Yonkers, firefighters reach deal to avoid mid-year budget cut

Yonkers and its firefighters avoided a capital budget cut that would have cost the city's department the ability to buy new fire trucks.

Jonathan Gordon

Sep 14, 2022, 12:08 AM

Updated 621 days ago

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With the backing of all seven members of the City Council, Yonkers and its firefighters avoided a capital budget cut that would have cost the city's department the ability to buy new fire trucks.
The City Council and mayor originally approved giving $5.8 million to the fire department but recently proposed amending the budget. That change would have cut that line to around $2 million.
The cut would have meant the department could only buy one new fire truck this year as opposed to the five originally planned for.
"If we can't get to the fire or even if we get to the fire and say the pump fails or the ladder fails that fire truck is pretty much useless," said George Rocha, president of the Local 628 Yonkers Firefighters Union.
The city was originally looking to move money around and add $48 million to the capital budget to bond several projects, including a waterfront park, a new soccer field, and the Cacace Center parking garage project.
On Tuesday, the city finance department came back asking to increase the budget by $39 million without having to cut from the fire department.
The agreement received support from both sides of the aisle.
"We don't want to end up in a situation where we don't have the equipment to address such an emergency," said Lakisha Collins-Bellamy, Yonkers City Council president.
"I rather see the fire trucks operate before the parking lot gets built," said Mike Breen, Yonkers City Council minority leader.
Dozens of firefighters filled the council chambers in a show of unity before leaving with the outcome they were hoping for.
"The City Council is very supportive. I spoke to the mayor today, I spoke to him yesterday as well, and he recognizes the importance of it. So, it looks like the fire trucks are back in the budget," said Rocha.
There will be a public hearing on the capital budget amendments next Tuesday where the public can comment on the proposal.
The budget committee is expected to vote in favor of fully restoring funds to the fire department.


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