The average citizen could be forgiven for not reading up on the “Study of Governance and Service Options” under way in the Town of Rye. The topic seems as dry as can be, except it’s also kind of interesting — particularly considering that some people don’t realize they live in the Town of Rye and pay taxes to it (about $32 a year on average).
The study, being carried out by the nonprofit Center for Governmental Research, is the latest to look at whether it would save money to eliminate this vestigial layer of local government altogether or rejigger municipal services in some other way. A forum Jan. 12 (click for PDF) will examine the current setup of taxes and services. (The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Mamaroneck Village courtroom, 169 Mount Pleasant Ave., Mamaroneck.)
So with the aim of sparking some interest, I present this list of some of the most unusual things about Rye Town.
1. The town of Rye consists of two pieces, which sit on either side of the City of Rye and don’t connect.
One chunk consists of the villages of Rye Brook and Port Chester. The other piece is a slice of Mamaroneck called Rye Neck. The total 7.4 square miles are what’s left after the incorporation of various communities over the years. Rye Town in the 1660s covered a large swath extending from White Plains to Greenwich. Most town residents, 63 percent, live in Port Chester.
2. Rye Town Park, despite the name, is not located in the town. It’s in the City of Rye. It’s governed by representatives from the town, city and three villages.
3. Rye Town’s main responsibility is to assess and collect taxes within its territory. It also runs a court and oversees the care of two parks and three cemeteries.
4. The town supervisor, a global hedge fund manager, is serving for free, until he brings property taxes to zero as promised. Rye Town relies on property tax for just 10 percent of its budget, and Supervisor Joseph Carvin’s administration is trying to bring tax bills to zero by relying on other revenue. In Port Chester, your village tax bill on a $500,000 house is about $3,560 and your town taxes are about $30.
5. Rye Neck, the smallest chunk at 1.4 square miles, seems to be the clincher whenever questions come about about eliminating the town.
Says CGR’s baseline study:
As recently as 2007, the Village of Mamaroneck commissioned a Pace University study which considered potential options to address Rye Neck’s uncommon situation. The aim of the project was to look at annexation and consolidation alternatives. Results pointed to a potential 44.7 percent increase (from $85 to $123) in town taxes for Rye Neck residents if their locality were to be taken over entirely by the Town of Mamaroneck.
Intrigued? CGR’s “Baseline Report” is available here in PDF form. The document lists in detail all your local services, who performs them and at what cost.