Mayor Highlights 2017 Budget Proposal

Submitted by Mayor William Barlow Jr.
OSWEGO – The fiscal year 2107 proposed budget is $47,886,284 for all funds, an increase of 3.87 percent compared to fiscal year 2016.

As you know, the increase is primarily attributed to retirement and health care costs.

I believe it is worth noting the Affordable Care Act is projected to cost our city approximately $230,000 in 2017 as noted in this budget.

This additional expense was nonexistent a few short years ago.

Additionally, due to the short-sighted sale of our water tunnel to the Metropolitan Water Board in 1996, the annual payment to the city of Oswego of $1 million no longer exists.

And the 2017 budget is the first budget without that payment, creating a $1 million deficit before we ever sat down to construct the budget.

In an effort to absorb the $1 million shortfall and the continually rising costs of doing business, reduction in personnel is imminent.

In this budget, I propose reducing the members of the Oswego Fire Department by 16 positions.

This accounts for a savings of roughly $970,000 with benefits.

With this reduction we still manage to manage to fulfill our duties of fire protection, water rescue and operating an ambulance service.

I have also made a proposition to the City of Oswego Fire Association to consider some part-time firefighters at a straight time rate to eliminate virtually all department overtime.

In this budget I have proposed transferring supervision of the City Traffic Department from the Oswego Police Department to the Department of Public Works.

With this change, I propose eliminating a lieutenant’s position from the Oswego Police Department valued at around $106,000 with benefits.

Also in the budget I am recommending an additional code enforcer for the City Code Enforcement Department.

With the drastic amount of revitalization and investment occurring in our neighborhoods, the city has an obligation to compliment that investment and ensure our neighborhoods are pleasant places to live.

We also have an influx of rental properties in our community and I remain as dedicated as ever to holding negligent landlords accountable and ensure that the problematic properties existing in our neighborhoods are forced into compliance.

This code enforcement position is an investment directly into our neighborhoods.

Lastly, I propose not to increase the water and sewer rates in this budget.

Lat year, the administration raised the sewer rates on our residents.

Luckily, this year we were creative and implemented a schedule charging our heavier users more for their sewer use and avoided further taxing our residents.

Furthermore, we applied for grants to help pay for the mandated projects we must complete. We hope to receive those grants and help to ease the financial burden on our residents.

With so much momentum currently in our community, from winning the Downtown Revitalization Initiative to improving the condition of our streets and parks, allocating additional resources to help beautify downtown, making unprecedented investments in our wastewater facilities and our Department of Public Works and creating a productive Code Enforcement Department, we must also make tough decisions and not continually impose significant tax increases on our taxpaying residents.

We must be fiscally responsible and continue looking for ways to cut costs, save money and raise revenues.

To put things in perspective, 68 percent of our entire operating budget, consists of personnel payroll and costs of benefits.

Another 22 percent consists of contractual costs.

Considering those numbers, simple arithmetic explains how a reduction in the city workforce is unavoidable.

The decision is now in the hands of the Oswego Common Council on whether to accept this proposed budget or to amend it by resolution.

Any amendments made by the Common Council by resolution to increase or decrease appropriations will affect the proposed tax rate.

If any increase in the tax levy equals 5 percent or more, the amended budget must be presented to a public referendum in November per local law.

Should the amended budget be voted down in the November election, my proposed budget will become, by default, the 2017 operating budget.

And it is after months of hard work and focus that I, William J. Barlow Jr., as mayor, submit the proposed city of Oswego operating budget to the Common Council for consideration.

August 8, 2016