Saturday, December 05, 2009


So, I think it's safe to assume most of you have had the time to digest the ramifications of the budget that my colleagues and I passed last Thursday. The Mayor has since signed the document and we now head into 2010 with a budget $414,000 less than 2009.

The total spending plan, at $34.5 million, includes a dozen layoffs. That would have the be the most painful part of this process. And yet I shouldn't have to remind anyone that Kingston is not the only municipality that has suffered this level of cuts in personnel.

It seems this is the year to also get a crash course on the difference between the Tax Rate and the out of pocket Taxes that property owners contend with. The tax rate will rise by more than 9% while the average residential property will see a little less than 3% of an increase. What is more astonishing to some, non-homestead taxes will decrease by almost 5%. Our three business associations should be happy to hear this.

Ordinarily, a larger portion of the city's operating costs are covered by a variety of sources outside of the tax base. With a drastic decline in such revenues, the burden falls back on the taxpayer. (Hopefully for a short one or two year period)
In order to lessen the pain for our citizenry, we had to make some really difficult choices regarding the services the city offers and the number of employees retained to provide those said services.

Let me say here, that I am not thrilled with the empty give backs by the Fire and Police unions. I say empty because I know as well as they, that come next year, the Council and the taxpayers will be faced with a more abysmal set of circumstances while dealing with the 7% raise that this year's concessions gave them. This was a "Hail Mary" pass to 2011 as we pray that the economy turns around like, well the Titanic?

For those intimately involved with this process, you'll have to agree that everyone was taken back by the CSEA's resistance to work to save DPW jobs. If there was ever a reason to pay union dues, this was the time. There are now 9 employees looking at dismissal on January 1st, and paying mandatory dues out of their paychecks right up to the last day. Would you want to offer that Union even a nickel at this point?

While we did manage to reinstate several positions in the Rec Dept and several prime offices, we couldn't save them all. We managed to shave an additional percent off the Tax Rate during the (sometimes heated) debates, but still held out hope of negotiations with CSEA leadership. The end result: the City of Kingston loses some of the hardest working employees on our payroll.

One element was not lost on the audience at the final Council meeting...the President of the Union representing the Civil Service employees slipped out the door like a bullet. I don't know what the working conditions will be like at the DPW barn during the next few weeks. Lets just ask for calm and restraint.

I want to thank most of the Council and those that not only offered their own cuts, but those who helped with the numbers and cost saving ideas during these past two months. Ironically, the two Councilmen who offered not one idea or cut were both NO votes on the floor. I have no words to express my disappointment, so I'll stop there.

It's odd to think this is my last city budget. Going out after such a brutal experience for us Councilmen, Employees and Taxpayers doesn't bode well with me. But we did the best with what we had and I'm glad the Mayor accepted our efforts. My thoughts go out to those who face unemployment and to those who face higher taxes in 2010.


Anonymous said...

shame on the leadership of the csea they are greedy and could care less about what the members want. if i were a csea member i would throw them out on thier ear they should give back the dues to the members because they do nothing for them but take thier money union should mean unitied but the union leaders chose to sacafice thier own members for a few dollars more its time for a new voice for te hard working little guy of the city rid yourself of csea and go get what you pay for representation for all

Anonymous said...

Mike Its not 9 its 14. !3 laborers and one Maintenance assistant.
The Police and fire both have contracts that are filled with perks. CSEA has none.

Police have $83,000.00 in uniform allowance to give back. $25,000.00for education.

DPW worker get $125.00 dollars for boots. That they need to do their job.

The Mayor and the council wanted 1.2 million dollars in give backs that the lowest paid City employees just didn't have. To make it even tougher CSEA was lumped in with economic and comminity development.

The CSEA President was at every meeting with his members and should be commended for it. He knew what was going to happen and that he could not do one thing to help out his members. His hands were tied by his superiors in Albany that would have blocked any deal he could have worked out.

He will have to look at the faces of these employees everyday until January 1st. You the Mayor and the council do not.

Faced with ove 20 positions slated for removal or cut to part time, the council decided to lay off the hardest workers not the union.

In the word of PBA president save all the jobs or save none. CSEA could not have saved all the jobs only a select few and that would have been the friends and family not the hardest workers.

Anonymous said...

CSEA represents the poorest workforce in the city. The City wanted $1.2 million from CSEA employees, $600,000.oo from POLICE union, and 250,000.oo from Fire union. Where, may I ask is the logic or parity in that unreasonable request asked of csea? The council had an opertunity to cut jobs and positions from non- aligned personel yet CHOSE to layoff thier LABORERS! Now they want to blame the union for protecting the integrity of thier contract and for not being able to pony up the kind of perks they do not possess within thier contract like the "richer" union contacts have i.e. Police and Fire. It doesnt work that way. In the interest of fairness, is that really fair and ethical? Or is it just politics as usual coming outta City Hall!

Anonymous said...

What went on after the CSEA president left that night? He will have to be among the members being laid off and his safety seems to be a concern of yours.

Teamsters in Sullivan County are not opening up there contract either. Lets see what the teachers union in Saugerties is going to do.

Will Local 17 open up it contract for the Town of Ulster?

The Police and Fire have lucrative contracts and all they did was delay the inevitable.

The County legislature is faced with the same problems as Kingston. CSEA will not open its contract there either, and the managers union will do the same.

Stop blaming the unions for the problems the politicians created. Keep your friends and family employed in comfy positions and lay off the lowest paid workers.

How could CSEA come up with 1.2 million dollars to save all the jobs? Delaying the 3% raise would not have generated $300,000.00. Leaving well over $900,000.00 in employee lay offs.

The only reason there are no layoffs at the fire department is because they are grieving the 5 vacated positions left by the early retirement incentive.

Anonymous said...

What selected properties had their assessments lowered - not any I know!

Anonymous said...

CSEA president Bart Robins offered a voluntary furlough at DPW. Only 3 members signed up for it. What else could he do.

Only a couple of DPW members showed up at the finance committee meetings. They could not even take a couple of hours to fight for their own jobs. Its their fault not the unions.

At the members meeting before the budget hearings started Robins told all his members to show up and bring their friends and family. Only Rob Dassie listened and he saved his job.

Members who are getting laid off have only to look in the mirror to see who to blame.

Anonymous said...

News Flash: Municipalities across the state are faced with the same tragic circumstances. CSEA has refused to negotiate with any of them.
Result: Thousands of hard working employees laid off, facing their own financial crisis and by default, adding to the crazy unemployment numbers. Where do the chiefs in Albany think they're taking their membership? I agree with 10:45, CSEA should face a serious cleansing or be shown the door.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that you cannot get rid of a union while they are under contract. All City contracts run through the end of 2011. That means this council and the new one in 2010 will still have to deal with CSEA. I could deal with delays at City Hall, but with yardwaste, leaves, trash, pot holes, sewer breaks.

If this was some ploy by the common council to oust CSEA it just backfired. You laid off the biggest wokrforce in the City. There is no way we can expect the same level of service.

Anonymous said...

NEWS FLASH 10:45 and 1:56.

Lawmakers across the state will have to make tough decisions. Do we layoff my nonworking friends and family or the backbone of the workforce.

Its easy to see what the "good ol boys club" in Kingston did.

What about the teachers in Saugerties? Do they cave in? Does the teachers union then start making concessions all across the state? Or do they stay strong and force goverment to rethink there position. Only time will tell. Stay tuned for more information.

Mike Madsen said...

To 10:45 and 1:56...Thanks for the understanding, but the push to send CSEA out the door doesn't help the issue.
A simple change in the way they engage municipalities when there is a fiscal crisis is all the Taxpayers are asking for. Neither you or I got the raise that they and other unions were looking for, yet town boards and city councils were expected to carry on like there was nothing to fear.
You two sound as if you have limited income and are looking at an increase in taxes on top of already inflated costs in heating, healthcare and food expenditures. Not the kind of subject that the other views here are willing to acknowledge while making their comments here. Forgive them.

Anonymous said...

I work for the city and am getting laid off!!!! i have a 6 month old a car payment and a mortgage il be paying for il be saving money by getting laid off! no skin off my butt!! No child care to pay for union dues and i get to spend my time with my child thanks council for passing the budget! so il collect my unemployment then when it runs out il get another job! i have a cdl and am not worried! Maybe if they did drug testing we would not have to lay off!!!!

Anonymous said...

You were comfortable passing a budget that laid off laborers while consultants, jeeps, and useless employees remained? Where were the cuts?

Can't wait for the IRS story to get out.

Senor didn't vote for the budget because the Rec. Dept. was saved. Rob Dassie is a more respected man in this city than the mayor, Senor, or any other person on the council.

Could you tell us your feelings about a four generation business that has closed and left this area from your ward?

Anyone else notice on their water bill that they have been using the same exact amount of water for their past three bills? No one reading the meters anymore? Seems a little odd that the bill amounts are the same.

I smell bankrupcy in 2011.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone in Kingston looked further than our own border?
The Saugerties Town Board adopted a $16 million 2010 budget that increases the town tax rate by 8.86 percent outside the village and by 19.18 percent within.
Considering what hand they were given, the Kingston Council did better than most of the towns and cities throughout the valley.
We may be be in tough times now but have a little faith people.

Anonymous said...

The Kingston didnt do the best they could, they did the easiest thing they could, you too Mike, sorry but I hope you grow a set before you head uptown.
There was nothing taken from any political position, the easiest people to dump on are the laborers.
Not that the CSEA helps matters by being a bunch of greedy unwilling to negotiate in times of needs folk either but...
The mayor and the council again showed a smart taxpayer that no on there has a clue on making serious cuts or any finnancila intelect at all
Head uptown Mike, you will fit right in with them, they can figure shit out either!
Until the so called leaders around here start at the top and stop hooking up their familes and friends with high dollar jobs that they cant handle, and stop the free for all spending (jeeps, phones free benefits) we are all doomed
It did just hit me though, they all need to take these perks from the community because they arent educated enough to get a real job in the real world!
Since we elect people like this, this is how they would run thier own business, striaght into the ground, thats why none of the own a business or have a real job!
Bring back Rich Cahill, at least he has a clue

Anonymous said...

rich cahill is a coward who uses any means possiable to make the republian party look like they care but he only looks at what he wants people to think he cares and he is a bull sh-i artist and will use ant means possiable including like cares about the union and saving money when the only thing he cares about is his selve being mayor which will never happen he has no back bone he just sucks up to everyone to try and fool them to what he really is a two faced liar

Mike Madsen said...

Now now, I prefer that you keep the name calling focused on me. I am the blog author and an elected official where as Rich is just a former. People are entitled to their opinions and so long as they aren't libel, I post them.
I'd rather everyone continued to pick on me in this space. Thank you.