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Utica Common Council Votes To Override Two Percent Tax Cap

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

In a 6-3 vote, the Utica Common Council has decided to override the two percent property tax cap set in place.

Among the tax cap’s most outspoken supporters was Councilman Jerome McKinsey. He says he could not continue to put his constituents in harm’s way.

“If there’s one cop lost in the complement, we directly feel the impact inside our district,” McKinsey said. “If we lose a firefighter and it increases response time to a burning house where we have the most mature housing stock in the city, we directly feel the impact in terms of public safety.”

Samantha Colosimo-Testa voted yes to the override, saying there wasn’t a choice.

“Does anybody want to raise taxes? Absolutely not,” Colosimo-Testa said. “But some things you’re forced to do so you still provide the services that the taxpayers need.”

Councilman Dave Testa was on the opposition, voting to maintain the two percent tax cap. He says he’s trying to do what’s best for his constituents.

“My area has a lot of low income and a lot of elderly people having it hard with gas prices at $4, bread at $4 and I know they cannot afford to keep paying more,” Testa said. “I want to keep taxes as low as I can possibly keep it.”

He also said if the city loses its case regarding the Utica PBA’s “show up” pay, that adds an additional $620,000 to the mayor’s budget, making the situation even more sticky.

Currently, Mayor Robert Palmieri’s budget is about $64.6 million, but includes a 3.75 percent increase to the property tax rates. For the owner of a $50,000 home, it translates to about $3.50 per month more to cover the added tax expense. Still, the Council says it plans to take a deeper look into the budget and will make cuts to what they deem discretionary.

In other Common Council news, a vote to reconsider Frank Vescera’s resolution to hold 6 p.m. executive meetings in the Common Council chambers was voted down 3-6.

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