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Barlow to present Oswego budget with first city tax cut in 20 years

Payne Horning
WRVO News File Photo
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow is presenting his administration's first proposed tax cut tonight to the city's common council. Barlow says if passed, it would be the first tax cut for the city's residents in 20 years. 

He attributes his proposed 2.1 percent property tax decrease to difficult decisions during his first two years in office. Both of those budgets featured slight tax increases despite layoffs to firefighters and other staff at city hall.

"We set out from the day I took office honestly to just cut perceived and real waste from city government," Barlow said. 

In addition to reducing personnel, Barlow says the city has lowered its overtime costs and implemented a policy change this year to save on health care. Previously, the city tried to reduce health insurance costs by offering employees half of what the city would have spent to cover them. There's now a costlier $3,000 flat rate buyout.

Barlow says these savings and state grants are enabling the city to invest in new snow plows, city hall repairs and wastewater infrastructure improvements. Barlow says all of this is all accomplished without relying on the city 's $13 million fund balance.

"I know we need to buy a $1 million firetruck in the near future, I know we need to do a considerable amount of work at the wastewater facility, so that stuff is on the horizon and that’s why I tried to be even a little conservative in this budget and made a point not to touch the fund balance," He said.

A public hearing and vote on Barlow's proposed $46,000,000 budget is scheduled for August 27.

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.