The Utica City Common Council has recently voted to put a resolution on the fall election ballot asking voters to give the council the right to approve union employment contracts. Concerned citizens stood before Mayor Robert Palmieri, asking for his approval, which is needed to put that resolution on the ballot.
"We can't just change the policy makers we have to change the policies that have gotten us into the position that we're in," says concerned citizen Larry Tanoury Jr.
Tanoury was one community activist who spoke to the mayor, urging him to bring more transparency to the city's policies. He says this lack of transparency has gotten the city of Utica into the financial mess it's in right now. Tim Trent shared similar sentiments.
"The contracts are negotiated by the Mayor and the vote is done by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment," says Trent. He says some of the members of the board are appointed, not elected officials. "So these contracts have a major impact on city taxpayers and the overall finances of the city's government by some officials that are appointed but not elected by the people."
Trent, like Tanoury and others who spoke, are hoping that eventually, the Common Council will have the final approval over the contracts. Says Trent, "and that way the residents would have a greater voice in whether those contracts get approved or don't."
Tanoury says he's not fighting for the Council to deal with the negotiating of the contracts, but act as a final ratification.
Mayor Palmieri says he will consider what everyone had to say at the hearing, speak with all members of the Common Council, and make a decision sometime next week.