The White Plains Common Council has a proposed $198.3 million 2019-20 budget before them that includes a property tax increase below the state mandated cap.
Budget Director James Arnett said the budget includes a 2.7 percent tax levy increase, which would be lower than the state tax cap for White Plains, which is 4 percent. The tax rate increase is also 2.7 percent, Arnett noted.
If the budget is approved the tax increase on a home with a median assessed value of $13,500 would be $77, Arnett said.
This is the eighth straight year that the city has proposed a budget within the state-mandated property tax cap, Arnett said.
A major factor for the tax increase is lower sales tax revenue, Arnett said. The city is projecting that sales tax revenue for the coming budget year is going to be $44 million, which is $500,000 from the sales tax revenue estimate in the current year’s budget and $2.7 million less than six years ago, he said.
Overall spending, which includes water, sewer, library and self-insurance funds, is being proposed to rise by $4.4 million, an increase of 2.3 percent, Arnett said. Some of the factors that have led to the proposed increases in spending are city employee labor contracts, debt service costs, equipment purchases and the continuation of cash funding of the Approved Rolling Stock Plan, he said.
The proposed spending plan does not include any layoffs, major new programs or program cuts, Arnett said. “The main thing the city has to do is provide services to its residents,” he said. “That’s really why we are all here. This document, hopefully, is part of what drives us to do that in the most efficient way and takes into account all of our residents and their needs. One of their needs and desires is of course not a huge property tax increase. But I think we’ve accomplished that.”
Arnett said the city is continuing to implement efficiencies, such as changing lighting in the city, including parking garages, with LEDs and the implementation of automated side loading garbage trucks, which require few workers to operate.
The city’s fiscal year begins on July 1.
The Common Council and the mayor received the proposed budget at its April 1 meeting.
The following statement was released by Mayor Tom Roach regarding the proposed budget on April 2:
“The proposed 2019-20 City of White Plains Budget continues to take a fiscally responsible approach to the City’s finances. In developing this budget, I requested that the Budget Director work to keep the City within the state property tax cap and am pleased to see that this has been accomplished for the eighth consecutive year without borrowing to fund pension costs or tax certioraris. Each year, we work hard to provide quality services to our residents at a reasonable cost.
I would like to commend the City Budget and Finance staff, as well as our department heads, for their diligent work throughout the year in monitoring the budget, because it is as a result of those continuing efforts that the City has been able to manage its operations and provide the high level of services which our residents deserve. I look forward to working with my Council colleagues to review this budget proposal in depth and ultimately, to enact a final budget that meets the needs of our residents.”