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Proposed New Rochelle Budget Has 6.36% Tax Hike

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – New Rochelle residents Mercedes Villavicencio and Eduardo Fasce are not pleased with the proposed 6.36 percent tax increase city residents will pay under city's 2012 Proposed Budget.

“We’re not happy about taxes going up,” she said. “They have to do what they have to do.”

Villavicencio also hopes some of the revenues can be used on road repairs.

“I wish they would fix the rough surfaces,” she said.

“You have to do something,” said Fasce.

The proposal would cut 36 full-time positions in New Rochelle -- 24 through attrition and 12 through layoffs. It also calls for eliminating 18 part-time positions, all through layoffs. The cuts will result in a 14 percent reduction in full-time staffing over the past three years.

Hardest hit is the police department, which loses 20 jobs and all 18 of its part-time crossing guards, eliminating that part of the department.

The city hopes to close an estimated $8 million funding gap through a mixture of revenue increases and spending cuts.

To accomplish this, the budget calls for a real-estate tax levy increase of 3.68 percent, the maximum amount allowed under the New York State “tax cap” legislation adopted earlier this year.

The tax rate will go from $175.10 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $186.23 per $1,000, meaning the average homeowner will pay about $184 more.

The city is also adding $66 to the residential refuse fee, bringing it up to $223 (qualifying seniors will continue to pay $30).

“Like almost every other municipal government throughout the nation, New Rochelle is a victim of the continuing economic recession that has seen stagnant revenue growth, falling housing values and diminished resources,” said New Rochelle City Manager Chuck Strome. “Compounding the problem, we are subject to New York State’s tax cap legislation, which is designed to reduce the size of local governments without offering any relief for mandated costs enacted by the state.

“This has been the most difficult budget that I have had to prepare,” said Strome. “Under ordinary circumstances, I would not recommend many of these items contained in this budget, such as fee increases and especially layoffs, which will debilitate the organization. This budget is a reflection of the national economy and the policy choices of our state leadership. Until the economy improves and/or new State polices are devised, cities like New Rochelle will continue to face hard choices.”

The budget will be presented to the New Rochelle City Council at 5 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall. The council will make its changes before adopting the budget, which goes into effect Jan. 1.

The public can comment on the proposal at a hearing on Dec. 6.

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