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Two Utica Councilmen Propose Furloughing City Employees

Utica Common Council
Zach Lewis-WIBX

If the city of Utica adopted a federal or state policy of employee furloughs, it could save money and possibly offer a tax reduction to residents.

That’s according to councilmen Jim Zecca and Frank Vescera who are proposing furloughs for all city workers, including police, fire and council members as well, ”..in order to do this in a fair manner”, Vescera said.

”Councilman Zecca and I did not just come up with this, it has really been going on at the federal and state level for a long time. You do this fairly and equally across the board,” Vescera said.

”For this to work, this would have to be mandated for all employees, ”Zecca said. explaining it should not be voluntary, if adopted by the city.

”We’re drawing [ideas] from things that are being done, we hope it will have support,” Vescera said.

”If our troops around the globe are dealing with sequestration limits and cuts, if they can do it, I’m sure we can do it,” he added.

Zecca says the following furlough days for all workers could turn the proposed 3.75-percent increase into zero, or even a reduction:

  • 1% tax decrease – 11.4 furlough days per employee
  • 0% tax increase – 9 furlough days per employee
  • 2% tax increase – 4.8 furlough days -  or a half day per month.

”For us to think that we’re going to get bailed out the state of New York or the federal government, we’re dreaming,” Zecca said.

Is it fair furlough 600 city employees?

Vescera: ”…we have 600 employees and 60,000 city residents, everyone has to pull their weight.”

When asked if taking the state comptroller’s recommendations, and raising taxes by 10 to 13-percent, Vescera said it still wouldn’t fix the structural financial issues.

He said, for instance, council ratification of union contracts wold be one step toward correcting some of those structural issues, calling the situation ‘very frustrating.’

”We have asked to place the issue on the ballot and let the voters make this decision,” Zecca said.

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