February 9, 2004
Town Board Minutes
Oswego Town Hall
Supervisor: Victoria M. Mullen
Town Board Members: Tim DeSacia, Margaret Mahaney,
Carol Pritchard, Greg Herrmann
meeting of the Oswego Town Board was held on February 9, 2004 at the Oswego
Town Hall. Supervisor Mullen called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM with
the Pledge of Allegiance. Roll call was taken with the following members
Supervisor's Report: The Town of Oswego has seen a great deal of progress in 2003. Our books are closed and reported to the New York State Comptroller’s office. The financial health of the town of Oswego is good. We have worked hard to cut spending. We have been able for the last three years to maintain services without either raising taxes or spending down our surplus. We were able to accomplish this even while overcoming the huge increase in NY State retirement contributions, and the payment for our new highway garage in 2003.
Contracting out of our code and zoning office has been successful on many levels. The service to our citizens has been improved by greater accessibility to a highly trained staff of zoning and code professionals. This improved service is provided to the town at a saving of ten thousand dollars over the previous method.
Prior to my administration, Onondaga County Water Authority occupied space in our town free of charge. One of the first things I did was negotiate a rental agreement with OCWA, getting retroactive payment and a truck from their fleet. This year I renegotiated our agreement, increasing the payment by 60 percent, and having OCWA also contribute towards utilities for the building.
We negotiated a restructure of the way we pay attorneys for zoning and planning. Previously we paid a monthly stipend, now we pay only for work actually done. The savings have been substantial.
In ten years we are facing the final chapter in the town’s agreement with the Metropolitan Water Board. This means the loss of $189,000 dollars per year in revenues. This loss of revenue must be balanced against the surge of development we are experiencing, much of which can be attributed to the fact that we have town wide water. The surge in both residential and commercial development is highlighted by the expansion of the Oswego Growers and Shippers facility. We will not simply carry on with the status quo until the fateful day when this loss of the revenue hits. Neither will be let the needs of the town go unmet, paralyzed by fear. What we will do is be creative in the way we meet our goals.
The community center where our seniors meet, town court is held, and town board meetings have been held; has been a problem as long as I have served on the Town Board. It would take a tremendous amount of money to solve the structural and heat loss problem of the community center. It is the opinion of the town board that we would be better off selling the community center and putting a very valuable piece of property back on the tax rolls, and not putting precious funds into a money pit.
We are tying to be creative in finding ways to hold town court, town board meetings, zoning and planning meetings, public hearings and seniors citizen’s meetings without the community center.
The Town of Oswego Fire District is going to build a large meeting room on to their county route 20 facility. We are exploring the possibility of an inter-municipal agreement with the fire district. Under the possible agreement the Oswego Town Court would be housed there. Town meetings that would exceed the capacity of our town hall would also be held there and possibly our seniors could also meet there temporarily. Either way the Fire district is going to build this meeting hall. In a town our size there is no need for more than one large meeting hall. With this said, it is obvious to both entities that a cooperative venture would benefit both the fire district and the taxpayers, now and in the future. We hope that this type of creative use of space will enable any future replacement of our aged town hall to require less space and consequently it could be a less expensive venture.
To help check rising taxes, the County and the Town of Scriba have laid off employees. We are facing the same pressures, and we don’t want to lose any of our full time employees. It is clear to our town residents, and to anyone passing through our town this winter, that our highway department is the equal of anyone anywhere. We stand behind them and want to protect all of their positions. To this end I am hoping to change our Highway Department to a Department of Public Works. This will allow our full time employees to legitimately do work that we have been outsourcing to private contractors. We hope this will protect our employees and better serve the taxpayer.
We have turned the Sleepy Hollow Sewer District around. Our chemistry continues to be within the limits of the permits. We have demonstrated to the DEC, the town’s commitment to addressing the longstanding problems.
All payments have been received from FEMA for last year’s ice storm. One of the hardest hit parts of our town was the cemetery. Many of the enormous ancient trees in the cemetery need to be taken down. This is an unusual expense not in the operating budget for the cemetery. Last fall I contacted Assemblyman Robert Oaks for financial help to remove the dangerous tress. Yesterday I received word that the assemblyman was able to secure funding for this project and we are very thankful for his continued support of the town of Oswego.
Just like all the taxing authorities in our state, we will continue to face increased financial pressure from un-funded mandates, increases in state retirement contributions, higher health insurance costs, higher liability and ever rising utility costs. Our Town Board is committed to keeping services to our residents at the highest possible level, while maintaining taxes at the lowest possible level.
Public Comment: Town residents had questions and concerns regarding how big will the new addition be at the fire station, where is OCWA’s offices in town hall, have OCWA water rates gone up, how much is OCWA’s rent, and what will the town DPW do, and will the town have to hire more people?
Resolution 2004-23 Be it resolved that the Oswego Town Board approves the minutes from the January 5, 2004 town board meeting. Moved by Councilor Mahaney and seconded by Councilor Pritchard. All ayes motion carried.
Resolution 2004-24 Be it resolved that the Oswego Town Board approves the bills on abstract 2.
Resolution 2004- 25 Be it resolved that the Oswego Town Board approves following polling places for the Town of Oswego:
All ayes motion carried.
Resolution 2004- 26 Be it resolved that the Oswego Town Board acknowledges the Oswego Town Seniors Trip to Beck’s Grove in March. Moved by Supervisor Mullen and seconded by Councilor Mahaney. All ayes motion carried.
Resolution 2004- 27 Be it resolved that the Oswego Town Board authorizes the Supervisor to make the necessary contacts and the feasibility of a new municipal building. Moved by Councilor DeSacia, seconded by Councilor Herrmann. All ayes motion carried.
Resolution 2004- 28 Be it resolved that the Oswego Town Board authorizes the Supervisor to do the paper work necessary to nominated Mrs. Theresa Cooper as Town Clerk of the Year, at the New York State Town Clerks Association annual meeting in April. Moved by Supervisor Mullen, seconded by Councilor Mahaney. All ayes motion carried.
Motion by Councilor Pritchard and seconded by Councilor Mahaney to adjourn the regular meeting of the Oswego Town Board at 7:20 PM. All ayes motion carried.
Theresa A. Cooper, RMC
Oswego Town Clerk