YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: West New York won’t lay off 22 cops, as threatened, and municipal taxes won’t increase this year, under a deal hammered out by Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega and the town police unions.
Under the plan, supervisors who take a buyout before Sept. 4 can collect their severance over 10 years, instead of in one lump sum, a huge income tax savings. They won’t immediately be replaced, cutting administrative costs and keeping the same number of patrol officers on the street, Vega said.
State officials signed off on the deal two weeks ago, and the town Board of Commissioners plans to OK it tomorrow. Police Director Oscar Fernandez told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM that 8 to 10 supervisors already have expressed interest.
Vega during this morning’s news conference
“The PBA is pleased, obviously, that there was a resolution without the need for layoffs,” West New York PBA attorney Eric B. Levine told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM, following a news conference in Vega’s office this morning. “Layoffs wouldn’t be in the best interests of anybody.”
Moments earlier, Vega delivered the news that the town had been waiting for:
“This is a new and innovative concept that prevents any police lay-offs, protects taxpayers, reduces administrative costs and focuses our resources on protecting people.”
Vega had pressed the police unions for health benefit givebacks in exchange for keeping the 22 officers (See: WNY threatens large-scale layoffs ).
The mayor noted that Town Hall employees agreed to the scaled-down health plan, among other givebacks that Vega said have “improved productivity and saved millions of dollars.”
But the idea was going nowhere with police who face potential danger and hazards around each turn.
So the deadline for cutting the positions was extended (See: WNY cop layoffs postponed ), Vega announced that “all options are on the table” (See: WNY police face devastatating layoffs ) and the new agreement was announced this morning.
The road getting there was long.
Property taxes in West New York had run amok when Vega became mayor, Fernandez said.
Vega with Police Director Oscar Fernandez
“It’s a shame he was put into this situation,” the police director said, as Vega stood nearby, giving Channel 41 an on-camera interview. “This is a problem he took over from the past administration, and he has not been afraid to tackle it.”
Deep cuts helped reduce property taxes by 19% the last quarter, while holding the line on tax bills being mailed this week, Vega said.
The mayor said he’s not concerned how people will judge him for what he’s doing.
Rank-and-file police had blasted him for originally looking to ax a quarter of the patrol force, saying he was threatening citizens’ safety . Some people talked of a recall election.
Vega, meanwhile, says he ignores it all.
“I am the mayor of West New York,” he declared this morning. “I come to work every day to take care of what has become a difficult situation in the finances of the town.
“Anybody who says that taxes are increasing in West New York is completely wrong,” Vega said. “We are doing everything we can to cut spending and reduce taxes…
“And our plan is working.”
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