Yonkers budget increases taxes, avoids layoffs

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Yonkers City Council members unanimously approved a $1.19 billion budget Wednesday night that avoids hundreds of layoffs but will raise taxes.

After delaying the scheduled vote by more than two hours, the council approved a budget that carries a 6.2 percent property tax increase.

Council members called it their most difficult budget yet -- a rigorous process to save jobs in public safety and education, all while lobbying for state funds.

With the property tax increase, the average homeowner will have to pay around $560 extra a year, which comes to about $46 a month. The added revenue will save about 180 city jobs, including those of police officers and teachers. Additionally, the approved budget restores three vacant city positions and demotes five fire officers.

"Nobody likes the fact that we have to raise taxes," said City Council Majority Leader Michael Sabatino. "But people wouldn't be happy if we had to lay off people, and our services would be affected. It's not perfect, but it's something we had to do."

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano called the budget a "tough one" but praised it for avoiding layoffs and cuts to services that benefit city residents.

Some lifelong Yonkers residents like Johnny Hornyak say they’re not prepared to pay more money in property taxes.

"Where we supposed to find the money?," Hornyak asks. "They'll price us out, we'll have to sell the house and move into the street."

Hornyak says he will probably have to cut back on groceries because of the increased taxes.

City Council President Mike Khader said a finance committee will be established to avoid another prolonged budget process.

A last-minute shot of state aid significantly helped this year's budget, so Yonkers city officials could be facing this same problem next year.

The budget goes into effect July 1.

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