Petition calls for return of Oswego's 5 percent tax cap

May 1, 2014

Oswego's Common Council was recently presented with a petition seeking to add a five percent tax cap back to the city's charter, which was removed in 2011. The city of Oswego continues to deal with resident complaints about last year's 43 percent property tax hike, and struggle with balancing its budget.

Lawyer Kevin Caraccioli got more than 500 people to sign the petition. He says the tax cap would work in the same way as it does in school budgets, requiring city voters to approve budgets that surpass the tax cap.

"What it will force the city councils and mayors to do is to really think creatively, make some very hard and bold decisions on consolidating services, privatizing certain services," Caraccioli said. "Really looking at what essential services should be kept in place."

Caraccioli adds that right now the city is putting its residents in a difficult position.

"Can property owners, people on fixed incomes, single-parent homes; can they afford another 40 percent tax increase?" Caraccioli said.

The petition's signatures still have to be verified by the city, then the change in the charter has to be approved by the city council. If the amendment passes in a voter referendum this November, it would take effect for the 2016 budget. The referendum would fall at about the same time that next year's budget would be introduced by the city's mayor, Tom Gillen.

Caraccioli says he isn't on a crusade to change the way the city's budget works. He's looking to provide a voice to the public.

"If it fails, it fails," Caraccioli said. "I'm certainly not going to go out and try to reinstitute a provision. That having been said, I think if this measure or something very close to it was put to a vote, it would overwhelmingly pass."