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Westchester Communities Slashing Services While Begging For Budget Relief

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Money graphic. (Credit: AP)

Money graphic. (Credit: AP)

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WHITE PLAINS (CBS 2) — Property taxes in another northern suburb were headed up Thursday night as stressed out municipalities try to keep things running with less money.

CBS 2’s Lou Young has more on the relentless budget battle in White Plains.

Two new mayors commiserated Thursday on the event of another tax hike, as New Rochelle Mayor Noah Bramson met with Mayor Tom Roach of White Plains. Mayor Roach said he expects a property tax increase to pass his council Thursday night because he’s out of wiggle room.

“Our spending is down this year, and was down the prior year,” he said. “The money is going to pension and healthcare.”

Programs like the city’s Youth Jobs Bureau were taking cuts, slashing available summer jobs for teens, even as taxes rose nearly five percent – which was far less than was originally proposed.

“When you look at where we could’ve been, and where we are, I think that everyone realized that it’s a fairly reasonable increase,” White Plains Councilman John Martin said.

The average homeowner in White Plains will pay an extra $123, on top of a school budget hike, which brings an average property tax bite of almost $11,000. Residents said talks of a statewide cap on tax hikes sounded great.

“I’m living on a fixed income,” resident Bob Gardella said. “Living in Westchester, especially White Plains, is very difficult.”

As the state hammered out a tax cap deal in Albany, the downstate mayors were looking for some relief on the worker benefit packages they are compelled to pay.

“The vice strikes us because there are many costs, including some of our principle costs, that are simply outside of our local control,” Mayor Bramson said. “They are imposed upon us by Albany.”

The vote for the White Plains tax increase was scheduled for later Thursday night, while New Rochelle votes later this year. The one bit of good news was that rising sales tax revenues from a recovering economy may make the pressure from that vice a little less intense next year.

A deal to cap property tax hikes at 2 percent has an exception in it for pension costs, which critics said means it isn’t really a two percent cap at all.

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