State Comptroller Says White Plains Faring Better Than Most Cities
In a recent report, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, singled out White Plains and Rye as cities that “continue to maintain healthy financial positions due to stable tax bases, low poverty and conservative budgeting.”
“White Plains and Rye are on solid financial ground and not facing the demographic and fiscal stress challenges that are afflicting other cities in New York,” said DiNapoli in a prepared statement accompanying release of the report. “By taking advantage of these favorable circumstances, each municipality has been able to encourage economic development and cultivate financial stability for residents and taxpayers. To maintain these positive conditions, I urge city officials to continue to budget prudently and remain vigilant when it comes to long-term financial planning.”
The statement also quoted White Plains Mayor Tom Roach who said: “Since becoming mayor, my focus has been on stabilizing taxes and running a more efficient government. The city of White Plains has stayed within the state property tax cap and has not borrowed to pay for pension costs or other operating expenditures and has ceased the practice of borrowing for tax certiorari. We have consolidated departments and services and are continuing to look for efficiencies and other cost-sharing opportunities. We are on the right track and I am pleased that this profile by the Comptroller recognizes that.”
Over the past decade, expenditures in each White Plains and Rye have grown faster than the statewide average, according to the reports. The Comptroller noted, however, revenues have increased substantially for both municipalities during the same time frame. In Rye, revenues increased 5.7 percent while expenditures grew by 5.9 percent. In White Plains, the city’s revenues increased 4.5 percent and expenditures by 5.1 percent. The statewide average growth for cities in each of these categories was 3.3 percent for revenues and 3.6 percent for expenditures.
Revenue growth has allowed each city to build up its rainy day reserves. In 2012, Rye had $6.8 million in available fund balance, equal to 23 percent of its general fund expenditures, and White Plains had $12.7 million available, or 9.2 percent of its expenditures.
The fiscal profiles also outlined several positive demographic factors that benefit each city. For example, Rye’s median home value is more than $1 million, which is ranked highest in New York state. The median household income of $142,469 is substantially higher than the median of $38,699 for cities statewide. And the child poverty rate was a mere 1 percent, compared to 28 percent for the median city.
This combination of factors allows Rye to rely more heavily on property taxes to fund operations than most other cities. In 2011, property taxes accounted for 46.2 percent of Rye’s revenues, which was notably higher than the 27.1 percent of revenue for all cities in the state.
In White Plains, there are a number of similar positive economic indicators. The city’s median household income is $76,164; the median home value is $518,500; and the child poverty rate is 13.6 percent. White Plains also outperformed most cities in each of these categories.
White Plains, however, has encountered some fiscal challenges in recent years. Notably, the city’s property values fell 29 percent between 2008 and 2013 due to the real estate market collapse. As a result, city officials have implemented a number of cost-saving measures designed to offset losses in revenue, including the consolidation of administrative functions, workforce reductions, wage freezes and additional reductions in operations.
For a copy of the White Plains fiscal profile visit: www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/fiscalprofiles/whiteplains.pdf; Rye: www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/fiscalprofiles/rye.pdf.
Adam has worked in the local news industry for the past two decades in Westchester County and the broader Hudson Valley. Read more from Adam’s author bio here.