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Council votes down proposed plan for city-wide salary cut to lessen tax increase

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica's Common Council held a meeting and public hearing Wednesday night on the city's budget with two councilors unveiling a resolution that they felt would keep taxes below the state's 2% tax cap.

Councilmen Frank Vescera and Jim Zecca asked the Common Council to vote on bringing an 8% salary cut to all city employees, instead of raising taxes.

"The county did it. Oneida County stayed within the 2% cap. The water board stayed within the 2%. The school board is working on it with massive cuts, and for us to come up with an 18% tax hike, I think is indefensible," says Councilman Vescera.

Multiple residents also spoke out against Mayor Robert Palmieri's proposed 18% tax hike in the public hearing, saying that those are taxes Utica residents can not afford.

The council voted down Vescera and Zecca's proposal 6 to 3. Many councilors said they felt the 8% wage cut wouldn't be enough, only bringing about $1.6 million to the city, forcing them to still cut jobs and that a salary cut is something unions would not agree to.

"The eight percent wage decrease, not only for us but the rest of of city government, is going to be a tough sell to any union or non-union member," says PBA President Dominick Nitti. "Eight percent is a lot of money on a lot of our salaries, people that pay taxes in the city still."

With the proposal voted down, Councilman Vescera says he's hopeful some concessions will be made by unions to save the city money and reduce the tax hike on residents.

The Common Council will hold another budget meeting Friday at 5 pm. at City Hall.

The councilors have until March 20th to revise Mayor Palmieri's budget.

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