Fulton’s Budget Issue: It Could Spend Less and Tax More

Mayor Ron Woodward, center, leads a work session on the 2012 Fulton city budget.  Councilor Pete Franco is at left. Councilor Tom Kenyon is at right, with Councilor-elect Larry Macner at far right.
Mayor Ron Woodward, center, leads a work session on the 2012 Fulton city budget. Councilor Pete Franco is at left. Councilor Tom Kenyon is at right, with Councilor-elect Larry Macner at far right.

The city of Fulton could spend about $20,000 less in 2012 than it will likely spend this year and still wind up with a massive increase in taxes.

This uncomfortable problem was visible to members of the Fulton Common Council and some Councilors-elect Saturday morning at a budget workshop, which marked the first time that Mayor Ron Woodward’s administration showed the numbers behind his comments about needing to cut several hundred thousand dollars from the budget.

They reviewed numbers that showed what would happen if no further cuts were made to next year’s budget.  Lawmakers seemed to agree that more cuts will have to be made.

So how can it be that a budget that spends less would have to tax more?  Here’s how:

  • The budget draft would spend $15.5 million in 2012, down about $20,000 from the adjusted spending of 2011 but up $200,000 from the original 2011 budget;
  • Projected revenues would fall by about $50,000;
  • And the city would use $290,000 of its fund balance to lower taxes, which is $100,000 less than it used in 2011;
  • That leaves a deficit of about $355,000.

That deficit requires an increase in property tax revenues of 6.27% to cover.

But some of the city’s largest taxpayers will pay much less in 2012 because they have won lower assessments on their properties.  The $8.8 million drop in their assessed values adds another $144,000 to the deficit.

So the bottom line is that it would take a 9% increase in the tax rate to cover the $499,000 deficit.

“We have been as stingy as we could be the last few years,” said Woodward.  The city’s last four tax levy increases were 3.39%, 0%, 0%, 0%.

A new contract with its firefighters union will provide some relief.  Ratified Saturday, the contract increases union members’ contributions to their health insurance to 15% from 10%.  Woodward hopes the deal will be the template for deals with two other unions, including the police officers’ union.

Overall spending on salaries will be down in 2012 from 2011.  Three positions will be eliminated because of retirements.

To make deeper cuts, lawmakers will have to cut more people from the city payroll, Woodward said.

Two other areas where funds could be saved would be to eliminate the city’s contribution to the Fulton-based Menter Ambulance Service and to the Fulton Public Library.

One Councilor said cutting the library’s funding would probably force it to close.

A budget is due before the end of the year.  Lawmakers will likely act to override the 2% cap on tax levy increases before they act on the final budget.


  1. Half of Fulton is on welfare, we have the higest property taxes in central NY, and you want to consider raising them? Maybe Fulton doesn’t need 70 full time firemen and policemen. And maybe it’s time to consider getting out of Fulton altogether.

  2. I warned all you that this Mayor was going to ride this city into bankruptcy. These numbers were hidden from the populace, he knew about them when he was running his re-election campaign. That is lying and fraudulent behavior in my eyes and should result in a recall campaign, if anybody had any B**LS

  3. We are facing perilous times here in the City of Fulton. We are looking at a budget that, quite honestly our officials have done their best to band-aid for almost the last 20 years due to unforeseen circumstances, and now we are approaching the breaking point. Unfunded state mandates, lowered assessments, loss of tax base, unemployment, closing factories, no real reason to visit or live in Fulton, need I go on?

    The time for us to cast blame is over. During my campaign, I preached of the need to work together, the fact that no one man can fix it alone, and the call to work together. Now the time is upon us. Do we sit here and complain that all is lost, or do we do something about the situation?

    We need to work together to encourage development and growth. We need to contact our elected officials with any suggestions or concerns we may have so they can be addressed. We need to restore community pride so that people will even want to be here. We need to support our elected officials in their fight to bring Fulton back to greatness. We, the citizens, need to address these greivences to our state officials, and force them to address those circumstances that are out the city’s control yet harm us. We must not give up!

    The choice is your Fulton. I have faith in this little community, even now. I will do whatever I can, reaching out to those who I once opposed but now I call friend, as fellow Fultonians on a quest. We will overcome this and we will prevail. We will sacrifice and we will contribute. We will make this city what we have wanted all along… a city with a future.

    To the Mayor and Common Council, we got your back… LET’S ROCK!!!!

    Ralph E. Stacy, Jr.
    4th Ward Resident – City of Fulton

  4. Please, does all of this really come as a shock to any of you? This is only the beginning. While Mayor Woodward was talking in circles telling people what they wanted to hear so he could get re-elected, and Ralph Stacy who lives in never never land was preaching a bright new future, while Tom Kenyon was telling everyone the truth. Tom knew the numbers, knew the problems, and had the solutions out of this mess our city sunk into. Its ludicrous to live in a city without a hospital, now we are talking about not having Menter ambulance here. Not to mention cutting funding to our library, one of our last historical gems in our city. Judging by the mentality and intelligence at the polls, the people of Fulton definitely need to take advantage of all the reading and learning materials the library has to offer.

    This city is a cesspool of corruption, wasteful spending, and it is no wonder we are the laughing stock of Oswego County. We can’t even get Christmas decorations that match. Look at Minetto, Phoenix, or Oswego’s beautiful decorating. What do we have? A snowflake that says “Welcome.” -Welcome to what? The end of Fulton? Instead of raising the taxes of an already taxed-to-death population, why don’t you sell all of those vacant buildings and properties and create revenue? Not a day goes by that I don’t run into a number of people that are so sick about how the voting turned out. People that were actually smart enough not to be led like sacrificial lambs to the slaughterer.

    I hope all of you people who filled in the wrong circle are happy with yourselves and can look in the mirror and still tell yourself our Mayor is doing a wonderful job. People actually laugh when they drive through Fulton. I actually heard a comment by someone stating that “Fulton is soon going to be nothing but tumble weeds blowing in the wind.” So I am sorry Mr. Stacy, I’m not going to be jumping on the bandwagon like you are, just because the Mayor offered you a spot on the planning board. People need to wake up and not be led into thinking that if they just suddenly come together, we can make everything the beautiful, euphoric city you vision.

    You all had a choice and I hope you all are happy with the decision you made. That is, if you survive long enough waiting for an available ambulance. On a different note, did anyone notice yet another house on the Phillip’s Street Project having a hose stuck out of the window pumping water out of the basement, actually causing the street to flood all the way to Second St.? Another fine job!!

  5. It’s easy to give up and blame others,
    “Off with their heads!”.
    Seems the Mayor and Council
    haven’t given up,
    but are trying to do the impossible.

    Worst economic times we’ll
    likely ever see.
    And National Grid was awarded
    a huge tax cut from the State,
    that we are forced to pay for.

    And Oswego County Opportunities
    refuses to pay for all of the City services
    they use. Their continuous free ride
    is an astronomical expense to the City.
    So we have to pay for their free ride.

    If these two organizations
    paid their fair share,
    with the currently proposed extremely
    tight and responsible budget,
    we would be looking
    at tax cuts instead of increases.

    Now we have to pay more
    because they won’t even pay their
    fair share.
    Put the blame where the blame belongs.
    Mayor and Council are doing the
    best that can be done.

  6. May be now is the time to correct some things with the assessments
    in the city. Stop Plowing Mr. Patrick’s drive ways at his complexes.
    How much would that save.

    Start Assessing Rental Property like income property instead of like slum property.

    Let the 52% property owners pay a fair share of the cost of the

    Or just continue and foreclose on the single Family Home owners.

    It is the assessments that force single family home owners into
    bankruptcy in this city.

    It’s is the subsidies we give Landlords through low assessments on their income houses that cause the highest tax rates on single
    family home owners.

    But Money talks and BS walks.

    Don’t fix it. Just keep Playing the Game The Same Way.

  7. I read where the City of Oneida is struggling over their budget also, so they have passed it by “raising the tax burden on a median home of $92,000 from $ 644. to $667”. Seems that the cities of Fulton and Oneida are the same size, (2000 pop. 10,800) you think Fulton may have an overstaffing problem?

  8. I have to disagree with Lisa on her point about selling the property that was taken for taxes. I think she wants them sold to landlords to be rented out again to mostly section 8 people. That is why our costs are so high. These landlords buy these properties for next to nothing put as little as possible into them and then rent them out to mostly people that are on public assistance . They make any where from $800 to $1000 a month , pay $2000 in taxes and it costs the city some where around $3000 to keep sending Police and Code Enforcement to these houses. So on each property the city looses at least $1000.

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