A small crowd of about 50 people came to the first of three public budget forums hosted by Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.

Palmieri's discussion laid out the facts behind his 3.75 percent tax hike, while also showing the city's poor cash flow situation. To compound the situation, most departments were also forced to delay purchases, keeping the tax hike low.

But, Palmieri also showed sparks of passion, saying "as difficult as times are, we still have vitality."

"I will tell anybody in this room, and we have the media here," Palmieri said. "I challenge anyone in the media to take a look at any other municipalities and you see what we have done, versus what they're doing. Schenectady that we always hear about is $15 million bigger than our budget."

One resident, Marcel Kitissou, attended tonight's forum. He says the cuts may have been painful for the city to make, but they were the right things to do.

"I think we are on the right track," Kitissou said. "It might take more time and more patience, but it looks to me like we're on the right track."

The Common Council will soon vote whether or not to go above the state's two percent tax cap.