Proposed Fulton City Budget Holds 1% Tax Levy Increase

Fulton’s proposed 2012 budget spends $160,000 less than this year’s budget, but will require a small tax levy increase.

The 1.17% increase in the tax rate means that a home assessed at $50,000 will pay about $9.50 more.  The rate increases 19 cents, to $16.53 per thousand of assessed value.

“We’re into some tough times,” said Mayor Ron Woodward.  “Stuff rolls downhill and we’re at the bottom.”

Woodward and the Common Council started planning for the budget with a spending increase of about $800,000 to hold all programs and services at current levels.  That would have required a tax levy increase of more than 9%.

The added spending came in three areas over which the city has no control:

  • Health insurance costs for employees, which rose $388,000;
  • State-mandated increases in the city’s contribution to its employees’ pension fund, which rose more than $210,000;
  • Another $33,000 cut in state aid without changing any state-mandated programs;
  • And the loss of $8.7 million in the city’s tax base, primarily due to lower negotiated or court-ordered property values for major taxpaying properties such as the hydropower dams and Cayuga Community College.  The tax base shrinkage will remove $144,000 from the city’s revenues.

Woodward proposed broad cuts in city spending. Out of 64 broad categories in the budget, 52 will either absorb cuts or stay the same. Some of the cuts are big ones:

  • A cut of $80,000 in the city’s contribution to the Fulton Public Library, to $100,000;
  • Elimination of the entire $145,000 annual payment to Fulton’s private Menter Ambulance Service;
  • No new equipment will be budgeted for purchase in 2012;
  • Three more positions will be eliminated, on top of the 17 jobs that have been cut in the last few years.  Two other positions in the city fire department will not be filled when they become vacant.

Woodward said he explained the cuts to the library’s leadership and to the owners of Menter Ambulance.

The Menter cut means that city residents will no longer receive priority attention for an ambulance, Woodward said.  Fulton is the last local government paying for priority, he said, and residents are unlikely to notice any difference in response times.

One other change might be a little more noticeable.  Woodward told Councilors he does not intend to have crews repair sidewalks next summer.  Each summer, crews repair stretches of damaged sidewalk.

“I’m gonna focus that group (of public works workers) just on storm drains and pump stations,” Woodward said.

He believes that will reduce overtime costs. “It will help flooding in basements and backyards if we do that,” added Councilor Dan Knopp.

Councilors will hold a public hearing on the budget and then vote to adopt it Tuesday, Dec. 27.

“You did a hell of a job here,” Alderman Tom Kenyon said to Woodward. “I didn’t think you could get it down that much.”


  1. My condolences to the library administration, staff, and users. With a cut of almost one-half of this year’s support, the City has given the library a tough blow to overcome. So does the library cut staff,hours, materials purchases? Yes, probably all three. This comes at a time when many people in the area rely on the many free services and materials the library offers them. During my years as the library’s director we faced diminishing support from the City. So I am very sympathetic to the library’s plight now but have no words of encouragement. Merry Un-Christmas.

  2. I agree with Tom Kenyon.
    The Mayor and Council
    did a h*ll of a job.
    Didn’t think it could be done,
    but they did the impossible.
    It hurts like a Fulton blizzard.
    It’s real bad.
    Then we help each other dig out.
    And we end up that much stronger.

  3. Pretty soon Fulton will have to put tolls on the ends of both bridges, on Rts 3, 48, 57, and 481 to “nickel & dime” the populace some more. The city has lost 75% plus of its manufacturing businesses and won’t be getting it back. Its all fine and dandy that the city has a budget. What is the plan to revitalize the community? All I’ve seen for nearly a decade are budgets designed to bridge gaps and not solve anything (akin to the Federal budget). You can’t continue to tax people to death just to stay afloat. People will continue to leave for greener pastures and the town will continue to slide downhill.

  4. The mayor and the town council remind me of two drunks arguing over whose going to pay the bar tab as the HMS Titanic is sinking.

  5. Well Pops you might agree with Tom Kenyon and you may think they did a great job. What you and Kenyon both missed was the fact that we have firemen,police officers making over $100,000 dollars a yr and we are wasting twice that amount in miss use of manpower and fuel. But we cut the library. Why because it’s the easy way out. With the way you and Kenyon think it won’t be long when there won’t be a city any more but it will be safe. Keep up the good work.

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