NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – New Rochelle officials are working with the city’s Citizen’s Panel on Sustainable Budgets to help create the cheapest and most effective budget possible. The panel presented its findings on closing the city's $29 million budget gap to the council Wednesday.
The panel recommends the city reduce overnight fire services, merge some police districts, allow for more mulching and bagging, stop public funding for some city recreation programs and adjust city employee salaries so they fit today’s economic conditions.
The city will now work with administrators to decide whether to use the findings. City Manager Charles Strome may incorporate any of the suggestions into the city’s budget before its November release.
Most council members praised the work of the committee, but still had questions and concerns.
“A lot of time was put into this,” said District One Councilman Louis Trangucci.
Trangucci had questions about cutting fire services, and the panel’s suggestion to continue increasing the state property tax level at 2.4 percent during the next three years.
Panel chair Todd Kern said a lot of work was put into finding solutions while also positioning the city to grow.
“We’re not experts on municipal budgets, but the panel brought a range of impressive experience to the table,” Kern said. “Each panel member approached the process with commitment, fair-mindedness and a desire to find real solutions.”
“There are no easy solutions left, and residents will likely disagree with some of what we’ve proposed,” he said. “But each choice comes with trade-offs, and, taken as a whole, we believe the panel’s recommendations chart a path forward that respects New Rochelle’s diverse interests, needs and priorities, shares sacrifices and benefits fairly, and lays foundation for a brighter future," he said.
Kern said the process is a community effort.
“The reality is that we need to find a way to get out of the fiscal box that we, like most communities, are stuck in,” he said. “The question is not ‘what’s in it for me, but what’s in it for all of us.”