Oneida budget vote scheduled for Dec. 12; 5 percent tax increase proposed

Published Dec 5, 2017 at 4:00pm

ONEIDA — Oneida’s Common Council is prepared to vote on the proposed 2018 city budget during a special meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12. The vote is open to the public and will be held at council chambers, 109 N. Main St., at 6:30 p.m.

Deputy Mayor and Fifth Ward Councilman James Chamberlain said the revised budget has increased the proposed tax rate from about 2 percent to 5 percent. The proposed budget totals $18,511,732. The tax levy is $4,239,824. The total general fund levy is $4,200,892.

City Comptroller Lee Ann Wells said the budget for capital improvement projects has not been finalized, although $104,000 has been allocated for pavement and sidewalk maintenance.

Mayor Leo N. Matzke had originally proposed the 2 percent increase, and the budget included money to hire a city administrator.

“I am pretty sure the entire council is in agreement on the budget, but I believe it will pass,” Chamberlain said. “I am sure the mayor is not entirely happy with the changes, but we want to be able to protect the fund balance and get moving on some other projects that we’ve delayed.”

Tax increase

The tax increases equal about $45.69 for a $100,000 home in the city’s inside district and $23.10 for a $100,000 home in the outside district. Chamberlain said the city is working on a more precise way to let residents know how their tax dollars are being used.

“We want to approach our city chamberlain and find a way to provide a better formula so that our taxpayers know what they’re getting when we increase taxes,” Chamberlain said. “It will be a matter of ‘This is what you’re paying, and this is what you’re getting for your money.’ We want to remain transparent.”

General Fund balance

“We are anticipating reducing General Fund balance by $213,269 for the 2018
budget,” Wells said.

In a projection using current data, the  General Fund balance will be $2,946,446 at the end of 2018, making the General Fund balance 23.74 percent of the 2018 General Fund budget.

“These figures are completely a projection since we have not finished 2017 and the 2017 financials have not yet been audited,” Wells said.

Sidewalk/road program

Under the sidewalk and road repair program each member of the council will visit their wards and view specific road and sidewalks which need repairs. The money will be spread as evenly as possible among Oneida’s six wards.

“This is my seventh term on the council, and we’ve previously had line items calling for sidewalk and road repair,” Chamberlain said. “It’s time we stopped kicking the can down the road and took action on this.”

City administrator

The council will not hire a city administrator in 2018. Matzke had been promoting the position as a way to reduce workload and maintain continuity in the city’s plans for growth. “We had spoken with our civil service representative and we found that there is no title for an administrator,” Chamberlain said. “In Canastota they contract their administrator. Would we do that, or make that person part of city staff? We will establish a committee and review whether there is a need for the position in 2018.”

Depending on their individual municipality, city administrators are responsible for developing budgets and expenditures; receiving bids and awarding contracts; city policy, hiring and firing employees, the safety of city building and property and keeping computer systems and software current.

“We don’t know how hiring a city administrator would effect the mayor’s duties,” Chamberlain said. “In Canastota the administrator brings in more money through grants than what he costs in salary. Would hiring an administrator reduce the mayor’s duties, and should we then reduce the mayor’s salary?”

Chamberlain said a series of planned retirements in the city’s fire department impacted the budget.