Plan Is Fiscally Responsible and Forward-Looking
Last week, the City Council adopted its budget for 2007. The $137.5 million spending plan reflects a community that is looking confidently toward its future. The budget minimizes the burden of taxes and fees, maintains a healthy fund balance, and invests in new quality of life initiatives that will strengthen New Rochelle over the long-term. Following are a few of the budget highlights. The full document can be viewed on-line at www.newrochelleny.com, and a budget summary, prepared by the City Manager, can be downloaded HERE.
Fiscal Responsibility: The 2007 budget maintains a healthy unreserved fund balance (essentially a savings account) of $7.4 million. This amount, which represents more than 7% of our operating budget, is exactly in line with the 5% to 10% fund balance generally recommended by independent municipal finance experts.
Support for Core Services: The lion’s share of the budget is, of course, devoted to core municipal services, including public safety and public works, which account for more than 2/3 of our spending. Similarly, much of the adopted new spending is associated with these essential functions, including additional sanitation workers and police officers, as well as capital expenditures for public works vehicles and road repairs.
New Initiatives: The 2007 budget contains several new initiatives which, although quite modest in their fiscal dimensions, will have a large positive impact on our safety, quality of life, and future. These new initiatives include: (1) a new Traffic Calming Program designed to control speeding in residential areas through the introduction of speed humps, islands, edge lines and other structural alterations in roadways; (2) a Housing Enforcement Bureau to better regulate local laws concerning overcrowding and housing safety; (3) a reverse 911 emergency notification system to provide timely information to residents in crisis situations; (4) a third ambulance to provide enhanced rapid response to medical emergencies; (5) a bicycle-friendly initiative which will enable the City to establish several dozen miles of dedicated bike routes with appropriate signage, lane markings, and racks; (6) a heritage program that includes plaques for historically significant sites and properties, as well as restoration of monuments and memorials, beginning with Soldier’s Monument at Main and Huguenot; (7) the beginning of streetscape improvements on Union Avenue and West Main Street, together with an expansion of the North Avenue improvements that are already underway; and (8) a new public information office that will permit the City to produce additional newsletters, improve its website, coordinate press relations, and otherwise enhance communication between the government and the community.
A Modest Tax Burden: The impact of the 2007 budget on the typical homeowner is modest – just 0.6% of the overall tax bill, or $85 per year. This includes a 4.9% increase in the City portion of the tax bill, together with a 25% reduction in the residential refuse fee.