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Common Council Overrides Mayor’s Vetoes, Tax Rate Stays Below 2%

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

It only took a half hour, but the Common Council overrode all seven of Mayor Robert Palmieri’s vetoes to the city budget.

Council members Rocco Giruzzi, Jerome McKinsey and Frank Meola were absent, but the remaining six voted unanimously for the overrides.

Mayor Palmieri said he vetoed the cuts in the city’s best interests, describing the original 3-point-75 percent tax hike as a sustainable level.

“At 3.75, the reception that we received from the public is that it was a job well done,” Palmieri said. “We still have to provide those services, so we voted the seven that we felt would have an impact both on public safety and quality of life.”

Once again, the Utica Police Department became a casualty. In a 6 to 0 vote, the Council stuck to its choice to eliminate funding for new police cars, against the pleas of Chief Mark Williams.

“Last year we lost 17 officer positions, 12 of which were laid off,” Williams said. “We saw another 23 people demoted in rank for no wrongdoing of their own.”

Before the vote, Williams discussed why he didn’t want to see the cuts made saying, “I wouldn’t be so adamant if it didn’t come down to safety.” Councilman Joe Marino’s response was that defunding was not an attack on the police department, but rather a sacrifice being made on behalf of the taxpayers. Dave Testa also spoke, noting that his main goal was to keep taxes low.

The overrides will keep tax rates below two percent, and will go into effect April 1.

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