West New York faces tax hike

February 9, 2009 4:03:58 PM PST
There is a lot of talk about the astronomical economic problems, including multi-billion-dollar deficits and a trillion-dollar bailout. But now the problems of one small town - West New York -- with a down-to-earth but daunting $15 million deficit are emerging. And those who live there are paying the price, in the form of higher property taxes.

The announcement arrived in the mail a week ago, in black and white and a bold-type in blue: "Unfortunately, your new total tax levy is 27 percent higher than last year."

West New York is facing a $15.5 million budget gap, and the town's municipal administrator, Joseph McConnell, says the burden is on the backs of the roughly 16,000 property owners.

One taxpayer says the hike took her property taxes from $11,500 per year to $16,400, and she, like others, is angry.

McConnell says the tax deficit has been growing for years, part mismanagement of the town's money, part under-funded budgets from years past that have come calling.

To get the finances back in check, West New York has ordered a hiring reeze, job cuts and layoffs, and the town is trying to re-negotiate union contracts and restructure the police department.

McConnell says the town's goal is to hang on to the increase for only about a year, to pay off the $15.5 million shortfall. Wwhen the debt is satisfied, he said, on top of the smaller government, West New York hopes to hand its homeowners a tax cut for the following year.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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