OSWEGO, NY – Members of the Common Council on Tuesday night began going over the proposed 2012 budget department by department – line by line.
The first of three planned workshops on the spending plan was held Tuesday in the Council Chamber. Council President Ron Kaplewicz and five of the other six councilors examined the budgets for the City Attorney, DPW, fire and police departments.
“It’s a tight budget; there’s nothing left to cut,” Mayor Randy Bateman said prior to the start of the workshop
The budget holds the line on spending and there shouldn’t be any tax increase, he added.
The department heads’ budgets came in rather bare bones, Kaplewicz said.
“That’s really what it amounts to. The administration put together a good budget; we were briefed as a part of the budget commission. Listening to how it was done, looking at the numbers, I felt real comfortable with it,” he said. “This wasn’t just pulling numbers out of the air. They looked at actual expenses in 2010, where we are in our spending projections in 2011 and then based their 2012 budgets on that. To me that is a realistic way of doing a budget.”
Fire Chief Jeff McCrobie told councilors the department has been without a utility truck for three years. He said he’s rejected offers from members saying they could use their personal vehicles.
“We need to have some sort of vehicle,” the chief said. “It doesn’t have to be a Cadillac. Right now, we’ve got nothing.”
City officials are looking into the possibility of obtaining a vehicle used in undercover investigations by the county DA’s office.
DPW Commissioner Mike Smith said he could provide the fire chief with “transportation through the winter,” but couldn’t guarantee the vehicle would have a plow so the department could remove snow at the fire stations.
DeCaire had requested three new police vehicles. That was reduced to one.
A few years ago, the department had a vehicle replacement policy. Two new vehicles were included in each year’s budget, the chief noted.
“Then we were told, ‘No cars,’ and we got behind the eight ball,” he said. “We can make it work with one, but would like to have the three to get us back on cycle.”
The councilors and the city chamberlain will re-examine the mayor’s budget proposal to see if the two departments could get extra vehicles and not add any expenses to the budget.
The budget workshops continue Wednesday with 13 departments’ budgets coming under the microscope and the remainder on Thursday followed by a revenue review and complete operating budget review.
Both sessions start at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall