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Cicero board confronts record rain, cuts

This spring's record rainfall is straining Cicero's aging architecture, forcing drainage issues near the top of the town board's agenda during its Friday May 13 meeting at 8236 South Main St.

Councelor Vern Conway, of Mariner's Landing, said the rising water flooded his mother's basement twice, ruining her furnace and water heater. Before this year, flooding had never been a problem for her.

"It's so wet that no matter where you walk out there, you'll sink up to your ankles," Conway said.

Councilor Jessica Zambrano said new housing developments blocked the natural drainage ditches that once kept older homes dry. Even without this year's excess rain, more basements are flooding than ever before.

"For every one that gets spoken about out loud, there must be 20 more that never get talked about," Zambrano said.

Poor drainage is just another issue hanging over Cicero's head.

The board unanimously approved Friday's budget abstract, to the objection of former town supervisor Roy Mallette. Since the town has consumed 72 percent of its nearly $10 million budget in the first five months of 2011, Mallette said, the budget presentation deserved more scrutiny.

"Last year about this time I predicted that the town would have to borrow money to meet its obligations," Mallette said. "I did this from the seat of my pants, and it proved to be correct."

Cicero's credit rating has fallen from a pristine AAA+ in the late 1980s, during Mallette's term. According to Mallette, Comptroller Shirlie Stuart said firefighting and Northern Onondaga Public Library services were in large part responsible for the budget imbalance, though the board contested his claim.

Despite a busy town court and a large police department, town councilors are looking to cut the court's staff, a move with which former judge Carl Putzer disagrees.

"The volume is as big as city court downtown, where they've probably got 20 clerks," Putzer said. "It's like anything when you cut back funding in government: you can expect less services."

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