New Rochelle’s economy has recovered from the COVID pandemic, and then some. Final figures for 2021 show taxable sales at more than $1.5 billion, the highest level in our history and a whopping 23% year-to-year increase from 2020. (This also represents a nearly-as-impressive 22% increase over pre-pandemic 2019 figures.) Ongoing economic development should extend this positive trend, as new population generates demand for goods and services, and attracts additional businesses to our community.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides unprecedented support to communities like New Rochelle, and we are determined to utilize this valuable funding to achieve a comprehensive recovery, with a special focus on strengthening our social, physical, and economic infrastructure. Today, New Rochelle is launching a new website that offers detailed information to the public and a user-friendly access point for stakeholders and partners seeking grants. Eligible agencies and businesses are encouraged to participate in this important opportunity. More in this press release.
It’s not a good idea just yet for us to gather in a big crowd at City Hall for a traditional State of the City Address, so, instead, I recorded a message to report on the opportunities and challenges confronting New Rochelle, and on the progress we have made together as a community. Please watch a video of the speech or read my remarks.
Even through the worst of the pandemic, New Rochelle kept making big strides on the essential priorities that will shape our future. When it comes to our economy and our budget, our environment and our neighborhoods, and our commitment to the dignity and worth of all people, we are poised to emerge from the crisis with fresh momentum and a renewed sense of possibility and optimism. The State of our City is strong.
Citing New Rochelle’s stable financial operations, healthy reserves, and manageable debt burden, Moody’s Investors Services has confirmed our Aa2 bond rating, which we have held since receiving an upgrade from Aa3 in 2017. This strong rating benefits taxpayers by keeping the City’s interest payments low and highlights the excellent fiscal management of our finance team. More in this press release.
City Manager Chuck Strome’s draft budget for 2022 proposes enhanced investments in infrastructure and public safety staffing, while adhering to the State property tax cap. Here’s a little more detail, as well as links to a presentation and the proposed budget itself. The City Council will review the document during the weeks ahead and will have an opportunity to consider potential amendments prior to adopting a final budget in mid-December.
Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), New Rochelle has been awarded nearly $37 million over two years to address the impacts of the COVID pandemic and “build back better.” Last night, the City Administration presented a proposed plan of action for utilizing our ARPA allocation. In addition to complying with the ARPA’s guidelines and restrictions, this plan is also designed to “(1) avoid duplication with Federal, State, and County programming; (2) achieve a whole-of-community, not just governmental, recovery; (3) prioritize one-time expenditures with sustained, long-term impact; and (4) reach for transformative opportunities that might be unattainable without the ARPA’s unique infusion of resources.” Read the whole plan here, as well as backup documentation related to green infrastructure, social infrastructure, and economic infrastructure. The City Council will consider this proposal in the context of our 2022 budget.