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Christmas Comes Early in New Rochelle, Layoffs Averted After State Gives Back $1 Million Due to Overestimated Health Insurance Costs

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Christmas Comes Early in New Rochelle, Layoffs Averted After State Gives Back $1 Million Due to Overestimated Health Insurance Costs

November 30, 2011 - 03:46
21 comments

Strome BudgetPresserThings just got a whole lot easier for City Manager Charles B. Strome and his budget staff due to an unexpected one million dollar windfall.

Layoffs of firefighters, crossing guards and CSEA members were averted based on new information from Albany. Seems the State of New York overestimated the size of the health insurance increase. The City is no longer required to pay about $1 million that was budgeted for the insurance payments. Those funds will be be used to maintain New Rochelle Fire Department staffing, the crossing guards and office workers, primarily at City Hall.

UPDATE: The City of New Rochelle issued the following statement on Novemnber 30th

Revised Budget Numbers Avert Firefighter Layoffs

A $1 million decrease in anticipated costs now allows the New Rochelle City Council to avert the proposed layoffs of 6 firefighters, 2 community service officers and 18 crossing guards.

City Manager Charles B. Strome, III told members of the City Council during yesterday’s budget work session that the final New York State health insurance rates are expected to be $1 million lower than anticipated. The 16% increase in the proposed budget based on early estimates will actually be closer to 5.5%, Strome said.

“This news brings a great relief to our City staff, and a small relief to our 2012 budget,” said Strome. “However, it is a band aid approach to the grave challenges we face in future years. Until such time that the economy recovers and the State relieves cities of mandated costs, budgetary pressures will continue to mount.”

Budget deliberations will continue with a public hearing on December 6 at 7:30 PM.

There was some reader discussion about CSOs so I asked Chuck Strome about that and got the following reply:

"There will still be four layoffs: one in recreation, one in DPW-Engineering and two clerical positions (DPW and Police)."

For the record, a CSO is a Community Service Officer. In the New Rochelle Police Department there are two types of CSOs, what are referred to as "indoor" and "outdoor" CSOs.

Outdoor CSOs are, as the name implies, typically working outdoors. They may be setting up/taking down police barricades, assisting at traffic accidents, writing parking tickets, filling in for crossing guards and so forth.

Indoor CSOs work at NRPD Headquarters. They work dispatch, take 911 calls and non-emergency calls, take reports, work the front desk and so forth. Each CSO is trained on each responsibility and rotates among the various position each day. They are often the primary interface between the NRPD and the public.

There has also been much discussion about crossing guards. Previously, we had reported on crossing guards being paid to work around lunch time when children are no longer crossing after the school district went to full-day kindergarten.

I asked Chuck whether crossing guards will still be paid for working during the lunchtime shift and, if not, will they get enough hours to qualify for benefits. I received the following reply:

"The City will begin negotiations with the Crossing Guards as their contract has expired. The hours of work will be a major topic of the negotiations."

There are 21 Comments

I see that you mention the fire fighters crossing guards csea members but what about the 2 CSO's? Is there money in the budget for those 2?

ain't that right?

Robert Cox's picture

The grammar police strike again!

Fixed.

By making NO cuts next year's the budget will start with a $1 million shortfall. Nice of Strome & Bramson to kick the can down the road another year which by then they'll have their super-majority to override the tax cap.

Why not try to reduce this years tax increase by $1 million & bring the rate increase down to 4% or 5% from the 6.xx% we're now getting hit with? Or perhaps lower the 238% increase to the garbage tax?

Simply incredible that city hall is so clueless and so willing to balance the budget with 1 shot gimmicks. Same old, same old; its no wonder nobody votes in our elections.

1 million dollars wont last 9 months - to cover 26 employees pay roll- medical insurance - and city pension contributions, 2 snow storms and the money is gone before spring.

City council is thinking of asking Avalon for its final payment this year so in reality the NR 2013 budget will have a $4 million deficit ($3 million from Avalon and $1 million “savings” this year). But not to worry there will be a 3-year lag until the next election cycle when NR will re-elct the same lame party that got us into this mess.

Sorry, but I am very cynical on this point. If Byron Gray said the reversal is "unbelievable" he may have meant that the State may not have indicated a 16% health insurance increase earlier,

Maybe it did, but this is too "pat." You cannot really check this as it is the political equivalent of a "he said, she said."

What you can ask yourself is what head of a large City budget would budget such an amount without putting in an on-going check and balance review with the State. If this was changed from 16% to 5.5% it just did not happen within the past week.

So, when you couple it with other general financial management shortcomings -- see Fifth Avenue Guy plus my previous concerns on overuse of fee income, grants, riding roughshod on local merchants on signange, tickets, etc. and failure to seriously consider other options such as cutting exempt positions, taking voluntary pay cuts, etc. you have to question the financial skills of city management at least from a business point of view.

Well, at least the powers that be did not pull a Mt. Vernon indicating a neeeded raise for council members while significant cuts were to be made elsewhere. Poor Council president Karen Watt, she says, "we work hard" -- well then resign or work smart.

Same here, working hard is pretty subjective and frankly immaterial. Working smart is what people should be paid for.

In closing, what probably happened is that the voices from outside the meeting room were heard and I will go further and postulate that a few sitting members turned out to be a pleasant surprise to the voters by asking tough questions. With new members coming in, I hope every council member remembers what Article X of the City Code infers and sometimes states -- you have significant oversight responsibilities over city affairs. Exercise it by doing the right thing. Ask for a vote on everything of consequence and win or lose, establish a record in time for the next election.

Gee, the State reduced anticipated health insurance rates by 60% odd percentage points? Ah, well, maybe.

Why even spend this found money?

Why not put in the "rainy day" fund or use it to lower the current tax increase?

To just spend it is to just squander it and leaves us more in hole next year. City hall is so short sighted its unbelievable.

I wish city hall would look past the next 30 days to get its financial house in order. The horizon should be 2-3 years minimum, but I guess that's asking too much for an entity spending $12 million per month.

If only the city had a few more glaziers, then I'd feel more comfortable going to sleep at night.

"rainy day" fund or two pick up trucks one white and the other green G 46 and R 20 may need to be replaced if the two assholes that where on I 95 south from Exit 19 to 16 today keep driving them.
The two were going over 70 mph in and out of traffic carelessly, I can see going 60 tops 65 and staying in one lane for more then 15 seconds but 70+ and drive like an ass.... uncalled for!

The purpose of government is to provide services, not to save money.

"The purpose of government is to provide services, not to save money.” Spoken like a true liberal who resides in a rent controlled building. Everyone is willing to give the needy a hand up but unfortunately most want a hand out, like the Occupy Wall Street MORONS. Government can’t be everything to everyone so while The purpose of government is to provide services, not to save money.” those services should be provided efficiently. We need to get back to basic personal responsibility and over-extended government is making us a nation of slackers who are losing our place in the world.

I don't believe in corporate welfare, such as when the banks make low-taxed profits in good times, but get bailed out by the government at the citizens' expense, while the bank execs get rewarded with outrageous bonuses, when they deserve long jail sentences and serious fines for recklessly destroying our economy.

As such I do support the many people who are protesting wall street's destruction of our economy. I presume you applaud financial corporations' destruction of the USA and World economies. 'Conservative economics' only makes sense if you are one of the 1% of Americans who own 40% of America's wealth.

I suspect you're not of the super-wealthy, so why are you so protective of them, while you ignore how America's wealth disproportion is destroying the Middle Class? That certainly isn't smart, nor in your own interest.

I agree with you that "those [public] services should be provided efficiently". That is why I think the government should eliminate privatization of public services, to either reduce government expenses by eliminating the profit; or alternately using the profits to offset other unprofitable government services. The overall result would be a reduction or at least stabilization of taxes.

I think efficiencies in New Rochelle would be to reduce the number of upper level administrators in the Board of Ed, NRFD and NRPD. A relatively larger number of productive, lower paid jobs on the NRBOE, NRFD and NRPD could be saved by eliminating a few overly-paid, non-productive administrators. I'm referring to saving the jobs of teachers and the actual firefighters who actually put out fires, and the police on the streets, all of whom do the hard work.

While civil servants' jobs should be retained to provide public services, these people are our neighbors, and the customers of our merchants. Reducing our local government would be detrimental toward local commerce,and result in accelerating New Rochelle's economy and reducing our city's financial resources.

You state "We need to get back to basic personal responsibility", whatever that means. I presume you want New Rochelle to go back to days of the Wild West that New Rochelle's favorite son, Frederic Remington romanticized in paintings he painted in the suburban New Rochelle of over 100 years ago.

Your solution is to reduce public services that benefit yourself, which is quite admirable, if not masochistic of you. Consistent with that, I suggest you turn down any Social Security benefits, dispose of your own sewage, avoid our public parks, never request help from the police or fire departments, and never, never use the public library.

Unlike yourself, most New Rochellians do not want to see any public services reduced, nor do we want go back to the good ol' days, because those days you pine for, never existed as conservatives imagine.

Your wish "to get back to basic personal responsibility", if based on fact, would return us to a crueler, more dangerous, less educated, more segregated society, with less civil rights and greater inequality.

In getting back to basic personal responsibility, what time period, society and location are you referring to? Perhaps the Middle Ages in Europe, or Ireland of the 1840-50's, or the Wild West of the USA in the 1870's?

Brian, as Tony or was it Andy sang; where do I begin? Your first statement is a quandary, you state, “I don’t believe in corporate welfare…” and goes into a diatribe on the federal level while the party and candidates you support have doled out unprecedented corporate welfare locally. You enabled corporate welfare in the form of tax abatements to wealthy developers like 10-years to Home Depot & Costco, 15-years New Roc City & 30-years to Avalon. Multi-millionaires like Cappelli & Trump and who knows how much your party will give away to Forest City to overdevelop Echo Bay now that they have achieved a super-majority. While NR Dems maintain conservatives are “crying” over something that is in the past; the reality is that only after the citizens and taxpayers of New Rochelle no longer have to bear the burden of a 30-year tax abatement which robs the school district of $7 million in revenue while imposing a hard $2 million expense to educate the students they introduce this tax abatement will remain current. Let’s not forget that NR still carries almost $3 million a year in bonded debt from the Weyman Ave. eminent domain process.
I agree the banks made undeserved profits with insane bonuses to execs but remember when it comes to banks and unrealistic mortgages it goes back to Carter who forced Fanny & Freddy to make loans available to people who didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of repaying and Cuomo, under Clinton, magnified that failed strategy.
You chastise Wall Street’s destruction of the world’s economy but neglect to realize that the high we fell from was achieved by the same Wall Street you chastise. Also you neglect to cite the failure of Europe much of which has been caused by over-taxation and the cost of universal healthcare.
You are correct, I am not super-wealthy and in fact I am lower middle class at best but I don’t decry anyone to make whatever the traffic will bear. The free market system encourages entrepreneurial exploration and yes I believe everyone deserves a fair education but how one uses that education is an individual choice and those who chose the wrong path shouldn’t live off the public dole.
We live in a city that advertises public service positions which require a 8th grade education and $20 per-hour part-time employment to transport our seniors whose candidates qualify with a “grade school” education. The public sector needs to be more in line with the private sector. Do you believe the private sector offers full-time employment for anyone with a 8th grade education who can earn between $40,000 & $50,000, receive low cost health insurance (18-22% contribution) and a GUARANTEED PENSION which can be artificially increased with final year’s overtime?
Yes, I am older than dirt and I “pine” for a return to basic personal responsibility but it has nothing to do with a return to any past timeframe. The basic responsibility I refer to is the realization that if one fails it’s their fault, not the government’s fault, not the economy’s fault and not because the dog ate their homework. That’s the problem with government at every level, they blame the layer of government above them and when they get to the top level it’s the world’s fault. When all else fails let’s throw stones at the mega wealthy who don’t pat their “fair share”. Isn’t it curious that those pining most about the mega-wealthy not paying are those looking for the biggest handout and the political mega-wealthy are protecting the execs you cite. I do believe the mega-wealthy should pay more and help those less fortunate but I do NOT believe they should bail out those who choose a lifestyle of government supplementation. That’s the difference between a hand up and a hand out.

As far as Social Security, it is NOT an entitlement program and I am proud to collect as I paid into the system! I drag my garbage to the curb (NR lost backyard pickup), bag my leaves (to help DPW) and would gladly opt-out of the stupendously ridiculous $223 refuse fee but unfortunately the NR Dems won’t allow me the basic personal responsibility to make that choice. I understand the GOP has requested that dormitories be charged the $223 refuse fee which I fully support as the colleges charge $30,000 plus room & board to students who tax NR services while the institutions pay $0 and remove taxable properties from the tax rolls through expansion.
You see getting back to personal responsibility will ease the strain on government, increase the ranks of the employed and replace a sense of entitlement with a sense of pride. If one chooses to invest $100,000 in an education (most of which, if not all, was paid by mom & pop and/or government loans) and fails to get a job one needs to realize nothing in life is guaranteed, you can’t start at the top and no one gets a free ride. The Occupy Wall Street gang is protesting the mega-wealthy because they can’t find a $100,000 position out of college which they feel entitled to. They refuse to flip burgers at McDonalds and refuse to consider a public service position because it is beneath their education level but they have no problem collecting extended unemployment benefits, Medicaid, Section 8 vouchers, Welfare and Food Stamps. I wonder how many of the protestors would “believe in the cause” if they were one of the 1% mega-wealthy?

Brian, I like most residents receive NOTHING from the government (other than fire, police & garbage) and thus don't feel its the obligation of government to provide everything or anything for its citizens. In fact if your taking from the government, then you're not contributing to society, you're leeching off society and that's not America, maybe Russia but definately not America.

When New Rochelle's government can't balance its books without unduely increasing its taxes, then its time to cut services, which as I've noted above most don't receive. Government is there for essential services, like garbage, police & fire. The rest falls into the category of "nice to haves" & not "must haves". If city hall is so blind as to cut essential services before other fluff programs, then people have a right to be upset. When city hall squanders an opportunity to cut its size & scope, then people have a right to be upset.

High property taxes are killing the values of our homes as high property taxes have elimated 1st time homebuyers from our community. I don't think you care as you live a rent controled apartment subsidized by the rest of us.

I think I'd like a refund on my taxes since I'm not satisfied with the product.

On the way to Retrofit this morning I was blessed to run into Kevin Thomas on North Avenue. Kevin is the firefigher taken to Jacobi with significant burn injuries recently.

He is shortly going to return to work but has a way to go to treat facial burn injuries, etal. A great young guy, a credit to the City and to the firefighers.

I am very pleased to learn that Noam contacted him while at Jacobi and they talked for a time. And, no I am not surprised as I am aware of other situations when he has made similar calls. Hopefully, it will be routine for others like District Council Members to make calls or visitations to city staff.

I think it is especially pleasant and noteworthy to have seen him a day after the announcement that so resolution was made on the budget for firefighters and others. This came about more because of the community than the cementing of the state's percentage increase re: health insurance premiums.

Positive and open opinions taken by the community and media that gives the community a voice such as, likely only TOTS, makes a difference. Better always to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Well done all who supported this and for those council members who took a stand to revisit the budget.

And didn't it come to light (somewhere on TOTS) that they also get benefits on top of the $15 hourly rate. Maybe medical & pension or just pension & no medical or just medical & no pension.

I remember reading that somewhere & I thought it was here.

Does anyone recall or know?

Has a tax payer,some of that $1 Million can help clean up City Hall bathrooms,it's floor and it's staircase.The ground floor bathroom is filty and stink.Chuck Strome need to take a look at the Board of Education floor and there bathroom and he will see what i am talking about. City Hall is the nerve center of the City of New Rochelle,but it's stink.

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