Things 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."