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Senior van tops Oneida budget public hearing

Van driver Randy Domes added that the users range from using the van two or three times a week to 10 times a week and he usually has four or five people riding at a time.

Bruce Herb suggested subsidizing taxi services and getting service organizations to help.

"Every service organization in Oneida, as part of their charter, is community. I would suggest we contact some of the service organizations which would pick up the slack," he said.

Domes said that he has talked with volunteer groups but they have the same problem.

"Eventually they either get burned out or cost out," Domes said.

Mayor Peter Hedglon said that the average cost for the van, after taking the total number of trips and dividing it into the expense, is $5.86.

"If the people who use the van aren't paying a cab to go from point A to point B, they're using the van, the cost is shifted from the user to someone else and in this case, it's shifted to the real property taxpayers of the city of Oneida," he said.

According to Hedglon, it's also been brought to his attention that the van needs to be replaced which would require a 3.2 percent increase in the tax rate.

"If we want that service, despite the fact that we're not obligated to provide it and no other community in Central New York provides it, but if we want it because it's a quality of life thing, are we willing to pay for it," he said.

In other budget discussion, Kathy Dorman, president of Sherrill-Kenwood Public Library, asked the council to reconsider last year's decision to cut funding.

"Up until last year, the city of Oneida, out of respective for its Kenwood citizens, has made a contribution," she said. "It was a slap in the face to all residents of Kenwood."

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