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Bedford Board Passes Budget, Lays Off Two Workers

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y—Two town workers lost their jobs after the Bedford Town Board voted to pass the 2012 budget on Tuesday following a public hearing. The budget includes an annual increase per-household at 2.78%, and cut two blue collar positions from the budget.

While the overall year-to-year tax increase will be 2.78%, the property tax level landed at 1.65%, staying well below the state mandated cap of 2% despite the board ruling to override the cap earlier this year. The monetary figure in line with the percent increase is $53.09 per household, said the Bedford town comptroller Ed Ritter.

Before the budget was passed, the public had a chance to voice their opinions and pleas regarding the budget through a hearing. One of those speakers was Frank Zipp of the Bedford Department of Public Works. Zipp is one of the two men who will be losing their jobs at year's end. He has already fallen on hard times after needing to give back 20% of his income, resulting in the renting out of his home. He pleaded with the board to keep his position alive.

“I am scared, and I don’t know what the future will bring if I’m laid off. I will lose my home,” he explained. “I understand the job of the board is not easy, but your job is also to take care of the people that take care of you and your town.”

“Please keep us working so we can keep the town of Bedford safe,” he continued. “I’m asking the board to please not pass the budget as is, because I’m not in it.”

But the board did, indeed, pass the budget after public comment, finalizing what has been churned through and processed for many months. Zipp, and fellow blue collar worker Kevin Carroll of the custodial department, were left out of it, according to DPW commissioner Kevin Winn.

“We have agonized and tried everything we could possibly do to avoid this,” explained Supervisor Lee V.A Roberts. “We know how painful it is, we suffer over doing it, and it’s not something we take lightly.”

Councilman Chris Burdick noted that the bargaining unit for the blue collar division did not step up to the plate in the board's eyes. "I’m hopeful perhaps the leadership of the blue collar bargaining unit might reconsider their position. We have gone back to them a number of times to work something out, which we had hoped would be fair and equitable."

Peter Chryssos, the deputy supervisor, tried to let Zipp and the rest of Bedford know of what the board believed could have helped his cause.

“When you make that heartfelt proposal, make sure you make that same proposal to the people you work with every day, asking them if they did everything they could to save your job as well,” he said. “We’re going to get to a point where everyone will be polarized. But we all will have to make sacrifices.”

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