Yonkers Proposed Budget Would Increase Taxes, Close School-Spending Gap

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Mayor Mike Spano has proposed as a $1.02 billion 2014-15 city budget.
Mayor Mike Spano has proposed as a $1.02 billion 2014-15 city budget. Photo Credit: City of Yonkers

YONKERS, N.Y. -- Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano released his proposed budget for 2014-15 late last week, which calls for increases to the property and income taxes, but remains within the state mandated cap on the property tax levy.

Spano stated the budget is "(...) still a lean, balanced budget that strives to continue the progress we have made, while slowly overcoming the Board of Education deficit, and staying within the confines of the state-mandated property tax cap that the City has accomplished for three consecutive years."

The $1.02 billion budget calls for a one percent increase in the property tax levy. For the average property owner, this will translate to an increase of approximately $120 a year.

Additionally, it calls for a proposed increase in the city's personal income tax from 15 percent to approximately 19 percent, which translates to $140 per year for the median Yonkers taxpayer.

The city defended the increases by stating they have been the lowest in many years, and that by staying within the state-mandated two percent tax cap, Yonkers property owners will be provided relief through tax rebates offered by the state.

Spano's budget, as expected, addresses the $72 million dollar Board of Education's 2015 deficit, which, compounded with debt from previous years, amounts to roughly $119 million.

The proposed budget calls for a $521.9 million appropriation for the schools, and the municipal operating budget will take on $10 million in costs from the school district, "providing Yonkers Public Schools with significant relief that will offset loss in revenue and help preserve instructional (and) classroom costs."

The $10 million investment will provide for a consolidation of what the city considers to be "overlapping functions between the City and BOE that were causing the District to spend too much money on non-academic functions."  

The city recently gained authorization to consolidate the school board's administrative departments, which will include human resources, law and finance, after a state law was passed earlier this year. 

Spano said he will be appointing a Commission on Consolidation and Efficiencies in coming weeks to oversee the consolidation effort and create what he hopes will be $12 million in savings. 

The $10 million city investment, along with plans for the city to invest $5 million for textbooks, an additional $45 million in state aid and $12 million in savings, would seemingly close the $72 million school budget gap.

The budget also calls for $44 million in proposed capital improvements, and no eliminations of municipal positions or cuts to services.

The City Council is still able to alter the budget which goes into effect on July 1.

You can access the complete proposed budget here.

@suzannesamin

ssamin@dailyvoice.com

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I hate to say this, but as a Yonkers resident and homeowner, if it will put the school system on solid financial footing, I can with live with a 1% property tax increase.