By Mark Gerlach
The City of Newburgh came to a fork in the road pertaining to its 2017 budget this week – distribute a tax increase among homestead and non-homestead properties, or dish out a sizeable increase to non-homestead properties, while homesteads would receive a tax decrease. The city council ultimately chose the former by a close 4-3 vote.
The decision followed a lengthy discussion, while the council decided which path to travel down.
“Everybody on this council that I’ve talked to believe the taxes are too high,” Mayor Judy Kennedy said at the Nov. 28 meeting. “And some of us are very much struggling to pay our own taxes.”
The chosen route, dubbed “Resolution A,” includes a $19.66 tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation for homestead properties, an increase of 13 cents or 0.68 percent from 2016. The non-homestead tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation is $26.13, an increase of 30 cents or 1.16 percent from 2016. In this scenario, taxes on a $200,000 property would increase $26.45 for homestead for an estimated total of about $3,932, and $59.70 for non-homestead for an estimated total of about $5,226.
Council members voting for the “Resolution A” path included Kennedy, as well as Regina Angelo, Genie Abrams and Karen Mejia.
“Homeowners, since the economic crisis in 2008, have lost services, have paid higher taxes on property, in addition to the fact that we do have a large senior community and those seniors are homeowners. They are longtime stakeholders in this community,” Councilman Torrance Harvey said. “They have complained to me in large numbers that they cannot afford an increase in their homeowner’s taxes. Seniors are being priced out of our community. Elderly are being priced out of our community by raising taxes on their homes that they’ve owned for 20, 30 and 40 years.”
Harvey and council members Cindy Holmes and Hillary Rayford shot down “Resolution A.” The city’s total 2017 budget is $62 million, with $44 million in its general fund. The city’s budget is under the state’s tax cap mandate, which is 2 percent, or the rate of inflation.
To read the full article see the Friday, Dec. 2 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.