Mark Walczyk

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After a spirited debate, the New York State Assembly on Wednesday approved a bill, 86-47, to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. It’s not a done deal, though, as it also faces resistance in the state Senate.

On the Assembly floor, opponents raised a number of concerns over the measure.

Assemblyman Robert Smullen, a Republican from Herkimer and a former Marine, said he worries the licenses could provide a back door for criminals and even terrorists to obtain documents for nefarious purposes.

WRVO News (file photo)

Watertown Mayor Joe Butler calls it a blueprint for the city. The comprehensive plan would develop a list of goals and how to accomplish them like reducing drug use in the city to improve public safety, addressing city blight by renovating zombie homes, and improving quality of life by adding more recreational activities for city residents and offering better customer service at city hall.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Watertown city councilors worked for weeks to whittle down an 8.7 percent tax increase included in former city manager Sharon Addison's proposed budget, going through departmental requests line by line. And on Monday night, they succeeded in their goal of getting it below the state mandated tax cap - passing a budget with a 1.5 percent tax increase.

"This was bare-knuckle budgeting," said Councilor Mark Walczyk. "We really dug in and we were responsible and we forced accountability to the taxpayers."

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Watertown lawmakers have been engrossed in budget sessions for the past couple of weeks, pouring over the $45 million budget line by line looking for potential savings. The goal is to get the tax increase below the state-mandated tax cap, which is about 2.4 percent.

Friends of Mark Walczyk

Watertown City Councilor Mark Walczyk is running to challenge long-time Assemblywoman Addie Jenne (D-Theresa) in the 116th Assembly District, which is located in the North Country.

Republican Mark Walczyk was elected to the Watertown City Council back in 2015. But the 32-year-old has plenty of government experience, having served as a legislative director and most recently district director for State Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton), who represents Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

WRVO News (file photo)

Watertown is in the early stages of crafting its budget and the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap is yet again a major part of the discussion.

City manager Sharon Addison says Watertown will exceed the cap in the next budget when they factor in the cost of giving all city employees the standard annual two percent raise. The city broke the cap last year. The announcement comes as the council prepares to take on big projects like renovating the Thompson Park pool.