YONKERS, NY, July 10, 2010 — The Yonkers City Council Special Meeting called to order for Friday, July 9, 2010 was convened for assembly today, July 10, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. The Yonkers City Council Chamber was again filled to standing capacity. Protocol demanded the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. It was collectively recited and today earned unexpected applause from all gathered. Upon being recognized by Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick, Yonkers City Council Majority Leader Patricia McDow focused everyone’s attention to item four on the agenda. Item four is listed as a “Special Ordinance Adopting FY 2011 Budget".
Councilwoman Joan Gronowski (3rd District) was first to speak on the issue. She said, “I’ve spoken about these issues for years. No matter the total sum of the savings, whether small or large, once added up, they become significant. It would set a proper tone for the city. I don’t believe we’ve made all the necessary cuts. I believe you don’t spend what you don’t have,” concluded Ms Gronowski to the accompaniment of vibrant applause.
As the applause died down, Mr Lesnick recognized Yonkers Public School (YPS) Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio and invited him to the lectern to address the Yonkers City Council’s Special Meeting. Mr Pierorazio's face exposed great concern. His easy smile was lost upon his face advising that based upon the 6,000 vetoes exacted by New York State Governor David Paterson, the Yonkers Public Schools now faces an additional shortfall of $36.8 million. The gubernatorial action signed last week, unlikely to be soon remedied by the absent State Legislature, has exacted a shocking toll. Transportation of all students, including parochial schools, except those designated for Special Needs Students, will be eliminated at a savings of $23 Million. When initially insituted under the Yonkers Desegregation Settlement, 90 percent of transportation costs were reimbursed to Yonkers by the State. Today, the reimbursement would have been valued at only 40 percent. The entire Pre-K program will be elimated for an additional savings of $6.6 Million. The Fund Balance valued at $7.5 Million will be expunged. These measures are on top of the already laid off 218 teachers, administrators and support staff due to previous cuts in state funding that total more than $20 Million.
Mr Pierorazio will present the additional cuts to the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees for immediate adoption.
The in your face presentation by Mr Pierorazio was the catalyst for the standard vitriole of placing blame of the Albany Delegation not doing enough to gain additional funding from Albany. Ms McDow challenged Mr Pierorazio’s assertion by stating, “In these difficult times, each of our delegates are doing all that can be done." Councilmember Dennis Shepherd insinuated himself into the exchange by admonishing Assemblyman Pretlow for not doing enough for Yonkers and not caring about our city.
Minority Leader John Murtagh was in such a state of shock, or so he said, that he wanted to postpone the Special Meeting to another time in order that everyone could absorb the enormity of the news.
Ms McDow wouldn’t hear of it. Yonkers City Clerk Joan Deierlein read the names in order of their voting order. By a vote of 7-0, the Yonkers City Council returned Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone’s Budget for immediate revision based upon Mr Pierorazio's assertions of a $37.6 Million deficit imposed as part of Governor Paterson's veto.