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With public's support, Utica paving plan can begin

Ellen Abbott

Voters in Utica supported the common council's plan to pave every road in the city in a referendum on Election Day with 60 percent of the vote. Now, Utica leaders are preparing to embark on the ambitious 15-year project, which is expected to cost $75 million.

Tuesday's referendum asked voters to increase how much Utica is obligated to spend annually on its roads, from $2 million to $5 million. Councilman Joe Marino, who has led the effort, said the city will pay for the increased pending with a mix of funding sources. About $500,000 will come from an annual Mohawk Valley Water Authority payment that has been used in the past to supplement Utica's general fund. The other $2.5 million for the first year will come from bonds, according to Marino. 

In the past, the Utica Common Council has expressed interest in limiting how much the city borrows through an increase in property taxes or assessing a user fee, which would require payment from all property owners -- even nonprofits. Marino said while the first year will not include any tax increase, the council plans to revisit those and other funding options next year.

The city will begin paving 14 miles of roads every year beginning next spring.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.