City Proposes 2.3% Increase in Budget to $198.3 Million

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LABOR PEACE AT HAND: 3 of 4 union contracts settled at 1.25%, 3% and 3% through 2021 IF COMMON COUNCIL APPROVES. FIREFIGHTERS NOT YET. 

WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. By John F. Bailey. April 1, 2019:

The 2019-20 City Budget was presented to the White Plains Common Council this evening calling for a 2.7% increase in property taxes, caused by two Payments In Lieu of Taxes going back on the tax rolls, costing the city a half million dollars in PILOT Revenues  combined with the city being allowed as much as 4% tax revenue growth based on its slow assessment growth.

This year’s budget is $198.3 Million up $4.4 million from this year ($193.9 Million)

The city, ( apparently hedging against possible inflation to come) settled with the police, teamsters and Civil Service Employees for wage increases of 1.25% in the current year, and 3% for each of the next two years.

The tax increase  in the budget, is due to a confluence of factors,  (not just making up the sales tax current slump down 2.7% through the first 8 months of the current fiscal year–down in 6 of the first 8 months of this fiscal year ).

A worrisome fade

Through March  the city has earned  $33,038,728 sales tax dollars, $929,896 behind the 2017-18 pace, a 2.7% decline. White Plains sales taxable activity has declined almost 5% below the inflation rate which is about 2%.

If White Plains pulls in last year numbers the next 4 months it will receive $49.147 Million in sales taxes. If the 3% down trending rate is continued over the next 4 months, the revenue will erode to $48.664 Million in sales tax receipts. 

One might assume the 2.7% increase in the tax rate is a direct effort to insure against being short on sales taxes to be unable to pay the new union contract extensions the next year. 

The new city budget proposed tonight reflects this, even if other factors influence the tax increase.

It projects sales tax at $44 Million, noting that is down from the $44.5 M in this year’s budget.

If you count the annual $5,000 contribution to the Tax Relief fund from sales taxes made every year for next year’s budget (used to pay for raises in wages) the city needs to hit around $49 million.

The present trend of 2.7 % decline suggests they are not going to make that.

 There is still the possibility of more expenses with the round of possible commissioner salary increases. 

The new tax rate effect

  • $13,500 Assessed Home Pays $77 More in city tax. ($2,930 up from $2,853 this year)
  • A $16,475  Assessed home Pays $84 More. ($3,576 up from $3,482)
  • A $20,475  Assessed home pays $117 more. ($4,444 up from $4,327)

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation goes up $5.71 from $211.36 this year to $217.07/ $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Internet sales tax relief impact as a result of the new state legislation is unclear at this.. The particulars of the legislation on the Governor’s internet sales taxing plan is under review by the city.  

Sales Tax Acknowledged as Major concern.

It is pointed out that the city sales tax is $2.7 Million less than the sales tax revenue 6 years ago.

AIM to cities has not  increased in 7 years, and the 2019-20 budgeted figure ($5.463 Million) is less than it was a decade ago.

On Bright Side:

  • No layoffs were made in this budget. The reason given is the city believes the 837 filled positions out of 879 employees allowed is needed to continue city services at the present level.
  • The budget allows for settlements with all 4 unions. The city has settled a new contract with the police, the CSEA and the Teamsters. The White Plains Firefighters are the only union that has not reached agreement with the city.
  • According to the City Agenda explanatory material, each new  union contract calls for a 1.25% increase in all step salary levels this year (2018-19)  retroactive to July 1, 2018; an additional 3% increase in 2019-20 and a 3% increase in the third year of the contract, 20-21. On the CSEA contract, their dental program share of costs goes up $40 each year, and their accompany change in pay levels for key positions.

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