New Rochelle Now Projecting Multi-million Dollar Tax Revenue Shortfall

Written By: Robert Cox

rattner.jpgAs 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.

27 thoughts on “New Rochelle Now Projecting Multi-million Dollar Tax Revenue Shortfall”

  1. city, not city hall alone, are full of experienced people
    quiz — who are cheryl archibald, dan bena, nanette bourne, michael deane, terri eberle, herbert fox, amy jackson, david korris, felipe lecaros, rita mabli, jerry mulligan, steven nakashima, john nolon, richard organisciak (oh gawd, the suffolk guy), rev. michael rouse, frederica rudell, leonard shendell, and edna sussman? what do they have in common? do they represent all corners of our fair city? how much do they know about planning, development, etc.

    here is what i would wager on —- (1) most are fine people, intelligent, upstanding citizens, (2) they all work in some capacity for the City, (3) none has even a hint of objection to the way the City is managed, and (4) they were selected due to either a reporting relationship or personal loyalty to Strome or other city leaders.

    Here is what i also know — we have people like bruce, peggy, jim k, bob c, dr wagner, mr brown, etc, etc. who love the city, have a huge amount of hands on experience at planning levels, but are systematically eliminated from consideration due to adverse opinions, wrong demographics

    hey you don’t have to like me — but my wife maria jacobson gross is well known in the state for her leadership in greening projects and I am sure there are dozens of others.

    maybe if the council were active on this, they could form a blue ribbon committee similar to what happens in most cities (check on NYC)

    oh well, this is why this blog exists in the first place as a reference and critic of the tale of two cities

    warren gross

  2. Call your council person,
    Call your council person, the mayor, and the city manager and complain about New Rochelle’s lousy management. If you want results you have be in their faces making their lives miserable. The unions are in their faces offering block votes and election services in exchange for increased compensation and benefits. We do not have representation. Everybody must have the courage to call to make a difference.

  3. Call up the unions & politicians tell em’ enough is enough
    When will everyone realize it’s over. The bubble has burst and it is not coming back. We are in this together. This economy is not an “us vs. them” thing, it’s just US. How can public employees expect raises? People are lucky to even have jobs! It is time to call the unions and politicans and tell them NO. Complaining in the virtual sphere is not going to change a damn thing.

  4. I guess this means my street
    I guess this means my street isn’t getting paved again this year as it hasnt for the last 40.

    How many employees do we have that make over or near $100k? Way too many is the answer. And the $100k doesn’t include health benefits or pension costs. Factor in these items & I bet costs soar to close to $200k.

    Maybe the answer is to fire everybody and start fresh. One thing for sure that we can’t get rid of are the Millions of dollars of debt the city has amassed. Everytime you hear or see the word bonding, it means one thing: we’re borrowing more money to fund a project that we don’t have money for!

    1. 100k
      Many of these jobs are for low skilled labor. Also, when I was a kid, the police and fire were the ones who screwed up in school. They either joined the military, or got a civil service job. Of course, that’s not to say that for all of them and it’s really not implying they are dumb. However, there used to be a price to pay. It meant you didn’t make as much as someone who went to college or learned a skilled trade. Unions, with liberal government legislators, put an end to that. You now have people with skills that could help many people saying “screw it.” They have layers and layers of government to deal with along with tax upon tax. All this to pay for the welfare state and to pay for local government inflated salaries. They then decide to give up and take a government job. No workers comp to deal with, no NYS Dept taxation and finance, no IRS, no liability…… Do you wonder why property taxes are high when cops, teachers, and fireman are making up to $120,000/yr? Some $150,000 (see lohud’s list of salaries). Do you want a country where the only jobs are government? We have a president now who wouldn’t mind. For the life of me, I can’t figure it out. A man who has two daughters wants to screw up this country beyond recognition. Maybe he feels he and his family will always be in power at the government level. He certainly couldn’t run a business on main street dealing with every damn agency there is. Very sad these days. People really are willing to give up freedoms for a visit to the doctor for “free.” While they have you focused on your precious right to an abortion, they’re stripping every other right—right out from under your nose. So enjoy your abortions, it may be the only “right” you have left (especially when Ted Kennedy decides a new child costs government health too much). It’s all connected. What these fools do in Washington, flows right down to New Rochelle.

      1. I Agree!
        What a wonderful comment. I can’t agree with you more. And I know a lot of New Rochelle people feel the same way.

      2. 100K
        You are truly an idiot, what was your number on the list. People seek out employment as a firefighter or police officer because of an internal calling, a feel that they can help and make a difference, not because they didn’t go to college or because they screwed up in school. Look up the definition of Civil Servant..then comment.

  5. i shot an arrow in the air
    for many years thoughtful citizens have stated that there are some significant issues in how our city is managed. these have led to some tragic consequences in terms of any sense of ONENESS in the hearts and minds of many residents; compounded by what appears to be literally, a Tale of Two Cities. Sadly, absence of a responsive City Council who have not come up with any vehicle to inform voters of where they stand individually and collectively compound the problem. Further adding fuel to the fire is a city admininstration that basically responds to a limited number of constituents in terms of advice and who knows, perhaps even consent. We are a dysfunctional society — perhaps a failure to understand our own growth has contributed to these issues.

    so, where are we now in terms of our budget situation, how did we get there, what are the contributing causes, and WHY even suggest such a draconian move to intercede within the body of settled contract with the implicit or explicit threat that if you do not go along with this decision, we will have to layoff staff, cut services, etc.

    the temptation is always to come up with prescriptions or solutions before undertaking the hard work of description or problem identification. New Rochelle does not do this or do this well. Let me clarify how this should be done in the simplest terms.

    1. you describe where we are –current state or condition — and the city indicates that the proceeds of close totwo years of severe recession offer little choice but to ask for union givenbacks from significant employees such as first providers. Of course the main contributiing cause is sales tax revenue; something easily enough forecasted given our commercial base and the lamentable state of the economy. Yet, we are talking about something less than five percent in terms of our shortfall in revenues. It might appear that we are threatening the welfare of our most important staff asset; our first providers and this is, in fact, pretty simple to do given the restrictions of the Taylor Act which gives these employees few options but to go to work or face stiff consequences while the administration looks toward them for remedial action.

    2. the second step is literally where we want to be — or future state and it appears to me that the city and council uses a rather simple approach in describing this state — likely “meet budget” or something similar. I see no evidence of contigency planning; order or priority and this makes it very understandable why people on this website offer suggestons like “administation before police and fire” etc. and this is very understandable given the lack of information on their end and apparently process and focus on the part of the administration.

    3. so the final step, the HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THERE,inevitably leads to the sort of “patchwork” solution we see in terms of running on the safest and closest path available, go into settled contract of people who are subject to state law, and negotiate givenbacks. This is poor judgment and frankly, offensive to me and many others I think, who want to ensure a competent set of police, fire, and sanitation who provide essential services, at a reasonable expense (overtime costs can be mandated, pension terms renegotiated at collective bargaining etc), but on balance, compare what they earn and what they do to the school district employee, the city hall admnistration worker and so on.

    Ok, I think we can see this kind of insufficient effort and planning taking place in other matters of importance to the city — an armory underused and unvalued, no sense of its importance to many citizens and its symbolic impact on the city, a downtown district mired in non-revenue occupancy and decay with again, the simplistic bandaids applied — fresh coats of paint, sidewalks in or out, lights and trees — look at Ward Acres, traffic and congestion planning midtown, and the latest, Thomas Paine cottage — the rhetoric only began when the horse was out of the barn.

    So, what I have described is an abject failure to properly plan, involve the community, not simply a handful of loyal acolytes, inform, a lack of shared purpose and teamwork by council and mayor/city manager and God help us, a failure on the latter to recognize the destructive financial and city growth and development impact of a totally out of touch and ineffective school district; one that required a change back to the time when the city actually appointed the board and so, citizens could hold him accountable at election day for shortcomings, and its impact on certiorari — a process which has become I think quite politicized in itself. Like it our not, we will shortly see mandated city reassessment to manage the forecasting of certiorari more effectively, an understanding of the impact of the assessment ratios on commercial properties that will force a reexamination of abatement policies, the need to look at the charter and manage downtown away from non-taxpaying or non-need responsive entities to our new residential base (avalon, etc). this may call for rezoning, districting of a different nature and even eminent domain.

    Here are some of the things I think should be done.

    1. put a hold on any plans to open up contracts. instead produce and publish for citizen consideration, 3 redrafted budgets: (1) across the board 8% reduction, (2) across the board 10% reduction and (3) across the board 15% reduction. pick one and see where it takes you

    2. reintroduce the strong mayor concept and put it to the electorate. stop the nonsense about the people have spoken. it has been more than a decade since the voters got to see this. it is oxymoronic that we seemingly are voting for a ceremonial mayor. we should be assessing and passing on chuck strome and his accomplishments if he, in truth, is managing the city.

    3. make the council more visible and accountable. again, they are very private in their stands and few really know what they do. if that is the case, perhaps there are other ways to get visible community representation.

    4. ABOVE ALL — return the right of choice for school board member to our elected officials. this never should have been changed in the first place. you all see the results — a dysfunctional district, dropping in performance, consuming two-thirds of your taxes, running a quarter of a millonn dollar business with few skilled business people and overseers. it goes counter to what Washington is going to prescribe, counter to what a business based district, even a giant one like NYC can accomplish. Change the format NOW — suggest each council person appoint one member, the mayor the remainder, and provide for non-voting citizen representation as well.

    5. stop rationalizing why downtown new rochelle cannot be brought into the mainstream of city visibilty and management by moving parts of the administration, school district offices, and most important, a mini police presence to show the folks down these parts more of a place and provide more safety and security to our new residents and small businesses. this is a no brainer and arguments against it are usually protective of the tale of two cities notion.

    6. adopt a downtown development plan that is zoned properly, solicits input from new residents especially on what supports and services they would benefit from, and adopts a version of jim killoran’s tram to transport residents from out of district so relieving parking and congestion. chamber of commerce should be more involved, with a director of developemnt from the administration to get north enders and others to come and shop (new safety of on hand police will help). forget being nostalgic about new rochelle past or thinking we can compete with established malls. capitalize on strengths.

    of course we need to do many other things. for one, change administrative staff if needed to learn how to negotiate terms with major developers; especially the second time around. they will comply, trust me. also, get away from forest city and develop according to citizen’s wishes to incorporate the armory. this should not be difficult. support any agents for change in school board, fire organisiciak and ineffective principles. educate teachers what teaching to the test implies and requires instead of taking umbrage at seeming loss of innovative or creativity. that is bunk — less videos, field trips, new math, etc… will not help our kids master the basics and go on from there. teaching to the test simply means meeting course objectives.

    time is running out

    warren gross

  6. bob 5 6 7
    bob you wrote 6 layoffs now you say 5 get you source correct if the meeting were private that means there is a leak and someone has to go.

    1. JN said 5; we said 6
      See the difference? Our sources had info from a week before. JN wrote their story days after our story. Meanwhile conversations are ongoing so it could be a discrepency or things might have changed. I put in that quote because it appeared to be the most current info regardless.

      The REAL point is that Chuck tried to convey the idea that NO specific numbers were discussed and both Talk of the Sound and JN report that specific numbers WERE put on the table.

  7. This is nothing compared to
    This is nothing compared to the revised school tax hike after all the tax grievances are taken into account. My understanding is that their were several thousand grievance filed with the city. Even if half get approved, school tax increases will get close to 9-10%. Couple this with the financial status of the city and a probable double digit property tax increase in December, the real question is Why Live Here? In the long run they will cut fire, police and services, but leave all the fat intact.
    Also, I wonder if this is why BOE member Mr.Lacher is now asking the question on residency loopholes. He probably knew the financial status of the city, the numerous grievances filed and now is trying to lessen the blow of a significant school tax increase.

  8. And of course I’m sure the
    And of course I’m sure the only thing these idiots (aka our city leadership) will come up are higher property taxes. Where are the cuts? How about pulling out of the state retirement system and going with a self funded 401k? Maybe Noam could raise the parking meter rates at city hall so I could contribute more the next time I go to pay my taxes to bring in a few more bucks. We should never have allowed ourselves to become dependant on a Sales Tax, thanks Timmy! And who’s negotiating the crappy union contracts in the 1st place? I’d say its a little to late to ask & expect givebacks from the unions. How about cutting every deptartment 10%? How about getting rid of our beloved Housing Projects where most of the crime happens so that we can safely reduce the police force? How about getting rid of the police marine unit and let someone else deal with it? Maybe Noam can ask his buddies Lou & The Donald to advance us some money. Just another sad day in New Rochelle and unfortuately there’s no end in site.

  9. The City has done this
    The City has done this before during labor negotiations. Claim they’re in the hole, settle the contracts, and then they miracurously find a couple million here and there. Same ol’ same ol’.

    1. Look for the payments to corporations
      Going back to the days of Sam Kissinger, New Rochelle likes to make payments to “insiders” via shell corporations or closely held corporations that are in owned by family members. Sam use to use his wife to buy property from the city for pennies on the dollar. But if if you look closely at payments made by the city and investigate the owners of those corporations that are receiving payments, you will find that they are nothing more than illegal payments to city insiders. And thanks to this site their days are numbered. The party that has ruined this city for generations must face up to the fact that they are not able to hide any longer.

      1. Look what happens around you
        Look what happens around you folks. Idoni hired Sue Kiernan, yes THAT Kiernan family, to be his… err…personal assistant when he was Mayor. Helps when your buddy becomes Mayor, cause then he can hire your wife. Some $8 an hour clerk had to show her how to answer a telephone. Meanwhile she was making more than cops and firemen.
        When Timmy boy goes to the county clerks office, he brings Suesie with him…guess he can’t live without her. How much is she making now?

      2. Someone was trying to say
        Someone was trying to say Sue Kiernan, is getting paid 90 grand as Tim’s very personal assistant.
        It’s an inside City Hall joke.

      3. Deepthroat
        What does deepthroat have to say to this? I bet they know more. Where has deepthroat been? I miss him/her.

      4. I’m not deepthroat but I
        I’m not deepthroat but I know some inside stuff. Maybe I can help.

      5. Jim Smith was the best City
        Jim Smith was the best City Manager we ever had, and was fired because of it. He tried to run the City like a business, and was in the process of exposing fraud and corruption. What did the “powers that be” do?? They sent him away quietly so they could continue to rape and pillage the City’s finances.
        It’s a good ol’ boys club, ya see. I wish the FBI would wiretap those folks, they’d have to build a new wing on at Rikers.

    2. same ol’
      The unions do this every year. Bitch about not making enough and not getting their increases. All liberal politicians shout the same garbage that we need to take care of our police/fire/and teachers. The dirty little secret is that they make a lot of money. Many well over $100k. same ol’ same ol’ draining the country dry in the name of economic justice.

    3. remember mr smith
      former city manager jim smith found the money then timmy and councel showed him the door.

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