The City of Utica is now forced to deal with the harsh reality of its budget constraints. The community is abuzz with discussion of what's to come and what could happen as a result of the mayor's proposed cuts.
To recap, the proposed budget includes nearly 40 job cuts to public safety and other government positions and an 18 % tax increase.
Utica Mayor Palmieri went before the Lieutenant Governor this morning to ask for help, and outline the very serious situation. The mandate relief council, including Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy, held a public hearing this morning to discuss Governor Cuomo's Medicaid relief and pension reforms - which he says will provide billions of dollars in savings to local governments. It was also an opportunity for area officials to ask questions, and speak to the council. In his address, Mayor Palmieri said twenty-seven percent of the city's spending comes from health and pension benefits. He says, "That is beyond unsustainable...Why do we even have cities any longer? Why not just create special taxing districts to support public employees?...it's time that the State of New York shows the way with a new mandate: A requirement that employees and retirees contribute to their own health care and pension systems."
The council was responsive to Palmieri and Duffy said he'd like to see an itemized list of the Palmieri's budget decisions.
"The oppressive costs cannot be sustained by local governments and Mayor Palmieri does not want to lay off city employees he does not want to raise taxes he is being forced into a corner to do that, and that is why we're having these hearings."
Eyewitness News spoke with UPD Police Benevolent Association President Sgt. Dominick Nitti, to get his reaction to the news of job cuts. Nitti says police officers don't do the job simply for a paycheck, they have a vested interest in this community and always being first on the chopping block is not deserved. He says this is putting the officers' and the city's safety on the line.
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi asked the Governor for an expedited release of the city's aid and incentive to municipalities, which is due March 31st to help the city out. He says he hopes a solution can be found between all levels of government to minimize the impact on the city.