http://www.westchesterguardian.com/ In the
December 27, 2012 issue of the Westchester Guardian
Many long time residents of New Rochelle are puzzled by Mayor Bramson's announcement that he is running for County Executive. We would like to ask Mayor Bramson if he can answer these questions about his "campaign of substance and ideas."
1. You claim you have a "coherent vision for growing our economy and allocating new jobs." In New Rochelle the lack of sales tax is one reason why our real estate taxes have increased. How do you plan to grow the economy without creating higher real estate taxes?
2. You state it is "time for a serious debate" about our future and you "intend to offer a campaign of substance and ideas." While you have held neighborhood meetings, in more recent months you tried to stifle citizens who came to City Hall to speak at Council meetings by limiting how often they could speak. More disturbing, you had no objection to an Iona Dormitory Committee's mandate that their members could not reveal anything that transpired at their meetings. Citizen concerns brought up at Council meeting are rarely addressed at these meetings. But when there were serious objections to the decision for a designated developer for the Armory, you chose to give an obviously previously prepared talk toward the end of the Council meeting.
3. What priorities do you feel have been neglected in the last three years? Many residents are still upset that Westchester County still has the highest real estate taxes in the Country. How do you plan to address this with the Democrats and Republicans on the County Board of Legislators? As Mayor of New Rochelle you have become accustomed to working with a Democratic majority which has been characterized as a "rubber stamp" for your initiatives. This year the County Board of Legislators passed a bi-partisan budget. How do you intend to get the Legislators that do not agree with you to go along with your ideas?
4. You claim you have "spearheaded successful economics development creating new jobs" in New Rochelle. In 2010 New Rochelle's Industrial Development Corporation (IDA) job creation costs were monitored. New Rochelle's IDA had a cost of $30,000 per job, the second highest in New York State. Can you explain what development and specific job creation in New Rochelle would justify this cost?
In downtown New Rochelle you (along with your Democratic Council majority) approved high rise buildings with no regard for additional tax revenue needed for additional City services. Instead for this project a 30 year tax abatement was included. This area now uses about 20% of our City services. High rise buildings need a lot of manpower in case of a fire, you and the Democratic majority gave approvals with no attempt to increase fire protection. In fact, this year you were the only one to vote against overtime funds for this department.
At another Council meeting the occupants of these high rise buildings were cited for using the nearby City parking lots instead of the facilities in their buildings. Thus overnight parking fees were created. Later downtown street parking fees until midnight were instituted. Look at downtown's stores and restaurants that have closed since these parking fees were started. Many residents feel to increase business in the downtown all parking meter fees should be eliminated. Explain how these actions you have taken can be considered "successful economic development."
5. You want "responsible budgets" but how responsible was the last New Rochelle City budget When Councilman Lou Trangucci tried to cut some items from it you insisted on knowing how he was going to find money to fund the overtime for the New Rochelle Fire Department. You did not mention one of your Democratic allies had also co-sponsored funding this proposal Trangucci had also previously suggested cutting several items in the budget but you would not agree or even acknowledge these cuts. Neither did you challenge the $385,000 additions for the budget presented by Councilman Ivar Hyden and the $175,000 by Jared Rice, both of which passed, 5-2 along party lines.
All this resulted in a tax increase of 6.99% which exceeded the tax cap limit of 2.49%. Gimmicks, such as the garbage fee have added to the taxpayers' burden in New Rochelle The County Budget, on the other hand, adhered to the state tax cap. Previous to the budget vote, the New Rochelle Democratic majority on Council committed the City to a $25 million bond to move the City Yard. Obviously these bond payments are not listed in the budget yet, but when the bank lends the money to the City, how can the residents pay back the loan without again exceeding the tax cap?
Residents of New Rochelle are puzzled and would appreciate answers to these questions so they will know how you plan to address these issues.