MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon residents speaking at a City Council meeting on Wednesday night are livid at Mayor Ernie Davis’ proposed 2013 budget that would hike the tax levy by 9.8 percent.
Resident John Gallagher said that the proposed budget is irresponsible because it nearly quintuples the so-called 2 percent tax levy cap passed by the state two years ago.
By law, the cap limits the amount a municipality can raise its tax levy each year. A complex formula allows certain exclusions from cap consideration, meaning each town or city's cap is figured according to its unique circumstances. Also, the cap can be overridden by a super-majority vote of a City Council.
Gallagher suggested that members of the City Council speak with representatives from surrounding towns to see how they got their budgets under the 2 percent tax cap.
“This is an annual process that, just like Halloween, comes every year and is scary for kids,” Gallagher said. “Then the budget process happens, which is scary to adults. The budget process should have started publicly at the end of October, according to our city charter.”
Resident Joy Nemembhard, a Realtor in Mount Vernon for the past two decades, said that all high property taxes will do is drive people out of and away from Mount Vernon. Nemembhard said she persuaded many people to move to Mount Vernon instead of New Rochelle and Yonkers, but many of them can’t afford to live in the city anymore. Nemembhard said part of the problem is that houses in Mount Vernon are not being sold.
“We are going to lose people and, without people, there will be no one to pay the taxes,” Nemembhard said. “I don’t think the proposed budget took the residents into consideration. It’s time to go back to the drawing board. A double-digit tax rate increase is unacceptable especially when services in the city are not increasing.”