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Utica mayor presents budget with no tax increase

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, left, has proposed a budget that does not increase taxes.

Utica city officials have begun crafting their budget for the next year and the mayor's proposed version includes no tax increases. 

Mayor Robert Palmieri says it's evidence that the city's financial recovery continues to make great strides. Back in 2012, the city faced an $8 million budget gap and depleted fund reserves. Today, Palmieri's $69-million budget would not raise taxes nor would it draw from Utica's fund reserves, which have swelled to more than $5 million.

"We continue to monitor our budgeting standards and it’s just nothing more than our financial recovery plan we’ve had over the last five years," Palmieri said. 

According to Palmieri, that recovery has been aided by mild winters and the sale of several public properties.

The Utica Board of Estimate and Apportionment narrowly passed the budget onto the Utica Common Council. Council President Michael Galime says he voted against the budget largely because it arrived late so there was little time for review. He has some concerns, including how it is balanced with atypical revenue streams. 

"I want to make sure those withdrawals, those transfers are appropriate for this budget year," Galime said. "A zero-percent tax increase is great but it’s only great if it means that in the future we won’t have that higher tax increase down the road." 

The mayor is holding several public presentations on his budget before the council votes on it next month.

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.