« Mortgage market post Fannie/Freddie | Main | Own your reputation on line »

Property tax levied by the village on a typical Bronxville home is now $43,000 annually. Upper middle class ?

The property tax levied by the village on a typical Bronxville home is now $43,000, up 34 percent in the last five years, although the increase was negligible in the last two years as the mayor, the village trustees and school board members responded to their middle class constituents' concerns.

"I don't think we have seen an antitax uprising, but holding down property taxes is certainly spoken about a lot," said Dr. James D. Hudson, the 54-year-old school board president, a dentist with two children in the high school. He is often buttonholed on the subject, he said, at cocktail and dinner parties or while shopping.

"Their concern is that their taxes will continue to spiral up if we continue to do business as usual," said Dr. Hudson. "If you will, we are looking to develop a lean, mean education machine."

Lean and mean were rarely invoked in the past as a goal for America's wealthiest suburbs -- nearby Scarsdale, for example, Shaker Heights on the outskirts of Cleveland, Brookfield and River Hills near Milwaukee, and Greenwood Village in Colorado. Now that talk is commonplace, and it showed up in interviews with officials and in these communities, where property taxes have often risen by 4 or 5 percent a year.

In Bronxville, 86 percent of the typical $43,000 property tax levied by the village goes to the school system, particularly to educate the growing grade school population. For the parents of these children -- moving here in many cases from New York City -- $43,000 is less than they would spend to put two or three children in a private school.

Adding to the pressure, younger couples, including the Pulkkinens, are buying their homes from empty-nesters, who often sell to escape the rising tax burden. Mary C. Marvin, the mayor, says this exodus is accelerating.

For decades, she noted, many older people remained in their homes after their children were grown. In a village covering one square mile, with a static population of 6,400 people, the elderly once constituted nearly 20 percent, but that proportion is steadily dropping. Most important, these empty-nesters paid substantial property taxes without swelling the school population.

"You want the taxes to be something these older people can pay," said Mayor Marvin, 56, who is married to a lawyer and whose full-time position is unpaid, "because when they sell, they sell to families with children, and the children cost more to educate than the taxes their parents pay."

The eldest McBride is a former village trustee, a former governor of the local hospital and an elder in the Reformed Church. All this holds the couple in Bronxville. But their property taxes of $50,000 a year just to the village, and $10,000 more to the broader township, concern them.

"The tax burden is significant enough," Mr. McBride said, "that if it took a jump in the next couple of years, I would probably feel forced to move."

He doesn't fault Mayor Marvin or Dr. Quattrone who, in his view, have managed costs well. Instead, like Mr. Pulkkinen, Mr. McBride directs his ire at teacher compensation and at the teachers' union, the Bronxville Teachers' Association.

Until the teachers agreed to a partial wage freeze for the current school year, their pay had been rising at 3 to 3.5 percent a year. A typical teacher with a master's degree and 30 years of service makes nearly $118,000 today. That teacher is entitled to retire with an $80,000 state pension, or 67.5 percent of his or her final salary.

In a Wealthy Suburb, Concern Over School Taxes
Published: March 8, 2011
Even in Bronxville, N.Y., where typical income is high, a look at the property tax trajectory has residents worried.

[ Via ]


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)