Computer Glitch Delays City Budget Vote
By Kiratiana Freelon on June 29, 2011 6:35am
By Jill Colvin
CITY HALL — A computer glitch has delayed the City Council's vote on the contentious 2012 budget.
Members will be forced to reconvene Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. to formally pass the deal reached late last Friday night after a glitch in a new software program scrambled numbers as files passed between the Council and the Mayor's budget office, staffers said.
"We've had some production problems that have delayed publication of the documents," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told fellow members of the Council gathered at the Emigrant Savings Bank as the clock neared midnight.
"It's not exactly as we had previously planned," she said of the vote, which had originally been scheduled for Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Instead of waiting until after 3 a.m. for the documents to finally finish printing after the problems were resolved, lawmakers chose to push the vote to Wednesday morning — but not before formally calling the hearing into session shortly after 11 p.m. and then promptly recessing so that the date on the documents matched the technical date of the hearing.
"It's just a quirky thing," said Upper West Side City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, as she filed out of the bank after the proceedings.
Ahead of the hearing, protesters, who had earlier staged a demonstration inside 250 Broadway where 13 people were arrested, urged members to vote "No" as they passed by, arguing the cuts are still too deep.
The final budget deal, announced late last Friday, averts some of the most devastating proposed cuts, including more than 4,000 teacher layoffs that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had repeatedly insisted were necessary, and 20 fire companies slated for closure.
The City Council also plans to provide millions more in restorations, including additional funding for community groups and cultural organizations, school custodians and senior centers.
But the budget will also slash an estimated 1,000 non-uniformed city jobs and cut millions of dollars from multiple agencies, including the Department of Health and Parks.
Even without teacher layoffs, classes are expected to rise as an estimated 2,600 teachers leave via attrition. Schools will also have to cope with other cuts, including the elimination of Teacher's Choice, which previously reimbursed teachers for classroom expenses.
And while the Administration for Children's Services will not be losing its most experienced case workers, they will face layoffs well as cuts to services, including reduced vouchers for childcare, members said.
"This is not an ideal budget. But as a result of our grassroots organization, we were at least able to put back the number of teachers and put back the firehouses and senior centers," Upper Manhattan City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said.
Still, he added ahead of the hearing, "This is not a good day."