As we had reported would happen previously, New Rochelle Finance Chief Howard Rattner came before the City Council last night and painted a bleak picture of the City’s finances. Rattner is now projecting a $2.2 million decline in tax revenue this year — $500,000 more than previous estimates — primarily due to further erosion in sales tax revenue. The full impact of declining property values — likely to drive revenue even lower going out into next year — will not be known until the fall but Rattner has previously acknowledged his office was flooded this spring with property tax appeals.
Aman Ali of the Journal News spoke with union heads — Police, Fire, and DPW — and confirmed our previous report that Strome was threatening layoffs if the unions did not giveback previously negotiated pay increases and gathered some additional details:
Both Byron Gray, president of the city’s firefighters union, and John Caldaro, president of the city’s civil service union, did not want to disclose what concessions their unions have been asked to make because their members will discuss them this week. George Stumpanato, who heads the Department of Public Works union, has discussed the terms with his members and expects them to reject the concessions they have been asked to make. He said his union has been asked to defer its 3.5 percent pay raise next year and split it in two among 2012 and 2013 – or be subject to five Public Works layoffs.
The unions have pushed back so far on Strome’s demands for givebacks. Strome also had to admit last night that new revenue from the expected approval by New York State of a hotel occupancy tax would be offset by a recent increase in the MTA payroll tax.
All the talk of tax revenue declines and the need for spending cuts stands in stark contrast to goings on at the New Rochelle Board of Education which has blithely increased its spending by millions of dollars, increased classroom teachers, added an entirely new entitlement program (full-day K) and given workers an across the board pay increase over the next two years. Of course, what the BoE failed to tell voters last spring was that their spending plans were based entirely on wildly optimistic projections about the assesed value of property in New Rochelle which allowed the School District to claim a 3% tax increase would be suffecient to fund their spending spree. Talk of the Sound has projected the actual tax increase, to be announced this fall, will be somewhere between 6% and 9%, two or three times higher than the claims made by the BoE.