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Mayors Call For End to Mandates and For Wage and Benefits Reforms
Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster, members of the State Conference of Mayors as well as other local officials,called on State lawmakers today to put an end to unfunded state mandates that they say are tying the hands of local governments, particularly with respect to public sector salaries and benefits.
A report commissioned by the New York State Conference of Mayors was recently released entitled, "You Can't Cap What You Can't Control." The report details a series reforms that the State needs to enact in order to effect labor reform and at the same time rein in taxes for local municipalities.
Foster says the key recommendations of the report "call for pension reform, reforming the way labor negotiations and union contracts are structured so that there's mandatory contributions to medical plans both for active and retired employees."
In addition, the report, she says, addresses the issue of binding arbitration, which affect police and fire department personnel labor negotiations. Said Foster, "Sometimes local governments have very little control over the overall costs of these vital services due to laws currently in place."
Foster said she and other officials feel "The state needs to move toward a more contemporary corporate-type of pension system which makes our ability to budget for the cost of pensions more realistic" and to do away with what she called the "archaic benefit plans that are not offered anymore in the corporate world."
Peter Baynes, Executive Director of the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), echoed that sentiment, saying "unless we reform these critical elements that drive the cost of our workforce up, nobody will be able to live within a property cap." Also on hand for today's meeting was Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick who supports the reforms put forth in the NYCOM report.
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has said he plans to put forth a comprehensive plan to cap property taxes and reduce state mandates to lower costs for local governments.
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