YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers met benchmarks for success in three key areas in 2014: Controlling the cost of government, improving the schools, and encouraging development to improve the tax base and provide jobs. We succeeded because we governed in a bipartisan manner – putting progress over politics.
Just three years ago when our Administration took office, the unemployment rate in Yonkers stood at 9.1%, the City faced chilling budget deficits, our students were reeling from years of cuts to schools, and development plans were stalled. The challenges we faced – and continue to face – are real and complex, but the record of the past years shows we continue to move Yonkers forward. We’ve closed the deficit while controlling taxes, we’ve created new local jobs, and we’ve ended the years of political gridlock that stalled budgets and progress. As a result, Democrats and Republicans have passed three consecutive bipartisan, balanced budgets, within the property tax cap and without cuts to services.
Today, unemployment in Yonkers stands at 6 percent, home sales and sale prices are on the rise, more people are shopping and supporting the local economy, and Yonkers is the second fastest growing big city in New York. Thanks to our partners on the City Council, our municipal bond ratings are the highest they’ve been in a generation, up from near junk status only three years ago.
Yonkers is open for business. We’re cutting red tape and working with our partners at the local and state levels to bring businesses here. In 2014, we broke ground on RiverTides, a $100 million, 330-unit waterfront development that will set the standard for luxurious living in Westchester. Ridge Hill and Cross County continue to expand, opening new stores and restaurants that are creating hundreds of jobs in our City. And in every corner of Yonkers, new hotels, residential developments and small businesses are creating jobs and growing our economy.
We’re proud to be a leader in sustainability. In 2014, we completed the installation of 11,300 new LED streetlights, replacing the old, inefficient lights in every neighborhood in the city – now other cities are following our lead. Yonkers also became the first city in New York to launch a Styrofoam recycling program. And we’re continuing the award-winning daylighting of the Saw Mill River, building two new river parks in Downtown Yonkers.
Working with Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature, we secured millions in new state funding for our schools and Yonkers became the first city in New York to consolidate services with its school district. Now, instead of having duplicative departments, we operate under one roof. That cuts costs, increases taxpayer oversight and frees up resources for the classroom. We’ve begun to restore programs, like sports and art, and thanks to a new federal grant, Yonkers will expand Pre-Kindergarten to a full-day program. This investment in our youth today will pave a path toward future success for years to come.
While we’ve accomplished a lot in 2014 and the years the preceded, we still face many challenges as we look ahead to 2015 and beyond. I look forward to continuing to work together as we keep moving Yonkers forward.
To learn more, watch our A Year in Yonkers video and see our Year in Photos at www.yonkersny.gov/2014.
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