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Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri set to release city budget proposal

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y.(WKTV) - "There will be pain." Those words of warning from the mayor of Utica, just hours before he is due to release his budget proposal to city department heads on the board of Estimate and Apportionment.

Mayor Robert Palmieri warns of historic layoffs and a hefty tax increase, calling the budget process 'physically, mentally and morally draining".

Palmieri says he and his budget staff began the budget process with a roughly $7 million deficit.

With depleted reserves, there was no money with which to plug that significant hole. The only other option: jobs.

Palmieri says it's with a heavy heart that he is proposing what he believes are the worst layoffs in Utica's history.

The new mayor says he clearly recalls being escorted out of city hall last year after being terminated by then Mayor David Roefaro, and it troubles him that the city's path to recovery must be laid upon the backs of innocent people who had no role in the city's financial undoing over the past several years.

In addition to sweeping layoffs, city residents are facing a major tax hike as well. And in the end, all of the tough choices might still not be enough to keep the state from coming in and taking over the city's books.

"We're very close to a control board and I'm going to do everything in my power in my administration so we don't have that but we are in dire straits at this time," says Mayor Palmieri.

A bond rating agency that recently downgraded the city's bond rating and assigned the city a negative outlook says that several years of structurally unsound budgets are to blame for their decision.

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