Mayor talks up prosperous future for BX, city taxpayers in budget speech

Tax-free shopping and lower property taxes are a few changes Bronx and city taxpayers have to look forward to, according to the mayor's budget speech Thursday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-NYC) outlined the $57.1 billion 2008 fiscal year budget at City Hall. The 2008 budget includes more than $1.2 billion in tax cuts in the form of property taxes and the elimination of all sales tax on clothing. The plan also sets aside $500 million for a trust fund created last year to pay health benefits for retired city employees. The mayor wants to improve security, and he is calling for $2 billion to be allocated to schools in the coming years.

The tax cuts were spurred by a $3.9 billion budget surplus from the 2007 fiscal year, which ends June 30. The billionaire mayor says New Yorkers who sacrificed when he raised taxes deserve relief. However, Bloomberg plans to carry about $1.4 billion of the surplus into the next fiscal year, saying it's best to plan for future problems.

The City Council and mayor must hammer out the details of the plan before releasing a finalized budget.

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