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Mayor's budget for Utica includes hefty tax hike, job cuts

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica's Mayor did not overestimate the drastic measures required to produce a balanced budget with a $7 million deficit and no savings or reserves. Mayor Robert Palmieri's proposed budget carries an 18.19% property tax increase and calls for 38 layoffs-not vacancies, but actual people who will lose their jobs.

"There's nothing, nothing good about this budget when you have a loss of jobs, increase of taxes, loss of services...the only thing that I pray for- it structurally puts us in a path of recovery," says Palmieri. The mayor says that even the drastic steps taken in his budget do not guarantee that the city will not lose control of its finances to a state control board.

Now, the common council will examine the budget and see if they can save any jobs while at the same time saving money, all with the same goal: producing a structurally sound budget that will tell the state comptroller's office that Utica is on the road to recovery.

"We're in some really dire straits here. If this city goes into receivership, those choices are going to be made by other people outside our community," says Council Member Edward Bucciero.

Also learned on Thursday; the city has secured an $8 million short-term loan from the Bank of Utica at an interest rate of a quarter of a percent. The city needed the loan as an advance on their $10.4 million state aid payment expected in late March. The city needed the cash to meet its own payroll, and return to the city school district its taxes which the city collected...and spent. City officials say the loan will be repaid in full as soon as that state aid is received.


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