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Proposed Oswego budget would increase taxes for property owners by nearly 82 percent

The city of Oswego mayor presented his budget to residents on Monday night, and some property owners may be suffering from sticker shock.
Updated at 10:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3:

Oswego (WSYR-TV) – The city of Oswego mayor presented his budget to residents on Monday night, and some property owners may be suffering from sticker shock.

According to Mayor Thomas Gillen’s proposed budget, property owners could see their taxes go up nearly 82 percent.

The mayor pinned the dramatic rise on pensions and a decrease in revenues. According to the mayor, the city’s projected non-property revenue is expected to decrease an estimated $804,879.

In addition, he cited increases incurred by the Affordable Care Act.

“We had some extenuating circumstances that have impacted our revenue stream and increased our costs through mandated insurance and retirement costs, so that's what caused this and we are trying to find that balance point and unfortunately for the taxpayers, the property owners, it will mean a tax increase,” Gillen said.

Gillen broke down the average, noting that with houses in Oswego costing an average of $70,000, the increase will mean $575 more per year in taxes.

He also said that the city needs to prepare itself for the potential loss of revenue from “ongoing and future negotiations” with NRG, National Grid, and the Metropolitan Water Board.

The mayor stressed that the city did not anticipate laying off any employees according to his budget, nor would it result in any loss of services.

The budget is divided up roughly among police, fire, and the department of public works. Those combined services account for more than 90 percent of the tax rate and Gillen says they're already at minimum staffing levels

Gillen fears that the city could regret cuts to one of those departments.

“I represent the people and if they decide they can do without, then we'll do without if that's what they want. I think we're at the point where if we start cutting into the bone, we're going to regret that decision,” he said.

Common Councilors will spend the next two or three nights in budget work sessions.

A public meeting will also be held on Dec. 19 at Oswego Middle School beginning at 5:30 p.m.

A vote on the budget should be held by the end of the month.

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