PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Taxes will rise 3.82 percent, or $73 for the average Peekskill homeowner, under the 2013 budget adopted Thursday evening by the Common Council.
The $35.4 million budget includes 18 layoffs and the merger of several departments, including payroll and personnel finance. Many of the cuts came from managerial and white-collar jobs. No city Police or Fire Department positions are being cut because of union negotiations.
Mayor Mary Foster gave a rundown of positions that were eliminated and the cost savings to the city, including benefits for each position:
• Accountant: $85,000 • General foreman: $135,000 • Junior engineering aid: $114,000 • Assistant to the City Manager: $131,000 • Administrative Assistant to the City Manager: $132,000 • Police attendant: $100,000 • Park ranger: $89,000 • Senior office assistant for the DPW: $97,000 • Senior data entry operator for the Planning Department: $70,000 • Data entry operator: $73,000 • Meter operator: $86,000 • Senior office assistant: $82,000
Foster told those present that despite rumors, the positions to be eliminated had not been kept secret.
“That information had been shared on Oct. 1 by the city manager with the unions.” Foster said. In other cost-saving moves, the economic development specialist is moving from a city employee to a contract position for a savings of $75,000.
The captain position will be eliminated from the Police Department for a savings of $190,000. The commercial loan officer will be moved to the county fund for a $125,000 savings.
Two positions at the Kiley Youth Center were restored to the budget after the city manager’s budget cut them, as were the city's pre-school and recreation programs. Eleven employees took early retirement offered by the city, and nine won’t be replaced.
Afterwards, Council member Darren Rigger called the budget process very difficult and said New York State pension and health care costs have to be reined in and announced far enough in advance to allow municipalities to plan.
“If they [the state] are off and they’re higher, the state should either have grants or zero-interest loans so that local budgets don’t get hit like we did,” Rigger said. "Nobody wanted this, but if we don’t reform how New York State does business, we will continue to feel significant pressure between keeping taxes down and reducing costs.”