In the November 15 issue of Soundview Rising
The day to day operations continue in New Rochelle's City government after Mayor Noam Bramson lost the County Executive race to Rob Astorino. City Manager Chuck Strome released the 2014 budget on November 8, 2013 and despite the extensive discussion of taxes during the County Executive race, a tax hike of 5.8% was proposed. This would necessitate an override of the New York State tax cap. To override the cap the City would need to hold a hearing and the City Council would have to pass the tax hike by a super majority approval vote of 5 of 7 Council members.
Taxes were a major theme in the race for County executive and the close vote of New Rochelle residents in this race (approximately 52% for Bramson and 48% for Astorino according to unofficial tallies) is a far cry from the 79% of the vote Bramson had achieved in his last Mayoral race.
Taxes also resonate as an issue in Westchester, the highest taxed county in the country, and many New Rochelle residents have long suffered with high real estate taxes and an assortment of additional fees, the most onerous of which is the garbage fee. The advertisements of Astorino which emphasized the tax increases and fees New Rochelle residents were subjected to, apparently made many people think carefully about Mayor Bramson's leadership and governing style.
This 2014 City budget will have to be reviewed by City Council members and changes will probably be made. But will the four Democratic Council members vote again to approve a budget above the tax cap? In the City Manager's budget two items were mentioned that helped generate funds for the City: the sale of City owned Weyman Avenue property, and the proceeds from the sale of Avalon II (apartment in downtown New Rochelle). These items brought $3.1 million in revenue to the City in 2013 and increased the Fund Balance. However, these items are not recurring so planning for the future needs to exclude these one time increases in revenue .
Residents of New Rochelle are looking to the future with Mayor Bramson as he has two more years in his present term. Lorraine Pierce felt Mayor Bramson has ignored the will of the people for too long. She ponders if he will continue to ignore the will of the people and will continue to do what he thinks is best, attributing this mode of operation to his superiority complex. He talks down to people. Now after this election he must realize (referring to public hearings and petitions) heads do do count. The will of the people should be followed. Looking at the broad picture, Elaine Waltz said first Bramson lost to Ron Tocci for state assembly, and now Rob Astorino for County Executive. When is this ribbon cutting, part time Mayor going to realize he is not in line for higher level elected positions? The people have spoken.