Public hearing on laws regarding tax cap, city reserves kick off big night for Utica Common Council


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Friday is a big night for the Utica Common Council, with two new laws to be voted on, and there is a possibility that the council will vote on the number of cuts to the police and fire departments.

The big thing that could come out of the common council's special meeting Friday night is knowing the number of police officers and firefighters who could lose their jobs.

Before that meeting, however is a public hearing set to begin at 5:30 p.m. On two local laws that could mean changes to the city and its taxpayers.

"Local Law #2" would authorize the city to override the state's 2 percent property tax cap, something the common council voted 7 to 2 on last week, but now is before the mayor to vote on after hearing how the public feels.

Common council members say those public feelings are strong.

"Whether its phone calls, emails, that sort of thing since this started, dozens of people see you in the street, walking to city hall or shopping, (saying) 'you're not gonna' go above that two percent tax cap are you, councilor?' People want some self control," said 1st Ward Councilman Frank Vescera.

"Local Law # 3" would make it so that the city could deplete its reserve funds for one year, something that, while some would say is dangerous, would keep taxes from going up even more.

"When you have no other choice than to raise taxes an extra 5 percent or keep a million in holding in a savings account for us, it's something I couldn't do, because we're trying to work out an 18 percent tax increase to push it up to 23 percent," said 6th Ward Councilwoman Samantha Colosimo-Testa. "It's just something I couldn't do."

The public hearing on those two local laws is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

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