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September 23, 2018

Fulton Residents Bring Concerns of Dissolving to Council


FULTON, NY – After news came out of a consolidation grant opportunity for Oswego County that potentially considered conducting a study to better understand the option to dissolve the city of Fulton, residents approached the Common Council in opposition.

The grant, the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition, “is a program designed to support counties and other local governments to pursue opportunities for consolidation, shared services, and local government modernizations that reduce the property tax burden,” according to information from the NYS Department of State.

Specifically, in order to qualify for up to $20 million of award money, Oswego County must provide intent and strategy within a Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Plan that outlines a consolidation among at least two municipalities within the county.

Oswego County Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr., D-Fulton, suggested to the Fulton Common Council that the city look into the grant and the opportunity to follow through with a feasibility study to determine whether dissolving the city of Fulton would be financially beneficial.

Director of Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, Dave Turner explained that dissolving Fulton would be one viable option to fit the criteria of the grant if both the city and another municipality within the county offering to accept the city were willing to venture the study together.

However, the idea to dissolve the city of Fulton ultimately did not sit well with the city’s mayor, Ronald Woodward Sr., the Common Council, and a number of city residents who approached the Common Council with concerns at a regular meeting held Tuesday, January 17.

Joan Nucifora, although having lived elsewhere for several years, was born in Fulton and has remained more than twenty years since returning. Nucifora said Castiglia’s suggestion to dissolve the city “seems to be a very bad idea,” a topic she recalls speaking on nearly one year ago as well.

“The idea dissolve means: to do away with, to cause to disappear, to destroy. Now why would anyone want to do a study to find out if we should destroy Fulton? It boggles my mind,” she continued.

Nucifora went on to list “many positive things happening in the city” including Friends of Fulton Parks, Lake Neatahwanta revitalization, Fulton Footpaths, Fulton Block Builders and more.

“With so many positives, why is there this destructive urge here to dissolve Fulton?” she questioned.

If there was a different approach, however, she said the message may be better received.

“If he has in mind some sort of consolidation or some sort of restructuring, word it that way. Do not use the word dissolve, it means destroy. If it does have a more positive goal, then word it differently and conceptualize it differently,” she suggested. “But if a house needs better plumbing, you don’t burn down the house.”

She finished by noting her hope that the council would vote no on the matter.

In response, Mayor Woodward assured that after a conference call with County Planning, the Fulton Common Council has unanimously agreed that they are not willing to participate in the MCEC.

He added that since the grant opportunity was announced, which he referred to as “one of the governor’s brainchild’s,” his office has received numerous phone calls and emails in opposition of the idea of dissolving from both city residents and neighboring towns and villages that did not approve of absorbing the city.

“If it’s such a great idea, pass a law and do it to every city and everybody will save a ton of money,” Woodward said, sparking applause from a member of the public in attendance.

Joe Trovato also spoke to the council to share his concern.

“I think dissolving would be devastating for taxpayers,” he said, citing less funding for towns and villages than cities and using the neighboring village of Hannibal as a reference which, “just closed their library and has had problems with their sports and school for lack of funds.”

He then questioned city services, specifically asking if the city of Fulton would then turn to an all volunteer fire department in the event that the city did dissolve.

Mayor Woodward interjected, saying he looked into the aid of nearby villages within the county with the largest amount reaching $38,000 whereas the city of Fulton receives $1,600,000 in aid.

“Exactly, it might look good on paper but I think the taxpayer’s will see the deterioration of their quality of life and I think we’ll be looking back five years from now saying, ‘wish we didn’t do that,’” Trovato said.

Woodward was adamant that the Common Council was unanimously in agreement to not participate in the grant opportunity.

“I won’t give up on Fulton,” Mayor Woodward assured. “I was born here in 1949 in the old Fulton hospital that was on Fourth Street then. I’m not going anywhere and I can see things getting better, we just have to hang in there and you’ve got to sometimes grow thick skin and let things roll off you. If it was easy, everybody would do it.”

As of last week (Jan. 13), Turner confirmed that thus far there were no municipalities in the county that had come forward with interest to participate in the MCEC.

Turner said he had several conversations with mayors, superintendents, and clerks of various cities, towns, and villages within the county to discuss the shared opportunity and encourage them to talk together and share any ideas or inquiries.

“As far as the county as an eligible applicant, we’ve done what we needed to do. We can’t go further unless two communities step forward and say they’re interested,” Turner said.

County officials would need to submit a letter of intent to the state by January 27 with at least two municipalities offering to explore the possibilities of the grant in order to be eligible.

As of now, there are no official confirmations of any communities that are interested, according to Turner.

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18 Responses “Fulton Residents Bring Concerns of Dissolving to Council”

  1. Frank Castiglia
    January 20, 2017 at 5:14 am

    It was quite a show. The 3 that spoke at the meeting gave reasons why they didn’t want to move forward with dissolving but out of all them not a single one came up with an idea as to how to fix the problems the city has. Also not a single one of them(after checking the real property tax rolls)live in the City. One does own a two family rental property in the City. So none of them pay taxes out of their own pocket. Not a single person has come forward with an idea of how the city is going to pay a $9 million dollar bond debt, or the amortization bill that the city owe for not being able to pay it’s bill to the state for the pension costs. They all want to keep going the way we are. Oh that’s right we are going to clear the Nestles’ site(same story as 3 yrs ago)we are going to dredge the lake(same story for 3 yrs) in the mean time the bills keep piling up. Oh I forget about the sale of all the City owned property. All 83 city owned property bringing in over $200k for an avg. of around $3,400. Bringing back if all were to bring in $2,000 in taxes(remember a lot were Rent to own and more were empty lots) a total of $166,000 more in taxes. Just enough to pay for 2 firemen. I think they may bring in somewhere around $20,000 and that doesn’t pay for the costs to run a city DPW truck for the year. So just keep on keeping on. While more and more people are selling to get out from the high taxes. When will we all learn we have some of the greatest community action groups but what they are doing isn’t going to lower our taxes. We may have two of the greatest public safety departments in the state but we can’t afford them without raising the taxes or fees. So I say in closing; Nice speeches but they aren’t going to lower our taxes.

  2. Mark cole
    January 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Why not ask the Mayor who’s gonna pay for the crumbling sewer system the upgrade to the water lines the very outdated wastewater treatment facility the wastewater pump stations thru out the city there are many upgrades that the city of Fulton is in need of the residents are not aware of there are many trouble areas in the city that have been ignored sanitary lines that are not equipped with enough capacity in peak flows causing wastewater to back up in many many homes thru out the city overflows connected to storm systems allowing wastewater to flow into the Oswego river Also into the lake that the city is now trying to clean up with one discharging right next to Stevenson Beach also one north of the beach approximately 200 yds from the proposed beach area there are many upgrades needed to the city fo Fulton that go unnoticed and eventually the repairs will fall back on the taxpayers of the city thus causing a substantial increase to the taxpayers so maybe it would benefit the people of Fulton to let the county come in and address the problems because with this mayor it’s all about him not the residents

  3. Mike
    January 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Even if the County did come in the people who have water and sewer would still be paying the bill for fixing and upgrades themselves. You would still be paying some kind of highway tax for plowing and repairs. You would still be paying for fire (and police if you want extra patrols in your area) If you still want street lights you will have to form lighting districts and you will pay for those lights on your taxes. The bad news is you are not going to be saving a lot of money by dissolving the city. All those services you now have will still have to be paid for by you by special taxing districts.

  4. Frank Castiglia
    January 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    So Mike, You again as others have not given a solution to the problem of high taxes and how to fix the problem for future generations other than saying were in the boat and it is sinking and telling us to keep bailing the water out. At least I gave an idea one that would leave the decision up to the majority not the few. Just got done listening to America’s newest hero “President Trump” just say that same thing. The few(city council’s etc.) will stop speaking for the many. The majority must be given the option to vote themselves. That is all I wanted to do. The reason the council would be against a study for fear it would show the people what should be done. Also the council wouldn’t want the people to vote because it might mean they would vote to dissolve. If they are so sure that the people don’t want this then let them vote to show the rest of us. So Mike other than just keep bailing the water what is you plan.

  5. David Guyer
    January 20, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you to Ms. Nucifora, Mr. Turner and Mr. Trovato for your opinions and concern for the City of Fulton. I think everyone has a stake in this ( including non-residents who own property in the city and renters) Everyone’s voice should be heard.

  6. Frank Castiglia
    January 21, 2017 at 5:14 am

    Very well said Mr. Guyer. Yes everyone’s opinion should be heard but the only stake holders here are the homeowners. Not landlords that are getting the money to pay their taxes from renting to Public Assistance recipients. They are just using taxpayer money to pay taxes with. Let them take it out of their own pocket like the single homeowners have to. Also their opinions shouldn’t be scripted to suite the will of the CC and Mayor. Those kind of people are called political puppets sir. I thought you might be the one they are getting ready to run against me. Now I know.

  7. Mike
    January 21, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Frank, your answer is to pass your bills off to the towns. We live in the towns because we don’t want/need all the services the city provides. (garbage pick up, water, sewer, gas, cop 30 seconds away and so on) The only way the city can save money is to dissolve the fire and police and go volunteer. Even then you will still have pension payment for years to come and you still have to pay for volunteer FD . You could also turn off all the street lights and let the neighborhoods form lighting districts and pay for them on their taxes.
    Bottom line is somebody has to pay for all the services you get in the city and the towns are not going take on your bills.

  8. January 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Just keep raising fees and taxes to support political welfare and social welfare until the working few in private industry have to sell and move out. Look to Detroit Michigan and you will see the future of Fulton!

  9. David Guyer
    January 21, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Legislator Castiglia, I think anyone that is willing to invest money in the city has an interest. Ownership of property in the city is an investment of time and money, that being said, many landlords are unfortunately out to make a quick buck but not all, there are many responsible landlords, you can’t label them all the same. Also, many people rent for various reasons , financial, convenience, age, I would assume that there are people that rent in your legislative district that vote and have supported you. A portion of their rent dollars goes towards the landlords property tax bills, they support local businesses, receive city services, etc., and no, just because I support a persons right to speak out doesn’t mean I plan to run against you, which is the farthest thing from the truth. As to the whole dissolution of the City, my opinion (if I’m allowed to express an opinion as a current non-property owner who has lived within the city limits my entire life) is that there is absolutely no harm in studying the feasibility of dissolving the city. We should not be afraid of the results of such a study. No one actually knows yet if it would save us money, however, if it is proven to be a substantial savings, and city residents are ready to sacrifice a potential loss of services, then maybe it should happen. I guess that means we may be in partial agreement?

  10. Frank Castiglia
    January 21, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Mike, I never said that the pension payments would go away. I also said that a study would show what would happen. Then the people can decide not 6 people. The sooner they dissolve the sooner we stop paying for pensions of the firemen we can’t afford. I’m talking about the future not the present. Again you still didn’t have a better idea to try and save the future of the city of Fulton. I always like the fact that everyone has an opinion but nobody has a better idea. You know what they say about opinions. But it’s nice that yours was at least decent thank you.

  11. Frank Castiglia
    January 22, 2017 at 6:21 am

    Mr. Guyer, A very well expressed opinion. You didn’t say anything I had said when I said everyone has a right to their opinion. It doesn’t matter if they are a homeowner or a renter. They have a right to their opinion. The big big difference here is that the homeowners are the ones that have the biggest dog in this fight. Yes some, I say some renters, have a small portion of their rent go to pay the taxes. Yes they do shop local but most of our stores are part of a large chain. The fact that some voters in my district are renters is true but those that vote are in the minority. The seniors do so because they can’t afford the taxes any more. There are very few that can. Now on to services. I am a little bit confused here. I look at Liverpool,B’vill,N.Syracuse,Pulaski,Central Square,Phoenix, and I don’t see any services that they don’t have that we have. Four of those villages use to be smaller than us. Not as good as us. Not anymore. They all have Fire,Police,Lights,Highway,DPW,Water, etc. true not as big but they do have them. The one thing that we have that they don’t is HIGHER taxes. They all have very fine Volunteer groups, just like we do. Again I will say the scripted speakers of the other night are not a true sampling of the taxpayers of this city. The city will continue to raise FEES and costs of services until such a time that there are fewer and fewer people other than landlords to pay the bills. The FEAR MONGERING of the loss of services and loss of identity will only work for so long. Only until the real taxpayers have had enough and start speaking out in public. The general public should have the right to vote on what they really want. It may be to stay the same. That would be alright with me but to FEAR MONGER them is not right. That is the POLITICAL and DICTATORSHIP way to keep people under control. Last but not least David. What is your IDEA to save the CITY for future generations. I have one more but you and the three that spoke the other night haven’t come up with anything other than leaving things the way they are. Remember the lowering of the manning and 8hr shifts was mine from a few years ago. Raising of the rental permit fee again was mine(not has high as it should be). Everything I have come up with is to save this City and the few think I hate this City. I just disagree with the way it is being managed. For the first time in a long time it has been a pleasure conversing at an intelligent level that everyone can see. Keep in mind the city owes in BOND debt and PENSION debt over half of the total budget. That is above and beyond the budget. It keeps getting bigger. Remember what they say about using the credit card. If you can’t pay it off every month and you are only paying the min. on it, it will take you a life time to pay it off. You may see this debt payed off but I doubt that I will. Have a great day and GO PACKERS.

  12. Near resident
    January 22, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Frank , how come the city of Fulton hasn’t held Infinity Enterprise responsible for cleaning up the site by a deadline? I can’t believe they are just doing a favor and that we should be OK with how long it takes them to finish it? Maybe they should be paying the city late fees from scrap earnings… Are multi family homes charged more for taxes, school taxes, multiple kids going to school, one tax bill. Fulton school taxes I believe are high?

  13. F. LaTrat
    January 22, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Relax everyone. Fulton has been dissolving all by itself for quite a while as far as I can determine. Heads up Oswego, you know what they say about what flows downstream..

  14. David Guyer
    January 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Legislator Castiglia/Frank, I think everyone agrees what the problem is, high taxes, no growth in revenue and yes, public safety costs are bleeding us dry. These are highly trained professionals, no one doubts that, but it is the city’s biggest expense. I think the mayor and council, starting with Mayor Hayden and continuing into the Woodward administration, have done a good job in the non public safety areas of cutting expenses, combining jobs and eliminating positions through attrition. City government runs on a shoestring with the exception of public safety. I believe the police department has a minimum complement clause, the size of the overall department is dictated but not each shift size. I am not sure if that was negotiated via contract or is in the city charter. The fire department shift size was something they won in binding arbitration in the late 80’s/early 90’s? I know the City and fire union is going back to binding arbitration, I am not sure if reduction of the minimum manning clause is something the city trying to address through arbitration but it makes sense that they would. In an ideal world, I would like to see a fire department with paid drivers, a minimum complement and call firemen, supplemented by a volunteer force Maybe call firemen would receive preference for hiring when a full time position opens. If the city does dissolve, I don’t know what happens with labor contracts, whether we break into a village(s) or become part of the town I am not sure this automatically invalidates the current labor agreements, also, even if it does, we will still have some type of workforce that has a right to unionize and seek a labor agreement. If legally we are able to go with a volunteer fire department and no police department, are the people of this city ready to accept that? Obviously that is for the voters to decide, maybe people are willing to pay higher taxes for these services, I don’t know. Another question is what happens with the $6 million + that the City of Fulton gets from the county in sales tax revenue? I could see a scenario in which the county says Fulton no longer exists, they take that money back. Maybe they use that money to increase Sheriff’s road patrol coverage and that will make up for the loss of a police department? The bottom line is without studying it further we can’t make an informed decision. We should not be afraid of the future, as far as identity politics, I’m from Fulton, whether I live in the City, towns, or a new village that might be created. We’re a community regardless of what type of government status we have. I also agree Go Packers and I’ll add the Steelers as well!

  15. Frank Castiglia
    January 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Near Resident, The city either couldn’t or wouldn’t force Infinity to sign a performance bond. Right now I think City leaders are worried that if they push to hard they will walk away and then it will cost us almost 1 million to clean up their mess. I for one feel they are going to leave us with almost $100,000 in CD after they take all the scrap. Multi-family homes are taxes higher but the multi-children in school. They don’t charge the multi-family homes a higher rate for garbage. That is not right. A senior citizen that puts maybe a half bag of garbage a week out gets charge the same as a two family that puts almost 6 or 7 bags out a week. Not very fair. F.LaTrat- you are correct .

  16. Let Go of the Past!
    January 22, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    I am sorry that I missed this meeting. What are the people of this community who opposed exploring this option thinking? There are no businesses willing to invest in Fulton. Even Walmart bought land outside of the city. So the tax base is mostly residential, and so many are dilapidated rental property owners (who have their primary residence outside of the city or county and don’t care about the rest of us). The person who commented on the potential impact to our school district’s budget, because we are a small city, the school district is subject to stricter rules that do not help it. So keep your checkbook out to keep all of the city employees and their overtime.

    I say, “Let go of the past.” Fulton had its day, but its leaders are just preserving their offices at the expense of the taxpayers. Three people swayed this council? I’ll bet they all run for reelection.

  17. Robert
    January 22, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    F. LaTrat you are right. I think this Mayor is trying to bankrupt the city. Last one out turn off the lights. Dooms day is coming sooner than you think. We have this mayor for almost 2 more years if my numbers are correct. The best thing we can home for is a full resignation of the mayor and the common council. We are a heroin and drug stricken city that city hall no longer cares about. We should be driving these people out of the city. Section 8 housing should be eliminated or reduced.

  18. Former Fultonian
    January 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Fulton’s problems have developed over a long time and won’t be solved in a quick, painless way. Only employment will bring CNY back again.
    It would seem that commissioning the study would at least give you information to base your future decisions.

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