New Rochelle Wants the Ability to Change Utility Tax Rate

The City Council supports legislation in Albany that would enable it to raise revenue.

In an effort to expand the city's revenue gathering options, the New Rochelle City Council adopted a resolution supporting state legislation that would allow it to increase taxes on utility services.

Assembly Bill 7745 and Senate Bill 5361 were introduced in Albany to enable New Rochelle to increase taxes on the gross income earned by utility companies from 1 percent to 3 percent.

"This legislation is not a change in our local utility gross receipts rate," said Mayor Noam Bramson. "It is providing New Rochelle with options."

Were the city to increase the tax rate to 3 percent, he said, there would be a net increase of $2.7 million in revenue.

"But we could set it anywhere between 1 percent and 3 percent, or leave it where it is today," Bramson said.

He said, if the city were given the ability to change the rate, that the benefits and drawbacks would be examined in the context of ways to raise revenue for the next budget.

"We are not in a position to judge whether it would be wise or not," Bramson said, until all the choices in creating revenue are weighed against each other.

Councilman Louis Trangucci, R-District 1, said his constituents were concerned with having to absorb another tax increase.

"It's not just hitting homeowners," he said, "but everyone is going to get hit with a utility tax increase."

Bramson said that was a legitimate concern, but raising tax revenue this way could be considered more palatable than a property tax because it would be applied to everyone who uses utilities including nonprofit organizations, and not just to home or business owners.

"The other argument in favor of it," he said, "is that rate payers have some control over the amount of a resource that they consume."

A person could choose to use less electricity or water and mitigate the increase that way, Bramson said.

He said no one is committing to raising the utility tax at this time.

"[We want to] make the best possible decision we can when the time comes in consultation with the people we represent," Bramson said.

Denise Ward May 21, 2011 at 12:02 PM
What a surprise. Look who controls our City Council. Now look who wants to find a way to spend more of our money.
Charles Hipser May 21, 2011 at 02:59 PM
A utility tax is fairer because it affects all users, including commercial. It is also desirable because it encourages conservation. Charles Hipser
Stephen I. Mayo May 22, 2011 at 06:20 AM
Remarkable. All the NR council majority can do is seek ways to raise taxes. Do they spend time monitoring the quality of city services? Helping managers gain greater productivity from our public workforce? Walked from Hudson Park to home today. Seeing New Rochelle "from the ground," not from the comfort of a car gives a new perspective. If my trip had been filmed, the subject might have been titled, "Urban War Zone." From the dilapidated/abused greenhouse overlooking NR Municipal Marina to litter-strewn City Park and pot hole-pocked Pinebrook Boulevard, a neutral observer might conclude our parks/public works departments' budgets had been de-funded and the patrons/travelers on our "byways" to be anti-social clods! Incessant tax increases, over-pensioned public workers, declining city services, vacant storefronts, factory buildings cum empty shells, everything run by a single-party clubhouse masquerading as a city hall. Sound familiar? Like Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo/Rochester/Schenectady/Troy/Newburgh/Yonkers/Newark, Jersey City/Camden/Paterson/Hartford/Bridgeport/New Haven/New London/Mount Vernon? Future basket-case New Rochelle, like the life-support subjects tallied above do not need new taxes or new transactions to tax anew. They just need to attract individuals with enterprises that pay-off in wealth creation and the bounty of tax revenue that necessarily follows. Anything less just staves off disaster. And we have seen where THAT tactic leads.
Reality May 22, 2011 at 09:57 AM
Mr. Mayo have a little optimism please. New Rochelle is a wonderful City, a wonderful community. I too have walked home from Hudson Park, many times and believe that your eyse are closed to the many beautoful sights New Rochelle has to offer. In these challenging economic times that have impactd everyone New Ro also has felt its share of pain, but our City Managet has kept us on a steady keel and moving in a positive directtion. I agree with Mr. Hipser. Having a revenue stream that is share by everyone, not just the homeowner is a welcomed idea, especially if it encourage conservation.
Billy May 23, 2011 at 02:00 PM
This city is great but the taxes are insane, yet you support higher and newly created taxes to solve our problems, why? You need a real dose of reality to hit you if you think New Rochelle is run efficiently and that the homeowner isn't already overtaxed. The city's problems are with out of control spending, not the amount of income that comes in. Where or what has Bramson proposed cutting? NOTHING is my answer. And I think all the tax breaks given to the likes of Cappelli are coming back to haunt us as all these development require services that the properties aren't paying for since they're tax abated.
Stephen I. Mayo May 23, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Sorry civic boosters; New Rochelle was great and has the potential to be great again, but no one who lives OUTSIDE of New Rochelle believes it is great at present. Ask them. Ask real estate brokers, demographers, first-time homebuyers, entrepreneurs looking to start a new business, your friends in Eastchester/Scarsdale/ Larchmont (in an unguarded moment); our town is in serious trouble. Like the UK before Margaret Thatcher cleaned house; we are overtaxed, under served by politicians/bureaucrats and careering to fiscal oblivion thanks to out-of-control local/state operational spending and "legacy costs" (public employe pensions, health benefits and the like). New Rochelle needs an "Iron Lady" (or "Iron Man," for that matter) and the incumbent isn't the one. Despite his considerable intelligence, he doesn't get it. NR will continue to repel creative new residents/businesses that have the ability to fund all the municipal government and educational deliverables that we will ever need until our politicians realize that with all that the feds, state and county try to do, New Rochelle needs only to do a few things very well; keep us safe, maintain our infrastructure and educate our youth.
Theresa Kump Leghorn May 23, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Gotta disagree with you, Mr. Mayo. I moved here from Larchmont myself 20 years ago, and many of my friends from other communities who visit here wish they had moved here, too. New Rochelle attracts plenty of smart, creative, talented people who appreciate the beautiful houses, outstanding public schools and diversity found here. But I do agree that we need better public relations all around. A good start would be for all the naysayers to stop tearing down New Rochelle and instead focus on building it up.
Reality May 23, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Mr. Mayo do you live in New Ro as you seem to have a very negative view of us? You feel that all New Ro has to do very well is keep us safe and educate our youth so you must be happy about that since New Ro does this very well. I have to agree with Ms. Leghorn's points - New Ro attracts smart, creative, talented people who are looking for terrific public schools, a extremely safe City and vibrant, friendly neighborhoods. Yes, Scarsdale, Larchmont and Pelham are wonderful communities too, but none can match the strength of our diversity. According, to the census more people moved to New Ro then any other community in southern Westchester during the past 10 years so it is obvious that those outside of New Ro see how great a community we are, otherwise they wouldn't be moving here in such large numbers.
MollyK May 24, 2011 at 12:25 AM
Thank you Reality. You obviously have the ability to see the glass as half full. New Rochelle has its issues but I believe that the positives far outweigh the negatives. It's unfortunate that some people are so filled with hostility that they don't have the ability to see the glass at all.
newrochellesouth May 24, 2011 at 04:19 AM
Leghorn, MollyK, and Reality is the view from the North looking South. The problem is they can't really see that far from Wykagyl. Mayo took a walk from the south to the north and saw a completely different city. It is the one the majority of New Rochelleans live in.
Reality May 24, 2011 at 04:33 AM
Sorry to burst your bubble newrochellesouth, but I am always looking North. Sorry to further burst your bubble but the majority of us living in New Rochelle happen to think we live in a pretty terrific City regardless what part of town you live in. Your favorite section seems to be Wykagyl but personally I am partial to Sans Souci
Theresa Kump Leghorn May 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM
"newrochellesouth": Stop assuming you know anything about me or what parts of New Rochelle I am familiar with. I happen to be an investor in a business in downtown New Rochelle, and I participate fully in the life of this city, north, south, east and west. It's time for you to stop being so myopic: New Rochelle High School sits at the geographic center of this city, yet you want to ignore the thriving businesses and beautiful residences -- not to mention the taxpayers -- located north of Eastchester Road that contribute to the vibrancy of New Rochelle. You're the one with the vision problem.
newrochellesouth May 24, 2011 at 12:19 PM
Sans Souci is a beautiful neighborhood, unfortunatley I couldn't afford a house there. I understand it is very popular with the private school crowd. My favorite place in New Rochelle is Davenport Park. a true jewel of the City.
newrochellesouth May 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Sorry about being so "myopic". The little I do know about you is that you are a positive force in New Rochelle community life, so thank you for everything you do for the City. However, it doesn't mean we can't disagree on the South/North divide here in New Rochelle. The High School is not the population center of New Rochelle, that is further south, and I think that population center is more important than geographic center when talking about politics and representation. Just look at what the Majority on the City Council did with the South End in the redistricting. If you start at Weyman and make your way to Sans Souci you will cross 4 Council Districts. 3 of these Districts are gerrymandered to produce Council people who are not from the South end. Districts 1 is a west end district, District 4 is a Glenwood Lake/Webster School district and District 3 is the minority district. The only South End district per say is District 2. If you want to understand why the south end feels like it gets the short end of the stick just look at the map. http://www.newrochelleny.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=892 I live in New Rochelle for a reason, it is a great city. But you must agree it does have a few serious issues that need addressing.
Theresa Kump Leghorn May 24, 2011 at 01:10 PM
"newrochellesouth": Every place has serious issues, and New Rochelle is no different. I am not saying it's perfect, just that we can't solve problems when there is so much negative rhetoric and name calling. Saying that north end residents "can't see that far from Wykagyl," for example, is just not fair. And BTW I was just as unhappy with the other redistricting plan, which proposed combining Districts 5 and 6 into one district, which would have meant that residents in the north end would have essentially lost a vote on City Council. I happen to think that voting districts locally and statewide should be drawn on common sense geographic lines, so that political parties would then have a responsibility to put forth proposals and candidates that appeal to the residents of those districts rather than trying to make the districts fit the candidates.
Billy May 25, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Let's try to stay on topic here and the topic at hand is yet another tax, this one is called a utility tax and will be 3% of your ConEd bill. For me that an extra $170 or so the city wants to take from me every year and I say NO THANKS! The city doesn't need more revenue, it needs less expenses and since personel costs probably account for 70% of the expense that's the place where city hall should start. How about the mayor and city council vote to cut something, anything out of the budget? Where are the cost saving, innovative ideas? I don't hear any talk of either of these topics and that's the problem. Does everyone out there know that neither Connecticut or NJ charge sales tax on there utility bills? That's a big chunck of change that most of us are forking out already that the competitiion isn't charging for. You can't double our taxes again over the next 10 years as seems to be the trend, our homes are going to be worthless if the property taxes (city, county & school) continue at the current rate of increase. I only hope this doesn't fly w/the new tax cap laws that are being proposed.
Stephen I. Mayo May 26, 2011 at 12:51 AM
I am afraid the "friendly opposition" to us conservatives is always switching topics because things are just so bad. To be fair, we cannot blame the city hall machine for the regional and national economic doldrums. My chief beef is that, despite the lip service/posturing of their campaign literature and the full-time press -management of their crack public relations executive, the Democrats are so partisan (as reflected in their redistricting scheme, other legislation, pronouncements, and appointments to boards and panels) that they have cut themselves off from alternative approaches to improving city services and making the cuts that are always necessary in an evolving public or private enterprise and an absolute necessity in the present recession.
Reality May 26, 2011 at 08:54 AM
Those of us who have seen our real estate taxes go up over the years know that the homeowner needs help and can no longer afford to carry those who don't to directly pay real estate taxes. Utility taxes are a great and fair way to spread the burden and hold down our real estate taxes by getting everyone to contribute base on usage whether you are a homeowner or a non for profit orgnization that are not required to pay real estate taxes. On a different note I have read in these pages about a North end machine, now Mr. Mayo mentioned a City Hall machine, so may I ask how many machines do we have in New Rochelle?
Billy May 26, 2011 at 03:28 PM
You're delusional if you think this new utility tax on a tenant in a 1 bedroom apartment w/a ConEd bill of $50-$100 is going to do anything to spread the pain that our bloated government creates. As any homeowner will tell you, it cost a lot of money to heat a house, an expense not usually born by the typical tenant so who's really going to foot this bill? The already overtaxed homeowner that's who. If the city really wants/needs to raise money, the only fee/charge that would make things more equitable is a pay as you go system for police and emergency services that the typical homeowner rarely uses but which services to tax abated buildings like the Avalon & Trump and all the non-profits like Iona that cost us all millions annually.
Stephen I. Mayo May 26, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Let's help with a dose of reality for Reality. 1) City Hall is a machine. If you want something done, do one of the following: a)become a Democrat b)become a Republican in Name Only (RINO). Then, wait in line, bud! (it wouldn't hurt to contribute to their reelection). 2) The Northside Confederacy of Districts Designed to be Majority Limousine Liberal Forever (NCDDMLLF) is just a subsidiary of the machine (see 2) above). As to utility taxes spreading the "burden" to renters/non property owners: great! But if you want to spread the "burden" around, do not blindly increase the "burden" of real property owners already paying high taxes with yet another tax! Apply the utility tax to apartment residents only, or give a credit to real property owners.
Reality May 26, 2011 at 06:10 PM
Mr. Mayo I appreciate that you beleieve you are smarter then everyone and like to talk in a codescending aroggant manner to people, but with all due repsect I have known City Manager, Chuck Strome for many years and you should only have half the integrity he has. It is a sad commentary that you feel the need to attack the character of such an honest, hard working individual, I would suggest that you take the time to get to know Chuck like I do and I am sure you would have a different opinion and not accuse him of having City Hall show favoritism. BTW - What are you talking about with this Northside Confederacy of Districts with limousines. I don't know if there are limos in your neighborhood but I can assure you there are none in mine. I don't know your background but I believe a utility tax to apartment residents only might be illegal
Billy L May 26, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Well of course they are going to raise it to 3% if they get that power. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not really thinking clearly. I really feel that mayor Bramson does not care who has to pay more or how much more, as long as more money comes in to feed his agenda. I do not want a new tax but if there absolutely has to be one, I guess this is the lesser of the two evils, because like someone else said everyone will have to foot the bill and not just us homeowners.
Billy May 26, 2011 at 07:46 PM
How much do you think the city will collect on the average renters ConEd bill? It's going to be pocket change compared to 3% of the typical residental heating bill. Do the math and you'll see that yet again the homeowner will be paying the bulk of this new tax.
Billy L May 26, 2011 at 08:15 PM
I have oil heat which I pay for, for myself and my tenants. My tenants are metered separately for their gas and electric usage. We all pay 3% more but it won't be much. Although my situation does not apply exactly because I do not heat via gas or electric, you can well bet that as a landlord any increase in heating costs I would have to bear will directly translate into a rent increase. The only downside is that you can only raise the rent so much. The homeowner gets it stuck to them either way.
Stephen I. Mayo May 27, 2011 at 03:33 PM
My training as an attorney has not led me to knowledge of the thinking of a NY Supreme Court or US District Court judge; I DO know that you can sue over anything, and that the filing of a lawsuit is proof of nothing. I am seeking a more reasonable way to charge residents (both owners and renters) for city services, nothing more. The city manager's competence was not questioned in my post, so why do you raise it? As to limos on the north end; I have seen plenty of limos on the south end, fair enough. The point is that demographics, the geographic shift of population growth southward, justice and equity call for more representation southward also. The Dem majority scheme ignores demographics, geography, justice and equity, and probably "one man, one vote" also. It perpetuates decades-long patterns of favoritism and paternalism by the richer fifth and sixth districts. Have you NOT noticed that homes are bigger and real estate pricier in the northern end of New Rochelle? So why defend it?
Reality May 27, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Mr Mayo I raised your unfair insitution of the Chuck Strome becasue you did raise the issue of his integrity when you wrote the following: 1) City Hall is a machine. If you want something done, do one of the following: a)become a Democrat b)become a Republican in Name Only (RINO). Then, wait in line, bud! (it wouldn't hurt to contribute to their reelection). Maybe you don't know but New Rochelle has a City Manager form of government and as such the City Manager, Chuck Strome is in charge of City Hall. I can assure you that Chuck is not in charge of any machine and will treat any resident with dignity, respect and fairness regardless of their political affiliation and/or beliefs
Stephen I. Mayo May 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM
I am certain that the bureaucrats appreciate your yeoman-like toils on their behalf. My aim is not to castigate public servants who work seriously and honestly, only their political-machine masters. The term "machine" obviously makes you uncomfortable, but "machine" politics is the legacy of Democrat party misrule from Sacramento to Syracuse, Detroit to Chicago to Cleveland to Boston, Bridgeport, New Haven, Paterson, Camden, Jersey City, Albany, the Bronx, Brooklyn and right here in New Rochelle.
Earl Phillips June 16, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Does anyone suppose that Mayor Bramson would not raise the gross receipts tax on utiliities to 3% if the legislature gives him and other democrats on the City Council the power to do so? Of course, they would. Mayor Bramson is a professional politician who depends on spending to advance his career, e.g., ever higher compensation for city employees in return for assistance in his campaigns from the unions government employees are required to join. That, in turn, requires frequent increases in existing taxes and creation of new ones. Despite all the taxes, indeed because of them, New Rochelle is not as pleasant a place as it was 30 years ago. (Among other things, at that time there was back-yard pick-up of garbage.) The may0r and other democrats at all levels of government show us the greed of politicians for other people's money!
Stephen I. Mayo June 16, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Ah yes... the incumbent mayoral office holder promises consultation when a gross receipts tax needs implementation. Sort of like the consultation that followed the Democrat redistricting scheme, I suppose.
Billy June 22, 2011 at 09:25 PM
But he only answers to 1 person!


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