After staying below the 2 percent property tax cap for several years, Utica's mayor is proposing a budget that would raise taxes by 7.8 percent.
Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri blames increases in mandated costs for the proposed tax hike. Pensions, salaries, health insurance and long-term debt - including the cost of the $5 million a year road paving plan that city residents approved in a referendum last fall - are all up this year by $3.3 million.
"Each and every year we have challenges and this year these challenges came in much higher than we could have ever anticipated," Palmieri said.
But Utica common Councilman Joe Marino says this should not have been a surprise and is the result of poor planning. And he says Palmieri has not taken advantage of new revenue opportunities like when the city rejected an offer from Oneida County to reorganize the distribution of sales taxes to municipalities.
"We had an opportunity to increase our sales tax revenue with the county by doing a shared services plan which would have brought us $ million a year, we said no to that as a city. The mayor said no to that about a year and a half ago," Marino said.
Marino says he will not vote for anything that raises taxes above the 2 percent cap.
The Utica Common Council has until March 20 to pass the budget.