city budget

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Oswego city voters overwhelmingly approved a five percent tax cap on Election Day, and some lawmakers say they are on board with the new law, which they hope will bring more accountability and efficiency to the annual budget process.

Republican Fifth Ward Councilor Billy Barlow says he's excited to see the city's new five percent tax cap in place. But it isn't just about the city's taxpayers drawing a metaphorical line in the sand regarding the city's budget.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Property owners in the city of Oswego were hammered last year with a 43 percent property tax increase. But this year, the city's mayor says he expects a much more pleasant result for the city's taxpayers, citing several positive changes in the city.

Nearly one year ago, Mayor Tom Gillen and the Oswego Common Council were heavily criticized for their passage of the massive tax hike.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Homeowners in the city of Oswego will be able to voice their opinions at a pubic hearing on a proposal to reinstate the city's five percent property tax cap. The original limit was removed in 2011, but after the city's common council approved a 43 percent property tax increase in December, support has been growing to bring it back.

But Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen says this year's tax hike was unavoidable.

A 1.5 percent property tax increase will stand in the City of Syracuse after the Common Council overrode Mayor Stephanie Miner’s budget veto today.

Finance Committee Chairwoman Kathleen Joy says the city can’t continue to cut it’s way out of yearly budget deficits, so lawmakers felt the time was right for this increase.

Syracuse common councilors will be asking for more information from not-for-profits that get funds from the city budget.  The city contracts with several agencies to provide various services to city residents every year.

But Councilor Pam Hunter says there needs to be more accountability about what these nonprofits are doing with city funds.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Pleas for funding for a literacy program, and concerns about public safety spending rounded out comments at last night’s public hearing on the city of Syracuse’s proposed 2014-2015 budget.

In all, six people spoke to common councilors about Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed $660 million spending plan last night. Among them was Felicia Salley, a mother of three from Syracuse’s southside. She says the Imagination Library, run by the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County, has helped her kids prepare for school by providing each of her children one new age-appropriate book a month.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

If Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed budget is approved as is by the Common Council, the city will soon beef up its police and fire departments.

Miner says even as the city budget continues to be tight, it’s time for the new officers, with more than 200 potential police and fire retirements looming this year.

"You always are trying to manage, and manage and looking at how many retirements you're going to have and how many you’ve already had, where your needs are and how you can balance those needs,” Miner said.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Many upstate New York municipalities are struggling with higher taxes and are scrambling to find additional revenue sources. The city of Oswego is no different and the mayor is trying several approaches to raise money.

Mayor Tom Gillen says the city is examining every nook and cranny of the budget to try to find ways to save money or bring in revenue.

Oswego decides against employee furloughs

Jan 31, 2014
Doug Kerr / Flickr

The city of Oswego is making some changes to the budget it passed in December, by moving away from the city-wide furloughs it had previously imposed.

The furloughs included in this year's budget would have equated to about a four percent pay decrease to every city employee in Oswego. But now those mandatory days off aren't taking place, following the Common Council's decision to dip into the city's enterprise fund.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Mayors from around the state -- including Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner -- testified before the state legislative fiscal committees. In what’s traditionally known as Tin Cup Day, many asked for more money, while others asked for authorization to collect more money from their citizens.

First up was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who came armed with a new report that he says shows how he could enact universal access to pre-kindergarten at a “rapid pace,” in an expansion that he calls one of the largest in the nation’s history.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Oswego's Common Council, mayor and department heads saw firsthand what Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2014 agenda will look like, during a recent presentation of his State of the State address at city hall.

The mayor of the city of Oswego says in general he supports Cuomo's budget plan for 2014, but the city's Common Councilors say rising costs and unfunded mandates make it hard to stay within the state's two percent tax cap.

Tom Magnarelli/WRVO

Two Syracuse City Council members and three city school board members were sworn in at city hall on Monday. The new and returning office holders acknowledged there will be many tough issues for them to face in their terms.

Friends and family members cheered on as their elected officials took the oath of office in the packed Common Council Chambers.

President of the Syracuse Common Council Van Robinson was sworn in for a second term. He says it's his job to assure the people that Syracuse will not go down the road of bankruptcy, and that the city needs to grow.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Hundreds of residents from the city of Oswego packed the gym at Oswego Middle School on Thursday to voice their concerns about the city's proposed budget. The $34 million budget originally included a property tax increase of more than 80 percent. But the Common Council cut $2 million from the budget earlier this week, dropping the possible tax increase down to about 43 percent.

mtneer_man / Flickr

Although Oswego's residents are facing a nearly 82 percent increase in their property taxes, the city's lawmakers say there isn't much fat left to cut from the proposed budget. They say the changing economic atmosphere in the city is weighing heavily on this year's budget.

Earlier this year, the city of Fulton was placed on New York state's list of fiscally distressed communities. Now it's the first municipality in the state to sign up for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recently created Financial Restructuring Board. The ten-person board offers cities management recommendations and grants to help them implement financial changes and get back on their feet.

Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward, Sr., says the city's struggles are the result of several factors, including the loss of two large employers in the area.

Joanna Richards

Watertown's City Council contest pitted two fiscally conservative incumbents against two political newcomers who want city government to think more broadly about its role. The voters went for one of each.

Small business owner Teresa Macaluso led the pack by a comfortable margin to keep her seat for a second four-year term. She says good budget management will always be her top priority. "Without a budget, a balanced budget, we don't get any of the services that we want, things fall behind, and then before you know it, you're in trouble," she said. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Today marks the first visit by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Syracuse since early October -- and the first public meeting between Cuomo and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner since a widely-publicized difference of opinion between the two.

The disagreement was over how the state should help cities like Syracuse deal with financial stress. Miner calls it nothing more than political soap opera, fueled by the media.

The pleas of Syracuse firefighters pleas were answered by the city's common councilors as they voted to restore cuts to the fire department.   But, the vote by the council to shift money in the mayor's proposed budget, doesn't mean the Syracuse Fire Department will get that money.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Syracuse firefighters have made a last gasp attempt to save Engine Company Number 7 from the Mayor's budget ax. Mayor Stephanie Miner's proposed budget would shutter the crumbling station, as well as cut four members from the ranks of the firefighters. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he hopes to soon create a statewide board to help fiscally strapped local governments restructure.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Syracuse lawmakers Tuesday got an earful about the pros and cons of closing down a fire station as the Common Council held a hearing on the future of Station 7 on the city's east side.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner's proposed election year budget includes no increases in taxes or fees; there are also no proposed layoffs. But despite spending cuts and consolidations, the city's fund balance takes a big hit, in order to fill a multi-million dollar budget hole.

quinn.anya / via Flickr

Syracuse will begin going after the roughly 19,000 drivers with multiple unpaid parking tickets in a few months thanks to a new deal to ramp up "booting."

A new state report describes the city of Utica as a city in fiscal decline. The state Comptroller's office has released a fiscal snapshot of the city as part of its new fiscal monitoring system.

Syracuse common councilors are trying to get a clearer snapshot of the city's fiscal problems. Lawmakers have been holding a series of meetings to try to figure out how the council can take a more proactive approach to dealing with an impending budget implosion.