OSWEGO TOWN, NY ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Town supervisor Victoria Mullen presented an early Christmas gift to the town this week.
The proposed 2009 budget she submitted to the town board contains a 21 percent tax decrease.
“Oswego Town taxes will go down 21 percent ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ our total appropriations for 2009 will be $1,527,624. Our conservative estimate of revenue is $1,050,100. The total funds to be raised by taxes are $487,524, the same as last year,” Mullen told Oswego County Today. “This year, at 100 percent equalization, the total tax rate for Highway and Town will be $2.12 per thousand. We have lowered the Town of OswegoÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s (town and highway) tax rate by 21 percent. My philosophy is to collect from the taxpayer only as much as we need to run the town efficiently.”
Although her administration is very careful with “our precious tax dollars, we need keep adding to our tax base,” she explained.
Adding value to the town is the best way to keep property taxes low, according to Mullen.
The townÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s population has grown by 800 new residents in the past eight years, she said, citing a recent report in the Syracuse Post Standard.
“The town-wide re-evaluation we just went through was as grueling as it was unpopular,” Mullen said. “But, but more importantly it was necessary, because the state set our equalization rate atÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â 83 percent our residents came out on the short end of exemptions, such as Basic and Enhanced STAR, and the town lost out on some state aide because of the 83 percent equalization rate.”
“Our tax rates dropped because the town has more assessed value,” Mullen said.
“I do most of my own clerical work at the town, so that saves in my office. Also, our Highway Department had some folks leave, so we are saving there by hiring part-time people. That saves on insurance and retirement,” she added.
In 2008, the Town of OswegoÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s tax rate for the City School District was more than 20 percent higher than surrounding towns that were already at 100 percent equalization, the supervisor pointed out.
In 2009, the rate for Oswego Town has dropped $3.25 per thousand, plus homeowners see their full STAR exemption, she said.
“I expect to see our fire district and county tax rates drop as well in ’09,” Mullen added.
The Oswego Town official continues to lament a lack of partnership with the Port City.
“It is unfortunate for our neighbors in the city will see their property taxes rise in ’09. I am hopeful that the city and the town can become partners again soon; working together is a great way to keep everyoneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s tax rate down,” she said.
Earlier this year, the city council passed a resolution prohibiting anyone, except single-family homes from tying into the city’s sewer system.
That action essentially bars the townÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s two student housing projects from hooking into the cityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s sewer system.
If the town did, it would mean approximately $80,000 revenue for the city.
“The developers are moving forward with package plants for the developments. However, I would much rather see the city of Oswego benefit from the revenue,” Mullen said. “So, I am hopeful that the council will reexamine their reasons for keeping development out of the westside.”
“There are projects, worth millions of dollars, on the drawing board which could grow out of the earth immediately if we could get the blessing of the city,” she continued. “The people of the city, the town, and the county of Oswego could see their county taxes reduced along with their school district taxes, as well as a large revenue source in the form of sewer fees for the city. In the face of financial crisis on a worldwide scale we should start looking for solutions on a local level.”
In the 2009 budget, the town has included a cost of living raise for its employees who also face raising costs for goods and services.
Mullen also budgeted an increase in the stipend for the Planning and Zoning Board members “who give of their time and expertise and therefore should be better compensated.”
In an effort to keep up with current technology, the town will be purchasing new software for both Building and Code Enforcement and its Highway Department.