Mayor Roefaro meets with Common Council after releasing budget with tax increase

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A day after Mayor David Roefaro released his 2010-2011 budget proposal with a double-digit tax increase for residents, he met Saturday with the Common Council's Finance Committee.

In the special Saturday morning session, Mayor Roefaro told members he wishes there were some other way to balance the city's $4 million deficit, but it's clear that taxes will have to be raised and city jobs will be cut.

On Friday, four city workers were let go. Additionally, 15 other jobs that are already vacant or will soon be vacant due to retirement will not be filled.

The key point of the mayor's budget that is hotly being contested is whether there should be a sales tax increase to raise revenue.

Common Councilor Frank Vescera said, "Raising sales tax with give shoppers incentive to shop outside the city to purchase their goods to save money and our businesses will suffer, thereby putting a greater strain on future budgets."

Common Council Lorraine Arcuri said, "We have to step back and we have start really looking at what do we need, we have to pay for what we ned first and the rest of it, it's time for us to start saying no."

Mayor Roefaro says the reason for the $4 million dollar deficit is the state's financial problems. The state has cut aid to municipalities and has recently sent a bill to the City of Utica for $4 million to pay for the state pension fund.

A city budget is supposed to be approved by the Utica Common Council and in place by March 20.

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