Yonkers Residents Must Follow the Budget Process By Keith Olson

eHezi Archives 19 Comments

PBA_badge Recently Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his executive budget for New York State for the fiscal year 2011-12. This is a reminder that City of Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone and his staff have likely begun working on the City of Yonkers budget for the upcoming fiscal year as well. As a lifelong resident of Yonkers and a 22 year member of the Yonkers Police Department, I have to say that now is the time that the people of Yonkers should take stock in how and where our money is spent and demand fiscal responsibility from Yonkers City Government. 

Several months ago, during the budget process for the current fiscal year, we did not see the Mayor take the necessary “line by line” approach to attack the budget or a true prioritization of what the city needs and does not. This is a process the people of Yonkers need and deserve. Instead what we saw was a sort of compartmentalization of the major city departments. What I mean is that the bigger departments, Police, Fire and Public Works were forced into a “save yourselves or else” situation with the threats of layoffs and demotions. This is an unfair and dangerous approach and the people of Yonkers have suffered because of it. 

The Yonkers Police Department, facing the threat of layoffs and demotions was forced to make drastic cuts to an already depleted police force. Rather than cut from non-essential departments or address other costly and unnecessary items, Yonkers city officials chose to force the YPD to do away with essential foot posts, take police out of the schools and eliminate crucial units such as the Burglary Unit, Domestic Violence Unit and all plainclothes and auto crime units in East Yonkers, just to name a few. There have been serious consequences as a result of these unnecessary cuts. 

Despite what some city officials say, Yonkers is not nearly as safe as they like to say it is. CQ Press’ City Crime Rankings lists Yonkers as the 131st safest city in the country in 2010-11. Daytime, gang related and drive-by shootings have become all too common and many of them are not reflected at all in the misleading UCR crime statistics that are often referred to. The unfortunate fact is that there are less police on the street today in Yonkers than there were a few years ago and this lack of manpower has contributed to the staggering truth that in 2010, there were 514 line of duty injuries to Yonkers Police Officers. 

The Yonkers Police Department cannot afford to be cut any more. We have done more with less more than any other department in our city and to cut any further would prove disastrous. It is also important to note that only months ago, during the last budget crisis, the two police unions, the Yonkers PBA and CLSA made contractual concessions to help avert layoffs and to keep cops on the street. In addition, both police unions have been without a contract for well over a year, with no scheduled raises, as is the case with most of the Yonkers public employee unions. The Yonkers Police Department and both police unions have more than done their part in helping Yonkers to balance the budget. It is time that Yonkers city government do their part as well.  

The people of Yonkers must compel their elected officials to truly prioritize in the 2011-12 budget. Before we attempt to reduce police services any more and further put the safety of our community in jeopardy we have to ensure that all other measures have been taken and that every possible cut has been made to non-essential services. 

For instance, something must be done about the more than 170 City of Yonkers employees who do not contribute to the cost of their health care. A little known fact is that Yonkers public employee union members pay for their health care. New hires by the YPD, represented by the Yonkers PBA, contribute 35% of the premium cost of a family health insurance plan and 50% of an individual plan while the Mayor, the City Council, their staff members and many other City Hall employees contribute nothing. 

Citizens of Yonkers also have the right to ask our elected officials to justify all non-essential personnel employed throughout the city. Many of these employees make well over $100,000 per year and enjoy take home cars and cell phones, all of which is paid for by Yonkers taxpayers.

We, the people of Yonkers, have the right to question the necessity of these jobs and the perks that come with them. These are only a couple of examples of items that should be addressed before we further chip away at the level of safety that Yonkers deserves. We, the people of Yonkers, have to stay informed and should attend Town Hall and City Council meetings to do so. We should contact the Mayor’s office and our City Council members to let our voices be heard. Most of all we must hold all of Yonkers city government responsible for making the right decisions during the next budget process.

Det. Keith Olson is the president of the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association (PBA).

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eHeziYonkers Residents Must Follow the Budget Process By Keith Olson

Comments 19

  1. Instead of the JN reporting on hard working public employee pensions, why don’t they do a nice investigative piece on section 8 and welfare. They can start by cross checking the welfare recipients with DMV records, so that we can see what kind of cars they have. Bet you we find some Lincoln Navigators, GMC Ukons, and many other high priced suv’s. Next, we can see who on welfare has a cell phone. If I am paying for you to live, then I don’t want you to have a $500 smart phone !! DO YOU REALLY NEED A 50 INCH FLAT SCREEN LCD TV if you are on welfare ????????? We should teach our welfare recipients how to prioritize. Please don’t take this the wrong way….. I am always willing to help out a family who is down on their luck, but welfare needs to be overhauled. At least we should have some better oversight to eliminate some of the scammers !! GO AFTER THE REAL CROOKS JN, I WORKS FOR MINES !!

  2. Tell your state legislators not to abolish the millionaires tax. The state needs more revenue if they are to give Yonkers more assistance and since the city charges .15 of the state income tax as a Yonkers income tax, this too will result in more funds for the City.

  3. The day’s of giving the PBA everything they ask for with no questions asked is over Mr. Olsen-get used to the fact that you must make do with less-improvise, adapt and overcome.

  4. The timing of this is suspect. The Mayor claiming we are one of the safest Cities in the nation last week, then this claiming we need more police. Didn’t we hire 55 rookies recently?
    Look at Newark, to the future of public funding. We are broke and instead of facing reality, Amicone stuck his head in the sand, and was scared to even take a symbolic pay freeze himself. Then of course he was Spencer apprentice, and these two think that the state is responsible for our local budget, and not their lack of management of our finances.
    The only time one ever hears from these unions is when money is discussed. Ya! never hear them screaming when the Mayor is giving the City away to developers, and increasing all of our taxes.
    As for Arch, seems like he’s a bit of a detective himself…

  5. For year the people of Yonkers have been among the most disengaged citizens anywhere. How else can you explain the mutton heads they have elected over the years? Just ask your neighbors about the issues we are facing and they will look at you with a blank stare. Ask them to attend a meeting and speak out on an issue and they come up with all kinds of excuses of why the can’t. They want someone else to fight their battles.
    Mr. Olson, I agree with every word of your post, but you are speaking to a bunch of deadheads who do not deserve to live in a democracy.
    In the words of Pogo, “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”

  6. a speaker at a recent budget committee at which the school supt was present, asked the supt., rhetorically, who is footing the bill for all the illegals attending school in Yonkers. The supt advised that we are not allowed by law to determine a student’s legal status in the country. Again, the question was rhetorical, since we all know that the taxpayer is footing this bill. What the person asking the question was trying to ascertain was whether we are being reimbursed by the federal government, for all of these charges incurred by illegal residents, and I am sure we are not.

  7. I know for a fact that the charter school located on Warburton AV buses kids from the Bronx to Yonkers. I know this is a charter school but I’m sure that they get some of our tax money to run it and it should serve Yonkers residents only.

  8. Thank You Arch for putting light on issues we need to see. Keep it up, please.
    The only department that we should back in this city is the police. Without them, we become Detroit, Camden, Trenton, Paterson, etc.
    There is little waste in YPD as compared to other departments. As long as the money goes to the street-level officers who grind it out everyday, rain or shine or holidays away from family.

  9. the BOE does not want to root out non resident students. If they did they would lose funding. More students more funding. The BOE doesn’t care where they come from.

  10. To posting # 1:
    Probably 3 or 4 years ago, if not longer, I reported on this site seeing numerous kids enter the #20 bus at Woodlawn subway station and exit at Roosevelt HS. I believe the school district has purged many non resident students, but there may still be plenty more.
    If they cost us $19k per year reach, then they should spend the money on investigators to root out these non resident students. Mount Vernon did so with much success.
    Arch Stanton

  11. gronowski introduced legislation last year for EVERYBODY, INCLUDING ELECTED OFFICIALS, to pay for their health insurance. There was one meeting to discuss it so it should still be a live issue without having to be reintroduced.

  12. Half of the budget goes to the BOE, We do not know how it is spent, They won’t say. How does this clown give away our money and refuse to tell us what it is used for??? How do they create a budget and not know what they need money for?? Illegal loans from the BOE to private businesses??? Stealing property under the guise of Eminent Domain??? A new ring for the supers wife???….

  13. Well done Mr.Olsen.
    Can the city also address the non-residence/non-taxpayers using our schools and services. Can you believe that the BOE excepts p.o. box addresses from parents registering their kids in our schools. Why?

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