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Back taxes not the only bill Hotel Utica owes the city

By PAT BAILEY

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - As of Tuesday, the Hotel Utica is up to date on all their taxes. As part of a payment plan, the owners were supposed to pay $19,337 a month, plus any new taxes. The Bank of Utica paid the nearly quarter of a million dollars to catch the hotel up Tuesday, said Utica mayor David Roefaro.

The money paid Tuesday comes from the same bank who holds the first mortgage on the hotel, Roefaro said, adding that had that money not been paid, the city could have started the process to take the building and the bank could have lost out.

"If we don't collect our taxes, we take the property," Roefaro said. "But there is a mechanism in place. There are so many steps that has to be gone through before you take the property."

The City gave the hotel a notice in July 2010 that if the taxes weren't up to date, they would foreclose in October of that year. However, because of the payment plan for the hotel, they have been paying the back taxes just in time.

"We like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it has been a long time," Roefaro said. "Beside the taxes, we need to make them start to pay on their loan to the city of Utica. That loan hasn't been paid in a long time.'

The loan money given to the Hotel was money the city borrowed on behalf of it's owners, Roefaro said. The loan bill is over $5.5 million.

"We need to do this in a way to keep the hotel open. It is a staple of downtown. But they need to start paying their loan payments also," said Roefaro.

The Mayor says he has been asked time and time again what the city would do with the hotel if they take it over. It would cost too much money to tear it down, so they would try to sell it, Roefaro added.

Calls to the hotel's owner were not returned Wednesday.

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