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The Berkshires

Newburgh City Council passes 2013 budget

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Albany/HV: Newburgh City Council passes 2013 budget
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After months of discord, the Newburgh City Council struck a compromise, unanimously passing the city's budget for 2013. YNN's John Wagner has the details.

NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- In 2013, two new police officers and a part time human resources representative will come to work in Newburgh thanks to a budget deal now set in stone.

The rep will work on implementing performance reviews, while the officers will work on cleaning up the streets.

"Safety is a big big issue in this city and one of the things I want our police officers to know we are trying to support them, we want our citizens to know that we are paying attention," said Newburgh City Mayor Jude Kennedy.

To ink the deal while staying within the tax cap, planned raises for non union workers were cut, and a deputy fire position and one firefighter vacancy were eliminated. Their union president said the late changes make homes vulnerable.

"Our safety's at risk and also the safety of taxpayers, you know we're getting to the point now were were almost unable to do our job safely and efficiently," said Tim Hager, Local 589 Firefighters Union President.

To reach a unanimous vote, weeks ago thought highly unlikely, the mayor backed off on a plan to merge city departments.

"I'd much rather be effective than have to prove who's right," said Mayor Kennedy.

"They came together, they didn't go up on the taxes, they didn't go up on the water and sewer, I think they did an excellent job," said Sheila Monk, a Newburgh City Resident.

But Mayor Kennedy said she hasn't backed off on her goals of creating an internal demolition and construction team to save money on hiring outside contractors. They'll take up the issue in January.

"Our citizens are outraged about the price, and so am I," said said Mayor Kennedy.

When it comes to budget dollars, taxpayers say they already pay too much and the city should have done something to create revenue rather than a tax cap hike.

"They complain that they can't give raises to the non bargaining unit staff, that's not the priority, it's the taxpayers, the residents, the public safety," said Denise Ribble, Newburgh City Resident.

"I think this budget is as lean as it can be in this stage of the game, there's not much in there," said said Mayor Kennedy.

As the city moves into 2013, revenue generation, job growth, and infrastructure upgrades take center stage.

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