April 1, 2010
Mayor notes achievements in State of City
Annual address highlights the positive in year that brought city increasing fiscal strain
Mayor Susan Feiszli on Wednesday issued the annual State of the City report, outlining the challenges and accomplishments of the city in the past year.
Feiszli wrote that September brought a bleak report from the city’s auditor stating that 2009 began with a $300,000 shortfall as well as a significant increase in the amount of delinquent taxes.
The city has not made up the deficit, which now stands at $311,850 in the general fund budget.
The city was owed $4 million in delinquent taxes on 139 properties in May 2009. The city has since collected $2.9 million from people who owed delinquent taxes, and now 29 properties remain on the list, according to city officials.
The city will seek to collect the owed taxes by selling these properties in an auction this spring.
The city also enacted a hiring freeze in October after former Mayor Tom Gallagher’s tentative budget called for a 16 percent increase in taxes.
“As a result of the hiring freeze that was enacted last year, nearly every department has experienced a staff shortage due to retirements and promotions. Many responsibilities are now shared between departments to get the job done,” Feiszli wrote.
Feiszli wrote that 2009 was “a good year for the city’s East End,” citing improvements at the Riverside Plaza, Yaman Park, the new farmers market on East Court Street at Dexter Park and the city’s new Strategic Plan for the East End.
Dave Muraco, the new owner of the Riverside Plaza made renovations to the plaza, such as creating islands with landscaping and a gravel path along the Tioughnioga River, Feiszli wrote.
Yaman Park completed a new launch for canoeists and kayakers on the Tioughnioga River.
Infrastructure improvements were made to many streets including a water main replacement along Morningside, Parkwood and Colony drives.
Other achievements that Feiszli noted include the following:
— The city won an appeal against the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s proposed flood maps, which Feiszli said helped more than 348 homes and businesses save thousands of dollars in unnecessary flood insurance costs. Those properties were removed from the tentative flood plain.
— The Common Council approved a vehicle booting program designed to collect more than $400,000 owed to the city in parking fines.
— The City Common Council created the Rental Housing Permit Program requiring landlords to register rental housing properties containing three or fewer units with the city Code Enforcement office and have their property inspected every three years or whenever a complaint is received from a tenant or neighbor. The city code already required landlords with buildings containing more than three units to register for inspections.
— The New York Jets held their summer training camp at SUNY Cortland for the first time and Jets owner Woody Johnson and other Jets officials gave Cortland high praise.
— The Common Council this year formed a Finance Advisory Committee to find ways to save the city money and a Health Insurance Committee to look for a less expensive health insurance policy.
Feiszli advised people interested in volunteering on the city’s boards and commissions to find volunteer applications at www.cortland.org.
“As your mayor, I would like to sincerely thank the city employees, Common Council and volunteers for working together to address the many challenges we have before us and have yet to resolve,” Feiszli wrote.
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