Concerned about the proposal to put new bicycle path signs up, Councilman Lou Trangucci wanted the $3,300 appropriation removed from the budget. He was pleased that the three Republican Council members were joined by Democrat Council member Marianne Sussman to remove the item from the City Council agenda.
Trangucci continued to address the members of the New Rochelle Citizens Reform Club on October 22 by saying the city budget is “in dire straits.” The City’s Finance Commissioner, Howard Rattner, has, at his request, been giving quarterly reports to “enlighten the council.” Next year’s budget will inevitably have to use at least $2 million from the $6.7 million of the general fund. This will leave less than 5%-10% of the $110 million that is generally recommended for cities to have as a fund balance. As a result Trangucci has been critical of some recent City Council expenditures such as the half million dollars spent for cleaning monuments.
One of the largest capital expenditures was the $85,000 needed for maintenance of a ladder truck for the fire department. The sales tax for this year, reported at $23.7 million, is two million dollars less than the amount projected in last year’s budget. He has insisted that next year’s budget projection for sales tax be flat, or $23.7 million.
There were questions about why overtime was needed for Saturday cleaning of downtown by the sanitation department. Several members of the club felt the productivity clause of that department should be reviewed. Sanitation workers, it was felt, should not be allowed to work another job during the hours they are being paid by the city.
The appointment of a new City Clerk at a salary of $90,000 was cited as another example of an expenditure that could have been modified using part time help or other staff budget re-adjustments.
Avalon’s 30 year tax reduction and their present $650,000 payment in lieu of taxes was contrasted to the $12 million in real estate taxes that could have been required.
Trangucci reiterated his request that Avalon voluntarily give one million dollars each year for five years to help the city in these trying financial times. He also mentioned that Avalon did not bring in the retail their plan to the City indicated. It also uses 18-20% of the EMS calls in downtown, so it was suggested that they pay $500 per call.
Evelyn Breslaw reminded the group that former Mayor Timothy Idoni claimed these high rise buildings would make the money “roll in.” Trangucci then recounted the tax abatement given to New Roc and said the pending additional 15 year tax abatement to be given to New Roc will start when construction for Target and Kohl’s is initiated.
Steve Mayo reported that a subcommittee to Rethinking Westchester was needed. He thought the county housing decision was irresponsible but felt some Democratic County Legislators are fair minded and that if even four more Republicans were elected to the County Board of Legislators, we would see positive change in the County.
[Posted in the Westchester Herald, October 26, 2009]