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Yonkers Running Out Of Time To Close Budget Gap, Avoid Fiscal Crisis

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBS 2) — In New York’s fourth largest city, the budget crisis is so severe that there has been talk of a state takeover.

Rescue talks in Yonkers are going down to the wire, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.

The leaders of all four municipal unions showed up at city hall Wednesday for an emergency meeting – a desperate attempt to pull Yonkers back from the brink.

It’s a last-ditch effort to plug a money gap so serious that the city council members came within one vote of requesting a state takeover.

“We didn’t have anyplace else to turn,” Yonkers Council President Chuck Lesnick said. “The taxpayers have been tapped enough, the state wasn’t giving us more. We were desperate.”

A mess by any fiscal standard, the state has seized control of Yonkers finances twice since 1975.

This year, the city is facing a $42 million budget deficit, and residents are howling over resulting school cuts.

The mayor wants to restructure some debt, but the city council has attached conditions that could amount to a 10-year wage freeze. Union lobbyists were already on their way to Albany to kill the bill Wednesday.

“This is not going to pass the Assembly, and it’s not going to pass the Senate,” Keith Olsen, of the Yonkers PBA, said. “They’ve attached something to this bill that’s going to sink it.”

On Wednesday, the unions were trying to work out a giveback package that would plug part of the budget hole. Albany has only nine more working days left this session to help Yonkers borrow the rest of the money.

Yonkers has already issued more than 700 layoff notices to school employees.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • iviomxo

    Yonkers is the city of hills where nothing is on the level. This mayor has brought businesses to Yonkers with sweetheart deals that include no school taxes. How can this be right? These business will provide only minimal tax revenue(estimated at about $24 million in sales and income tax) and provide low wage jobs. It is the property tax and school tax we need from these huge complexes and retailers. This mayor and several council members do not send their children to public schools. They are not full fledged stakeholders in our public school system. They are willing to blame the unions for the whole financial mess though! Shame. It seems every year, Yonkers is on the brink of some sort of disaster. Many years it has turned out to be the boy crying wolf as some superhero comes up with dollars to turn the situation around at the 11th hour. This year I am afraid the wolf is really here.

  • Parent of Public School kids

    The City Council’s plan is an obvious attempt to AVOID having a control board imposed by Albany. This is a big shift in direction for the Republican Council members, to not blindly follow the Mayor, but it is rather common nationally, so the unions should pay attention and try to work this out. YFT members must signal to their leaders that bending is better than breaking; their colleagues’ jobs are on the line.
    The other unions must be realistic: Yonkers is broke. Everyone has to give a little….and police officers making 130 K in overtime can certainly stand to give a LOT. Read yesterday’s article in the Journal News:

    We cannot expect different results unless we walk different paths. Come November, thousands of voters will be in support of those Council members who united across party lines in a ground-breaking effort to turn us away from the cliff.

  • iggy

    it is always the workers fault. stop their raises. gas goes up, rent, electricity water but not wages. then they want to raise taxes and fees and parking and fares and then the workers gotta feed the illegals. when does it stop? the answer is easy but there is no one with the nerve to say it… ban the illegals. don’t pay for education or health and food. when they have had enough, they’ll go home. they are a drain on the whole nations resources. no one will admit. sorry but it is the obvious truth.

  • James Brady

    This is just more inept handling of the Yonkers budget. From the administration to the council, they try to solve problems by creating new ones. Neither the council nor the mayor are willing to have meaningful meetings with union leaders. The mayor has finally met with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association after three months of repeated requests. Their motto seems to be bad legislation is better than no legislation.

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