‘Our residents made enough sacrifices’: Utica mayor proposes budget with no tax increase
Mayor Robert Palmieri on Monday presented his fiscal year 2021-22 budget to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment.
It comes with no tax increase.
The mayor’s $72.7 million proposed budget increases spending by less than 1% annually over a 13-year span, according to a news release.
“The proposed budget is possible due to the necessary and proactive actions the Administration took, in collaboration with City Comptroller Bill Morehouse and the Common Council, to protect the city’s fiscal health at the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic,” Palmieri said in the release.
These actions include the following:
- Reduced spending of daily operations.
- Decreased major capital purchases by 75%.
- Instituted a hiring freeze for all vacant positions.
- Temporarily eliminated 80% of part-time employees and reduced no-essential overtime.
- Reduced salary of several part-time employees.
- Sought voluntary furlough for certain full-time positions.
- Issued an early retirement incentive program for CSEA members and nonunion employees.
While these measures were necessary to offset the immediate fiscal impact of the pandemic, the key for future growth and prosperity is for the city to build on its accomplishments of expanding the tax base, increasing sales tax revenue, effectively marketing and selling city owned properties to private developers, as well as continuing the transformative economic development that was occurring prior to the pandemic, Palmieri said.
Major projects in the city are moving forward, such as the downtown medical campus, development of Harbor Point, the new Utica Fitness Mill, a 150-unit housing project at Globe Mill in west Utica, a 60-unit housing project in lower-east Utica (Starting Line Apartments) and the redevelopment of the former Utica Steam Cotton Factory in downtown, he said.
In addition, the city is moving forward on a major initiative — the purchasing of street lights from National Grid, the mayor said.
Nearly three-fourths of the city’s street lights have been converted to LED with the remaining lights expected to be converted by spring. This project will save the city money, while upgrading our infrastructure and reducing greenhouse emissions. As a result of conservative and strategic budgeting, the city maintained its financial position despite the pandemic, Palmieri said.
Over the past several years, the mayor said, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P Global) have all upgraded Utica’s credit rating. Last month, the city secured its 8th consecutive budget surplus increasing its fund balance to over $8 million, its highest level in decades.
“Our residents made enough sacrifices in 2020 and they shouldn’t be expected to pay more taxes.” Mayor Palmieri stated. “For the tenth consecutive year, I am proposing a fiscally responsible budget which provides the services our residents deserve and resources needed for continued economic development. I look forward to working with Comptroller Morehouse and the Common Council in the coming weeks.”
Comptroller Bill Morehouse stated: “As a result of the collaboration and strong working relationship between the Comptroller’s Office, the Mayor’s Office and the Common Council, the City of Utica has achieved tremendous economic and financial progress. I commend Mayor Palmieri and his staff for crafting another responsible budget that will continue to strengthen our financial position.” RecommendedDeath notices for Jan. 29, 2021NEWSMore Local StoriesCOVID update: 6 new deaths, 141 new cases in Oneida CountyNEWSDeath notices for Jan. 22, 2021NEWSSuspended Utica officer’s record: 2 citizen complaints, body camera violationNEWSUtica man shot in chest, asks police for help on way to hospitalNEWSMore Local StoriesOneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol shares DEC guidance about coyotesNEWSUtica may reduce street repair spending again. Here’s why.NEWSPrimary Urgent Care appoints new medical directorNEWSDeath notices for Sunday, January 24, 2021NEWSUtica police who protested sergeant’s suspension will forfeit payNEWSOneida County reports 4 COVID-19 deaths, 64 new casesNEWSMore Local StoriesFeeling as if Oriskany Falls, NY is like a ‘ghost town’NEWSVernon NY parents Nicolas Evans Alexia Davis charged in child’s deathNEWSOneida County Sheriff’s Office arrests Adrian D. Liggins Jr. of UticaNEWSMan assaulted in Rome NY following snowballs thrown at his vehicleNEWSMore Local StoriesDeath of retired teacher Eva Fuld reflected on by Westmoreland alumniNEWSSangertown Square mall New Hartford NY moving on after losing anchorsNEWSPhoebe’s blooms in IlionNEWSState opens COVID-19 vaccination site at SUNY Poly, but no appointmentsNEWSMore StoriesDeath notices for Jan. 29, 2021COVID update: 6 new deaths, 141 new cases in Oneida CountyDeath notices for Jan. 22, 2021