Posted on Sep 27, 2017
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano was our special guest at our evening meeting on Wednesday, 27 September at the Dolphin Restaurant. Besides Club members, many others from local community organizations were present to listen to the Mayor. 
The Mayor outlined the programs the City has undertaken over the last six years.   The perception of Yonkers – the fourth largest City in New York State - has changed because good stories have been repeated over and over again in the media – as the media normally tends not to cover good news.  The Mayor pointed out that according to the FBI, Yonkers has been in the top 10 safest cities in all of the United States for the last 20 years.  Crime is down 30% in Yonkers overall. This is important and people need to be told about this good news.  The Mayor said he is trying to tell the story.  Yonkers is building on this success.    
The Yonkers Schools are doing well and the School District is being built up one step at a time.  Out of the big five cities in  New York State, Yonkers has the highest graduation rate.  The Administration is diverse and diversity is our strength, the Mayor proclaimed..  Yonkers has the first Latino School Superintendent.  Yonkers Basics Program is re-enforcing the notion that third graders need to be reading at their grade level.  Seventy per cent of the third graders in Yonkers are at or below poverty level.  Mayor Spano said we have the ability to give every child a Free Lunch, and we should, so that there is no stigma attached for those on the Free Lunch program.  We should provide the expectation to every student that they will go to college and have a decent job afterwards.   
Yonkers has 1700 units of affordable housing which are being rebuilt over the next 5 years.  Yonkers is focusing on the issues that matter most. The Mayor said he has reached out to businesses to test out projects in Yonkers before trying them out in New York City.  Yonkers  has a strong bond rating of A. 
The Mayor highlighted three things in the budget are escalating in costs – Union Contracts, Pension costs and Healthcare costs. The Healthcare costs grew by $12m last year and will continue to grow by double digits over the next three years. . So these have to be paid for before the City can hire more teachers, police or firemen.  The top teacher salary in Yonkers is $165,000, which the mayor said is decent and every bit of it well-deserved.  Yonkers will still have challenges – like every other city but it has made  remarkable progress.  Approval has been received to build three new schools which will be on the football field of Gorton High School, Ashburton Avenue, and Ravine Avenue.   Unfortunately, Albany is not approving money to rebuild the existing old schools. 
We need to push economic development, ensure safer streets, and rebuild our schools one step at a time.  The new schools will make office space available for doctors, dentists, so students can get the checkups they need.  School security is being enhanced by having drills and providing police radios to school security personnel. 
Yonkers Second Deputy Mayor Steve Levy accompanied the Mayor and took pictures.