Oswego Council Approves Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego Common Council adopted 2015 spending plan Monday night. Councilors Fran Enwright (First Ward) and Mike Myers (Second Ward) were excused from the meeting.

The budget is $43.3 million. It doesn’t contain any layoffs or any loss of services to city residents.

Mayor Tom Gillen had originally proposed a budget with a 1.407 percent property tax hike.

After several budget workshops, the council whittled it down to 1.25 percent.

That translates into an annual tax increase of less than 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, the mayor said.

Councilors continued to tinker with the budget Monday night before officially adopting the spending plan.

“The council just moved somethings around a little bit (tonight). I’m very pleased. What we did last year was set the table so we don’t have to go through that again (a 43 percent tax hike). If we continually manage the budget, keep an eye on it throughout 2015, and grow revenue, we can grow the city,” the mayor told Oswego County Today.

The public had a chance to voice its opinion on the budget plan prior to the meeting. However, there were no speakers.

The council also approved proposed local law No. 4 of the Year 2014. The local law authorizes a property tax levy in excess of the limit established in General Municipal Law Section 3-C.

“There is a two-percent cap that is issued by the state and we have the ability to override it. It’s just good common sense. If there is a slight error in the math (on the budget) the city could face penalties from the state,” the mayor explained. “Just in case. It’s kind of like an insurance policy.”

During Monday’s meeting, councilors made nearly 10 final adjustments to the spending plan before approving it.

Among the changes:

They decreased the Planning Personnel Services (Retirement) line by $26,931.

The Social Security line was decreased by $2,154.

The Planning Miscellaneous line was decreased by $2,000.

The Police Department and Employee Benefits line was decreased by $2,029.

The Fire Department and Employee Benefits line was decreased by $200,000.

Tourism Contractual Services received a $20,000 boost.

The Personnel Contingent line was upped $313,600.

Programs for the Aging received another $1,000.

“The economy of the city of Oswego has begun to emerge from the overall financial malaise experienced throughout the country,” Gillen said. “We begin 2015 with the continuing challenge of controlling our spending as well as a strong commitment to growing revenue and improving the quality of life for our residents. And, I am happy to state that there will be no increase in the Enterprise Fund rate for 2015. This means that there will be no increase in water and sewer rates.”