With a shared, city-wide pay cut, Councilman says Utica would not need tax hike

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica's Common Council has less than a week to make any changes to the mayor's proposed city budget and they'll unveil their budget amendments Wednesday night.

One amendment, in particular, shares the pain to all city workers.

Mayor Robert Palmieri is proposing an 18 percent tax hike and 38 layoffs in order to produce a structurally sound, balanced budget. Two councilmembers, Jim Zecca and Frank Vescera, want to show city taxpayers what it would take to wipe out that 18 percent tax hike and bring it down to zero.

One of Councilman Vescera's amendments involves an across the board, eight percent pay cut, for all city employees, both union and non-union. Vescera says he not only thinks that it is a realistic suggestion, he says it may be the only choice if the goal is paring down that tax hike.

"In my ward there are many people on fixed incomes," Vescera said. "They're making, maybe 1,200; 1,300; 1,400 dollars a month and they can't fathom an 18% tax hike. So that's what you have. Two groups that can't fathom what's going to happen. So this is why everyone has to come together."

The head of the police union says he doesn't foresee being able to sell the membership on an 8% tax hike.

The public hearing on the budget gets underway at 6 p.m. followed at 7 p.m. by a council meeting where members will reveal their budget amendments.

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