CITY OF NEWBURGH – Owners of commercial properties in Newburgh would see the largest increase in city taxes under a $45.8 million budget proposal for next year.
The 2019 budget proposal City Manager Michael Ciaravino released this week calls for a 7.1 percent tax levy increase. That translates into a rate hike of $1.85 per $1,000 in assessed value on commercial properties and just under 50 cents for residential properties, according to the comptroller’s office.
City taxes on a commercial property assessed at $250,000 would rise by roughly $463 a year, and on a residential property of the same value, by $125.
“It is so outrageous that this continues,” said Michael Gabor, who co-owns Newburgh Art Supply and the Grand Street building whose first floor houses the business. “Anything you do to raise taxes on the businesses or the residents is continuing to step on your own toes.”
Newburgh has avoided significant increases in its tax bills in the past few years, providing some relief to residential and commercial property owners stung by large hikes in 2010 and 2011.
This year’s budget included a 1 percent hike in the commercial property tax rate and a 9 cent reduction in the residential rate.
But spending would increase by $1.1 million in next year’s budget.
In addition to rising health-care costs, new expenses include the cost to keep three firefighters who were among a dozen set to be laid off once a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency ran out.
Newburgh received another grant to cover salaries for nine of the 12 positions, but the City Council voted to fold salaries and benefits for the other three into the city’s budget.
In April, former Comptroller Kathryn Mack estimated that funding three firefighters would cost the city $270,000 between Aug. 1 this year and July 31, 2019. Through the end of 2021, the three firefighters would cost the city $983,000 under that estimate.
In addition, the three-year grant requires a city match of 25 percent during the first two years and 65 percent the third year, unless FEMA grants a waiver.
“I don’t like a tax increase; I don’t think anybody ever does,” said former Mayor Nick Valentine, who owns a tailor business on Broadway. “But you know the situation that we’re in here; we have more needs than we can get income for until we get more tax ratables.”