Utica, N.Y. - The Utica City Budget is now complete, five days before it was due, and taxpayers will see a 5.41% property tax increase starting with their next tax bill in April.
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri came up with his version of the 2018-2019 budget on February 20th. The Utica Common Council then had a month to come up with their version, and the council voted on their version last Tuesday night.
The council's version came with 21 amendments to the mayor's budget.
Palmieri accepted 20 of those amendments. The only one he didn't accept was the council's decision to use an additional $300,000 of the city's fund balance to keep the tax levy down, so he vetoed that amendment last Thursday.
Palmieri then called for a special meeting to address his decision to veto that amendment with members of the Common Council, since the council could override that veto with a two-thirds majority vote.
That special meeting was originally scheduled for Friday, but was moved to Monday by Common Council President Michael Galime. Galime said because of scheduling conflicts among a number of council members, the meeting was moved to Monday at noon so that more council members could attend.
On Monday, only 6 of the 9 council members attended the meeting and five out of those six who voted during that meeting whether to override the mayor's veto, did vote to indeed override the mayor's veto, the only council member to vote not to override the mayor's veto was 5th Ward Councilman Bill Phillips. Phillips refused to talk to News Channel 2 after the vote to tell us why he voted the way he did.
Palmieri says he stands by his decision to veto the amendment because he says using the $300,000 from the fund balance would have been detrimental to the city as far as the city's credit rating, "We worked very hard to build up our fund balance to be upgraded by all three of the rating agencies and one of the main things that I’ve said is the use of the fund balance will have a negative impact on the city of Utica."
Common Council President Michael Galime says if the council would have overridden the mayor's veto, the council could have looked into ways to come up with that $300,00 from other places in the budget in order to not negatively impact the city's credit rating, "There were actual budget lines that were considerably overfunded in the council’s opinion. That's where that money would have come from."
If the council were to have overridden the mayor's veto, and that $300,000 was used from the city's fund balance, the tax levy would have been 4.41% instead of 5.41%.