YONKERS, NY, July 15, 2010 — After three months of often difficult discussions and negotiations, the City Council last night adopted the City's 2010-2011 Budget. Had the Council not adopted this budget, the City was facing the certain prospect of default and municipal bankruptcy within the next two weeks.
Among other things, the council's action was delayed by Albany's own three month delay in adopting a budget as we cannot adopt our budget until we know the levels of State aid we will receive for school and municipal services. The council's vote was also delayed by efforts to come to reasonable agreements with our municipal unions for sacrifices on their part necessary to close the City's budget gap without relying solely on the taxpayers.
While I am happy to report that the Council adopted a balanced budget and the City will avoid default, I must report that the budget includes a 4% property tax increase and an increase of the Income Tax Surcharge from 10 to 15%.
My vote for this budget was not lightly or happily taken. Unfortunately, with sales tax, real estate transfer tax and other revenues the City depends upon down dramatically in the recession, the only other option would have been to cut service levels to a point where the City would not function. As it is, the budget included cuts to every department in City Hall and the Schools, cuts that will, unfortunately be felt by school families, seniors and all citizens.
To most of you the lack of proper sanitation service over the last two weeks has been the most obvious sign of the budget problems.
Please know that the budget which we adopted last night provides the funds necessary to bring back two day a week garbage pick up. It also provides the funds necessary to reopen the firehouse on Warburton Avenue that was closed last week.
The rejection was, apparently, based on the decision by the Mayor and Public Works Commissioner to return to two day a week pick up but to also lengthen each individual truck's daily route. Despite the fact that the number and size of routes is clearly a management decision based on your needs, the Union rejected the City's proposal because it would not let the union leadership determine the number and length of routes.
The money, your money, is now there to restore twice a week sanitation and proper fire protection. The ball is now squarely in the Union leadership's court. The Unions now have to step up and make sacrifices like you are making to get us through this recession. Continuing their job action and, frankly, punishing you by their refusal to contribute to solving this crisis must not be an option.
I urge you to reach out to the Union leaders, Edward Doyle, Jr. of Teamsters Local 456 (914) 592-9500 and Jose Caraballo of Firefighters Local 628 (914) 476-1200 and urge them to do right by the citizens and taxpayers of Yonkers.
John Murtagh is the Yonkers City Council Minority Leader (5th District).