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3.9% tax hike, pay cut for Roefaro in Utica budget

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - At 3 p.m. today, Utica Mayor David Roefaro handed his 2011-2012 budget proposal to the city department heads who make up the Board of Estimate and Apportionment.

Included in that budget was a 3.9% take hike for the city of Utica, which he said would equal out to roughly $47 for the average assessed home in the city.

"The mayor supports Governor Andrew Cuomo's property tax cap of 2%," Angelo Roefaro said earlier in the day. "However, this year's budget will reflect a higher number. That is, in part, due to state unfunded mandates." Mayor Roefaro pointed out that, if that 2% cap takes effect next year at the state level, bringing the city revenue through ever-increasing property taxes will no longer be an option.

In the budget, Roefaro cut his own salary by roughly 5%, equaling out to about $4,000.

Angelo Roefaro says the plan calls for fewer layoffs than last year's more painful budget, but says even those can be avoided if department heads and unions are willing to compromise and make concessions. For the union rank and file, those concessions include a salary freeze for the 2011-2012 budget year, and overtime concessions: allowing less senior union members to take overtime instead of the most senior members. The mayor says the alternative to the concessions is less attractive.

"I will be forced to institute layoffs should I fail to garner union concessions," says Roefaro.

The mayor's budget proposal includes the elimination of two civilian positions at the Utica Police Department and two administrative jobs at city hall. These vacant jobs won't be filled.

Once the board adopts the plan, it goes immediately to the members of the Common Council. They will have until March 20 to make changes. The mayor can veto changes they make, and the council can override a mayoral veto with a two-thirds majority. A new budget has to be in place by April 1.

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