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Oswego County Passes On Consolidation Grant Opportunity

OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – The deadline to submit an intent to propose for the countywide grant opportunity under the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition has come and gone without a submission from Oswego County.

“We’ve had several meetings with all different levels of municipal leaders in the county. We’ve communicated this opportunity through multiple conference calls and emails, but an intent to propose was not submitted for Oswego County so we are ineligible to move forward to the next step,” said David Turner, Director of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism, and Planning.

The grant opportunity allowed for $20 million awarded to the application showing the best intended plan for governmental consolidation in effort to reduce property taxes.

Specifically, the grant called for a consolidation agreement between two municipalities or the dissolution of one municipality into another.

“We received several letters of support from various people indicating they would work with the county to provide local government services in a more cost efficient manner, but ultimately no two communities were willing to participate in the plan to study consolidation which is the commitment we needed to move forward,” Turner said.

County legislator, Frank Castiglia Jr. (D-Fulton) was one of those in support of the grant opportunity, approaching the city’s common council with the suggestion to consider dissolving the city of Fulton as the necessary criteria to move forward with the MCEC.

“I am very, very disappointed that the money train, meaning the possibility to gain $20 million, has left Oswego County and I’m very disheartened that some of the elected officials that were in the position to consider this money couldn’t see far enough ahead that a feasibility study wouldn’t determine anything other than whether the option to dissolve was feasible or it was not,” Castiglia said.

He initially suggested that the city of Fulton utilize the grant opportunity to conduct a feasibility study at no cost to the city to determine whether the idea to dissolve the city would be feasible and beneficial to the city’s taxpayers.

From there, the option would fall into the hands of city residents and residents of whichever municipality would absorb the city by being put to public vote, he said.

“The feasibility study would have been the first step, but the decision should have been for the people to make- not me, not six people on a panel, not the Mayor. We should have done it, gone through with the study and been in the ball game for $20 million. At the end of the day, I believe in the people making the decisions, not allowing elected officials to make decisions that would take their jobs because they don’t want to give up their seat at the table, much like the Governor himself said,” Castiglia explained.

Ultimately, he said the goal was to seriously consider a way to lower property taxes and allow for more affordable living for residents of the city.

“Everything else happening in this city is great, there are many hard working volunteer groups that are great, but we’ve got to look at how to lower the cost to live here,” he said.

Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said when the opportunity was presented that he would leave the decision to participate up to the six councilors that represent the city on the Common Council.

Ultimately, the council unanimously agreed not to participate after hearing concern from residents in the city as well as surrounding towns.

Council president and second ward councilor David Ritchie explained the council’s decision.

“We just don’t think its feasible. Hearing from people in Granby and Volney, they don’t want it either. From my understanding, really no one in the state wants to do it. Why doesn’t anyone else in the county do it? It’s not going to do us any good, we would actually lose a lot of state aid. We are making progress and I look forward to continuing that,” he said.

Woodward agreed, sharing his belief that dissolution would not be beneficial for the city.

“I know better than the Governor knows and Frank Castiglia knows, that this is not going to work and I’m not sure why they can’t see that. City residents pay taxes to the school, the city, and the county. If you did consolidate, it’s not going to take away school or county taxes so why are we targeting just one taxing district? It’s not going to change the assessed value of property. We are still going to need to light and plow the city, have a police and fire presence, provide services to the people here. We have labor contracts where retirees get health insurance, will that go away? No. So, possibly we save five or ten dollars but what does it change, really?” he questioned.

With a 40% tax exemption in the city, he said hypothetically, “having all pay by tomorrow would cut the tax rate in half but these real issues are on state level and can’t be altered by local government.”

“These are state laws, we can’t change them. Cities are struggling because of state mandates and the Governor won’t even address them. He’s not trying to be Governor, he’s trying to be King,” Woodward continued.

Instead, he suggested, “the easy solution if they really want it, have lawmakers pass a law and make everyone do it.”

Ultimately, county representatives did not receive a commitment from any two municipalities in the county to move forward by the deadline (Jan 27) to submit the intent to propose.

“We missed it, so the opporunity to dissolve is dead,” Castiglia said.

11 Comments

  1. Ok lets look at this again. A feasibility study by a independent agency.
    A vote by the people. Is all that was being asked. Oh at no cost to the local taxpayers. The Mayor says he knows more than the Governor and a County Legislator. He says the Governor is just acting like a King. All these from a Man that has been at the helm of the City of Fulton for almost 16 yrs. a man that has taken a City from having a future to what we have now. And he says the Governor wants to be a King. Who is fooling who. Not letting the people decide is the actions of a King and Dictator…The Governor and the County Legislator wanted the people to decide. The democratic why. Again who wants to be King.

  2. At no cost to the taxpayers? From where do you think the money comes? From taxpayers. Unless Andrew pays for it himself. As a member of the council I have been listening to the people and everybody who voiced their opinions have been against it.

  3. Taxpayer money. Oh now you are worried about the use of taxpayer money. You weren’t worried about taxpayer money when you bonded $230,000 to buy bricks that couldn’t be used for the foundation of Aldi’s. Anyone with half a brain would have known to check and see if they could be used before buying them. No not you guys. Oh maybe that money to pay it back is coming out of your pocket. Taxpayer money. You didn’t think about that when you raised our taxes last year. Taxpayer money . You didn’t think about that when you raised our garbage rates higher than what was needed to cover the increase from the county. Taxpayer money. You didn’t think about that when you bonded for Patrol Cars, DPW trucks, etc. where did they think that payback money is going to come from the tooth ferry. Taxpayer money. Where do you think the $350,000 grant money is coming from. But when it is money to do a study that may cost you your job. Also some of the that money would have been used to pay off some of the debt you guys created . Now it’s I’m worried about it being taxpayer money. Remember it’s taxpayer money that pays your salary. You should have let them vote. I read about all your opinions how the dog and pony show went at the CC meeting. What a joke. Like I said if so many were against it then why not let the study happen and give the County a chance at $20 million prize. We know why. It’s taxpayer money. This was our chance to get some of our money back to help us. Wake up.

  4. Good comment still watching… The mayor has admitted his sense of dictatorship “king” in his own response within the article by saying Cuomo wants to be king. Jim , it’s understandable what the people at the meetings have said about how they don’t want to dissolve but like still watching says, 16 years and the city has gone no where but down. Instead of defending the decision to not take the tax payer money to asses the dissolve of the city, explain what positive economics are occurring in the city. I think allot of people agree an Aldi’s and maybe a few other new small employment business coming to the city is not a sign of total rehabilitation, those businesses move into city’s all the time because of increase population. Alot of good points by still watching but you reflected on one thing.

  5. I spoke before in this article about the short sighted-ness of the elected officials. A feasibility study would have highlighted strengths and weakness’s of the study area. That could have brought help in many ways. But like “Still Watching” stated the King and his court only thought about their place at the table. So sad. We reap what we sow. Mr. Myers was also short sighted in stating that it’s “Taxpayer Money” yes it is and it should be used to help the taxpayers. Again he is only looking at his place at the table. So sad.

  6. Over the years the City of Fulton did and or tried to do land grabs from it’s neighbors. K Mart plaza was in Volney until Fulton annexed it. When Walmart said it was building in Granby….Fulton was going to annex it until the County stepped in and worked out a sales tax deal with the city. Should anyone be surprised that Granby and Volney would have no interest in a consolidation with Fulton? The only one to benefit would have been the City.

  7. Still Watching, it would be nice if you would at least get your facts right. We didn’t bond $230,000 for bricks. The bricks can and will be used in this project. As for the consolidation grant, it’s not just Fulton that’s involved. Any combination of towns, villages and cities could be used. Why not Oswego and a neighboring town? Why not a pair of towns? Don’t blame everything on Fulton.

    Jim Myers

  8. Mr. Myers,the media -June 1st,2016-“City plans to spend up to $300k to prepare former Nestle site for Aldi” Page 5-“Woodward said before the buildings came down it was hard to gauge how much would be needed” Officials now believe it could take up to 25,000 cubic yards of material to LEVEL out the site.August 3rd 2016-Fulton mayor: Aldi still on board as the deadline passes to have site build-ready”Page A-8 “In May, the Common Council authorized spending up to $300,00 to help prepare the site for Aldi, which included continued air monitoring for asbestos removal and the PURCHASE OF APPROXIMATELY 25,000 cubic yards of crushed brick from Infinity Enterprises” Words in caps were in caps in the news stories. I only put them that way so you could see them better. So Mr. Myers you seem to be unaware as too what you voted for. Now you can twist the words around if you want but the bricks were not usable for the foundation as intended. Now they are going to be used as fill for a driveway. What a waste of taxpayer money. I heard the Mayor said he had tons of fill back behind certain buildings. .Aldi stated the bricks were not usable. Maybe you missed those meetings and news stories. Fulton was the city in the biggest trouble and the one that was so proud they said no to a study.

  9. I know exactly for what I voted. You should read your own post. The money was to “prepare the site for Aldi…..” Air monitoring, fill, road, water lines, sewer lines etc. Read it all, not just what helps your little rants.

  10. Mr. Myers, You really know how to mix words to suite your purpose . First-of the $300k-$70k was for “air monitoring”-$230,000 for crushed bricks-that money was a BOND- Then it is said the money for sewer lines and hook-ups was allotted for in the city budget. Then there is the grant the city just received of $350k for sewer lines,roads,curbs and fill and could be used to prep the site for Aldi’s. Now how are you going to turn this around to suit your own way. And you are someone that is leading the city…I just read on another post how you have sold most of the city owned property. From another post I saw the avg. profit per sale was somewhere around $3500 or was $4100. I read you sold some for $500 and a house or two for $1,000. I know they are back on the tax rolls. For how long and for how much. Such a joke. Happy I got out when I did. Sure am happy you guys aren’t selling any property for me.

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