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Utica property tax increase bumped up by changes

Payne Horning
WRVO News File Photo

Taxes for Utica residents will increase by 6.78 percent, 2 percent more than what was included in the Utica Common Council's budget. It's a result of several last minute changes that reduced the amount of money councilors had tried to use to keep the taxes down.

The budget passed by the Utica Common Council included a tax increase of 4.4 percent - nearly half the amount in Mayor Rob Palmieri's proposed budget. Councilors were able to cut down on that increase by using an extra $300,000 from the city's fund balance. Palmieri vetoed that because some of those reserves had already been taken out for this budget.

"The Administration utilized $750,000 of fund balance to pay off a one time, expiring and non-reoccurring expenditure," Palmieri said in his veto statement. "The allocation of any additional fund balance will compromise and damage the City’s financial position."

The council failed to override his veto. 

The council also used funding from Utica's Capital Improvement Trust Fund, a pot of money the city gets from the Mohawk Valley Water Authority. City Comptroller Bill Morehouse says that amount has now been rolled back because lawmakers can only use up to 50 percent of that funding per budget.

"The problem was when councilwoman looked at amount in there and there was $2.4 million and we had told her yes that's true, but we have $750,000 in this year’s budget that we haven’t transferred out yet that we need for the general fund for general fund expenses," Morehouse said.

Councilor Joe Marino is now calling for an outside audit of that capital improvement trust. 

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.