Utica, N.Y. - Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri presented his proposed 2018-2019 budget to the city's Board of Estimate and Apportionment Monday morning and with that budget comes a proposed 7.8% tax hike.
Palmieri says over the first six years of his administration taxes have held fairly steady, in fact two out of the last three years residents saw a tax decrease. But not this year.
Palmieri says the reason for this year's proposed 7.8% tax hike is all due to unexpected big increases in the following mandated costs over last year :
Retirement costs - Up $1,182,831
Long Term Debt - Up $1,094,524
Salary costs - Up $538,899
Medical insurance costs - Up $517,622
Palmieri says the increases in these four mandated items alone creates a $3.3 million deficit which would require an 11.2% tax increase. He says he has worked with department heads to make some cuts in their budgets to bring that tax hike down to 7.8% but he does say there are no job cuts in his proposed budget.
Palmieri says he believes cutting jobs would be detrimental to residents, "I will not support any cuts, any further cuts to Public Safety, I will not support any cuts within our own. I think we're very lean, effective and efficient, but once you start cutting a little more, I look at the analogy of, you start taking the muscle out of the body and the body will follow."
Utica Common Council President Mike Galime says he hopes there will be no job cuts in the final budget which will have to be approved by the Common Council by March 20th, "The council is going to do everything it can to go through all the numbers and meet with all the department heads."
Galime was the only member of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment to vote 'No' Monday morning in the vote to send the Mayor's proposed budget directly to the Common Council, "We did something very specific last year so that the Board of A & E could receive the budget earlier and we did receive it earlier (today), but it ended up in the same results where there were enough votes to just move it out to the council and I really wanted the board to look it over."
Palmieri, who as mayor is one of the five members of the Board of A & E, says he, the Comptroller and Assessor were all involved in coming up with this proposed budget, so he and they voted to send it to the Common Council immediately.
Galime, and Councilman At Large Jack LoMedico, who is also on the Board of A & E, would have preferred to take time to go over the proposed budget since by law they have until February 20th to send it to the Common Council, but LoMedico also voted to send it to council immediately.