Latimer And Oppenheimer Support City
As reported in May’s bulletin, the City recently requested that the State Legislature renew New Rochelle’s current sales tax rate of 2.5%, while also eliminating a unique constraint on our municipal budgeting authority (the so-called “tax cap”) that has been attached to our sales tax for more than a decade. (For a full discussion of the City’s position on this issue, please see the May edition of New Rochelle News)
Assemblyman George Latimer and Senator Suzi Oppenheimer have introduced legislation in Albany that acts on the City’s request. Last night, in announcing his intention to support this legislation, Assemblyman Latimer said, in part:
“When analyzing the dollar impact on the hard-pressed homeowner and taxpayer, it is clear that the City tax cap has a very small dollar value … Absent a clear and present fiscal crisis, on the order of Erie County today or Nassau County five years ago, it is inappropriate for one level of government to impose this constraint on another level of government … I cannot support a compromise proposal that eviscerates the tax cap, but allows its proponents to say they are supporting its continuation. This is a time for sound government and statesmanship, not politics.”
The position taken by Senator Oppenheimer and Assemblyman Latimer is consistent with the strongly-held view of our non-partisan City administration, the non-partisan municipal bond rating agencies, our independent municipal finance auditors, and six of the seven members of the City Council. Nonetheless, their action required political courage, and, if you agree with me that they acted properly in our community’s interest, please take a moment to express your thanks by contacting them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recognize the strongly held opinions on both sides of this issue. Although the Legislature’s expected action simply restores to New Rochelle the same budgeting authority that exists in every other municipality in New York State, it still represents a change from recent local practice. As a result, it will likely encourage enhanced public scrutiny of the City’s budget process. I welcome such scrutiny and the accountability that comes with it. The City Council must continue working to craft budgets that respect every penny of taxpayer support, reflect our community’s values, and make the critical investments that secure our future.