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Oswego's 2018 budget passes with staff cuts, property tax increase

Payne Horning
Members of the Oswego Common Council work with City Chamberlain Deborah Coad, left, on a budget amendment.

The Oswego Common Council passed its 2018 budget proposal Monday, raising property taxes 3.48 percent. Officials blamed the increase on salaries, fringe benefits and health care costs for city employees, which is why they cut city hall staff by 7.5 positions.

It's the second year the city has reduced personnel to stave off major tax hikes. But Mayor Billy Barlow says the city is going to be on a much more solid foundation moving forward. 

"The city budget is $2 million less after these cuts than when I took office," Barlow said. "I think shrinking city government at that rate that much will eventually be fiscally stable."

Some of the positions that were cut are part of an inter-municipal agreement the city is making with Onondaga County. Under a one-year deal, the county will handle purchasing any materials, supplies and equipment for Oswego as well as bidding for services like road work.

The agreement comes as the state is requiring local governments to look for ways to consolidate their services to reduce property taxes. Common Council President Eric VanBuren says they had considered combining their purchasing department with Oswego County's, but the county's consolidation plans have stalled.

"They're in the midst and up in the air with what they're doing," VanBuren said. "I think not having that clear plan for them - it made sense for us to stick with what we were doing."

Oswego's 2018 budget totals $45.7 million.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.