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With Elections Over, City of New Rochelle Set to Announce Across the Board Cuts, 6 Firefighters to be Axed

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With Elections Over, City of New Rochelle Set to Announce Across the Board Cuts, 6 Firefighters to be Axed

November 10, 2011 - 14:37
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Strome BudgetPresserThe City of New Rochelle will announce this morning significant cuts in staff and services as City Manager Charles B. Strome prepares to deliver a municipal budget based on Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2% Tax Levy Cap, sources say.

The 2010 budget will eliminate all crossing guards, 6 firefighters will be laid off and there will be some staff cuts at City Hall.

UPDATE: Notices are already going out. Sources tell Talk of the Sound that two CSOs that work "indoors" for NRPD were given their pink slip, there were a meeting for the crossing guards this morning where they were all informed they are being let go, a woman from the records department with 10 years service was fired and reportedly left the building in tears.

2012 City of New Rochelle Proposed Budget

New Rochelle City Manager Charles Strome III today released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012. In the midst of the worst economic environment in memory, the budget proposes to close an estimated $8 million funding gap through a blend of revenue increases and spending cuts. To accomplish this, the budget calls for a real estate tax levy increase of 3.68%, the maximum allowable within the limits set by the New York State “tax cap” legislation adopted earlier this year; an increase to the residential refuse fee; and the reduction of 54 full and part-time positions.

“Like almost every other municipal government throughout the nation, New Rochelle is a victim of the continuing economic recession that has seen stagnant revenue growth, falling housing values and diminished resources,” said Strome. “Compounding the problem, we are subject to New York State’s tax cap legislation, which is designed to reduce the size of local governments without offering any relief for mandated costs enacted by the State.”

Many of the City’s historical major revenue sources, such as sales taxes, mortgage taxes, building permits and State aid, have been negatively impacted by economic conditions, necessitating greater reliance on the local property tax or other revenue sources, Strome noted. Under the tax cap legislation, the allowable increase to property taxes will not even cover the over $4 million cost of State-imposed pension and health insurance cost increases.

“The 3.68% increase to the tax levy equates to a tax rate increase of 6.36% because our tax base fell by another $7 million this past year,” added Strome. The proposed tax increase for the average homeowner is $184, or about one percent of the total tax bill.

The budget proposes to eliminate 36 full-time positions- 24 through attrition and 12 through layoffs- as well as 18 part-time positions, all through layoffs. Together, these actions will result in a cumulative 14% reduction in full-time staffing over the past three years, bringing City staffing to historic lows. The budget also calls for an increase to the residential refuse fee of $157 per housing unit per year, although qualifying senior citizens will see no increase.

“This has been the most difficult budget that I have had to prepare,” concluded Strome. “Under ordinary circumstances, I would not recommend many of the items contained in this budget, such as fee increases and especially layoffs, which will debilitate the organization. This budget is a reflection of the national economy and the policy choices of our State leadership. Until the economy improves and/or new State policies are devised, cities like New Rochelle will continue to face hard choices.”

Copies of the proposed budget are available in the City Clerk’s office, at the New Rochelle Public Library and on the City’s website HYPERLINK "http://www.newrochelleny.com" www.newrochelleny.com. The City Council will conduct budget review meetings in November and hold a public hearing on December 6th in advance of the adoption of a tax rate in December.

There are 27 Comments

I have not had time to research it yet, but can someone explain how the proposed tax increase is 3.68 per cent when I thought the new law change capped increases at 2 %.

I think some services are not included in the cap--just guessing.

Pensions are exempt.

And can they really increase the garbage fee by $157?

Anyone know what it was for 2011?

I don't have that tax bill, but I checked my 2010 bill & the amount paid was $66 so if it was $66 last year then the increse would be over 200% increae. Can that be right?

Page ii of the budget does a good job discussing the difference between the tax levy and tax rate. The law only restricts the tax levy.

Basically the tax rate is the amount needed to collect the tax levy. (So subtract people who either don't pay or get their homes reassessed and pay less in taxes)

Bob,

You report this like news when it was fully expected by many of us. Notice how Bramson dodged the bullet during the debates?

Let's see, the Bramson/Idoni economic development stratergy is generating the "net benefit" of cutting City services further. Tell me, is Echo Bay and GreeNR going to pull the City out of this mess? I think not.

Well folks, you voted for these idiots on council--Councilmen Trangucci and Tarintino excludes.

Keep cutting.... Then stop the lifetime health insurance for council members. How many tickets does one CSO have to issue to make up for his/her salary/benefits/retirement???? What are the other costs associated with every ticket issues? Maybe $25 or $40 less that will be spent locally? Maybe there's the shopper who gets tired of the tickets and decides never to shop in NR again? How many former members of the city council are receiving health benefits at our expense?

Ok I read page 2 & I still don't see how city hall can raise the garbage tax over 200%, regardless of Chuck Strome's interpretation of the law.

I'm feeling really ripped off right now & I don't think this was Gov. Cuomo's intention when he got the law passed.

I'm with WillyRand on this one, time to cut some more.

And I'd like to add what a ridiculous process NR has for its budget. Why can't the budget information be released before the election? Its almost like Bramson purposefully held back the information as they obviously knew what the numbers were long ago.

You're right, Bramson purposely held back the info on the budget so he could get re-elected. Understand, you are dealing with crooks in City Hall.

The woman from the records department was not fired, but given a pink slip as well.

Strome can't even balance his check book. How do you expect him to balance a city's budget.

I'd like to thank all the people who voted across the democrat party line, "Thank you all for making New Rochelle what it is and what it's going to be, a Shit-Hole of a Shit-Hole of a city.

If you think crime increased over the past couple of years, you have yet to see what it will become now.

It is pretty amazing how tactically planned when it came to the release of the budget. Just like clockwork, two days after the election. Simply amazing.

Well people, like I said before, "You ain't seem nothing yet. "

May God be with us all because Bramson, Strome and all the other democrat idiot councilmen are in the driver's seat and stearing us straight towards Hell.

Budget Cuts Greatly Diminishing Ability to Save Lives
By Byron Gray
The City of New Rochelle’s proposal to further slash emergency 1st responder protections for all of its citizens is penny wise and pound foolish. The proposed cut back of $770,000 to the fire department will save New Rochelle taxpayers less than .03 cents (2.7 cents per citizen) per day.
While it is clear that the economy is taking its toll on cities, this plan would cause a further increase in fire and emergency response times. Because of these proposed cuts, citizens will need to ask, can my loved ones survive the extra minutes it will now likely take when they are having a heart attack, stroke or are unconscious and trapped in a fire with a heavy, toxic smoke condition.
Over the past three years the city has cut deep into the bone, diminishing its own emergency response capability, as it has made several layers of cuts into the structure of the New Rochelle Fire Department (NRFD) since 2008.
In 2008 the NRFD had 168 firefighters. Under this plan, that would be cut to just 143 (15% cut since 2008), before taking into account that 10 members of that remaining fire force are currently unable to fight fires due to on the job injuries, including burns.
In 2008 the minimum on-duty staffing level was 29 firefighters per shift to protect the entire city. The proposal announced today would lower that to just 24 firefighters effective January 1 (equaling a 17% reduction).
Significantly closing one fire company, Ladder 12 (located at Webster Avenue Fire House) will diminish by 1/3 the number of ladder companies able to respond to emergencies. While the job of Engine Companies is to extinguish fires and respond to medical emergencies, Ladder Companies conduct search, rescue and recovery of trapped civilians, in addition to the vital job of venting heavy heat from the floors above the fire.
The manpower cuts experienced by the New Rochelle Fire Department has also led to the idling of its life saving, 1 million dollar plus specialized fire-rescue vehicle, because the city does not have enough firefighters to staff it. All of these cuts have already pushed the NRFD to the breaking point and endanger public and firefighter safety.
This has led to the department regularly using only 3 firefighter engines, which is already 40 percent below the minimum standard set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) of 4 firefighters and an officer per truck.
A landmark study by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) concluded that 4 firefighter crews can perform basic firefighting functions, including search and rescue significantly faster than 3 and 2 person crews.
The primary purpose of government is to provide for the health and well being of its citizens. This cut will put New Rochelle residents and its fire fighters lives at risk, all to save the grand sum of less than .03 cents per day. I believe our citizens lives and the safety of New Rochelle is worth it.

The author is a 26 year veteran New Rochelle Fire Fighter, president of NRFD Local 273 and 50 year resident of the City of New Rochelle.

Thanks Chuck And Noam, I Suggest You Both Purchase Some Turn-Out Gear So You Can Respond To The First Hi-Rise Apartment Fire In Place Of Ladder 12, You ARE Playing Russian Roulette With People's Lives And Have Devastated A Once Proud And Well-Equipped Fire Department. A One Million Dollar Rescue Truck Gathers Dust In Station 1 After You Promised To Man It With 1 Officer And 1 Firefighter. Engine 23 Is Falling Apart And NEEDS To Be Replaced. In Addition Ladder 12 Covers The West End Of New Rochelle Which Is Densely Populated And Has MANY, MANY Buildings 75-100 Years Old With Close Proximity. I Would Advise The Taxpayers Of The Once ' QUEEN CITY OF THE SOUND ' To Protest These Fire Department Cuts Which Will Surely ENDANGER Many Lives !!!!!!!!!!

These are scare tactics by local governments. Of course there are other places to cut back. Governments always use this tactic to scare people into higher taxes. The fact is, people can't afford the taxes. One could say each firefighter could give up a few thousand dollars to save other positions. They'd still be making at least in the 70's. Just saying. Everyone getting paid by taxpayers should be looked at. Nobody should be exempt from this process. Again, there are other places to cut. We don't need to provide pensions and health insurance to every damn elected official/employee in government. The game is over. It's not some guy on Wall Street's fault. Public salaries have been shooting up under the radar for far too long. It drives taxes up, productive citizens get tired of it, and the takers come in to fill the vacuum. Retailers that would provide sales tax revenue aren't very attracted by consumers who want to haggle over a $2 pair of gloves. I know the union has an interest in keeping positions and salaries up. For far too long, our elected officials have been conceding to keep from losing their jobs. There has to be a balance of taxpayer interests and employee interests. We need to get back in balance again. We have American cities going bankrupt these days.

The enevitiable Firefighers argument cuting firefigters will put the public at risk, Bull! There is plenry of lasy firefighters to go around.
And half of them retire on Disability and go play golf, The pain in there knees are to much to bear. Well Biron plenty of us in the publics knees hurt also. From carrying the Bull s___ of this city on our backs for too long.

Left that dump about 15 years ago, never looked back.Next move is leaving NYS forever, the taxes are crippling.

Let me tell YOU SOMETHING. There are no lazy firefighters in the City Of New Rochelle they do more than any other agency in Westchester County. You say the pain in their knees is too much to bear, why don't you put on about 60lbs. of gear walk up 10 flights of stairs every day and let me know how YOUR going to feel. You say your knees hurt and you are in the public sector, maybe you should get off them and they won't hurt so much form servicing your BOSS.

Right before the election we received a letter in the mail with a list of names of people who signed on to support Bramson and Rackman. It's time for those same folks to step up and volunteer to pay the extortion taxes that will be piled on over the next four years.

If you were down at the WTC area when those maniacs hit the building and you saw those men and women rush to their deaths, or if you saw the simple sad beauty of the doomed engine crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, you would just KNOW that there is an alternative in Strome's budget. Yes, the pension rules governing last two years, etc. of pay, the piling in of overtime must be changed period but that is a legal and negotiation issue. There are similar major issues in many public and private service labor contracts and SERPS (what senior private sector managers get in terms of their retirements, separation allowances, etc.

That is how things stand in society now so keep on bitching and moaning but try to separate the wheat from the chaff. Firefighters have earned what they get and I truly believe that Agent Gray would negotiate some future contractual terms to save a brother's job.

But for crying out loud, we get our annual "I am the budget god" message from Strome. Yet we see short range nonsense like trebling the refuse tax, laying off people with small annual salary rates, and closing down requisitions. Also moaning about Cuomo is not a good idea; he did not point a figure at you, he pointed it at the State knowing how desperate the conditions are here.

Sure the tax levy is flawed especially since the tax payer here (comes close to being a regressive tax set-up as it is) will not benefit that much given the refuse and pension add-ons. You cannot be faulted for that. Perhaps if our state representatives stopped separating themselves from City affairs and the City separates itself from school district affairs, we would have an income based tax that would be more in tune with our democratic beliefs in equity,.

But Chuck, take off your mantle of "budget god" and explain the seeming absence of choices concerning cutting or at least suspending exempt positions. We have too many managers and staff officials if we reach in and cut firefighters, junior people, and use fees as a substitute for budgeting. We have a mayor, council, and yes, you and other senior city managers who could take a salary haircut. And, salaries are the tip of the iceberg, maybe you should share non direct compensation costs with all of us.

Stop moaning -- ask your Code responsible overseers on the council to form alliances with other communities to raise concerns with your legislators in Albany. That is good for openers.

And community, stop moaning. These are difficult times and work productively to be heard and make your representatives accountable to the community.

Strome is a good man, a hard working man but he must stop complaining and rationalizing. The pain is State wide. Get working for the community and to the six overseers for the community. And, if Brian Sussman is correct, work to fix it through Latimer, Paulin, Oppenheimer and bring in the County people as well.

That was a good constructive comment, Warren. The bureaucracy is far too top heavy.

For years I've thought, one place I think costs can definitely be cut in the fire department, related to ambulance chasing.

No, I am not talking about lawyers but rather large fire trucks.

NR rules have a a large, multi-staffed NRFD Hook and Ladder or Pumper truck present at every ambulance call. Those NRFD trucks use a lot of gas, and a staff of several fireman for each call.

Certainly there are times when a large, multi-staffed NRFD Hook and Ladder or Pumper truck should accompany an ambulance, such as when there is a fire, or serious car accident.

But often, ambulances are sent for emergencies logically having nothing to do with the Fire Department. A person might have had a heart attack, or other illness having nothing to do with a fire, so an ambulance is called. Such an emergency has nothing to do with a fire or need for NRFD equipment, so why do large Fire Trucks respond, when the solution to the emergency has nothing to do with the NRFD?

My suggestion for a cost saving, is that the NRFD should not always be involved when an ambulance is called.

And in a non-fire situation, when the NRFD does have to repond to an ambulance call, the NRFD should send a small utility vehicle with one fireman to the scene.

This might sound like a solution for a petty problem. But at City Hall and the NR BOE, dollars do add up to hundreds of thousands or millions, as potential savings or alternately as unnecessary costs.

Weeding out such inefficiencies can go a long way to balancing NR's budget, and maintaining vital services while eliminating totally frivolous services whose purpose cannot even be explained.

Dear Mr. Sussman. Let me tell you why the NRFD responds with an ENGINE on EMS calls and not a HOOK and Ladder. First There are 5 Engines companies in New Rochelle and only 3 Ladder companies. Engine companies handle fire suppression and all medical calls, while Ladder companies handle search and rescue, car extrications, stuck elevators etc. Also 99% of all NRFD members are New York State certified EMT-D. Yes there are times when an Engine co. should not be on an EMS call like when someone has a stomach ache or a nose bleed or just has a hard time trying to squeeze out a fart. I can tell you this when someone is having a heart attack or a stroke it takes many people to help that person in need, running lines setting up o2 taking vitals chest compressions. Also the city of new Rochelle has 2 full time ambulance and 1 part time ambulance The part time ambulance ends at 7pm. And there are many times in this city that all 3 ambulance are out on calls at the same time and the only thing left to help the citizens of New Rochelle is the NRFD. So you really don't know how the NRFD works. Why don't you go out and ask someone who's life was saved by the NRFD and ask them if we shouldn't send the NRFD on EMS calls. Maybe just maybe when you need the NRFD services they won't be there for you every think of that!!. I have used their services many of times and I can't thank them enough.

Get bigger ambulances with a crew cab and put 3 to 4 EMT on them, send them on call for nose bleeds and for someone that cant squeeze out a fart.
Then bill them, then maybe they will take a freaking cab the next time.

All Mr. Sussman is trying to say is that it's a waste to send a big rig all over for every med call that cant be billed. The wear and tear and diesel fuel on those fire trucks is not necessary for more then 50% of the calls.

IMO there can be a cut back on the use of the big rigs

The calls to the nursing homes sometimes 6 to 10 times a day is one of them, these nursing homes should have all the life saving equipment on hand and the help to load someone into an Ambulance. There is no need to run a big rig back and forth for the nursing homes and if continue to do so the city should charge them with all the money they make of the old and helpless

Ambulance should be a total out source entity

Let me know what City has bigger ambulances with 4 EMT's? How does that make any sense?

"Hook and Ladders" do not respond to EMS calls.

If a Fire Engine is only needed on 50% of EMS call and they are able to help people in need on 50% of those calls with life preservation care don't you think it is beneficial to have them respond?

All the fire trucks in New Rochelle last more than 50% past their expected life span thru proper maintenance and care. Gong on less calls per day with have a minimal benefit.

The EMS calls to nursing homes are to care for seniors who you have no concern for. Maybe you will be in an assisted living home someday waiting for an ambulance and a Fire Engine shows up with EMTs 10 minutes before an ambulance and is able to start CPR and save your life. You will then have a different opinion. Most employees in nursing homes do not start life saving care prior to the fire dept. response especially at 4am when you are home sleeping.

The ambulance service in New Rochelle is an out source agency. If you want to have more EMT's on ambulance and bigger ambulances as stated, then the city will have to pay for the additional services.
Let me know what City has bigger ambulances with 4 EMT's? How does that make any sense?

It is probably cheaper for New Rochelle to run its own services than outsourcing.

Outsourcing and privatization means the government has to pay costs and provide for a profits. The NR government can cuts its costs by providing services directly without a profit, or alternately use the profit for offsetting other government services rather than increasing taxes.

This is also true for a number of services the government pays for. The City of NR could provide services to local towns and villages that currenly use private outsourcing. By doing so, our government's coffers will receive additional income from outside of NR, rather than increasing taxes. This could be used to maintain or enhance our services such as snow or sanitation removal, without additional taxes.

I think one of the government's major costs increases over the last 50 years, has been the greater expense of privatization of government.

I also think privatization of government, and other contracting out by government provides the illusion if not the reality of possible governmental corruption.

As such, I think our City government should get out of the Residential Development Industry, and concentrate on what it's there for, to provide services for the public and to encourage local commerce.

While I can agree some of your concept and idea has the best interest of the city in mind, you tend to digress into argument that has no basis of fact or research. This post is a good example. While your ignorance of the emergency response system is apparent, it boggles my mind to see such a criticism totally void of numbers or even correct information. FD support for emergency calls has an importance that you don't seem to get. It's sort of like a fire extinguisher, in that it may spend years sittng there until the time comes when you need it. When that time comes, there is no other piece of equiptment that can replace it. When a call comes in for a heart attack and there's 4 flights of stairs to climb, or a door is locked or there's fuel spilled all over the place, why would you put EMS crews, who aren't trained for this scenario in harms way? The FD crews are already on duty. Trying to save a few bucks on fuel while putting lives at risk ain't the way.
Rather than putting people's lives at risk, why not ask any entity who has abated tax programs to pay for emergency services. Or better yet, focus on the misspending and inefficiencies in the largest chunk of our taxes. Instead of chasing shadows, why not go where the money is?
By your own admission, you were told to not post here until after the elections. Why was that? Maybe the ideas you have that are good would have looked bad for the Democratic Party or taken votes from the party you so avidly support.
Come down of the high horse and honestly work with all involved. You said yourself we are enlightened, so wouldn't that mean being able to see all sides to a situation and then being able to take the best from all ideas presented to arrive at a positive solution?
I'm just sayin'. I have no doubt you will respond by redirecting the topic and altering the context of this reply, but so be it. I just needed to put this out there.

Brian get your facts right the fire department does not respond to every ambulance call where did you get that from? Calls for the ambulance go through county control its there that they determine if the medical emergency requires the fire department on the scene.Car crashes,heart attacks,infants not breathing.The ambulance is dispatched through county control so they know if there are ambulance's available if they are not, the fire department is dispatched.
You say it's a cost saving's not to send the fire department because of the gas they use. Every big rig uses disiel fuel so your saying a LIFE is less important than a gallon of fuel.
The firemen are paid no matter if they go on a call or not so why not use them on medical calls when a fire is not going on. The firemen are trained EMS people and the City Of New Rochelle should be proud to have them on stand by to save the Lives of all residents of this city.
Brian the only savings you are getting is a few dollars on fuel and to me that's not worth a LIFE. Remember the Life they might save could be yours or a friends god forbid.

The City of New Rochelle could also save money by cutting Al Kantor and Frank Gallo, because these guys does'nt do anything but take bribe from contractors that do business with the City of New Rochelle.Chuck need to get rid of those who only show up to work,but does'nt do anything but harass co-worker, and being disrespectable to other.Make the cuts or layoff at the right places.

HELP!!!

I urge all republican council members not to circumvent the tax cap. This budget released by Chuck Strome is typical of him. He throws out these scary numbers and threatens employees with layoffs and then comes back and says, "Oh, but with just a 6.5% tax increase we can avoid all this. That will only amount to a mere $150.00 more a year per resident."

The goal here was obvious from the beginning--oust republicans and get a democratic super majority so Bramson could push his agenda and try to achieve one thing as mayor that he can take on his bid for Congress.

Don't let it happen. He tried to screw all the republicans and his plan means bonding out the city yard and giving away real estate to Forest City Rattner. Moreover, this plan of his to increase density in the downtown involves significant infrastructure improvals that will cost taxpayers dearly. More importantly, the plan is so long term that residents will not see any relief for many, many years to come. In the meantime, we can expect ten or more years of significant tax increases coupled with reduced services while this "density" plan is ongoing.

The republicans need to focus on short term goals that will bring in revenue and not this ridiculous path Bramson is leading the city down. Undoubtedly, the tax cap will be circumvented next budget cycle. For this budget, let the dems live with the damage they caused and take the heat for the layoffs and the garbage fee.

Don't forget, Bramson and Strome lied. They try to paint the development projects in NR as having a "net benefit." This budget hardly suggests any benefit to the city or it's employees. Likewise, they held back the information until AFTER the election--under scheme to mislead the public.

Thanks to TOTS, the truth about NR is getting out. City officials lie and their is no shortage of corruption in City Hall, as you can tell by Fevang, Procopio and D'abruzzi. Don't be fooled by Havard ease.

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