Pomona residents behind tax hike

April 29, 2008 4:54:13 PM PDT
Here is something you don't hear very often. A huge tax increase has been approved by a village in Rockland county. It is a 70 percent increase, and the residents are happy about.The extra money will be used to fight a Jewish congregation's attempt to build a Rabbinical college.

It's happening in Pomona. Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis has the story.

Joanne Kennedy's taxes are going way up. But believe it or not, she doesn't mind.

"Sometimes, you have pay for what you get," she said. "And I just feel that it's worth it to keep the area beautiful."

She's not alone. The Pomona Village Board has voted to increase property taxes a whopping 70 percent, largely with the support of residents. The main reason is legal fees, as the village fights the establishment of a Rabbinical college at the intersection of routes 202 and 306.

"It's going to create a lot more population," resident Norvy Elliot said. "It's going to put a strain on everything."

So far, the village has paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars to try and have the lawsuit dismissed. If it isn't, things could get really expensive.

"This is the tip of the iceberg," attorney Paul Savad said.

Savad represents the college. He says Pomona has been changing its zoning laws ever since the Congregation Tartikov purchased the 130-acre site in 2005. The group says it needs the facility to serve the growing Orthodox and Hassidic population in Rockland County. Savad says Pomona's actions, such as allowing only an accredited college, are unconstitutional.

"I understand they don't want their lifestyle changed, but this is the United States of America," he said. "People of different religions and different races have the right to congregate."

The lawsuit is still still pending, with residents willing to keep spending.