Com­mon Coun­cil adopts 2019 bud­get

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Leah Mc­Don­ald lm­c­don­[email protected]­dadis­ @Onei­daDis­patch

Com­mon Coun­cilors also dis­cussed snow­bank re­moval and dump­sters on pri­vate prop­erty.

ONEIDA, N.Y. >> Oneida for­mally adopted its 2019 bud­get Tues­day as coun­cilors unan­i­mously ap­proved the $18.8 mil­lion that will bring with it a 3.5 per­cent tax in­crease.

“We worked hard on it,” said Ward 2 coun­cilor Mike Bowe. “I think we kept costs down. I think it’s a good bud­get.”

The 2019 bud­get’s 3.5 per­cent tax in­crease amounts to $9.93 per $1,000 of as­sessed value for home­own­ers in the In­side District, and $5.02 per $1,000 of as­sessed value for home­own­ers in the Out­side District. The to­tal tax levy for 2019 is $4.4 mil­lion.

“In this day and age that’s a re­spectable in­crease,” said Ward 3 coun­cilor James Coulthart.

The bud­get in­cludes two new po­lice of­fi­cers and money to re­pair side­walks, roads and other in­fra­struc­ture. Coulthart char­ac­ter­ized the bud­get over­all as be­ing “proac­tive,” but es­pe­cially in his ward, where money was set aside to look at the brook that runs through the cen­ter of his ward.

“It’s def­i­nitely a proac­tive bud­get,” said Ward 1 Coun­cilor Al Co­hen.

Mayor Leo Matzke, who was out sick, was not present to ac­cept the bud­get.

“Where’s the mayor?” asked for­mer Ward 2 coun­cilor and deputy mayor David Cimpi.

Cimpi stressed that he wasn’t crit­i­ciz­ing Matzke, who he char­ac­ter­ized as a “good guy,” but was con­cerned that “for two years, we haven’t had a leader for our city.”

“We’re pay­ing for a po­si­tion that some­one’s not earn­ing,” Cimpi said. “I re­ally think you need to look at that go­ing for­ward.”

Ward 5 coun­cilor and deputy mayor Jim Cham­ber­lain said Matzke was out ill, and that while he re­spected Cimpi’s opin­ion, it wasn’t a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence. He also noted that Cimpi, in his duty as deputy mayor five years ago, had to step in for the mayor at times as well.

Coun­cilors also tack­led two is­sues re­gard­ing the park­ing lot owned by Cos­bros Prop­er­ties Inc. be­hind the Kal­let Civic Cen­ter. On Sept. 7, Dr. John Costello Sr. re­quested an agree­ment with the city to re­move snow banks from his busi- ness’ park­ing lot while al­low­ing it to be used for any city event.

“We have no prob­lem with the city us­ing all 65 spots,” Costello Sr. said at the Nov. 5 coun­cil meet­ing. “And they have been fully used. We’re of­fer­ing that and we’re just say­ing, while your truck and bucket is at the Kal­let, take the snow so we both have more spots when these events hap­pen.”

“It’s some­thing we should not be do­ing,” said Ward 4 He­len Acker on Tues­day. “We should not have tax­pay­ers pay­ing to re­move snow from a pri­vate busi­ness.”

While Bowe agreed the city shouldn’t re­move the snow from Costello’s park­ing lot, he won­dered what the dif­fer­ence was to pre­vi­ous snow­bank re­moval at down­town busi­nesses.

“It sets a bad prece­dent,” Co­hen said. “It would open up a huge can of worms if we go down that road.”

Coun­cilors agreed to not pro­vide snow re­moval for the park­ing lot, but tabled dis­cus­sion of whether Cos­bros Prop­er­ties needs to move the two dump­sters it uses off city prop­erty.

The dump­sters have been in the same lo­ca­tion be­hind the Kal­let since be­fore the city sub­di­vided the park­ing lot and sold a por­tion to Costello, but Acker said she’s re­ceived sev­eral com­plaints about the busi­ness be­ing al­lowed to keep the dump­ster on city prop­erty.

Bowe pointed out that Chase Bank and other busi­nesses in that block use the city’s park­ing lot next to Hig­in­botham Park. “What’s the dif­fer­ence?” he asked.

Ward 6 coun­cilor Tom Sim­chik said in Chase’s case, there’s nowhere to put trash that ei­ther wouldn’t ob­struct the side­walk or sit on city prop­erty. He noted that with the Costello build­ing, there’s lim­ited space as well.

“They canuse trash­cans,” Acker said.

“That’s a whole lot of trash­cans,” Sim­chik said.

City At­tor­ney Na­dine Bell said coun­cil could have busi­nesses sign li­a­bil­ity forms with re­gards to dump­sters on city land, es­pe­cially since the lay­out of down­town lim­its avail­able pri­vate space.

“You didn’t have prob­lems with dump­sters on other city prop­er­ties,” said busi­ness owner Gary Tay­lor. “Now you have a prob­lem with other city dump­sters.”

“We’re try­ing to make it right, now,” Acker said.

“Nowwe re­al­ize there are oth­ers so we’re go­ing to look at them all,” Bowe said.

Quick Hits

• De­mo­li­tion in the Flats is slated to be com­plete by the end of De­cem­ber, Acker said. The fi­nal build­ing to go down will be the for­mer Al­fred’s, since the two de­mo­li­tion crews and the city are us­ing it as stor­age space. She ex­pects that build­ing, as well as the park­ing lot, to come down the week of Dec. 21, at which time the en­tire area will be re­turned to green space.

• No one spoke in de­fense of the prop­erty at 216 E. Elm St. dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing re­gard­ing the state of the build­ing. The city has la­belled it a nui­sance. As­sis­tant Fire Mar­shall Lt. Reay Walker said the porch is an “im­me­di­ate threat to pub­lic safety,” but has not seen other parts of the home nor has he en­tered the home to see if the main struc­ture is sound. Coun­cil agreed to be­gin the process of ob­tain­ing a search war­rant and find­ing a struc­tural en­gi­neer to as­sess the prop­erty, which they be­lieve is in­hab­ited.


The Oneida Com­mon Coun­cil meets on Tues­day, Dec. 4, 2018.

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