Cut Taxpayers Some Slack Over 2% Insurance Law, Not Fire Union
By Mayor MIKE SPANO

Hezi Aris Community, Emergency Services, Finance, Governance, History, Law, Letter to the Editor, Op-Ed, People, Politics, Westchester County, NY, Yonkers, NY 26 Comments

Yonkers’ 42nd Mayor Mike Spano with Yonkers City Hall seen in the background.

A recent editorial urging reform of the law that specifies how the Yonkers Fire Fighters Union — as well as others around the state — can spend a 2 percent tax on insurance premiums was on target except for one thing: There is no reason to “cut the union some slack” because it claims ignorance of a 1912 law that says Yonkers can only spend the money on indigent and disabled firefighters.

It appears the union was well aware of the law all along; as recently as 1981 it went to court in an attempt to stop the fire officers union from getting a share of the funds. This followed a 1962 change in the law, requested by the union, to reaffirm the union’s control over the funds. In both instances, it was made clear that the Yonkers 2 percent funds can only be spent for indigent or disabled firefighters. Far from being a musty, century-old statute unknown to the union, it turns out the union has twice turned to the courts and state Legislature to secure its exclusive hold on the funds.

Now, taxpayers face two questions:

• What will happen to the more than $2 million in tax proceeds the union has stockpiled since 2016 when the State Comptroller began an audit, yet to be completed, of the funds?
• Will the governor sign a law passed on the last day of the state Legislature’s session that would legitimize the union’s practice of spending the money as it pleases?

Yonkers residents and businesses pay this 2 percent tax every time they purchase a policy from an insurance company whose headquarters are out of state. It can amount to more than $500,000 a year. The only accountability has been a one-page form filed by the union. The latest one available, from 2012, says the union spent nearly $64,000 on salaries and administration. Whose salaries, and what administration? They spent more than $11,000 on coffee, and approximately $8,000 on public relations and newsletters. Were these political expenditures? If so, using taxpayer dollars for them is not appropriate. There is no detail to explain these expenditures, nor any annual audits. Another $43,000 is ascribed to “good and welfare” with no additional explanation.  What we don’t see is a single dollar spent on indigent or disabled firefighters.

The $2 million in taxpayer funds that have accumulated since the comptroller began examining the union’s improper expenditures need to go back to the taxpayer. Cutting the union some slack just rewards improper behavior.

Just as important, future tax proceeds should be paid to the City of Yonkers, so that we can use that money for actual fire safety expenses.

The Yonkers union says it wants to be able to use the taxpayer funds as many other departments around the state do — to pay the portion of medical co-pays that are not already covered by health insurance, for gym memberships, prescription co-pays, and similar expenses. But the union’s record in this regard is suspect — beginning with the fact that they spend so much on un-itemized administrative expenses that have nothing to do with these benefits, not to mention the spending on public relations, dinner dances, etc.

A 2013 audit of another benefit fund administered by the Yonkers Fire Fighters Union — a fund 100 percent paid by the city to the tune of $800,000 per year and meant to provide specified health and welfare benefits — found missing records, evidence of improper payments, and a lack of basic accounting.

These are taxpayer dollars. If anything, we need to cut the taxpayer some slack. The way to do that is for the state comptroller to freeze the accumulated funds and for the state Legislature to pass real reforms that allocate these dollars to benefit the public in the form of fire safety.

Mike Spano is City of Yonkers Mayor.

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Hezi ArisCut Taxpayers Some Slack Over 2% Insurance Law, Not Fire Union
By Mayor MIKE SPANO

Comments 26

  1. Yonkers Fire Dept. Remember the Song it's a Quarter to Four ?

    The back door swindles are no more.
    Since when does a Fire Dept Union, tell “the City”; what to do ?
    How does Yonkers Fire Dept Union not endorsing Liam, become a legal issue ?
    That is what is going on here, right ?
    Fire thinks it is retribution ? right ?
    Who got the grease in the past to look the other way on all this Money being given
    to the Fire Department Union?
    That is the obvious conclusion – collusion.

    Witch Hunt Our Ass

    1. Truth

      come on the article clearly states it was known in 2012 and 2013….. fast forward we are in 2017.

      why did it take so long to go public? it was kept a secret because there was a deal ….no deal means retribution in Yonkers. City Hall looks worst to me than YFD for letting it go on for so long.

  2. SpaNO

    So let me see if I get this right……

    Spano wrote: “The Yonkers 2 percent funds can only be spent for indigent or disabled firefighters.”

    If Spano is so concerned about the disabled FF’s, then why is he and the city violating contractual law by cutting The COY’s 207-A in half thus forcing nearly 50 disabled FF’s to sue The COY???????

    This is nothing but political retribution because the winds are not blowing in favor for the Spano Clan and the Carrot Top Clan for this coming election.

    Get out the popcorn……..

    Make no mistake, Spano is all about Spano.

    Crime Inc……..

  3. Hold on here a minute

    Wait one minute. If the collective bargaining agreement funds the care of indigent or disabled firefighters, why are they (Local 628) receiving 2% of the cost of my insurance? Reduce my insurance cost by 2%!!!!

  4. Let's Spend The Money Together

    Now with a combination of this so called $2 Million Dollar stockpile of funds, along with the 3 Million Dollars set aside by the developer of the Ridge Hill Development, maybe they can finally build that New Fire Station up at Ridge Hill and have enough money to fund the additional truck company that was originally being planned. Let’s here what both Mayor Spano and Local 628 has to say about this?

    1. Same old Yonkers

      No need for any more fire stations in Yonkers. A full cost analysis of the efficiency of all the fire house locations is needed. There was never any firehouse planned for Ridge Fill my pockets. Amicon may have promised that along with Nicky, but that was just more smoke (pun intended) and mirrors to ram that ill paying project through.
      GPS should be put on all trucks to actually assess the value for money the YFD is or is not.
      A look at any fire or emergency incident in Yonkers and you’ll see none of it is properly managed. Back to Spano again. No one minding the store.

    1. Own it

      There’s a bigger problem here !!!! Why wasn’t this addressed sooner? If this is accurate why wasn’t it brought out when YFD recieved new contract in 2015. As soon as 628 agrees to endorse carrot top this story with be just that a story!

  5. taxed out

    There is a simple fix to this problem. Eliminate the tax. Why should there only be a tax on out of state insurance companies. This tax is only being passed down to policy holders. Since the tax was originally designated for indigent FFs, that is no longer the case
    since they are all covered by a pension system, even volunteers. Save the policy holders some money and eliminate the tax.

  6. Family network, they have no friends# remember that

    Bye bye Liam and take the Spano Clan with you. The best thing for this rotten corrupt city is for the Spano’s to move out.

  7. Miggsy

    Spano’s should get off his bandwagon and start cutting his family and friends job network, local 628 has done what the law required in regards to the 2% monies. Why should the city be entitled to those funds, all Spano’s would do with the money is increase the family job network.

    1. Mandates

      You are an absolute fool. The voters put Mike Spano in office in an outright mandate. It is not up to Crooked Barry and Local 628 to decide where tax payer should and shouldn’t be allocated. Enjoy prison Barry because that is where I predict you will be in 5 years. The voters support Mike Spano giving out patronage. Get over it.

      1. Slobberdown

        No they don’t it’s just they are so under-educated that don’t have a clue. Simple as that.
        Heard 3 women on the Metro North last week discussing Spano and Yonkers. They were saying that he gives all jobs to family and cousins and nieces and nephews and friends. I wish I had recorded the conversation. It was priceless and true. So everybody knows the story it’s just North Korea consequences for challenging it.

        So get back to your slobberin.

  8. Lifelong Yonkers

    If YFD was smart, they would elect a Spano their union president. That way they could abuse any and all perks that the rest of that leech family takes advantage of while they run the city. Let’s cut the crap-either you’re part of them and you can do whatever you want, or you’re not part of them and then they come after you and try and ruin your career and reputation.

  9. Givemeabreak

    Oh shut up spano dunce. Who wrote this for you ? Gilmartin ? HS dropout You can’t put two coherent thoughts together let alone an editorial like this. Let’s be clear – the only reason you want this fund is to get your family’s dirty hands on it – so you can hire more friends s and family like goomadas and cousins. YFD will ultimately beat you – AGAIN – they always do. So just stop with the boloney and go take a payment under the table as usual.

  10. Make Spano County Executive

    Mayor Mike Spano is victorious in his battle with the once undefeatable Barry McGoey. Barry McGoey thought he could buy Mike Spano off with help on his campaigns, BUT Mike spano is not like the rest of these crooked politicians. Mike spano is a great mayor who cannot be bought off by ANY individual or entity. Fat John is finished from his battle with the mayor. The Mayor did not even engage him yet he has still royally defeated him. Fat John try to get a police escort now Haha

  11. say what !

    this was discovered in 2012 & 2013? We are now in 2017! why now ? why are we hearing about this for the first time? why now ? is this story true? is this a political payback because 628 won’t confirm endorsement of CCP ? even if it is just shows the shit that goes on and is covered up from the public.
    if any of this is true, it only proves that the CCP is full of shit and Mayor covered it up for 3 years. 628 shame on you if this is true.

  12. Louis Bousche

    Retired FF for over 29 years and served on the board of 628 for 12 of those years. During my time on the board we had annual audits from the IRS and never once did a red flag pop up. Just like anyone else in the political arena if a law is antiquated it should be changed and that is why our top legislative reps are doing that and instituting a new bill so that money that is designated for FF goes to FF. Not Politicians. It is money that is saved to taxpayers not costing taxpayers. Please this is to me a means of attacking our well deserved FF and those that stand behind this claim of Taxpayer money should be admonished. I am a taxpayer and believe this is a witchunt.

  13. Zip it Spano

    Nope, this is once again smoke and mirrors from a politician. This “levy” is another form of the stealth taxes which this republican mayor loves.
    All monies should be used to fix the disgraceful roads in Yonkers. Let’s not forget that we all use the roads. Over half of the budget goes to 12.5% of the population in terms of education. The roads are allocated peanuts.
    It’s all part of the Yonkers mantra going back to Spender. “The state does not give Yonkers enough money”, which has been a policy to extort more money from Albany and allow our local yokels off the hook.
    Not so fast. I could care less about all of the union workers in Yonkers as they are all over paid and underworked due to the lack of any management at all. Spano is currently responsible for all of this. So politely Mike Shut up and do your job.

    1. taxpayer means nothing here

      We have a mayor with no accountability for his department heads.
      Top pay, obscene amount of overtime being paid yet our streets look like crap. Everyone is buying houses (NOT in YONKERS) and sending their kids to private schools. Yet taxpayers have to live week to week.

      1. Ahmed

        You are absolutely right Yonkers is nothing but a cesspool, try strolling down by the river at night. The schools are a disgrace, crime is rampant and Spano’s and the YPD keep the crimes under reported, take a ride to the east side of the city – it’s disgusting. Hey Mike keep going to all those free dinners you look like…

      2. sad

        absolutely correct!!! Most of us have just turned a blind eye to the corruption because we are embarrassed to tell anyone that we actually live in Yonkers. Everybody… I mean everybody knows the score here. Family and friends with little or no formal education, earning in the hundreds of thousands of dollars…. and unfortunately, that does not exclude the girlfriends who, with little else but a willing smile and cooperative nature will collect years of high salaries and super pensions with little actual work…. (sitting down at least) All this at our expense. Yet, even this blog, is afraid to call out the names of the most obvious.

        Add to this taxpayer abuse, the double dealing and the “do business with my family (especially my felon brother) or we will make life (difficult) for you….. Even News 12 is known as the Spano news network…. Like anybody with a modicum of connection in the city doesn’t know that a certain news person will say or report ANYTHING the Spanos tell them to report. The only hope we have is that one day somebody talks and this whole things come crashing down….

        and btw… Is any reasonable thinking person totally comfortable in the thought that our two previous school heads were corrupt????

        One who was a lifetime trusted employee all of a sudden was a thief of millions???? and the other who worked a professional life in education, all of a sudden wasn’t in control of himself and used a company credit card for porn on a SCHOOL computer???? really…. like we all think that both these things actually happened the way the shitty hall described????? MMMMMMM

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