YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — More budget pain is ahead for Westchester County’s largest city. However, the mayor of Yonkers said Monday the school system can’t handle additional cuts, so he’s shifting the burden of an $89 million budget gap.
Mayor Mike Spano was all business as he dropped the budget bombshell. Layoffs are coming, but for the first time in recent memory in this city, the largest part of the budget — the schools — will be left alone, reported CBS 2’s Lou Young.
“Education will not be touched. We will cut on the municipal side,” said Spano, a Democrat.
Yonkers schools have taken massive budget hits two years running, but Spano promised to end that practice and he has, at the expense of police officers and firefighters whose union reps are stunned.
“It’ll be 30 layoffs and seven demotions. That’s a big hit in a department with 610 members,” said Det. Keith Olson, president of the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association. “It’s 30 layoffs to a department that really needs another 200 police officers.”
It also means the loss of two out of 18 fire companies. As the budget knife falls elsewhere for a change, School Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio seemed as surprised as everyone else.
“It’s a change in approach, obviously, to the way it’s been done historically in this city,” Pierorazio said.
With this, his first budget, Mayor Spano said he is adamant that from now on the fiscal pain will be spread more evenly.
“Everybody is taking a haircut here and it’s fair and, frankly, that’s what the taxpayers want,” Spano said.
You can expect a lot of behind-the-scenes horse trading between now and June, when the budget is finalized and departments try to save their jobs. However, with the news that education is off the table the cuts will have to come from somewhere and in the end some of the jobs will have to go.
Yonkers residents Young spoke to suggested previous school cuts have already done too much damage. The city is hoping to restore some of the money cut last year, but expect enrollment increases will make it hard to rehire laid-off teachers.
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