MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – For the second time in as many public hearings, all residents speaking Friday were against Mayor Ernie Davis’ proposed 2013 budget, which would raise taxes by 6.5 percent.
Residents continued to protest the tax increase, holding signs reading “2% or less,” referring to the state-imposed property tax levy cap, which the City Council has voted to override. Cuts were proposed to the public library and the amount set aside for tax refunds to lower the original proposed tax increase of 9.8 percent.
Resident Anita Weiss said that when she first moved to Mount Vernon 40 years ago, she paid $1,200 in taxes. Now, she said, she is paying around $19,000 in taxes per year. A real estate broker for 35 years, Weiss said that it is difficult to sell a house in Mount Vernon, adding that the three she sold recently were 30 percent below market value.
“People don’t want to come to Mount Vernon because it provides little schooling and high taxes,” Weiss said.
Resident Barbara Perry said that as a retired public educator, her pension doesn’t rise as much as the tax increases in the city. Perry, a homeowner in Mount Vernon for 40 years, said the city could do simple things, like cutting expenses, to get below the state-imposed tax levy cap.
“Look at the median income and the unemployment rate in Mount Vernon, because I don’t see how you expect people to pay taxes to close the gap,” Perry said. “We’re going to have more foreclosures, and we cannot have that.”
Resident Lena Williams said she has been retired for six years and is on a fixed income. Williams said that in the past six months, her and her husband’s mortgage has doubled.
Resident Ray Hollingsworth, a Realtor, said that his own taxes have doubled since he bought his house in 2001.
“We have about one-third of every property sold is either short sale or foreclosure,” Hollingsworth said. “The high taxes are contributing to this. Residents have been taxed double, but their income hasn’t doubled.”
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