Legislators OK 2014 Spending Plan

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Legislature voted 17-8 on Thursday night to adopt the 2014 spending plan.

Legislators added a bit more to the budget during the meeting. They OK’d a new contract with the deputies association and approved a plan by the District Attorney to spend $26,000 to use an outside counsel to handle appeals cases.

Over all, according to county administrator Phil Church, it increases the 2014 budget by 0.4 percent.

The budget isn’t as good as it could have been, according to Legislator Mike Kunzwiler, minority leader.

“It’s up, the budget’s up. It was balanced with reserve funds, again. We all should learn from our history and not repeat our past mistakes. That’s what’s happening,” he said. “I hope it stops.”

The county needs to stop dipping into its reserves in case there is an emergency and they need them, he added.

“If something happens (with the tax challenges by the power plants, for example) – we should prepare for that. If it doesn’t happen, that’s great. But if it does, we have to be prepared.”

Out-going legislator Jim Oldenburg of Scriba, thanked his family for putting up with all the meetings and phones while he was a legislator, and thanked the people of Scriba for voting for him.

“It’s been an enjoyable experience and a learning experience. There are a lot of things I’ll miss,” he said, adding that budget process is one of them. “There’s a lot to it. It’s hard work, but it’s a learning experience. We’re in a good financial position; it may not be the best we can be, but we’re a lot better off than some others.”

The county could have gone a bit higher, Oldenburg noted.

“But under the circumstances, it’s not a good time to be raising taxes just for the sake of we need to replenish some funds. I don’t believe in that,” he said.

“Am I closing the door on politics in the future? No, not exactly. I’m just going to take a little break right now. But, hey, you never know what the future’s going to bring,” he added.

“It was a very tough budget this year,” Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner admitted. “It’s probably the hardest that I’ve been involved with. We had people who wanted to raise taxes and other who wouldn’t. Coming to a compromise, it’s hard to do. Having 17 (legislators) support a budget with a minimal increase in these times is a good sign. We know the cities and some towns are hurting, we’re trying to hold the line as much as we can. This was a tough budget year and next year will be twice as hard.”

For the average house in Oswego County ($94,500), the budget means a tax increase of $11.34.

Those voting against the budget were legislators Margaret Kastler, Jake Mulcahey, Amy Tresidder, Dan Chalifoux, Doug Malone, Shawn Doyle, Dan Farfaglia and Kunzwiler.