Utica Councilwoman: ‘I Wanna Know Why They’re Hiding It’
A Utica councilperson doesn't understand the delay in the city's use of almost half of the $64-million it received in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, and is demanding answers before the council acts on Mayor Robert Palmieri's current budget proposal.
And, she thinks the administration is stone-walling questions about the money on purpose.
"I wanna know why they're hiding it," Councilwoman Samantha Colosimo-Testa said while speaking with WIBX 950. She even suggested the delay is intentional, as a way to obstruct budget negotiations as the council pours over Palmieri's 2023-24 budget.
In all, the unaccounted for ARPA funds total approximately $30 million, according to Colosimo-Testa. "I've been asking since the second week of the year: What are you going to do with it?"
The Republican at-large councilperson says not knowing what projects are boosted by those federal funds clouds the budgeting process in looking at what Palmieri wants to spend in the next year.
When she asked the city's budget director for a distribution list identifying planned use of the remaining $30 million, Colosimo-Testa says she was told it wouldn't be made available to the common council until after the council budget was passed.
"Again, I ask, what are they hiding,?", Testa told WIBX 950.
Palmieri's budget proposal for the next fiscal year totals $79.8 million and includes no tax increase.
His administration has recently touted another budget surplus as this fiscal year winds down. Estimates show the city's fund balance has now grown to over $14 million, after being $15,000 in the red when Palmieri took office 12-years ago.
The city also boasting a significant jump in sales-tax revenue, up 26-percent year-over-year, totaling more than $18-million in 2022.