DollarsWith the lowest municipal tax rate among Westchester’s urban centers and a lean workforce, New Rochelle has done a good job of controlling costs and delivering efficient government to taxpayers.  But over the long-term, we can’t simply cut our way to budget stability, not without eroding our safety and quality of life.  So any sensible fiscal strategy needs to put economic growth front and center.  And, of course, a healthier economy does more than generate tax revenue, it also creates jobs, improves our civic image, and boosts home values.

Attracting new private investment often requires some initial public investment, such as infrastructure and transportation improvements, marketing campaigns, tax incentives, planning analyses, etc.  We should look at these public expenditures in much the same way that a business might look at spending for new technology or workforce development – investments today that yield a bigger payback tomorrow.

Even though the City done a lot of that — various economic development initiatives are netting taxpayers about $8 million every year — I think we can do a better job of applying this analytical framework to our budget priorities and of ensuring a more consistent level of investment in future growth.

That is why Council Member Lou Trangucci and I teamed up across party lines to propose an “Economic Growth Fund,” that would reserve resources each year for initiatives with a probable payback.  There’s more in this memo from our Commissioner of Development.

The City Council received our proposal positively this week, so I expect the Economic Growth Fund to become a feature of the City budget in 2015 and beyond.