Yonkers City Council Budget Chair Johnson’s Budget Update Wasn’t By HEZI ARIS
The promise of an update to the City of Yonkers Budget was nothing more than a regurgitation of circumstances that seemed to track the process by which Mayor Mike Spano’s Proposed FY 2012-2013 Budget was shepherded, with dramatic hiccoughs along the way, to eventually win final approval. Lest anyone has forgotten or was not privy to the process, the first budget approval request was met with denial by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The second attempt won his approval. The PowerPoint presentation, replicated in print for take home, was a recapitulation of events that went to further sanitize the histrionics of a “crisis” that continues to get kicked down the road toward its unsustainable end. The one-shots that permeate every aspect of this budget, when one scratches the surface, is replete with creative fiscal tricks that are hidden behind spin-ups, borrow against anticipated revenue, robbing from fund balances, defining revenue streams that are non-existent or simply wishful thinking, all the while asserting fiscal prudence and spending as if there is no tomorrow.
Adoption of the budget segregates the city from the imposition of a Financial Review or filing for bankruptcy. Council Christopher Johnson presentation was nothing more than a media event that wasn’t. The conference room on the second floor of the Yonkers Riverfront Library was the venue, which was filled by Yonkers Firefighters, only one self-proclaimed resident of Yonkers, and a few members of local media.
The “update” follows the press release which advised that the City of Yonkers faces approximately $500 million in total deficits by the end of Mayor Mike Spano’s first term. The one-shots that went toward filling the $90 million in the FY2012-2013 budget will not be available next year. The FY2012-2013 budget should be close to this year’s budget gap, while years 3 and four are twice that and more. While the doom’s day scenario is kept fresh in our consciousness, no attempt has yet been divulged by Mayor Spano’s Administration, the Yonkers City Council, or any other “credible” office that has suggested remedy to the city’s travail.
The outcry of doom is a constant high-pitched harangue heard throughout the city. The most recent stars of the Yonkers stage are Richard [Brodsky] & Richard [Ravitch], a vaudevillian act, if ever there was one. Can you feel the cold? Hint: Brodsky Ravitch…BR… br.
Rather than throwing our collective hands in the air, let us get an update on the 108 HUD loans that are in arrears. When will the contractual agreements among friends and family be clawed back? When will those in arrears on real estate taxes face foreclosure? When will illegal residences be fined for being operated? When will development projects pay a fair share for operating with the City of Yonkers? When will subsidies be rescinded benefitting some restaurants, and other businesses? When will City Hall stop hiring misfits of friends and family to no show jobs? When will $120,000 a year hires do more than play video games on the second floor? When will the waste be let go?
When will the Budget Chair receive the Yonkers City Charter stipulated mandate for a quarterly report? Two quarters have expired and still no quarterly report. When will the amended budget be completed? When will it go online?
Why do all grant applications have to go through Yonkers City Hall? What is the purpose of these new directives? If they are so important, why aren’t they explained?
What is the plan that br… br… Brodsky and Ravitch suggested they would help Yonkers find? What is Yonkers vision?
Why is Yonkers City Hall not using federally funded FEMA sponsored funds to fill the vacant positions on the Yonkers Fire Department? Why does the budget, demanded by NYS Comptroller DiNapoli to move the almost $3 million SAFER fund grant afforded the Yonkers Fire Department from a contingency designation to a salary line. The 35 vacancies derived through attrition have caused an overtime (OT) crisis that will find the budget AGAIN out of alignment before year’s end. Why is this permitted? Has the NYS Comptroller been duped to sign off on a document that he will not be able to stand behind in a few months time because the numbers are not what were promised they would be?
Why are there no voices to demand fiscally prudent conduct be employed by Yonkers City Hall? Are there no fiscal thinkers within CoY who know what must be done? Why is too much kept quiet? Must Yonkers burn while those that could change things for the better in Yonkers remain silent? Enough is enough.