YONKERS, N.Y. – With just one year left atop the Yonkers City Council, Chuck Lesnick said he is committed to making every day count in 2013.
The Council President, who is in the final year of his second term in office, said he has a “bucket list” of goals he wants to accomplish before his time in City Hall expires.
“One never knows in life where it will take you and I want to make sure I get done what I came into office to do,” he said last week.
For Lesnick, that includes addressing goals in three areas: fiscal, quality of life and development. But atop the to-do list is Yonkers’ budget woes.
“The number one priority of the City Council is always the budget,” he said.
That will mean tackling the problem of trying to balance a budget that has been forecasted to be $89 million in the red . But the city made good progress in 2012, Lesnick said, and he hopes an uptick in revenue and state aide combined with lower costs will help bring that projected deficit down.
Ideally, he said, the city would also be able to restore positions within the Yonkers Public School District.
“At the end of the day we want to restore some of the cuts made to the Board of Ed without killing the taxpayers,” he said.
But it doesn’t stop there. The City Council President said he would also like to address various quality of life issues like affordable housing and further reduction in guns and violence.
He pledged the City Council will soon introduce legislation meant to “make a statement on guns” and support gun control. In 2012 Yonkers fielded its lowest murder rate in decades, Lesnick said, showing the city’s increased efforts are helping.
“Police enforcement and the SNUG money prevented retaliatory gang killings and made things better,” he said. “We want to continue in that direction.”
Lesnick also said he is hoping to establish a living wage, something he campaigned on when he ran for mayor and an issue current Mayor Mike Spano has pledged to address as well.
“As the economy improves throughout the county we can start lifting people up on all levels of the economy,” Lesnick said.
Finally, the council president said he wants to focus on development, things like growing the retail and tax base while preserving historic buildings through development. The hope, he said, is to bring a young, educated workforce to Yonkers.
“I’ve always said I want Yonkers to be hip, young, edgy and interesting so young people will stay here,” he said.
As for 2012, there was plenty to be optimistic about, Lesnick said. And the work done over the past year has provided a foundation on which the next year will continue to build, he said.
“A lot of 2013, from a council point of view, will be continuing the progress made in 2012,” he said.