Former Mayor Idoni, Mayor Bramson and the New Rochelle Democrats put all their eggs in one revenue basket which was sales tax. They signed tax abated big box stores, Home Depot & Costco, proclaiming, if we build stores, people will follow. Guess what? The people didn’t follow.
After their first failure, they went back to the drawing board and embarked on a development plan of erecting towering, tax-abated edifices, Avalon 1 & 2 and Trump/Cappelli, to entice people with “disposable income” who would flock to New Rochelle and support the downtown retail. Guess what? The people with “disposable income” came but shopped elsewhere.
After 20 years of Democratic “Can’t Miss” failures New Rochelle has modest retail, declining sales tax, overburdened property tax, minuscule mortgage recording tax and no master plan. Now Bramson and Strome want to impose the lame brain quick fix of reassessment which will only divide and gentrify New Rochelle. A process of appealing over taxation presently exists for taxpayers. If a citizen wins a tax certiorari it means that they were over-taxed. Individual tax certioraris are the most basic form of reassessment. Total reassessment will not raise one extra dollar in property tax revenue while costing New Rochelle taxpayers about $2 million (a 4.4% property tax increase).
These failures compounded by the economic downturn are responsible for the bleak projections by Finance Commissioner Ratner. The bureaucratic leaders of New Rochelle should consider the following measures before asking personnel for givebacks and threatening layoffs:
Lead by example:
- Rescind mayor, council and commissioner raises
- Defer raises for employees earning over $75,000
- Require all commissioners to reside in New Rochelle
- Eliminate take-home vehicles except City Manager, Police & Fire commissioners
- Install official insignias on city vehicles to discourage illegal use
- Utilize GPS to track location of city employees and vehicles
- Phase in smaller fuel efficient vehicles including hybrids and electric vehicles
- Cut all departments by 5%
- All overtime must be approved by City Manager
- Impose a public safety/city services fee on all non-profit, tax exempt properties
- Postpone all parades or move to days that are not double time rate
- Postpone 4th of July celebration or move to a day which is not double time rate
- Defer all non-essential projects i.e., restoration, bicycle rack, resurfacing projects
- Expand fuel saving program with more bicycle, segway and walking posts for NRPD
- Evaluate the true costs of cell phone services to discover possible savings
- Institute purchase / service collaboration with New Rochelle Board of Education
I beg our illustrious officials to tread carefully with future decisions. We have two strikes against us and we are in the bottom of the ninth inning. The count is three balls; two strikes if you strike out New Rochelle will lose and may never regain her Queen City status!