Yonkers has big budget problem

December 12, 2008 5:56:44 PM PST
Storm clouds surrounded Yonkers City Hall Friday, both literally and figuratively. Westchester's biggest city has a big budget problem, a $16 million deficit. From police officers and firefighters to sanitation workers, a total of 151 city workers will be laid off. "What were gonna do is whatever we have to between now and the time that the economy starts to recover to maintain a decent quality of life and then get back up to the superior quality life that were shooting for," Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone said.

The police department will lay off 11 officers. But the big effort is to cut down on overtime. Fifty officers from specialty units will be redeployed to patrol. Some people are concerned the cuts will mean an increase in crime.

"In one sense, there will be more uniformed officers out there, so I'd like to ease the public's concerns if they think there is a reduction in the patrol force, in a sense, there's an increase in the patrol force," Yonkers police Commissioner Edmund Harnett said.

But the president of the PBA, Eddie Armour, feels the plan "will have a negative impact on the department's ability on my membership's ability to fight crime."

The fire department is also taking a hit. One fire company will be eliminated, six firefighters will be laid off and 19 lieutenants will be demoted to firefighter to help make up the difference and cut overtime. Patrick Brady, president of the Yonkers fire union, says response times will increase to all types of emergency calls.

Layoff notices will start going out next week. Even if there is a sudden upturn in the economy, the earliest employees could be brought back to work is next July.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis

WEB PRODUCED BY: Tiffany Jackson

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