FULTON – As part of the Fulton Common Council meeting last night, Tuesday, Nov. 19, the public and the council discussed amending the city charter regarding residency requirements for those in city offices.
Currently, the city charter states “no person shall be elected or appointed to any City office, other than City Engineer and City Attorney, unless he shall at the time be a resident elector of said city…”
The council proposed to change the wording of this subsection to include city engineer, city attorney, commissioner of public work, chief of police, deputy chief of police, city clerk chamberlain, deputy city clerk chamberlain and assistant city clerk chamberlain. All other elected city officials must live within the Fulton city limits.
During the public hearing, Frank Castiglia, resident of Fulton and county legislator, said he disagrees with this change and believes that the people who work for Fulton and whose paycheck is paid for by the taxpayers of Fulton, should also be required to live in the city limits and contribute to its taxes.
“For years we’ve always been proud of the people that work for us live in our city,” Castiglia said. “I think if people want to work for our city and collect our tax dollars from our city, I think they should be required to live within our city; it’s like kind of plain and simple.”
He said on a county level, the position of sheriff’s deputies residency requirement came into question, and he advocated to have them be required to live within Oswego county.
They are eligible to apply if they live in another county, but they are required to move to Oswego county if they accept the position. Castiglia said he thinks the same practice should be put in place for the city of Fulton.
Dan O’Brien, city clerk/chamberlain, said within the 30 years he has worked for the city, he has seen people who do not live in the county but care deeply for the city of Fulton.
“I would hate to think we would even not consider somebody who didn’t even live in the city, in the county, live in another county, who came in with great ethic, a lot of knowledge, and really a compassion for the city of Fulton,” O’Brien said. “I’m saying that as a taxpayer.”
Dave Miner, who is part of the fire and police commission and the Fulton housing authority, also gave his opinion during the public hearing.
Miner said it is hard to fill certain positions when it is restricted to those who live in the city, however, he recommended to change the wording that there should be a limit that they should live within the Fulton school district or Oswego county.
Frank Schmiegle, a city resident since April, said he would rather have the “cream of the crop” when it comes to city officials and does not care where they live. He said there is often a reason why someone lives in a specific town or city, such as a family connection.
“We don’t have the right to dictate to a quality person where they can live,” Schmiegle said. “It’s nice to say live in the town, but let’s be realistic. There are reasons people live where they live. And I don’t think you should limit what we can get by saying they gotta live in Fulton.”
Fulton resident Dave Webber agreed the residency requirements should be extended, but only as far as Oswego county.
“I think the county is big enough, you can get plenty of qualified people from Oswego county,” Webber said.
The council then closed the public hearing, but did not vote on the resolution. They decided to table it until the next meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 3 when there will be another public hearing on the matter.