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Dec. 21, 2007
County Tax Rate Declines for Third Consecutive Year
Although the last several months have been tumultuous at times, members of the county legislature ended the year on a cohesive note by cutting property taxes for the third year in a row. The 2008 county budget that was adopted by the Legislature Dec. 13 will reduce the average county tax rate by 10.13 percent - down from $7.99 to $7.18 per $1,000 assessed value of property. In comparison, the 2006 average tax rate was $9.08 per $1,000 assessed value.
Actual county taxes for the towns and cities will vary depending on equalization rates, which are set by New York State, and the assessed value of property in each municipality.
This took a concerted effort by legislators, standing committees, and our county administration. Several departments submitted budget requests that held the line or reduced costs to the county. With allocation of the fund balance to return a portion to taxpayers, and other factors, the real property tax levy is down 5.1 percent from last year.
I have been unable to attend the last few meetings due to other obligations, and I thank Legislature Vice Chairman Greg Osetek for presiding over recent meetings. Members ended the year by thanking our outgoing legislators for their service on the legislature. Together they served 32 years. They include legislators Osetek, District 15, Oswego; Paul Natoli, District 11, Volney; Tom Bullard, District 14, Scriba, Michael French, District 23, Granby; and myself.
The Legislature also presented a commendation to former State Supreme Court Justice Robert Nicholson for his dedication and volunteer service to the community; Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Joseph Taormina for 30 years of service; Marie Delameter a 25-year employee with the Department of Social Services, and Kassidy Kraus and Colleen Grande of the state champion Central Square High School Marching Band.
The Legislature acted on several resolutions to finalize year-end business and continue a number of projects that are important to protecting our taxpayers' investment in the county infrastructure. Members of the legislature:
- Approved an additional $774,125 payment to cover increased costs of the pre-school special education program. A comparable increase was included in the 2008 budget. County governments across the state are anxious to transfer financial responsibility for this program to school districts, and the New York State Association of Counties has made this issue a legislative priority for 2008.
- Increased the account for paying tuition costs for community college students by $1 million, to cover NYS tuition increases.
- Approved a 20-year agreement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to allow for use of the emergency vehicle operators course (EVOC) at the County Airport in Volney.
- Reclassified a mechanic position in the Department of Public Works for the winter season.
- Approved spending $20,000 to pay for boiler repairs at the Scriba, Parish and Pulaski highway garages.
- Authorized overtime costs, due to illness, to operate the Energy Recovery Facility.
- Accepted $100,000 in state funds and established a capital project for renovations to the Niagara Mohawk Fire School so it can be used as a fire training facility.
- Accepted $117,000 from the federal Northern Border Security Initiative for training and supplies in the Sheriff's Office.
- Accepted $7,038 from the NYS Criminal Alien Assistance Program to the Sheriff's Office.
- Accepted a $218,000 award to the Probation Department for juvenile risk intervention services.
- Accepted an additional $3,646 award to the Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning for the New York State TPA matching funds grant program.
- Allocated hotel and motel occupancy taxes to the Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning for tourism promotion, marketing and
- Scheduled a public hearing on changes to the county comprehensive plan for 2 p.m. Feb. 14 at the County Office Building.
- Authorized a dog quarantine to prevent deer predation until April 30, 2008.
- Approved use of $3,086 from the contingency account for mapping equipment in the Real Property Tax Office.
- Gave the County Treasurer permission to correct errors in the tax roll of up to $2,500.
- Authorized the Central Services Department to spend $40,000 for computer equipment from the technology reserve account.
- Accepted a $105,000 state grant to the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau to provide employment and training related services to at-risk youth.
- Accepted additional state aid in the amount of $8,357 for emergency services to runaway and homeless youth.
- Transferred $19,291 in the Health Department's budget to cover school districts' increased administrative costs for preschool handicapped children.
- Awarded a professional services contract for title searches for the Treasurer's Office.
- Approved a 3 percent salary increase for members of the County Legislature.
- Approved an agreement to continue the STOP-DWI program for 2008.
- Scheduled the 2008 organizational meeting of the Legislature for 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3, and
- Continued several grant funded projects and authorized the Chairman and Clerk of the Legislature to handle unfinished business through the end of 2007.
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