UTICA, NY - The Utica Common Council was busy Wednesday evening, passing the city budget and approving a plan for police reform. The council unanimously approved the 2021-2022 budget, and good news for taxpayers, this year's budget does not include a tax hike.
The nearly $73 million spending plan did not come without some sacrifices. Major capital purchases have been reduced and a large number of part-time city employees have been eliminated.
Overall the council feels this is a good move for the city.
"I'd like to thank everybody for all their hard work to keep the budget down to zero for our taxpayers," said 4th district councilman Frank Meola.
"They need it most during this age of covid and I appreciate everybody trying to keep our budget down."
The council also took action on the city's police reform plan. That too was passed with unanimous approval.
Some members of the public did bring into question a few of the plan's proposals. One, in particular, is the placement of cameras in the vicinity of Oneida Square to deter crime there.
"You give me a better solution in terms of how to deal with Oneida Square and the illegal activities we're having with those corner stores," said 5th district councilman Delvin Moody.
"If we don't put cameras down there in order to be able to provide greater accountability, cameras don't only look at the crime they look at the officers as well. This notion that more cameras in the community will be over-policing of black and brown people as if the cameras just shut off when the police are present, is a false dichotomy and something we have to ward against."
The police reform was mandated across New York by Governor Cuomo.
The deadline for the reform is April 1.