Bloomberg Calls for Layoffs With City $500M Over Budget

By Jill Colvin on November 19, 2011 11:35am 

Mayor Bloomberg presented his Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Executive Budget and an updated four-year financial plan on May 6, 2011.
Mayor Bloomberg presented his Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Executive Budget and an updated four-year financial plan on May 6, 2011.
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Mayor's Office/Edward Reed

CITY HALL — Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for another round of layoffs Friday in an updated budget that shows city agencies have spent nearly half-a-billion dollars more than expected so far this fiscal year, mainly due to overtime.

Despite a bruising round of budget cuts this spring, the city plans to lay off 250 more workers by the end of Jun 2012, in effort to save another $500 million, the new documents show.

According to the figures, city agencies have spent nearly half-a-billion dollars more than had been budgeted so far this year, thanks in part to the twin punches of the post-Christmas blizzard and Hurricane Irene.

Unlike recent budget cycles, there are no threats of fire house closures, senior center shutdowns or teacher layoffs this time around; but agencies have been pushed to squeeze savings everywhere, from cutting photocopying and printing costs to minimizing overtime.

Among the hardest hit is the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which is expected to face 34 layoffs by the end of June, 2011 and another 41 the June after that. Another 96 agency staff are expected to be lost through attrition over the next year and a half.

The Department of Cultural Affairs was also hit hard with cuts that could force them to lay off 109 staff members this year and 109 the year after that.

And the fire Department will lose 44 non-uniformed officers this year and 29 the next.

While the Department of Education fulfilled its promised of no new personnel cuts, it will slash $147 million though savings on things like special education contracts, consultants and overtime.

The city has also proposed privatizing the operation of four of the city's marine transfer stations for garbage, which would force the Department of Sanitation to shed 248 uniformed workers and an additional 54 civilian staffers through attrition in 2013.

In addition to taxes, the city is banking on $1 billion in new revenue from the sale of new taxi medallions, which can only be achieved through controversial legislation the governor has yet to sign.

The mayor also intends to take another $2 billion out of the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund in 2013 and 2014, emptying the piggy bank the city had saved.

But the city still will be in the red $2 billion next fiscal year, even with $1 billion in new cuts, including 1,300 workers lost through layoffs and attrition.

“Even with a billion dollars in new taxi medallion revenue and the savings items released today, we still need to fill a $2 billion hole and the national economic picture remains volatile and highly uncertain,” said Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor.

In addition to the cuts, the city has found some new ways to raise cash, including stepped up enforcement of unregulated tobacco products.

The city will also boost fees for street activity permits from $15 to $25, and the Department of Investigating will begin charging $130 for fingerprints instead of the current $110.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Finance Dominic Recchia, Jr., who in the past have not been shy about drawing attention to cuts they oppose, said they would take their time to review the proposals.

“The Council recognizes the need to make cuts that will help address next year's budget gap. As we have demonstrated before, the Council will again seek a fiscally responsible budget that won't compromise public safety or harm the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” they said in a statement.

Next year’s budget is expected to top more than $70 billion.

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