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Republican lawmakers on the Westchester County Board of Legislators are outraged over the rescheduling of a budget vote from Monday Dec 13 to Friday December 10, accusing Democrats of trying to rush through recent additions they made to the County Executive's proposed spending plan.
Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi has released her proposed budget for 2011. It's a nearly $36 million spending plan that calls for a 2.4% town tax increase for unincorporated Cortlandt, a 3.4% Town Tax increase for the Village of Buchanan and a 4% Town Tax increase for the Village of Croton-on-Hudson. The increases for the latter two would amount to $5.35 and $7.87 a year, respectively.
According to Puglisi, the spending increase amounts to just .25% over 2010's budget. The increases are the result of higher costs for fuel, gasoline, supplies, pension funds and health benefits as well as negotiated salary increases with unionized workers in the town. Savings was realized in 2010, she says, due to the fact that all Town employees and elected officials did not receive a salary increase.
Like many municipalities, the difficult economy is taking a toll on the Town of Cortlandt.
Projection for Sales Tax Revenues are down $3.6 million, down $1.1 million in Mortage Tax Revenue and $205,000 lower in State Revenue Sharing.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced Wednesday that despite deep cuts in spending, the County is facing a $130 million dollar deficit in 2011. In March, Astorino announced that the projected shortfall was a staggering $166 million.
By a vote of 6-1, the Yonkers City Council Wednesday night approved Mayor Phillip Amicone's $894 million spending plan, but stopped short of restoring a number of services that had been cut in recent weeks, including twice-weekly garbage collection.
City Council President Chuck Lesnick said, "We had hoped that we would be able to actually restore services, but there were some snags in the labor negotiations. We felt we needed to approve the budget so that the Mayor could at least be able to send out tax bills and allow him to continue to negotiate with the city's labor unions."
Yonkers was up against a July 15 deadline to get the budget approved. The spending plan must still be certified before the Comptroller before the city can finally send out its tax bills, something officials say will bring in much needed revenue. Had Yonkers not approved a new budget, the city would literally have run out of money on July 23.
Mayor Phillip Amicone is expected to begin meeting with some of the city's labor unions as early as Thursday.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino Tuesday thanked the County Board of Legislators for supporting him on his deficit reduction initiatives including employee contributions to health care, buyouts and a wage freeze. Astorino said he will sign the legislation as a way of helping to reduce the County's projected $166 million deficit in 2011.
The County Executive says, "This is the first step in achieving some real savings because every employee needs to know that sooner rather than later they're gonna have to contribute to their healthcare. Right now the taxpayer is footing the entire bill, 100% of everyone's health insurance. That's not acceptable anymore and not sustainable given our budget deficits."
On Monday night, the Board of Legislators approved the measure which calls for non-union managers and retirees to contribute between 10-20% of their healthcare plans beginning in July.
Astorino says the County is negotiating with labor leaders on employee contributions to health care costs for Westchester's 5,000 unionized employees. Said Astorino, "Without health contributions from the unionized workforce, sweeping job cuts remain a possibility."
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, a former Preisident of the Westchester-Putnam town Supervisors Association, is writing to County Executive Rob Astorino and to all the Mayors and Supervisors in the County, suggesting that the County conduct an annual study comparing salaries, benefits, union contracts and use of overtime in every town, school and fire distict. Feiner says the goal would be to help local governments run more efficiently and less expensively.
The Greenburgh Supervisor claims a lack of County analysis and comparison makes it difficult for elected officials to know if they are providing the taxpayers with the maximum value for their tax dollars.
Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone addressed residents Monday evening in a town-hall-style meeting at the Grinton I. Will Library on Central Avenue in Yonkers. Amicone says delays in the State budget will spell disaster for services in the City of Yonkers.
During his presentation Monday evening, Amicone told residents gathered that the City's financial situation is dire. He says without increased state aid, Yonkers will be saddled with a $109.5 million dollar deficit,residents will face a 35% property tax, 1000 layoffs and severe cutbacks in such areas as public works and public safety. The proposed layoffs include 400 of the district's teachers.
Amicone again blasted the State for what he says is its "Inequitable" distribution of funds to such cities as Buffalo and Rochester. Yonkers is the fourth largest city in New York State.
Around the Country
- Southwest to Cancel Flights as Jets Checked for Cracks - BusinessWeek
- Schumer: Dems slicing budget with scalpel, Tea Party using meat ax - CNN (blog)
- Duke lacrosse accuser arrested in boyfriend's stabbing - CNN International
- House GOP: $4 trillion in cuts - CNN
- Bachmann bids for 'bama eyes - Seattle Post Intelligencer
Around the Planet
- Afghans Continue Protests Over US Quran Burning - Voice of America
- Japan's nuclear workers try to trace leak, dump radioactive water - Los Angeles Times
- OSCE raps Kazakh election, presses for reforms - Reuters
- Newsmaker: Yemen survivor Saleh juggles forces to keep power - Reuters
- France says finds bodies in Atlantic crash wreckage - Reuters