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White Plains' Budget Increases Average Homeowner's Taxes $59

The White Plains Common Council adopted a $160.7 million budget.
The White Plains Common Council adopted a $160.7 million budget. Photo Credit: File

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The average White Plains homeowner will pay $59 on their city tax bill under the 2014-15 budget adopted by the White Plains Common Council.

The 2.3 percent tax rate increase, or $196.14 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, would bring that homeowner’s total city tax bill to an estimated $2,628, based on the median assessment of $13,400.

The Common Council unanimously adopted the $160.7 million budget on Monday, May 19, increasing spending 1.8 percent and complying with the state-mandated  cap on the property tax levy.

For a third year in a row the city did not borrow to pay for its tax challenges or its pension expenses. Council President John Martin said he found that 133 New York municipalities borrowed a record $472 million this year to pay for their pension payments.

The budget includes an estimated $900,000 increase in sales taxes to $46 million, as well as a 6.5 percent increase in user fees and 5 percent increase in mortgage taxes. Parking revenues total $23.8 million and represent 14.8 percent of total revenues, compared sales taxes, which represent 28.6 percent.

On the other hand, taxable assessed valuation dropped $761,498, or .3 percent, to $277 million.

While the city avoided making cuts to essential services or staff, Councilwoman Beth Smayda said doing that will only get tougher in the coming years, while also remaining under the state tax cap.

“I think it’s going to be very important to take a close look if we’re using the right technology, if we’ve got the right functional alignment for all of our departments, and if we’re running as efficiently as possible,” she said. “I think we’re going to have to take a more aggressive approach to that in the future.”

A proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would give tax rebates to homeowners next year if their local government stays within the tax cap, which Smayda said increases the stakes even further.

Since the city’s unionized workers will received a 2 percent pay raise, the budget awards the same increase to the city’s managerial staff, confidential employees, commissioners and its mayor.

Martin said this was done to “keep in step with these increases to avoid inequities in compensation. The full-time mayor position has not received a salary increase in eight years.

“I would just like to say that the mayor’s raise was brought up by us as council people,” Smayda said. “It’s a full-time position and nobody works harder than our mayor.”

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