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On November 10 New Rochelle City Manager Charles Strome III released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015. The $156.5 million budget calls for a real estate tax levy increase of 1.79%, the maximum allowable under the New York State tax cap legislation, and preserves the City’s existing services.
“Fiscal recovery from the Great Recession has not yet stabilized,” said Strome. “And the tax cap limits our ability to raise revenues to adequately fund much needed infrastructure improvements. Until there is greater economic growth, our fiscal position will continue to be challenged, particularly in the near future.”
Employee salaries and health insurance costs will rise under the proposed budget due to union contractual agreements. However, pension costs, which rose almost tenfold over the past decade, are expected to decrease by almost $1 million as a result of the New York State Comptroller’s Contribution Stabilization Program. The tax levy portion of the proposed budget is about $3 million less than the prior year’s budget.
The New York State imposed tax cap calculation is applied to the tax levy, not to the tax rate. “The 1.79% increase to the tax levy equates to a tax rate increase of 2.90% because our tax base fell by another $2.9 million this past year,” added Strome. The proposed tax increase for the average homeowner is $95, or about one-half of one percent of the total tax bill.
The budget also proposes a capital improvement budget of almost $6 million, more than half of which is funded by the issuance of debt to finance the acquisition of Public Works and Parks vehicles, a fire tower ladder truck, and storm drain, sanitary sewer and sidewalk repairs.
“We continue to live in challenging economic times. A prudent and cautious approach to the budget will enable us to maintain our extraordinary level of service to our citizens,” Strome concluded. “This budget provides the framework for achieving that goal.”
Copies of the proposed budget are available in the City Clerk’s office, at the New Rochelle Public Library and on the City’s website www.newrochelleny.com. The City Council will conduct budget review meetings in November and December and hold a public hearing on December 2nd in advance of the adoption of a tax rate in December.