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Letter to Governor Cuomo

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Letter to Governor Cuomo

December 22, 2011 - 15:32
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AndrewCuomo.jpgDecember 22, 2011

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

RE: Tax-Cap

Honorable Governor Cuomo,

I contact you as 56-year old New Rochellian who had to move from my city of birth due to high taxes. I am now faced with the task of maintaining our New Rochelle family home in hopes of keeping my 80-year-old mother-in-law, who suffers from dementia, in familiar surroundings until her time comes.

Many years ago New Rochelle was facing a 30% tax increase and then Mayor Tim Idoni consulted with then Assemblyman Ronald Tocci to institute legislation whereby New Rochelle received and extra 1% sales tax in exchange for the Tocci Tax-Cap which limited property tax increases to the Consumer Price Index. The extra 1% in sales tax increased New Rochelle’s coffers by $9 MILLION per year on average over its lifetime. Out of control spending and multi-decade property tax breaks to wealthy developers exhausted the extra sales tax revenue so the City Manager, with council approval, instituted a refuse (garbage) FEE. This FEE skirted the tax-cap and allowed the city to collect large increases within in the tax-cap. This fee is regressive and is NOT deductible when filing taxes. The original refuse fee was $165 per living unit; a one-family home paid $165, a two-family $330 and so on. Assemblyman George Latimer proposed and the State Legislature passed legislation abolishing the Tocci Tax-Cap and allowing New Rochelle to keep the extra 1% sales tax. At that time the City Council vowed to abolish the refuse fee over a 5-year period. Needless to say it was never abolished but it was reduced to its current $63 per unit charge.

Fast forward to the Cuomo Tax-Cap; most claim it is flawed because there is no mandate relief but I do not concur in that your Tax-Cap exempts pension and health insurance costs. Hold on to your hat; New Rochelle City Manager Charles Strome released his proposed 2012 budget, which legally adheres to your Tax-Cap while INCREASING THE REFUSE FEE TO $223 per unit, a 238% increase over the current $63 fee. This is onerous to say the least. The city tax increase on an average home assessed at $18,000 would be about $120 per year under your Tax-Cap (3.68% increase). Adding insult to injury, New Rochelle homeowners would add $223 for the refuse fee totaling a City tax increase of $343 for a one family home. City taxes comprise 17% of New Rochelle’s overall tax bill with the County at 17%, School District at 66% including a New Library tax. I apologize, I forgot to mention that along with the refuse fee the City Council removed library funding from the City Charter and created a new Library Tax to circumvent the Tocci Tax-Cap.

As you can see, New York State may be the most dysfunction state in the country but by far New Rochelle is the most dysfunctional small city in the country when it comes to oppressive taxation. Is it any wonder most of my friends have moved out of Westchester County or New York State?

Most people deduct the refuse fee as a tax and that is lost money to the state. I hope you can contact the elected officials in New Rochelle, namely Mayor Noam Bramson and the City Council, to ask them to reconsider this approach. The council is made up of a 4-3 majority of democrats with a 5-2 super majority to take office on January 1, 2012. At the very least, I hope you will convey that tax returns from New Rochelle will be scrutinized if the $223 refuse fee is adopted thereby outraging the citizenry to speak out and denounce this unfair practice.

At the end of the day, fellow democrats have found a way to circumvent your tax-cap while the citizens of New Rochelle receive a 238% refuse fee increase with no increased refuse services. In reality, the New Rochelle administration bypassed your tax-cap to shore up other areas of their budget. They chose to terminate firefighters before terminating a publicist or a sustainability coordinator which was avoided by less than projected health costs. This is pure politics as the Mayor and council should have had the guts to break the cap and raise taxes 15% to allow full deduction. I don’t know if there are any legal ramifications but I would appreciate it if you could direct the Attorney General to investigate the 238% refuse fee increase without a corresponding increase in refuse services.

Hoping you can help,

Anthony Galletta 241A Heritage Hills Somers, NY 10589-1409 914-669-5154 Home 914-497-9141 Cell

 

Cc: Honorable Amy Paulin, Honorable George Latimer, Honorable Jeffrey Klein, Honorable Suzi   Oppenheimer

There are 11 Comments

Who is this man? My God you should be Mayor of this city! Right about now the Mayor and City Mgr.are through the roof. Please blog more i want to tweet this story around the state.smileyangry

Nicely stated & I'm waiting to see if Amy, George, Suzi or Jeff come to anyone's rescue (or even respond) on this issue as all 4 are very tied in w/Bramson.  I honestly can't see any of them sticking their necks out & doing what's right, none of them want to make waves or ruffle any feathers plus they're all tax & spend Democrats like Bramson so I'm not holding my breath. 

I am thankful for the Republican majority in the state's senate otherwise Bramson would have had his utility tax in place by now that would of added another 2% to your utility bill.  Nice guy, huh? 

Mr. Galletta

 I Applaud your letter, we need to some how get it out to a major media source (TV News). I hope it does not fall upon deaf ears. Job well done !! "The Taxes are too damn HIGH !!!!"

Robert Cox's picture

Frank,

All of the major news outlets in this area read Talk of the Sound regularly. It is often the basis for them becoming aware of stories from New Rochelle and it is quite often the case that you will see a story here and then a few days later see it in the Journal News or Channel 12 or other outlets.

Case in point, once we began highlighting the reporting already done on the phony general story and added our own reporting it got on the radar of WCBS, WABC, Channel 12, Journal News, etc.

So, the major media outlets have already seen Mr. Galletta's letter to Governor Cuomo.

That said, given my experience, this is not the type of story they are going to pursue unless the Governor actually responds, or the local reps in Albany or the AG wade into this matter.

I would want to stress to readers like Frank that if you have a story that you want to get out to a wider audience the most direct route is to publish an article here, as Mr. Galletta did, and then give it a few days. If the major media outlets are interested they will follow up. As with anything, just because you or I think a story is newsworthy does not mean a TV station or newspaper or other outlet will agree. That's the beauty of Talk of the Sound -- anyone with a story to tell (so long as it is New Rochelle related) can tell it here and reach thousands of people directly via this site, get their story in front of all the major media outlets and get the story into places like Google News (the largest news aggregator in the world), Topix and all the major search engines where Talk of the Sound is typically one the Top 10 search results for searches based on "New Rochelle" or "New Rochelle = other keywords".

 

 

As a 50 year resident, it breaks my heart to watch the bitter end to a once great city.  The bad guys won.  This budget is such a disgrace and really the last straw.  The City Council has declared war on the taxpayers.  And yet, the current people of NR not only re-elected the clowns responsible for this budget, but gave them a supermajority.  This is mostly because there are more than twice as many Democrats than Republicans in NR, but I was hoping some thinking Democrats would oppose this irresponsoble regime.  However, while I believe the Democrat machine that has controlled New Rochelle since early 1990s has badly mismanaged this city and created a generation long revenue crisis by giving away the store to developers with tax abatements, the Republicans have not been much better.  The Republican leaders should be ashamed for running someone like St. Paul last year, a person so flawed and irresponsible that he could not even manage his own life, and then St. Paul dragged down the whole ticket on election day.  And remember that the GOP controlled NR for decades before the Democrats, including in the 1980s when the economy was humming, and there was more money available for economic development from feds and state, and the downtown just got worse and worse.  Folks, as the hard-working taxpayers flee NR, make sure the last person turns out the lights.

Robert Cox's picture

You are right that "there are more than twice as many Democrats than Republicans in NR". In fact, there are three times as many.

Way to go Mr. Galletta!  The refuse fee is nothing more than a tax pretending to be a fee.  A fee for refuse collection would allow city residents freedom of choice and allow them to choose their own methods or companies for refuse collection.  A tax is mandatory, like the City's refuse fee. 

It is time to take the City court once again and I plan on doing just that in the not to distance future.

Mayor Bramson thinks he is so clever. But his havard wit is no match fot the street smarts of New Rochelle residents.  His days of trickery are coming to a head as he will only be able to use his methods of circumventing the tax cap once.  Next year, we will be watching to see how he hides a 15% tax increase behind an illegal fee.  This is a joke.  I ask Lou Trangucci to investigate this matter and tell residents where this unusually high refuse fee is actually going.  How did the cost of refuse collection alone jump up 238% in one yea?  Mr. Trangucci should read up on the law on this subject.  We are being had.

A well written post as always. On December 9 a coalition of over 50 managing agents and attorneys under the signature of Kenneth Finger Esq, sent a letter to Mayor Bramson and all members of the City Council on behalf of shareholders and landlords of condominiums and cooperatives challenging the radical increase in trash collection fees. I followed up with a letter to Amy and George and attached a copy of Ken Finger's letter. In my letter I mentioned a number of the points raised in Mr. Galletta's letter to the Governor as well as some points specific to shareholders that I am advocating for under proposed legislation not part of the trash collection fees. I believe that the democratic party stronghold on the election process is seriously threatened by this exponential increase in fees as well as the rather unfortunate reliance on fee income and grants to produce revenue in New Rochelle. My views are well known to the readers of this blog and I think Anthony's letter to the Governor addresses the increasing frustration we all face. I see no remedy in politics at this point. Rather I see the need for citizens to demand meaningful actions that address the core issue base around raising revenue, properly prioritizing the expense base, managing by the City Code, ensuring that the duties and responsibilities of the mayor, council, and city manager are known to all voters, controlling the school district, and building a commercial business base. These are fundamental, but in this world we quickly forget the basics. These things are basic..... whether democrat, republican, independent, liberal, or undecided. They are basic period! My best to all of you for a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Wished fulfilled New Years, and long life and happiness.

Warren I couldn't agree more! New Rochelle and the US in general at all levels of government needs to get back to basics. Government's basic requirement is protect its citizens, put out fires and take out the trash PERIOD!!! Everything else is a want or nice to have, some of which I would gladly pay for like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to name a few. The other basic value we need to realize is; you can't spend more than you take in! Stop the tapdance around the tax-caps and trim government back to basic levels. There is no more personal responsibility in this nation and government can't solve every individuals problems. We must govern for the best of the greater good as there is plenty of goodwill and religion to cover those who fall through the cracks. We have negatively transformed from a society that provided a hand-up to a society which now provides a hand-out that we can no longer afford.

Mayor Bramson criticized Councilmembers Lou Trangucci and Richard St. Paul for voting against the 2012 city budget. Bramson claimed, those who voted against the budget; 1 shirked their duty 2 took the easy way out 3 relied on others to make the hard choices 4 offered no alternatives Bramson's statement is the absolute height of hypocrisy in that it best describes himself and his partisans who voted for the deceiving budget while Trangucci & St. Paul stood tall. By charter, and I'm sure Warren will confirm this, the city manager is charged with preparing the city budget. Council can amend, adopt or send the budget back to the city manager as unacceptable. It is the city manager's job to present the budget and council's job to ultimately approve a budget, now back to Bramson's statement. Bramson should look in the mirror while rehearsing as he and those doing his bidding took the easy way out hiding shamefully behind the refuse fee that they imposed with a 238% increase. The Bramsonites hid behind the city manager’s proposed budget much like the Bramsonites hide behind IDA in reference to tax abatements to rich developers. The Bramsonites claim they stayed within Governor Cuomo’s tax cap when in reality the New Rochelle taxpayer is faced with a 15% tax hike imposed by Bramson and his followers. As for the budget detractors not offering alternatives, all but one budget amendment offered by non-democrats met a 4-3 party line defeat. This includes imposing the $223 residential refuse fee on colleges for dormitory rooms whose occupants are recognized as permanent residents under the NR City Code. Currently dorms are classified commercial which is an oxymoron considering synonyms for commercial are; profitable and moneymaking so how can any tax-exempt, non-profit organization like the Iona dorms be classified commercial? All that would be required is a zoning change much like the one recently granted to Capelli for Trump Towers. The difference is that the dorm proposal came from non-democrats so the democratic controlled council voted the party line to deny what would be a new, recurring revenue source which would increase as the colleges expand. New, recurring revenue sources is exactly what New Rochelle needs as opposed to decimating the ranks of police, fire and sanitation personnel to scare residents into accepting large tax increases year after year. Bramson’s comments represent a mindset that undermines his fabricated portrayal of bipartisanship. Publicly Bramson offered a bipartisan inaugural ceremony which is akin to the Greek Trojan Horse offering to the city of Troy.

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