common council

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The city of Oswego is putting the brakes on SUNY Oswego's construction of several signs on city property designed to improve the entrance to the college.

The Common Council voted down the university's plan to erect an entrance sign and two other signs on city property. The city stopped the construction project last month, saying the college did not get approval first.

Councilor Michael Todd voted against the project and urged other council members to do the same.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Homeowners living in Oswego can breathe a little easier knowing that this year's budget does not include anything close to last year's 43 percent property tax increase.

Mayor Tom Gillen's budget presentation at this week's common council meeting lasted only a few minutes, but spoke volumes. The mayor proposed a $43.3 million budget that includes a property tax increase of 1.4 percent. That translates to about $14 extra for the average $70,000 dollar home.

Democrat Councilor Fran Enwright says this year's budget comes as a big relief for taxpayers.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The city of Oswego is taking the first step toward restoring peace and quiet to residents living near the Oswego River.

Last night, the Oswego Common Council voted unanimously to terminate an agreement with Brookfield Renewable Energy allowing the company to post warning signs. Brookfield also uses an alert system with sirens meant to warn fisherman about rising water levels near a dam that the company operates. Homeowners say the sirens are too loud and go off too frequently, including one resident who said he can't open his windows because of the frequent noise.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Oswego Common Council is expected to vote tonight on a resolution taking away Brookfield Renewable Power's right to regulate an area of the Oswego River near a hydropower dam it operates. Third Ward City Councilor Michael Todd says if the resolution is successful, it could also help the city address problems with the company's use of warning sirens for fishermen that are causing residents to complain.

At least one member of Utica's Common Council is calling for the city's public safety commissioner to perform a top-down review of the city's safety policies, saying a rise in gun crime and the heroic actions of two residents are a call for change.

Councilman Joe Marino presented his request during a meeting last week and is calling on Mayor Robert Palmieri, who also serves as the city's public safety commissioner, to provide the council with a full review.

litlnemo / Flickr

For many in central New York, this is fire pit season. In the city of Syracuse, common councilors are looking for ways to keep disputes about fire pits from burning out of control. Lawmakers have been receiving complaints from some homeowners who say their houses get filled with smoke from neighborhood fire pits.  

Fire pits are legal in the city. Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Cavuto says there is a very specific flow chart firefighters follow when they answer a complaint call about a fire pit.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Oswego Common Council has voted five to zero to amend its taxi cab law, after working on it for more than a year. The law originally barred people convicted of felonies from driving taxi cabs within Oswego city limits, but sparked a lawsuit from the Workforce Advocacy Center, a group opposing job discrimination.

Jason Smith / WRVO

It's been about six months since the city of Oswego launched a mobile app allowing residents to report problems directly to city departments. The app, which cost $5,000 to build and $2,000 to maintain, has had a reduced number of reports recently, but Common Councilor Eric VanBuren said it has still been helpful for the city.

VanBuren helped get the app passed by the city last fall and said there are more than 400 users of the program.  He said the app has been a good investment even though the winter season has reduced the number of reports received.

The Oswego City Common Council is pushing a more aggressive agenda to help prevent a repeat of last year's 43 percent property tax increase.

Common Council president Ron Kaplewicz says the prospect of another year with massive tax increases scares everyone at City Hall, and is prompting the council to get more creative with the decisions it makes and the revenue sources it taps.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Oswego Common Council passed its 2014 budget plan last night, including a more than 40 percent property tax increase. But instead of the boos and anger seen last Thursday night, councilors heard cheers from the hundred or so people who watched the event.

In a seemingly surprise announcement to the crowd just prior to the vote, council president Ron Kaplewicz broke the news about the city's 15 Department of Public Works jobs that were placed on the city's chopping block.

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.

Gino Geruntino/WRVO

Two candidates from vastly different backgrounds are attempting to become the new voice of Oswego's 5th ward, after Common Councilor Dan Donovan's retirement. It's the only open Common Council race in the November 5 election.

One of those candidates is William "Billy" Barlow, Jr., 23, who is a small business owner and recent graduate of Arizona State University. Barlow, a Republican, says the city could benefit from making Oswego's downtown more vibrant and welcoming to out-of-town visitors.
 

Daniel Lobo/flickr

The September 10 Democratic primary for two city-wide councilor-at-large seats in Syracuse puts the spotlight on crime and the economy.

The four-way race pits two incumbents, Lance Denno and Jean Kessner, who were not endorsed by the city's Democratic Committee and who have been at odds with the administration of Mayor Stephanie Miner at times, are running against two party favorites, Pam Hunter and Jeff Wright. Three of the four joined Grant Reeher for a forum on the Campbell Conversations.

Three candidates running for Syracuse Common Councilor-at-Large in a September primary joined Grant Reheer's Campbell Conversation to talk about the role of the city's legislative branch of government.

The Syracuse Common Council has proposed loaning the newly formed city-county land bank money so it can begin operating in earnest, but questions remain on the availability of those funds.

A hookah lounge on Syracuse's north side will not be reopening for a second time. The Common Council has rejected a permit for the business to do so.

Joseph A / Flickr

A few days after a state audit criticized a long-used Syracuse hiring practice to get around civil service laws, the Common Council probed the issue, but councilors came down more on the side of the mayor's office than the auditors.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Money the Syracuse Common Council added to Mayor Stephanie Miner's budget for a new downtown senior center, a small business loan program and teaching assistants may never get spent, despite Miner saying she'll sign the budget as passed.

The council OK'd $2 million in additions to Miner's proposed budget and then approved the spending plan Monday afternoon.

But following the vote, Miner said she won't authorize the additional spending.

Cameron Group, LLC.

A new bookstore and fitness center on University Hill in Syracuse may get a tax break after all.

The margin needed for approval has narrowed.

Members of the Syracuse Common Council and an economic development official confirmed Monday that new terms on the deal have been reached, at least in principal.

Cameron Group, LLC.

A tax-break deal for a new off-campus bookstore and fitness center for Syracuse University has gotten a reprieve.

The deal was slated for a vote in the Syracuse Common Council today, which, based on a whip count of the councilors, would have voted the deal down.

Instead, the council withdrew the legislation from the agenda, giving the project a shot to revise and resubmit.

The road ahead is far from certain though: Many councilors still have serious issues with a request from a private developer for a 30-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) deal to build a complex that it would then rent out to the university.

"I don't see where you would grant a PILOT in the most commercially viable area of the city and [for] a brand new building," said councilor Pat Hogan.

Hogan added he'll likely remain "a solid no" on the project.

Cameron Group, LLC.

The make-up of the Syracuse Common Council was different when Thomas Valenti and his firm, Cameron Group, first approached it six years ago, but the opposition to the proposed project is still the same.

Valenti wants to develop a new off-campus bookstore and fitness center for Syracuse University.

In order to do that, he's requesting a 30-year property tax break from the city.

And therein lies the sticking point.

"If you have all of these grand ideas, then you should be able to finance this project," councilor-at-large Helen Hudson says. "We just can't keep excepting all of these entities."