The State Must Act Now By CHUCK LESNICK

eHezi Archives 17 Comments

Lesnick_Chuck with Flag In a bi-partisan effort to avert severe cuts to the Yonkers Public Schools that would result in 700 layoffs, the Yonkers City Council voted 6-1 early Wednesday morning to ask the State to create a Transitional Finance Authority (TFA). The Authority would refinance some of our existing debt resulting in a $20 million reduction in our operating costs for next fiscal year. While deeply concerned about deficit financing, the Council approved a version of a TFA that differs from the mayor's version in that it has tighter financial controls, places the entire council on the authority's board and has the State enact a wage freeze for all municipal employees. The wage freeze would go into effect when the bonds are issued and end when they are repaid. The legislation is now being reviewed, considered, and will hopefully be enacted by the governor, state legislature and the comptroller.

The TFA recognizes that "a condition of fiscal difficulty exists in the city of Yonkers , as a result of a weakened local economy, a decrease in real estate values and reductions in state aid to education." The TFA implores the state to act favorable towards the agreement reasoning, "….the city is in a state of fiscal crisis, and that the welfare of the inhabitants of the city is seriously threatened. The city budget must be balanced and economic recovery enhanced. Actions should be undertaken which preserve essential services to city residents, while also ensuring that taxes remain affordable. Actions contrary to these two essential goals jeopardize the city's long-term fiscal health and impede economic growth for the city, the region, and the state."

Our priority has been, since this proposed budget was delivered to us, to help the Yonkers Public Schools, but we did not want to give this mayor, nor any future mayor, an unlimited credit card to continue to spend recklessly. By limiting the amounts the TFA can refinance to reasonable steps to reduce municipal expenses, we will instill good fiscal procedures without losing local control.

While union members have vowed to challenge this responsible legislation that saves jobs and gets our house in order, I expect the state legislature to do the right thing and work to make sure this is passed. Anything short of such, without providing us the money we need, would only be another slap in the face to Yonkers .

After all, it was only several weeks ago that they placed the city in further jeopardy by significantly under funding our schools with the budget they passed.

I also want to thank the thousands of men, women and children who contacted me and my colleagues over the last few weeks to voice their concerns. You truly helped to shape this important debate and your actions were nothing less than an example of democracy at work. Many of you argued, and I agree with you, that the proposed cuts to the schools were unfair to our city's children and would result in extra costs for parents – far in excess of the money saved in this year's budget.

In a separate piece of legislation, the Council unanimously passed an annual maximum cap on overtime that can be earned by each municipal employee to $20,000 per year.

The passage of this cap on overtime occurred a day after the Journal News once again issued a feature article on overtime and pension padding that this time focused on the city's first retiring police officer to earn more than $300,000 in one year (a combination of salary, overtime and other benefits).

The Council voted unanimously to support the overtime caps in order to enforce the accountability of managing the city's departments with the commissioners and the mayor. The mayor will now be required to issue quarterly reports to the council of any mayoral-approved deviation from the overtime caps. Council members have repeatedly sided with taxpayers and agree that like everybody else on a fixed budget, the City has to stop spending money that it does not have and cannot continue to ask the taxpayers for more and more.

As the legislation works through Albany and the mayor finalizes his projections for next year, we can expect the mayor to submit a revised budget to the Council next week that includes a fiscal plan to utilize the savings from the reduction of labor costs and the proceeds of the refinancing to help save some of the education programs.  Ultimately, the Yonkers budget and the TFA must be certified by the state before it can be implemented.

Click to contact your state legislator.

Chuck Lesnick is the Yonkers City Council President. He is a Democrat. He is running for the Office of Mayor of Yonkers.

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eHeziThe State Must Act Now By CHUCK LESNICK

Comments 17

  1. Bullshit, if the district attorneys office would prosecute criminals correctly instead of plea bargaining every case, THAT will keep them off the streets.

  2. well the cap might be the only way that the abuse can be addressed, since the cowardly mayor did nothint to address the problem which is within his duties as the mayor. I think they arrived at the $20K figure by simply dividing the OT appropriation by the number of officers; if as you say it should be divided equally, this sounds like the way to do it. Again, this action by the council is not the best way to go but since the mayor and his commissioners are not handling it via managment, there wasn’t much of an option.

  3. its not overtime that is the problem…if overtime
    is necessary to fight crime it should be paid..the
    problem is allowing only those about to retire to
    receive the overtime for the sole purpose of enhancing
    their pensions…the cap on overtime is not smart
    legislating..the cap should be a qualified cap that
    permits overtime but caps it for those about to
    retire to limit pension abuse…if overtime were
    simply distributed throughout the department no
    one would be complaining and the pension abuses issue
    would be off the would the argument that
    capping overtime allows criminals to get away….

  4. Lesnick, your right! The city need not spend money they dont have. So lets go after the unions right Lesnick. It is you Moron Politicians that spent money you didnt have and know its biting you in the -ss so the working man has to bale you out. Joan G. has been telling you for years to stop spending. When salaries are posted you are getting a handful only of the abusers that are screwing the system. The moron is running for Mayor so know he is trying to make his stand. Why werent you so rightheous the last few years while you were in office and Amicone and the rest of the thieves were spending and robbing the city blind?

  5. excuse me, but in the final analysis murtagh cut off nothing from the BoE. He voted for this TFA as a cave-in to the PTA. He was the one who kept saying “open the books…open the books”, but in the end, all he opened was his big mouth.

  6. Maybe if yoiu made quality arrests instead of bullshit collars the mutts would not be running the streets as they do now-in otherwords stop the collars for dollars and get the real mutts off the streets with quality arrests.

  7. To YES, BOE budget is a little more then $500,000,000, closer to $560,000,000 BOE never, never puts the grants in the budget!


  9. chuck lesnick needs to go back into the hole he lives in. what a tool, cant wait for him to get blown away in the election.

  10. today puleo was quoted as saying “I dont care whether
    there is a recession or not..if salaries are frozen
    for five years teachers won’t stay” GIVE ME A BREAK
    there are no teaching jobs…all cities are under
    pressure if you told the ten million americans who have lost their jobs that they could keep their jobs for the next five years at the same salary they would
    kiss your feet…Puleo is not a realist..she is a union
    leader..and chuck proposed a control board…that means
    a complete abdication of responsibility for your own
    fate…only a liberal like chuck would be comfortable
    advocating that the government run the city..
    teachers are essentially saying to their fellow workers
    I want my raise and I don’t care if you loose your job
    thats just great…but its not what unions are supposed to do

  11. Cut the schools if Puleo won’t budge. Who cares. Pre-K is not an entitlement so mommy can go to work. Pay for day care like everyone else. Police, Fire and Sanit made their concessions last year. FD even came up with nearly $5 million grant money. OPEN THE BOE BOOKS. When is $500,000,000 for 24K enough?????

  12. There is a court order I think that requires the BOE to open the books that they have ignored. In ant event they are incredibly arrogant. The only way to deal with them is to do what Murtagh said, cut off funding altogether until they wake up.
    The cars are a passionate issue. But right now in the big picture do not mean that much. Think of it another way. The police officer with the highest salary last year had $130,000 in overtime. I suspect that overtime paid for a lot of car leases.

  13. I hope the state has common sense and votes this TFA down. Do they really expect city workers to give up raises for at least 8 years? *3 past years, and 5 upcoming years) Why isnt anything being done to reduce the number of political hacks in city govt, eliminate take home cars across the board, reduce cell phones, and open up the BOE fiscal books, then we can talk about cutting raises for the people that actually does the work

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