In case you missed it over the weekend, New Rochelle City Manager Charles Strome III kicked off the budget season by unveiling a spending plan that would be tough to love.
The $153.6 million plan for 2013 would raise the tax rate 7 percent while reducing police and fire protection.
The process kicks into gear at 6 p.m. tomorrow, when the administration presents the plan to the City Council in City Hall, 515 North Ave.
Strome made it clear he wasn’t happy with the service cuts, but he said a still-sluggish economy and pressure from the state, among other factors, left little choice. Two vacant police officer positions would remain unfilled, and fire department staffing would be allowed to dip below 27 firefighters on duty — to a low of 24 — if too many firefighters were out sick and on vacation.
It would break the tax cap that the state imposed last year, a move that would require an additional public hearing and eventual approval by five of the seven City Council members
The state will require an additional $3 million next year in pension and health care costs, he and Finance Commissioner Howard Rattner said. If the city stayed within the tax cap, the city would have been able to raise an added $1.25 million in taxes, not even half what was needed to cover those costs. That would leave the city scrambling to make up the funds even before beginning to talk about paying for its own operations.
Strome often points out other ways of looking at it. The city tax, he says, makes up 18 percent of a homeowner’s total tax bill, with other portions going to the county and the school district. So the added $208 on the average tax bill might be a 7 percent increase on city taxes, but it is about a one percent increase on the total tax bill, he said.