Budget talks continue in Utica

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The deadline for the Common Council to make amendments to the Utica Mayor's budget proposal is approaching and Mayor Robert Palmieri's proposal calls for an 18% tax hike and dozens of layoffs.

Tuesday night, councilors and the Finance Committee met with the Law Department and the Codes Department to talk about what they can do to trim costs.

Among the issues discussed was the Law Department's desire to add a member to its corporation counsel - a $55,000 addition to the budget.

Councilman Joe Marino says the entire city has to come together, union or not, to make heavy concessions.

"In the times that we are in, there is legitimately no money to make any of this up," Marino said. "So we have to conceivably do the best we can for the taxpayers of this city because that's who we represent."

"The people who pay us are the taxpayers, not this building (City Hall)," Marino said. "We represent the people out there and they can't substantiate an 18% tax increase and frankly, I live here myself . I don't want an 18% tax increase and I won't vote for it."

Some of the concessions ideas being tossed around are pay cuts or having city employees pay for part of their health insurance costs.

"The one thing that we can do is affect payroll," Marino said. "In one way or another, you can affect the actual amount you are getting paid by getting concessions, or maybe a pay cut. Or you can have people chip in to their health insurance. That, we do have in this city.

"That could save $3.5 million if employees start contributing to the health insurance," said Councilor-at-Large Ed Bucciero. "That could buy back a lot of jobs that are currently on the chopping block."

A public hearing on Mayor Palmieri's budget proposal is scheduled for Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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