Realtor: Proposed tax increase could drive people out of Utica

By By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica Mayor David Roefaro is learning that you really can't please all of the people all of the time.

After a loud outcry from the business community, the mayor eliminated the proposed 3/4 of a percent sales tax hike from his budget. However, he had to make up for it somewhere.

That place turned out to be real estate; in order to compensate, the mayor raised his proposed property tax hike from 11 to 18 percent.

"I would expect it could push people maybe outside the city limits who may have been considering a home purchase here," said Greater Utica Rome Board of Realtors President Anthony Fumarola, also of Joyce Realty.

"It all comes down to a matter of money and if you're going to get a better tax rate somewhere else that has an impact on your monthly payment," said Fumarola.

Fumarola said buyers keep a close eye on property tax bills - much more so than in past years.

Local realtors who put renters in touch with landlords say the proposed double-digit tax hike could tax the renter's market, too.

"Property owners as far as landlords may have to raise their rents and if they have to raise their rents, it's hard enough now to find good tennants that can afford the rents," said Debbie Grossi of the Apartment Connection.

The mayor's proposed property tax hike is just that - a proposal. His budget is now in the hands of the common council, which has until March 22 to pass it.

Taxpayers can weigh in before then by attending a public hearing March 17 at 6:30 pm at City Hall.

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