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White Plains Residents React to City Layoffs

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - When lifelong White Plains resident Del Bretones, 77, heard that the city laid off four employees Tuesday , he had a few words of advice for city hall.

"Before they lay off anyone or do anything that affects workers' salaries, they should look at their own house and see how they can cut their own salaries," said Bretones. "I'm sure they're all making at least in the five or six figures. That ought to go first. The people that are living from check to check, what are they going to do if they're laid off?"

Some residents Wednesday said they understood the city was struggling to balance a budget amidst a bleak economy and the rising cost of state-mandated pension and health care contributions for city employees. Still some locals criticized the city's decision to lay off two cashiers in the parking department, an office assistant in the public safety department, and an employee in personnel in exchange for $250,000 in savings.

According to published reports, there were two new additions made to Mayor Thomas Roach's office over the past two months - a senior advisor to the mayor and a director of special projects. Those hires did not help the situation, according to Dora Olmedo.

"He should think more about other people and not have a preference for employees he likes or he wants to have there," said Olmedo, 46.

White Plains effectively laid off another eight employees by "defunding" several positions on July 1. The city saved about $623,700 for letting go of a mayor's office aid, budget department secretary, graphics technician, building department clerk, parks and recreation secretary, youth bureau employee and two public works department employees earlier this month.

Karen Pasquale, the senior advisor to Mayor Thomas Roach, said Roach was granted the right to cut $1.5 million in salaries and benefits from the Common Council this May. All layoffs were motivated by budgetary concerns.

What are your thoughts on the layoffs? Are you concerned about the budget? Do you think other alternatives should have been attempted? Email your thoughts with strangle@thedailywhiteplains.com and we'll include your responses in future coverage.

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