It's the political version of the Hatfields vs. the McCoys -- Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is squaring off with the fire department over the budget. On one hand Yonkers Mayor Spano tells PIX 11 News firefighters call in sick routinely, abuse overtime and make too much money. On the other, his firefighters tell PIX 11 News, the Mayor has dropped the ball to fill several federally funded positions.
These are jobs that the city will not be on the hook for.
"The battle is pretty bad. Like I've said, I've been around a while and this is the worst I've seen," said Rudy Sarro, the Yonkers Captain of Station 1, Ladder 71.
Yonkers Firefighters have battled some of the toughest fires imaginable. The political inferno they're engaged in now with the city is forcing them to not only rally but also to operate in fear, "That is exactly what they have instilled in us with the proposed cuts they are making," said Jose Caraballo, a veteran known throughout the department.
Budget cuts have been part of everyday vernacular at Yonkers City Hall for quite some time. The fire department that is usually on the receiving end, but over the years they have made cuts in areas that are unexpected, "We've had so many cuts in the fire department the last few years that we have changed brands of toilet paper," said Barry McGoey, president of IAFF Local 628 Yonkers Firefighters , and who quickly added, "As a matter a fact, we went to from white hand towels to brown hand towels because they were cheaper and quite often we have no hand towels."
Five members of the city's 2011 class met with PIX 11 News in front of Ladder 71 at headquarter, hen asked, "If they were concerned about their jobs?"
All raised their hands.
They did this in the shadows of city hall, Tom Addonozio described what he saw when he looked at the building that represents Yonkers, "Someone trying to make me unemployed right now."
The firefighters were hired as part of the of the SAFER Act a federal grant that Yonkers received to hire new recruits. However, as the city has failed to fill its 28 vacancies due to budget, Mayor Mike Spano did tell PIX 11 News during an interview in his office that he has no problems not creating those federally funded, jobs and creating leverage instead by holding onto the money, "If you guys come and negotiate then will start looking at this money to make jobs?" I think it's fair to say that everything is negotiable right now."
Mayor Spano was adamant that no jobs will be lost or firehouses closed.
Firefighters tell PIX 11 News, they don't buy it.
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