UTICA, NY-- Utica Common Councilors are working together to resolve a $700,000 budget gap during a special meeting Monday night, ahead of the city's budget deadline.
Mayor Robert Palmieri presented a proposed $72.5 million budget for the the 2018-2019 fiscal, that carries with it a 7.8 percent tax increase. When the mayor made his presentation to council members, he stated that pension costs increased to more than $1 million and that was the factor in the tax increase, according to Michael Galime, president of the Utica Common Council.
Several common council members found that pension cost were not forecasted accurately. There was a $700,000 gap in last year's numbers, adding to the increase in costs in this year's budget.
Common councilors Samantha Colosimo-Testa and Joe Marino have proposed to use money from the fund balance to make up for the gap, as this is being referred to as a one time error.
"The city of Utica actually didn't budget for $700,000 of pension costs that they had last year and found a mistake and now they're asking the taxpayers to pay for that mistake," Marino said. "I think that that's an appropriate and I hope that everybody in the city that's our government, feels the same. So we don't have to go back and ask the taxpayer to pay for this mistake. It was the city's mistake to begin with, so what in the world but we will we have two essays taxpayers pay for."
Councilors have also tried to cut the tax increase down to 1.6 percent, with 40 ordinances to the budget. But all of those ordinances need to be voted on unanimously during the special meeting in order to make that tax decrease. If it is not unanimous councilors Monday night, councilors will meet again Tuesday night.
The issue has to be resolved by tomorrow in order to make the city's budget deadline.
Attempts to contact the mayor were unsuccessful.