At Nov. 23's special meeting of the Oneida Common Council, a list of items that department heads would like put back into the budget was compiled.
After the following day's meeting, only a few survived in the showdown between "nicety" and "necessity."
"I think we are in a financial situation where we have to distinguish what are necessities and what are niceties and the necessities to serve 11,000 people plus the additional thousands who come here to shop or go to school or go to work, that's the first priority," Mayor Peter Hedglon said. "Things that are nice to provide but are not necessary to the whole population that we serve, in my opinion, those are disposable items."
The path to even get to the final resolution to amend to the 2010 proposed budget was rocky. After two previous attempts, the council voted 3-2 to propose an amendment that would increase the tax rate 3.8 percent. Councilors Marcia Rafte, Dan Jones and Michael Murawski voted in favor while Max Smith and Don Moore were opposed. Councilor Rob Brown was not present.
Another 6.2 percent was added by a 4-1 vote to reduce the amount of money taken from the general fund. Moore voted against.
According to City Attorney Michel DeBottis, a 10 percent increase amounts to less than $1 per week.
"If our fund balance is gone in three years as the current figures indicate, that's a 47 percent increase in tax in year four. Using this year's figure, that's $5 a week," DeBottis, speaking as a citizen, said. "I don't want to see a 47 percent increase in the taxes that I pay in three years. We ought to creep rather than slamming into it, rather than suffering a fatal blow, a final blow, for many of the families in this city."