Legislators Approve 2016 County Budget

Mike Kunzwiler

OSWEGO, NY – After a two-part meeting Thursday, the Oswego County Legislature approved the 2016 spending plan.

The vote was pretty much fell along party lines.

The budget contains a tax hike of 2.8 percent. That is down from 3.9 percent at the start of the meeting.

The tax levy is down 14.7 percent from 2015, according to County Administrator Phil Church.

Legislator trimmed the budget down (about $2 million) from $195,409,729 to “$194 and change,” he added.

Legislators in the Minority felt more cuts could have been made to lower the budget even further.

Several proposed reductions were offered by Legislator Frank Castiglia. None of them were approved.

The legislators need to lead by example, fellow Democrat Legislator Jake Mulcahey.

“It’s time we really have to start considering what measures need to be taken. It’s not a lot of easy decisions that need to be made,” he said.

The county is also taking $500,000 from its savings to help balance the 2016 budget.

That, according to Mike Kunzwiler, Minority Leader, is a very big mistake.

Raiding Peter to pay Paul will come back to hurt the county in the next couple of years, he said. The county could be faced with a huge tax hike as well as several layoffs, he warned.

“We have $25.8 million sitting in that account right now. If we leave here today with a 3.8 or 3.9 percent (tax rate increase) and go out and tell our taxpayers they’re going to have to come up with an extra $500,000 when we have $25.8 million sitting right in that fund, that’s for a situation like this, (they won’t like it,)” Legislator Terry Wilbur explained. “The fund balance is not there to rely on every single year.”

That money is to protect the county’s future, Kunzwiler said, adding legislators need to find other options.

“Be prudent,” he said. “Think about what you’re doing.”

“This isn’t balancing the budget,” Castiglia agreed. “You’re just throwing a Band-Aid on it for a year.”

“Things are tight. We need to get leaner,” Legislator Marie Schadt added.

Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner said, “It’s not our money. It’s our constituents’ money. We’re using it to benefit them.”

“No, no, I’m not satisfied with the budget. It’s a false 2.8 percent,” Kunzwiler told Oswego County Today following the meeting. “You have notice; you know we’re going to lose more revenue. The PILOT (with Nine Mile) decreases each and every year. I hope I’m not right. But if I am, it’s the taxpayers that lose. (The Minority) offered $100 and some thousand in cuts. Then if (they were approved) if they wanted to go back to the contingency to get the rest, OK.”


  1. They ever going to work to CUT TAXES in this over-taxed area? What they going to do once Fitzpatrick is gone? They going to consider making the much needed cuts to public workers to compensate or they going to drive everyone out first by increasing taxes even more?

  2. The problem in NY is the Counties pay for things the State should be paying for. Every State legislator hears from their Counties about this problem and yet they do nothing about it. The only way we will ever get property tax relieif is if the State starts paying their own bills and stops passing them off to the Counties.

  3. The Legislators voted themselves a raise, medical benefits, and travel pay to and from work. The minority Democrats fought long and hard against these. We borrowed from the General fund for these. That’s like taking money out of your 401K account. For a raise and perks? I wish the majority Republicans had started tightening now before we get clobbered by reduced PILOT income and crushed by Fitzpatrick closing. The majority actually chuckled while voting “No!” to any cuts to themselves. Who are they looking out for?

  4. Dennis, the Legislature did not vote itself a raise. That happened in Onondaga County not Oswego County where legislators have not had a raise for many years. Mileage for travel has been available to legislators for over 150 years. That is to make it equitable for legislators that travel as far as 40 miles one way to be able to attend meetings that are minutes away for Oswego City Legislators. And to say that the Democrats “fought long and hard” for that cut is just wrong. They brought it up at the last minute as a way to try to embarrass the majority, many of whom live many miles from Oswego. The approximately $12,000 in mileage cuts would represent about a .006% reduction or a 100th of a penny on your tax bill. — Correcting the record.

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