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Support Voiced for 2022-23 White Plains’ Proposed Budget

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Representatives from the League of Women Voters of White Plains and the city’s Budget and Management Advisory Committee voiced their support of the 2022-23 proposed budget during public comment at the Common Council on May 2.

Clifford Blau read a statement that represented the position of the League of Women Voters of White Plains, which commended the Budget Office and Budget Director James Arnett for preparing a clear, informative and thorough budget document. 

Blau congratulated the city for its skillful handling of financial difficulties throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic caused a significant decrease in revenue, Blau highlighted that the city was able to avoid cuts to essential services and actually increased its unrestricted fund balance without extraordinary tax and fee increases. 

“The proposed city budget raises taxes less than allowed by the tax cap and well below the rate of inflation,” Blau said. “Furthermore, the budget does not use debt to fund operating expenses and plans for necessary maintenance and replacement of capital assets.”

Blau noted that the city continues to look for new sources of revenue from outside the city, including grants and leasing opportunities for solar energy systems.

“In summary, the League applauds the city for continuing to budget prudently and maintain tight controls on spending,” Blau said. 

Michael Stanton, a member of the Budget and Management Advisory Committee (which includes Councilman John Martin and Council President Justin Brasch), said after reviewing the proposed budget, the Committee found the city’s fiscal outlook to be clearer and more positive than in any year since 2019. 

“Credit for that successful outcome in a challenging time is to both the city’s historically responsible budgeting practices, which allowed [the city] to build up a significant fund balance to offset the sharp decline in revenue at the beginning of the COVID lockdown period in 2020, as well as the substantial federal aid provided first through the CARES Act and then through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA),” Stanton said, highlighting that ARPA funding, in particular, was crucial for the city’s short-term fiscal health and maintenance of essential services. 

In White Plains, Stanton said the city is focused on how to resume normal operations, including what he said was the most heartening component of the proposed budget: increased spending on summer camps and other parks and recreation activities. 

Stanton said the proposed city budget’s revenue forecasts represent the administration’s best effort to balance historical collection trends and future risks.

While parking and sales tax revenues have shown a solid recovery, particularly since the start of the current fiscal year last July, Stanton underscored that they remain at risk for future volatility due to the pandemic’s long-term impact on commuting patterns. 

“It is appropriate that this budget is not relying on any additional growth in those revenue sources beyond the existing forecasts for this current fiscal year,” Stanton said, emphasizing that the Common Council should continue to closely monitor actual revenue collections so the city can respond expeditiously to any unanticipated shortfalls. 

As the administration works on the city’s comprehensive plan update, Stanton said, the committee recommends that the Common Council analyzes and monitors the revenue implications of that work. 

“Decisions about the types of development and related land use issues can have a significant impact on the city’s sales tax and commercial property tax revenue streams, which have historically provided significant benefits to the city budget that allow White Plains to maintain residential tax rates well below those of most neighboring communities — which are already subject to uncertainty due to changes in technology, office occupancy and consumer habits,” Stanton added.

Martin said that he and fellow Common Council members received the interim financial report for the first nine months of the current fiscal year, and the outlook is strong


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