The White Plains Examiner

White Plains Council Passes 2012-2013 Budget Unanimously

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White Plains Mayor Tom Roach
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach

The White Plains Common Council voted unanimously to pass the city’s 2012-2013 budget Monday night, with a $152.5 million spending plan that ups the city’s tax rate by 4.75 percent. The tax hike is a little less than the 5-percent rate increase originally proposed by Mayor Tom Roach’s finance team, as an additional $159,000 in spending from the original plan is offset by an increase of $283,000 in non-tax levy revenues.

“The city continues to take a fiscally prudent and responsible approach in managing its operations,” Mayor Tom Roach said during Monday night’s meeting. “This budget contains no gimmicks or one-shots. We were able to trim expenses by identifying operating efficiencies and creative ways to provide services, and by carefully monitoring our expenses.”

The biggest change from the budget proposal released in April was an additional $100,000 in estimated sales tax revenue.

“That, again, is based on more updated information that recently came in on the sales tax,” said Commissioner of Finance and Budget Director Michael Genito.

The city’s tax levy will increase from approximately $49 million to $50.8 million; it had originally been slated to go up to $51 million. The average taxpayer will pay around $112 more, compared to $118 in the original proposal.

“This budget represents a major step forward in returning the city to fiscal stability despite large pension cost increases and ongoing declines in the city’s property tax base,” Council President Beth Smayda said in a press release. “Continued attention to implementing operational efficiencies will be necessary in coming years in order to remain within the property tax levy cap and increase reserves to levels sufficient to maintain the city’s high grade Aa1 bond rating and guard against the impact of future economic downturns.”

At Monday’s meeting, council members stressed that the city was budgeting responsibly, eschewing unrealistic revenue projections and refusing to borrow for pension costs.

“The budget was passed without putting any costs on the credit card” noted Councilman John Martin.

Genito, asked at a May 15 meeting how the ratings agency Moody’s would view the plan, said, “Moody’s is going to look very favorably on this budget, I would assume, because it is a stable budget. It is a conservative budget.”

Increases in the budget were driven largely by a $2.9 million (25-percent) increase in pension costs. Since pension increases above 2 percent are not counted against the state’s tax levy cap, the city is within the cap despite its increase being well above 2 percent.

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