Oswego’s 2010 Budget Approved

OSWEGO, NY – The Common Council voted 7-0 to approve the city’s $42,949,550 spending plan for next year.

The budget keeps property taxes the same as this year at $8.98 per $1,000 assessed. However, the sewer fees will triple.

The city hacked Harborfest overtime out of the spending plan for next year.

Prior to the vote, Councilor Shawn Walker (R-Fourth Ward) informed the public that “the pool is still in the budget.” The announcement was met with a hearty round of applause from those present in the gallery.

Residents were concerned that the city was considering closing the Gallagher Pool as a cost-savings measure.

The pool “is a big asset to our community,” said Michele Hourigan during the public session. “If promoted properly, it could be an even bigger asset.”

David Hamm also urged councilors to save the pool. And, the city should stop paying overtime to support Harborfest, he added.

According to Hamm, the city spent $72,175 in overtime for the 2008 festival. The bulk of the overtime was police ($24,732) and fire ($17,498).

This year, the city spent just under $70,000 in Harborfest-related overtime.

“My recommendation is instead of laying this burden on the backs of the taxpayers of Oswego, we should let the burden rest solely on the back of the Harborfest committee,” Hamm said.

The council approved nine resolutions that slashed $74,000 from Harborfest overtime in various city departments – including $33,000 from police and another $15,000 from fire.

An attempt to remove an addition $50,000 in regular overtime from the police department failed.

“I believe we’ve taken too much of the overtime away from our police department,” said Councilor Mike Myers (R-Second Ward).

The council whittled away at some other departments, taking some funds and equipment away.

When the agenda was completed, the council waived the rules (which call for a resolution to pass through committee first) to allow two resolutions to come to the floor Monday night.

One of them was to authorize the council to complete all required documents and authorize the mayor to execute the documents in order to accept a grant award from the NYS Regional Economic Development Program through the Dormitory Authority of the state.

The grant is for $1,024,000.

According to Mayor Randy Bateman, the city will use the funds for various pieces of equipment such as two 2008 plow/sander trucks, one 2009 Vactor sewer cleaning machine, one 2009 loader, one 2009 street sweeper, and one 2009 backhoe.

The funding was secured by Sen. Darrell Aubertine, the mayor said.

Senator Aubertine chatted with the mayor at Harborfest “and asked for a wish list,” and the senator was able to deliver, Councilor Connie Cosemento (D-First Ward) said.

“I told him how tight our budget was and we were very needy in the DPW equipment area,” Bateman added. “Pretty much all the equipment was taken out so we could get it balanced.”