OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council 6-0-1 to approve Local Law No. 3 of the 2012.
Councilor Mike Myers was excused.
The local law authorizes a property tax levy in excess of the limit established in General Municipal Law section 3-c.
The council and mayor pointed out a tax hike isn’t necessarily imminent in the Port City. This was just a precautionary measure, they said.
However, not everyone is so sure the new local law is a good idea.
“I know, sometimes, it is necessary to spend money to save money,” Sue Matthews, of Scriba, told the council, but she added she didn’t believe the law was really needed.
She pointed out how power companies, such as the Oswego Steam Station, are negotiating in an attempt to get their property taxes lowered.
“Nobody else gets to negotiate their property taxes,” she said. “Property taxes are based on the value of your property, not your income. I’m really against negotiating property taxes.”
“The state provided a 2 percent tax levy cap. I think we should live within that cap,” Dan Wild, of Oswego, told the council.
He has lost 13 percent of his salary in the past few years, he said, adding, “I have to live within a budget and I think the city should learn to live within that budget cap.”
Approving the law was “the prudent thing to do,” according to Council President Ron Kaplewicz.
This way, he pointed out, if the city inadvertently exceeds the state’s figure, they won’t be penalized.
“In a perfect world we wouldn’t need this. But understanding the dynamics of the process, this is a smart thing for us to do so the taxpayers aren’t hung out to dry at some point because somebody didn’t (get the figures) right,” he explained.
Also, if the city does, for some reason, need to exceed the cap it can now do so legally, he added.
Councilor Mike Todd pointed out that unfunded state mandates continue to cause problems for city budgeters.
“If the cost of state mandates cost more than 2 percent we’d be forced to come up with that by cutting services to keep underneath that 2 percent (unless the law was approved),” he said.
A big chunk of the city’s budget is eaten up by those mandates “that we are forced to comply with,” he said.