Former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll appeared at the Cicero Town Board meeting Wednesday, Jan. 25 to stump for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal and to answer questions from the public about the plan, speaking for about an hour on the merits of the governor’s budgetary message.
Driscoll, who is now president and CEO of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp., was sent as a representative of the state to give a presentation that mirrored the one Cuomo gave in Albany on Jan. 17.
“It’s really a new way to reinvent New York state government and really tackle some difficult issues,” Driscoll said.
The budget proposal calls for both limiting spending and reforms. It asks government agencies to hold their spending flat to eliminate a $2 billion budget gap, creates a new economic development agency called New York Works to spur private investment to encourage growth, consolidates government offices, puts a cap on the counties’ responsibility for Medicaid growth and creates a new Tier 6 in the state’s pension system that seeks to address abuses in the pension system. In terms of education, the budget proposes an additional $250 million for competitive grants to school districts, a program the governor created last year, bringing the total to $800 million. The program targets low-wealth, high-needs districts. The budget also demands a standardized system for teacher assessment by mid-February from the State Department of Education; if that doesn’t happen, the state legislature will create one. If districts agree to it by certain dates, they will be eligible for incentives.
Driscoll encouraged those in attendance at Cicero’s meeting to contact the governor with their input on the budget proposal.
“The governor wants to have your voices involved,” he said. “He’s asking people to come and weigh in. Have your voices heard. I can tell you firsthand — he is a bottom-up governor. He really does listen. These initiatives are really borne from his experiences over the years.”
In other business:
The board unanimously approved a motion to allow Police Chief Joseph Snell to petition the state for a pension waiver under New York State Civil Service Law Sections 211 and 212. This would allow him to collect a pension while continuing to work as chief of police. Snell retired from the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department Dec. 31, 1994.
“This will allow Chief Snell to approach the state to obtain the waiver,” Supervisor Jim Corl said. “Whether or not the waiver is actually granted is up to the state.”
A retired person who returns to work can earn a pension on up to the first $30,000 of their earnings. The submission of the waiver will start the process under Sections 211 and 212 of the Civil Service Law to determine if Snell should receive his pension while still working; the town will determine if there are other eligible candidates for his job and whether Snell is still fit to do the job. If there are no other candidates and Snell is still the person for the job, the state will then make the determination regarding his pension.
Snell became part-time chief in Cicero in 1995 and remained in that position until 2000, when he became full-time chief. Since that time, he has received a waiver from the state until last year, when the town board did not sign his request for a waiver. That is the only time that he did not receive a waiver from the town.
The board approved an agreement between the town and RLB Development LLC to locate the 2012 farmers market at Drivers Village.
“It was the general consensus after the survey that we did that Drivers Village was the most centrally located and the easiest to get to, especially for the seniors in our community and in North Syracuse,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jody Rogers.
The farmers market will run from May to October.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.