As it stands now, City of Utica taxpayers can expect a 4.4% tax increase in the 2018-2019 budget. That’s slightly above the 3.35% tax cap. 1 ½ % of that tax increase is a direct result of the road re-pavement program. Residents can expect a 2.25% increase in that amount every year provided interest rates and petroleum rates stay the same. The Common Council eliminated money designated for legal fees. Money Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri believes is necessary.
"They took legal fees out of the fire and police. Those legal fees were in there for obviously from the law department. Well they recognized that, but instead of putting that back in to the law department where it belongs, they eliminated it. You can’t eliminate a line that is being utilized year in and year out."
The money was being designated into the fire and police budgets. Councilman Joe Marino tells us why the council thinks the money never should have been put in the budget in the first place.
"The reason we got rid of it was because when you do that, when you put it back, even just mathematically in your head. When you put all that money from those 3 departments back. The law department’s budget would have increased by hundreds and thousands of dollars, and I don’t think that they wanted to fight for that in their budget. They wanted the police department to fight for it or the fire department to fight for it, and those 2 departments or 3 with the DPW weren’t willing to do it and rightfully so."
Salt is another issue that seems to have the Council and the Mayor at odds, but this fight may end up being short lived.
Mayor Palmieri says "The salt line, which is in this current budget that the Common Council just voted for is $400,000. Currently in that line right now there are over $550,000. How do we make that up next year?"
Councilman Marino says the money wasn't really a cut at all.
"The salt line was well above by $100,000 in the salt line, so because of that we cut $20,000 out of it. It was 100 over, so we’re giving them essentially $80,000 more than in the past and us trying to do the best we could with major snow storms."