State Takes Control of Finances in Yonkers, Threatens Charges

Associated Press

A state board today assumed control of Yonkers' finances and threatened defiant City Council members with criminal charges in an effort to force them to accept a court-ordered desegregation plan.

"In short, our goal is to save Yonkers from itself," said Secretary of State Gail Shaffer, head of the Yonkers Emergency Financial Control Board. The board voted 5 to 1 to impose a wage and hiring freeze and made council members who refuse to obey rules for fiscal responsibility subject to misdemeanor charges.

The four council members who voted against the desegregation plan ordered by U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand already are paying fines and face a threat of imprisonment beginning Thursday on Sand's contempt of court citation.

The U.S. 2nd District Court of Appeals today said it would rule on a city request to stay $500-a-day fines against the councilmen and bankrupting fines against Yonkers. The panel did not say when it would rule.

The control board, established by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo earlier in the decade when Yonkers came near bankruptcy, has sweeping powers to control the budget of the state's fourth-largest city. It could remove the councilmen from office.

Sand fined the city $100 the first day, doubling daily so that by day 22 the amount would have wiped out the city's $337-million budget.

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