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Common Council meets on eve of budget vote

By NICOLE HART

UTICA, NY (WKTV)-- Dozens of firefighters and officials attended Monday night's common council meeting. On Friday, many additional proposals were made. Monday night, they were brought to the committee. Out of the 47 new proposals discussed Monday, only a handful of them passed making Tuesday night's final vote on the budget all that more difficult.

"A reduction in manpower is a reduction in services." said Utica Fire Chief, Russell Brooks. He went on to say, "firing these young guys isn't going to save the city a penny."

When the Utica Common Council makes their final vote on the budget Tuesday night, that sentiment will most likely become reality: one way or another. Both the police chief and fire chief are hoping for a different outcome.

Utica Police Chief, Mark Williams said, "So they may cut budget lines in good faith thinking they're saving the taxpayers money when in reality it's critical equipment."

Chief Brooks echoed that and said, "I'm hoping at the end of the day when they start voting and they put a concrete vote on this budget that they come and talk to me or other fire officials about how this dilemma should be approached. We're the one who know how to restructure the fire department."

Councilor at large, Jim Zecca, says the city is broke and the only way to deal with it is with severe cuts. "It is a sad day for the city with these layoffs, the buck stops with the council and we have to balance this budget one way or the other." He continued his thought with, "We've used up all of the reserve funds, the rainy days are over with and we have to deal with reality."

Both chiefs said, no matter the hand they are dealt they will ensure the public's safety.

"Whatever I'm provided with, as far as manpower or funds, I'm going to do my very best to provide the highest level of fire protection that I can possibly provide for the citizens" said Chief Brooks.

Chief Williams promised, "Whether they give me 180 officers or 150 officers I'm gong to strive to give them the best police department, that I can."

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