PROPOSED WP BUDGET STABILIZED BY AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN. 2.4% TAX INCREASE TO PAY FOR $2.5 MILLION STATE PENSION DEMANDS. 5 DELAYED PROJECTS RAMPING UP

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WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. By John F. Bailey. April 5, 2021:

The city administration presented the proposed 2021-22 City Budget Monday evening to the Common Council. The budget in its entirety may be viewed online at: https://www.cityofwhiteplains.com/DocumentCenter/View/6787/2021-2022-Proposed-Budget_City-of-White-Plains

City officials in a press briefing explained the $203.4 Million Budget was up 1/2% ($1.1. Million).

The city has balanced the loss of sales tax revenues of $9 Million this current year with the first installment of $10.9 Million American Recovery Act money  (half of  the$21.9 Million total). The first $10.9 Million awarded White Plains arrives in May in the current fiscal year saving the city from a massive shortfall if the White Plains economy does not return to 2918 levels.

The second half of the White Plains American Rescue Act Money ballyhooed by Senator Charles Schumer last Thursday will come from the federal government in the new current fiscal year of 2021-22 and will be reserved, Budget Director Jim Arnett said, to fill  any shortfalls (in revenues) developing in the new fiscal year.

Mr. Arnett said the first half of the payment in May will be used much like a fund balance(replacing the fiscal losses due to an unexpected expense, in this case the Coronavirus pandemic the city suffered to its economy throughout the  9 months of 2920, starting in March.)

Mr. Arnett said the tax increase is directly due to the increase in New York State Pension Fund contributions required from the city by New York State.

The increase to cover the pensions is 2.5% that would raise property taxes  $77 on a house assessed at $13,500.

  By contrast a $650,000 assessed value home would experience an increase of $216  on a home assessed at 16.475 raising that city property tax to $3,792 for 2021-22.  (The new Proposed Property Tax Rate is $230.22 per 1,000 of assessed value)

The median sales price of a single family home in White Plains NY USA, according to the Houlihan Lawrence quarterly report, is $700,000, assessed at 20.00 Assessed Value would pay $4,604 in city property taxes, an approximate increase of  $858 from this current year of approximately $3,742.

Mr. Arnett said the tax levy has increased 2.5% from $61 ,436,820 in 2019-20 to $65.5 Million which is below the state set tax cap. Arnett pointed out this is the tenth year the city has stayed under the tax cap.

To manage the possible continued volatility of the sales tax revenue and the decrease in parking revenues in the new fiscal year 2020-21, the second installment of the White Plains share of the American Rescue Plan payment ($10.9 Million) will be used if necessary to cover forecast expenses for sales tax revenues, parking revenues and other activity dependent revenue sources, if the recovery does not pick up a head of steam.

He said the second half of American Recovery Act funds would act as a city reserve to meet the budget shortfalls if the recovery fails to pick up a full head of steam.

 Arnett said the sales tax was down  37% in the Second quarter of this fiscal year, and 17% in the third quarter., just ended. He said sales seem to be coming back in the stores and restaurants presently. The parking revenues were down one third from $27.9 Million in 2018-2019, to $19.9 Million in current 2019-20.

Arnett reports parking seems to be returning and indicated the second half of the American Recovery Plan payment much as a fund balance would be used to cover the budgeted sales tax revenues of $4l.7 Million and parking revenue expectations for a “recovered White Plains. WPCNR projects the city to finish with $42 Million in sales taxes at the end of June if last spring’s April May and June figures are duplicated.

(Reporter’s observation  good weather has filled the city parking lots all day and made the restaurants very happy with packed patrons reviving optimism, from noon to night the last two weekends.)

In the proposed city budget presented this evening,  Mr. Arnett said the city is projecting $41.7 Million in sales taxes in 2020-21, over their current year projection of $39.9 Million.

In other items of interest, City services are maintained at current levels.

The number of funded positions is  837, twelve fewer than last year.

The City expects $600,000 in revenues from its new solar initiative in solar development of solar panels on city buildings.

John Callahan, Corporation Counsel respending to a question of how the outlook was for a rise in the assessment roll by 2021, said the city would not see large gains in the assessment roll (flat this year) until the approved developments were built and taxed at their operating value and not as “undeveloped land.”

Callahan said four developments that have seen long delays would begin construction in the months ahead, and a fifth, the rebuild of an apartment and mixed use project on Maple Avenue would begain after its developer finished another project in the city by the fall.

The 440 Hamilton renovation is expected to be starting demolition in the next two months.

The  property owners of the former YMCA at 250 Mamaroneck Avenue have submitted several designs and have settled on one and will be starting that project soon. The Esplanade project has begun work on the interior, and that will be proceeding.

The 70 Westmoreland Avenue property has already turned in construction plans for their apartment building there and when those are approved he expected that would be starting.

Asked about the White Plains Pavilion site currently an excavation on Maple Avenue opposite the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Callahan said Lennar, which is currently building The Mitchell at the corner of Post Road and Mamareoneck Avenue  is waiting to finish The Mitchell before they start the Pavilion site construction.

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