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Many Hudson Valley Residents Mired In 'Affordability Crisis,' Study Says

Brandon Muir, executive director of Reclaim New York
Brandon Muir, executive director of Reclaim New York Photo Credit: Provided

A new study has concluded what others have complained about for years: That a wide range of Hudson Valley residents are financially unstable and struggling to pay bills and save money.

Reclaim New York released its report on Tuesday, concluding that across virtually all income levels, residents in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties "are struggling to save for the future and achieve financial stability."

The report, which can be accessed by clicking here, details the cost of government for residents down to the zip-code level.

“The cost of government is driving up the cost of living for Lower Hudson Valley residents causing a widespread savings crisis,” Reclaim New York Executive Director Brandon Muir said in a press statement. “The affordability crisis impacts everything we do from deciding when to start a family, to growing a business, to buying a home."

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said he agreed with the study's conclusions: "This is exactly what I've been saying about how hard it is to live in New York."

"It's why I've gone six straight years without raising the county tax levy in Westchester, with the county spending less money today than it was in 2010 when I was first elected," Astorino told Daily Voice on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, Albany refuses to acknowledge the difficulty of getting by in New York and year in and year out, it makes things worse. Something has to give."

Reclaim NY's Muir added: “From the nickel-and-diming of the MTA tax, to property taxes that are more than four times the national average, people living in the Hudson Valley are barely above water after paying for the basics. Millennials are getting crushed, families don’t have reserves, personal debt is increasing, and seniors face an uncertain future.”

The study notes that New Yorkers pay nearly 200 different taxes levied by more than 3,000 government entities, including the second highest state income tax, the second highest gasoline tax and some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

In the cases analyzed, income taxes cost residents as much as 40 percent of income, the report concluded, while property taxes can cost as high as 25 percent of a resident’s earnings. Transportation expenses cost 10 to 22 percent of income.

Other findings in this week's report include:

-- A family in Tarrytown only has 6 percent of its $78,227 local median annual income left for credit card debt, or childcare, after taxes and basic expenses.

-- Recent college graduates in the Jefferson Valley area are left with just 4 percent of their income after taxes and basic living expenses, and before credit card and student loan debt.

-- A couple earning the median household income in Pound Ridge has to save an estimated $329,991 just to pay property tax bills between retirement and age 85.

-- A married couple in the City of Rye, earning the median income of $158,281 is left with just 10 percent to pay down debt.

-- A family earning double the median income in Yorktown Heights ends up with as little as 12 percent left to save, pay down debt or invest.

-- Median income earners in Mount Vernon, making $40,492 annually, end the year in the red unless they add debt or cut back on basic expenses.

-- In Yonkers, a median income earning family at $45,893 per year can only save 1 percent of earnings after city and state income tax, as well as one of the highest local sales tax rates.

-- A Nyack family making $80,795, almost Rockland County's median income, is left with just 16 percent of their income after taxes and basic expenses. Families in Pearl River earning the local median income of $99,741 only have 8 percent left.

-- In Beacon, a family of four, earning $75,979 (slightly above Dutchess County's median income) will only save 7 percent after their taxes and basics. A median income family in Poughkeepsie is left with just 2 percent of their incomes.

Reclaim New York is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to advancing a statewide, grassroots conversation about the future of New York, its economy, and its people.

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