MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mayor Ernie Davis said a revenue shortfall and declining tax base contributed to the proposed 9.8 percent tax increase in his proposed 2013 budget.
Davis said the city was $5.2 million in the hole before he even started preparing the budget. He added that the city had bonded for $2.5 million in capital projects as well. Healthcare and retirement costs for municipal employees, the contract for the Police Department and lawsuits also contributed to the tax increase.
The tax proposal exceeds the state's 2 percent cap, which was overridden by the City Council in late November.
“Before we put pen to paper we started with a deficit,” Davis said. “Also contributing is the city’s declining tax base. When real estate values went down, so did property values and assessments, which contribute to our revenue. The tax increase sounds terrible, but it really means that if you pay $10,000 in taxes now, you will pay $318 more.”
Davis said that essential services such as garbage pickup and police and fire protection are needed, as are improvements to the city’s infrastructure.
“When we had the melee at the high school, we had to bring cops in from surrounding areas because we had to keep the place safe,” Davis said. “Of course, that costs us money. We have to pay police overtime to catch drug dealers and follow up on shootings. They have to be worked on, which leads to overtime.”
Davis said the city has made several improvements, including work on Stevens House, paving city streets and putting up new lights on 3rd Street and there is still a lot of work to do. Davis said the key is to create jobs in the city.
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