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Democratic Opposition Rises Against Proposal To Cut OCBL

Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) - The Democratic Caucus of the Oneida County Board of Legislators–led by Minority Leader Frank Tallarino–today, offered alternatives to recent Republican proposals to reduce county costs. One cost saving measure, already in effect, was to cut health insurance for members. Tallarino said, ”First we’d like to point out that by eliminating the benefits–health insurance basically for legislators, the county has already saved $250,000 approximately, an extremey significant amount.”

Other proposals not sitting well with the Democrats, is the reduction of monthly meetings, and redistricting for fewer legislators–measures that are up for passage by the board in January. Newly elected legislator for the 14th District, David J. Gordon said, ”So, you’re talking about a third of the board that are coming in, or is going to vote on something that they’ve had no opportunities to even talk about. That’s a real problem to me. That looks like it’s more politically driven than it is driven as a constinuency service or something that’s a cost saving measure.”

Although the Democrats agree that cuts need to be made, they argue that, doing it by reducing the board by 6 members, will negatively impact area residents. Tallarino said, “With a buget that has grown to more than $350 million, it is necessary to have as many eyes as possible looking for areas that can be improved, not fewer.” He points to the 2-percent property tax cap, the new MVCC tax structure and other budgetary issues that he says still need oversight and adjustments.

Tallarino adds, “The total budget of all the 29 county legislators now, is nowhere near the budget of the county executive and his staff.” He says that is the one budget item not up for reduction, and is calling for the implementation of a complete auditing process to determine the exact financials of the county. Another newly elected member of the board, Harmony Speciale, said the goal is to educate voters, as well as new members, on the issues that will ultimately impact their daily lives.

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