FULTON – Members of the Fulton community spoke their thoughts and opinions at last night’s Common Council meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 3, in regards to the proposed city budget, which the council unanimously voted to approve.
Many of the people who went up to the podium during the public hearing gave kudos to the council for working to not raise taxes this upcoming year, but did want more specific answers on where their tax dollars were going.
Some questioned why the mayor’s budget increased by over $48,000, which Mayor Ronald Woodward and the council explained was because Mayor Elect Deana Michaels will need a team of assistants to help her transition to the role of mayor during her first year.
The original total budget for this past year was $59,030 and the budget approved for this upcoming year is $107,175. The expenditures include personal services ($96,215), office supplies ($650), telephone ($1,260), cell phone ($250), postage ($150), other outside contractual services ($200), computer maintenance ($500), copier maintenance ($450), registration and training ($5,000), and miscellaneous ($2,500). Michaels’ salary is set to be $28,250 and is included in the personal services account.
Another budget topic questioned was funding for North Bay Campgrounds. Valerie Gates and Janet Woodworth, who both work at North Bay, expressed their disappointment with the budget for the campgrounds.
Gates, who is the manager at North Bay, said she met with the council at a recreation meeting two months ago and explained to them what repairs needed to be done at the campgrounds, but the new budget does not allocate funding for these repairs.
Gates said the bathhouses need to be completely torn down and rebuilt, the boat docks are in horrible condition and the playground equipment is extremely outdated. Woodworth said they also had issues with trees falling on campers’ cars this year.
“The budget given to the campground year after year barely allows for us to get things such as a couple new toilet seats, much less actual toilets,” Gates said.
The city of Fulton annexed the campgrounds from Granby this year, freeing up $10,000 in taxes to Granby, but they did not receive a large increase in funding. The city also bought a new dredger to clean up Lake Neatahwanta.
“[North Bay campgrounds] is an economic source that could bring even more revenue to the city with some improvements and upgrades, and we think it is time to start doing what we can because it is falling apart,” Gates said. “I love my job and I respect all of you up here, but it kind of gets embarrassing at times… You can only put lipstick on a pig for so long.”
Gates said the rates for the campgrounds went up, with talk of making improvements, but none have been made yet. She said with the few things that have been done within the past four years, they now have a waiting list for seasonal campers, which has never happened before. With the needed repairs, Gates said the campgrounds could be a gold mine for the city.
The total parks/campgrounds budget for this upcoming year will be $59,320. North Bay is expected to bring in $62,000 in revenue this upcoming year. Gates said since they do not have enough funding, they buy items for the camp store and bingo prizes out of their own pockets.
Woodward said while their point is taken, it takes time. Gates asked the council to consider allocating any amount of additional funds to North Bay’s budget. No changes were made to the budget when the council voted on it following the public hearing.
Later in the public hearing, a resident asked about city employees’ raises in salaries from last year’s budget. City Clerk/Chamberlain Daniel O’Brien explained that each year there are contractual raises and there have been some new positions hired.
After the public hearing was closed, the council voted unanimously and approved of the proposed city budget as a whole with no changes made.
The next Common Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the courtroom of the Municipal Building. There will be a public hearing regarding residency requirements for city employees.