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White Plains Residents React to Tax Hike

Diana Ore shuddered at the prospect of a 4.94 percent property tax increase in White Plains, which she said would translate into higher rents and fewer visits with her family in Peru.

“I won’t be able to save anything,” said Ore, 39, a speech pathologist. “I go every six months to see my family. That’s going to be hard now.”

At the end of the Common Council’s meeting Monday on the city’s 2011-2012 budget, the proposed property tax increase was trimmed from 6.7 percent. If the council votes in favor of the budget on Thursday, property owners will pay $176.11 per $1,000 of their property's assessed value next year.

Raising taxes during the recession irked residents like Marcia Patrick, who called the increase “too steep” for a time when unemployment runs high.

“What are they doing about the economy and getting people jobs?” Patrick said. “After that happens you can talk about raising taxes.”

Other residents such as Phil Carter felt the property tax increase was “a good first step.”

“They’ve done what they’ve got to do to balance the budget,” said Carter, 53. “Raising taxes is never a good thing, but they’ve been prolonging it, and it’s something they’ve needed to do for years.”

Carter explained his approval of the tax rate by pointing toward the crumbling curbs and lack of flowers in the city-owned landscaping structures along Main Street.

“We’ve got to start seeing more community-based services," Carter said. “Every day I walk up and down Main Street. There are bricks missing, and they’ve started filling them up with tar. It’s a shame.”

White Plains’ mandatory contributions to pensions were responsible for all but about .1 percent of the increase, according to an email from Councilman John Martin.

Martin wrote that the council and budget committee worked diligently to minimize the tax rate despite the city’s rising health insurance bills and a $350,000 drop in mortgage tax revenue.

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