This is first in a series on the 2011 budget.

The Council is in the midst of considering City Manager Strome’s proposed budget (download warning: large file) for 2011. Our review commenced with a presentation from the City Manager and Finance Commissioner on November 16, and is now proceeding with a careful examination of each department. Following a public hearing on December 7, the Council will have an opportunity to vote on amendments and will then adopt a final budget by the end of the year.

As proposed, the 2011 budget would:

  • cut year-to-year operating expenses by $1.3 million;
  • eliminate 26 full-time positions, reducing the size of the City’s workforce to its lowest level in almost two decades and about the lowest level in New Rochelle’s modern history; and
  • freeze salaries for all municipal employees, except those completing multi-year contracts.

Despite these cuts, the proposed budget calls for a 3.9% increase in the municipal property tax rate to compensate for slumping revenue. That translates into $113 per year for the average taxpayer, or an increase of about 1% in one’s overall property tax bill from City, County, and Schools. I expect that the final budget, as amended by the Council, will feature a somewhat lower tax rate.

(In fact, I joined several Council Members in proposing a set of amendments that would cut the tax rate by an additional 1.63% to 2.27%. Our memo on the subject, dated November 28th, contains more information.)

In the coming days, I will share my thoughts about the values and priorities that ought to govern our allocation of scarce resources, the fiscal and economic trends that impact local decision-making, and the merits of various options for achieving a balanced budget. I hope that you find this information helpful, and, as always, I welcome comments, suggestions and feedback.