YONKERS, N.Y. – A state court of appeals has rejected the City of Yonkers’ request to lift a temporary restraining order preventing the mayor from moving forward with a plan that he says would slash overtime costs in the fire department.
A five-member panel of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court unanimously denied the request late last week. That means Yonkers, for the time being, will have to maintain minimum staffing levels of 57 firefighters per day, compared to the mayor’s proposal of 48.
“This is a victory for the public safety of those living, working and visiting Yonkers as well as its firefighters,” Barry McGoey, president of Yonkers Firefighters Local 628, said in a news release. “Public safety is more important than furthering one’s political agenda.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano has proposed a plan that would have subjected two fire stations to temporary closure and taken two trucks off the streets if staffing levels citywide dropped below 54 firefighters on any given day. Firefighters would not be brought in on overtime pay until numbers dropped below 48, according to the plan.
City officials estimated it would have saved taxpayers $5 million, but the firefighters’ union, Yonkers Firefighters Local 628, adamantly opposed the move, filing a lawsuit against the city.
The night before the plan was set to take effect, state Supreme Court Justice John La Cava granted the union a temporary restraining order, preventing the city from moving forward.
While union leaders have applauded the ruling as a win for residents and their safety, the mayor has called it “essentially an order to the taxpayers of Yonkers” to pay higher taxes.
A full hearing on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 30.