OSWEGO COUNTY – Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup, District 9, announced today that the county’s proposed budget for 2020 is tentatively poised to remain at last year’s tax rate with no increase to taxpayers in the coming year.
The proposed budget contains a generic tax rate of $7.70 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which has remained unchanged since 2016.
Chairman Weatherup said the proposal is the “culmination of much effort and cooperation between our department heads, administrative team and the legislators who chair the committees overseeing our operations. While the actual budget won’t be finalized until mid-December, I would like to thank the following legislators and their respective committees for their hard work in pulling together a package that should easily be met with bi-partisan support.
“They are Chairman David Holst, District 4, and Vice Chairman Richard Kline, District 12, of the Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs Committee; Chairman Terry Wilbur, District 21, and Vice Chairman Bradley Trudell, District 7, of the Public Safety Committee; Chairman Stephen Walpole, District 14 and Vice Chairman Patrick Twiss, District 13, of the Infrastructure, Facilities and Technology Committee; Chairman Tim Stahl, District 20, and Vice Chairman Mary Chesbro, District 10, of the Economic Development and Planning Committee; Chairman James Karasek, District 22, and Vice Chairman Morris Sorbello, District 23, of the Health Committee; Chairman Roy Reehil, District 5, and Vice Chairman Bradley Trudell, District 7, of the Human Services Committee; Chairman John Martino, District 6, and Vice Chairman Stephen Walpole, District 14, of the Finance and Personnel Committee.”
If the budget is adopted as proposed, this will be the fifth consecutive year that Oswego County’s generic tax rate has gone unchanged.
Oswego County Legislator and Majority Leader Terry Wilbur, District 20, said, “The fact that we were able to absorb several new expenses and still meet our goal of no increase in the tax rate, speaks volumes for the work our legislators did.”
Oswego County Legislature Vice Chairwoman Linda Lockwood, District 11, agreed and praised the team for their hard work on the budget.
“They really dug in and looked at every program line by line. They prioritized services and trimmed where necessary to prevent additional burdens on our taxpayers,” she said.
According to Chairman Weatherup, “This is quite a remarkable feat given that there are several legislators not seeking re-election this year. Apathy could easily have had an impact on the process. Instead, there was a lot of good planning and hard work which resulted in a responsible budget proposal with no increase to the tax rate.”
He added, “And, for the first time in recent memory, there is no anticipation of using any money out of our savings account, or fund balance as it is more commonly known, to balance the budget which has been a goal we have been working towards for quite some time. Absent any unforeseen circumstances between now and our December meeting, I think we can finally get there. An accomplishment that all of our team should take great pride in.”
Chairman Weatherup went on to say that, “While we will miss all of our retiring legislators, Legislator Shane Broadwell, who served as Legislature Chairman in 2018, should be acknowledged for the significant contribution he made to this process when he led the charge to trim our property tax foreclosure process down to a two-year cycle. Before this year, we had to budget a significant amount of taxpayer dollars to cover the expense of taxes that others did not pay, an amount that often went as high as $6.5 million in a single year. This change alone helped us meet our goals this year and will continue to do so for years to come.”
Chairman Weatherup said members of the Legislature’s majority conference focused on a comprehensive analysis of the proposed budget over the past several months.
“The budget development process was bolstered by the wide variety of skills and knowledge that the individual members of the team brought to the table,” said Chairman Weatherup. “The team was well-prepared for the challenges before them, thanks to the business knowledge shared by legislators Gilson, Reehil, House, Broadwell, Walpole and Kline; the government and agency experience of legislators Trudell, Weatherup, Chesbro, Emmons, Twiss, Stahl, Karasek and Wilbur; and the invaluable institutional knowledge that comes from years of service from legislators Kastler, Potter, Holst, Martino and Lockwood.”
Oswego County Administrator Philip Church added, “We believe this is a good start for what we intend to achieve by working together as we start the next decade. It was apparent to me through this process that the Legislature remains committed to the best services we can provide while continuing to be careful stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.”
The actual 2019 county tax rate paid by property owners varies, depending on their municipality’s total assessed property value, equalization rates and local costs of state-mandated programs such as workers’ compensation and community college chargeback rates.
The Oswego County Legislature’s standing committees will evaluate and consider recommendations to the proposed budget over the next several weeks.