some comments mostly about the recreation department. He was concerned about the cuts made but understood they had to be made. The council doesn’t like having to make these cuts either but until things get better we are forced to do it.
Now comes Mark Aldasch, chairman of the Fulton Republican Committee. He asked the council to “postpone the vote and take a field trip to the city of Oneida to see how they manage their finances.”
Unfortunately for Mr. Aldasch, I did just that, a virtual field trip. He said that Oneida has about 24 each of firemen and police officers and Fulton has about 35 of each. At one point he said “look at Oneida..that’s your comparable, they’re doing it with half.”
Hmmm, 24 is half of 35? Must be that new Common Core math I guess.
Anyway, I did make comparisons. While it’s true we have a few more firemen and policemen than Oneida, we also handled 22% more fire calls (2,461 vs 2,011) and 69% more police calls (12,884 vs 7,630).
Aldasch said that Oneida has about the same amount of crimes especially with the casino being there. When I talked to the police chief of Oneida to get the number of police calls I asked about the casino. He said they don’t handle very many calls at all there.
Maybe Aldasch should taken the field trip.
I also asked the chief if he knew Aldasch and he said, “Oh yeah,” with that ‘rolling his eyes’ sound in his voice.
Also it turns out, Oneida had a roughly 7% tax increase whereas Fulton had 0%. Still want us to follow Oneida’s lead, Mark?
During the meeting, when the council dealt with the regular agenda, an item came up and Mr. Aldasch interrupted to ask a question.
The mayor said that the public comment part was over and comments were not allowed during this part of the meeting.
Mr. Aldasch argued that if it had to do with finances the council “had to take questions, it’s in the law, look it up.”
Well, that’s exactly what I did. I called Mr. Robert Freeman, executive director of the Committee on Open Meetings. I explained the scenario and asked him if Aldasch was correct. He said absolutely not, we (or any legislative body) do not have to allow the public to speak during the meeting no matter what the subject.
I asked him two or three different times and ways to make sure we were both on the same page and there was no confusion.
So once again Mr. Aldasch tried to make himself out like he knows everything when he doesn’t.
At another point he called the council and mayor “wimps.” To me, reverting to name calling is simply a matter of lower intelligence because they can’t otherwise put forth their opinions intelligently.
During the public hearing, Aldasch raised a “point of order.”
Apparently, he doesn’t know Robert’s Rules of Order either because only a member of the committee having the meeting can raise that point, not the public.
I guess that shouldn’t surprise us.
Speaking of people who present false facts, (Fulton) Legislator (Frank) Castiglia was one of the speakers.
At one point he said, “in the 60s, Fulton had a population of 18,000.”
I wish I knew from where he gets his information. I called the US Census Bureau and found out the population of Fulton in 1960 was 14,261.
I don’t mind allowing the public to speak at the council meetings, in fact I encourage it, I just wish they would ask pertinent questions or make true statements, not these falsehoods we have to deal with at times.
That doesn’t help anything.
Fourth Ward Councilor