Ni Hao

Mayor Noam Bramson with China delegation at Monroe.

Mayor Noam Bramson with China delegation at Monroe.

This week Monroe College is hosting a delegation of government and business officials from China, and today I had the pleasure of speaking with the group about municipal issues and economic development.  Conversations that are relayed through a translator can be pretty stilted, but we actually had a good back and forth.  And what was the number one subject of questions?  Tax incentives!  A pretty familiar topic to those who follow debates in New Rochelle, and proof positive that people are the same the world over.

Jeremy and Owen are studying Mandarin in the New Rochelle public schools.  I am counting on them to be my guides, if and when I ever have the opportunity to visit China.


New Rochelle Taxes: High or Low?

DollarsProperty taxes are too high – there’s no doubt about that.  But is this primarily a result of local decision-making or does it result instead from regional and state-wide factors?  One way to sort it out is to compare our local budget and tax statistics with those of other cities in the area.

The Empire Center has set up a nice portal, using data from the New York State Comptroller’s Office, which lets you run cross-community comparisons by just about every fiscal metric.

How do we stack up?  By several measures, pretty darn well.

New Rochelle’s effective property tax rate – meaning property taxes as a share of market value – ranks 11 out of 12 in the mid-Hudson region.  That’s lower than every other city, except Rye, which is really more like a village.  And looking at all 42 mid-sized cities in New York State, New Rochelle’s effective tax rate ranks 40th – among the very lowest.

We also compare very favorably when it comes to debt and spending, despite receiving one of the lowest levels of unrestricted State Aid per capita in New York.

You can check it out for yourself.  Play with different data sets, and make your own judgment.

There certainly are areas where New Rochelle needs to improve.  And, again, I’m not saying local taxes are low in absolute terms — this is only a comparative standard.  But the numbers do demonstrate the relative efficiency of our City government and make clear our commitment to respecting taxpayers.



Whadya Think About New Ro? Tell Us In This Survey.

Branding - Not Just For Cattle.

Branding – Not Just For Cattle.

A few months ago, New Rochelle launched a community-wide “branding” initiative to help us better define and market our city’s unique characteristics.  Now, you have a chance to weigh in by completing a 25 question survey.

What makes New Rochelle special?  What needs to change?  How is New Rochelle different from other communities?  Let us know what you think.

You can complete the survey online or pick up a hard copy at either the City Clerk’s Office at 515 North Avenue or at the New Rochelle Public Library Circulation Desk.

Surveys must be completed by December 14.

An effective branding and marketing strategy could be a huge boost for New Rochelle’s economy, property values, and civic image.  But getting it right really depends on public involvement, so please share your thoughts and then spread the word to neighbors and friends.

There’s more information in this press release from City Hall.


Thanksgiving Parade & Pancake Breakfast on Saturday

TurkeyDon’t miss the New Rochelle Thanksgiving Parade this Saturday, November 22nd.  The parade kicks off at 10:00am at the corner of Eastchester Road and North Avenue, continues to Main Street, and then on to Maple Avenue.  Big thanks to the Chamber of Commerce and the City’s Parks & Rec team for organizing the parade and to the Valenti Family for once again generously sponsoring the event.  And congratulations to David O’Shaughnessy, this year’s Grand Marshall.

Before the parade, fuel up at the annual Pancake Breakfast, sponsored by the Fund for Educational Excellence.  That’s from 8:00am to 9:30am, in the new wing of New Rochelle High School.  Only $5.00 for all-you-can-eat flapjacks and other goodies.  Such a deal!  And, of course, you can walk easily from the breakfast to the parade route.

These are great events for kids and families, and a nice opportunity to celebrate our community and the spirit of Thanksgiving.  See you there.


I Took the Plunge!

I took the plunge!

Polar Plunge Before

Noam, Jeremy & Owen Before the Polar Plunge

Here I am with Jeremy and Owen on our arrival at Glen Island today, dressed sensibly for 41 degree weather.

Polar Plunge After

Noam After the Polar Plunge

And here I am after the plunge, dressed much less sensibly.  (Not sure why I am smiling.)

Actually, it was kind of fun.  About 600 participants, including lots of students, all raising money for the Special Olympics, and happily celebrating our collective poor judgment.

No hot chocolate waiting at home, but two steaming bowls of tomato soup did the trick.


Be a Lifesaver for the New Ro Y

YMCA PoolThe New Rochelle YMCA provides thousands of families with access to quality, affordable sports, health, and educational programming.  It really is one of our city’s vital institutions . . . and it’s a facing a big challenge: raising about $1.3 million to repair its pool.  With grants hard to come by, the Y is turning to the community for help.  You can learn more here and then consider contributing to the Y’s Indiegogo campaign.