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Uticans continue to voice frustration over proposed tax hike

By By PAT BAILEY

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - People in Utica are voicing concerns over Mayor David Roefaro's proposed budget hike, with Wednesday's "tax talk" budget discussion the latest in a series of public talks the mayor plans on holding.

The proposed city of Utica budget is on the minds of a lot of taxpayers in Utica, with many having their own suggestions as to where the city should cut. On Wednesday morning, many senior citizens at the Parkway Recreation Center in Utica got a chance to let the mayor know how they feel about the proposed 2010-11 budget.

About two dozen people attended the annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon at the Parkway Recreation Center. Mayor Roefaro was one of them, fielding questions about the budget proposal that carries with it is a tax increase of roughly more than 7 percent.

Roefaro tried to defend the proposal calling it "manageable."However, some in attendance said that no tax increase is ever manageable.

"Because we are middle-income people and we can not afford it," said Carmelita Franco. "A lot of them are on social security. How are we supposed to afford it? How? Don't they care."

"Are you happy at all, encouraged at all that it was at 18 % and is now down to 7%?" asked Nancy Jankiewicz. "We can not afford 2%. Why would we be happy over 7%? We can't afford it as taxpayers to pay anymore taxes than we are doing (now)."

Roefaro originally proposed an 18 percent tax increase, which was met with criticism from the Utica Common Council. So, he recently proposed cutting seven police officer positions, which would bring the proposed tax increase down to eight percent.

As it stands now, the budget proposal is at a seven percent increase after the common council knocked another percent off. Roefaro said that were it seven or eight months ago, the tax increase would have been as high as 30 percent. He said he has since cut $1 million in payroll, and laid off 30 people.

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