Utica residents speak out about proposed tax hike

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Residents of North Utica were given the chance to tell the city exactly how they feel about Mayor Robert Palmieri's 2014-2015 budget Monday night.

The mayor was on hand along with the Common Council's finance committee, as well as the police and fire chiefs and board members.

But what was missing from this public meeting was the public.

Many residents say they can't afford the city's proposed tax increase to about 8.73 percent, but there were only about ten residents at the meeting to share their concerns.

North Utica residents say their income hasn't gone up, so they simply can't afford their taxes to go up.

Mayor Palmieri says the city is in an upswing, but that staying below the two percent tax cap would mean drastic cuts to departments that have already been devastated by past layoffs.

Councilman Joe Marino says the police and fire departments could lose around 15 more members each if taxes aren't raised. Mayor Palmieri also says the increase is necessary to maintain contractual and mandatory obligations.

One North Utica resident, Ron Vincent, says he represents many residents in the area- retired and on a fixed income. He says he can't afford to feel the effects of increased taxes.

In an effort to bolster public presence, he left pamphlets at 120 homes before this meeting. He says change won't happen without more voices.

"We need meetings like this, we need a lot of people to voice their opinions. Come out with some different ideas, what I call out-of-the-box suggestions. There's ways the city's got to come up and make more revenue to pay taxes instead of just relying on a few people minus the 35 percent of the property that doesn't pay taxes in this city to start paying the taxes," said Vincent.

Some of the ways residents hope to avoid this tax hike would be for the city to look into shared and consolidated services.

The Common Council and the mayor agree this is an option the city can further explore.

Public Budget Meetings:

When: Wednesday, Feb. 26
Time: 7 p.m.
Where: Holy Trinity School

When: Monday, March 10
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Notre Dame Elementary School

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