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Mayor Announces $1.6 Billion Cuts to City Services

By DNAinfo Staff on November 18, 2010 8:40am  | Updated on November 19, 2010 6:34am

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — Deep cuts announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday will slash $1.6 billion from the city's budget, eliminating thousands of jobs and reducing services across the city.

The proposal would cut 900 jobs through layoffs this year, with another 1,200 lost through attrition. The cuts will be even more severe in 2012 with more 5,312 layoffs and another 3,000 jobs lost through attrition.

That includes the elimination of 6,166 teaching positions and 350 civilian police positions as well as the layoff of 118 administrative and support staff at the Administration for Children’s Services and 129 at the Department of Finance.

Other cuts will impact nearly every service in the city. 9,000 fewer potholes will be filled, child care co-payments will increase, police cars will stay on the road longer and prisoners will be fed fewer slices of bread.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is deeply critical of some of the cuts, including staff reductions at ACS.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is deeply critical of some of the cuts, including staff reductions at ACS.
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Courtesy William Charles Alatriste, City Council

Parking fees at city meters will also rise, as will fees on permits for public tennis courts and baseball diamonds, and staff at twenty of the city's fire companies will be redeployed at night — companies that the City Council saved from closure during negotiations back in June.

Thursday's budget cuts come after a bruising round of cutbacks earlier year.

"We face a significant challenge for next year, as Federal stimulus dollars run dry and the city still suffers from the impacts of the national economic downturn," Bloomberg said in a statement announcing the plan.

"We simply cannot afford the size of our current workforce," he said, adding that more layoffs and cutbacks are on their way as the city struggles to close what is still a $2.4 billion budget gap.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith blamed the cuts squarely on skyrocketing pension costs, which have forced the city to up the pension allocation by a billion dollars to $8.3 billion in 2012.

"Everything is driven by the pension costs," he said. "We’re struggling and scraping to come up with a billion and a half dollars in additional savings" while being forced to pay billions out because of existing obligations," he said.

In addition to the planned layoffs, the city has also suggested furloughs for the first time, including at the Department of Transportation, where 641 staffers will be forced to stay home for a week. The city would need union approval for many of those.

City services for children, the elderly and disabled will also be severely impacted. The city will eliminate funding for Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability clinical programs and reduce funding for case management in the Department of Aging, which provide seniors with home care and home delivered meals.

Libraries will lose $20 million, reducing the average days of service by approximately one per week and summer youth employment slots and school holiday programs will be slashed.

But Goldsmith was adamant that the public will not suffer as a result of the cuts.

"This budget will not reduce the quality of public services," he said.

Others strongly disagreed on Thursday.

At a press conference called in response to the proposal, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she is deeply concerned by a number of the cuts, including staff reductions at the ACS.

"We believe and have fear that this staff reduction would strain agency workers who are already overburdened and potentially place children at risk," she said. "We are not going to agree to any cuts that put the lives of the neediest children in the City of New York who we are charged with protecting at risk."

She also took serious issue with cuts to senior and homeless and runaway youth services, after-school programs and reduced fire night coverage.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced budget cuts on Thursday.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced budget cuts on Thursday.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

Finance Committee Chair Domenic Recchia also raised concerns about cuts to the district attorney’s budget, which he warned will up crime and compromise drug treatment and domestic violence assistance.

Quinn said that the Council plans to begin hearings on the cuts in December.

But Goldsmith said that even if the City Council objects to the plan, there’s nothing they can do. The mayor is required to get the Council’s stamp when it comes to securing extra funding, but not when it comes to cuts.

Quinn warned, however, that if the mayor wanted to allocate new funds to any department, he would have to submit  the proposed cuts.

"We have a lot of ways we can stop things from happened that we don't want to have happen even if there isn't a direct vote on it," Quinn said.

Others also remained optimistic.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said he was hopeful that layoffs can be avoided through negotiations with the city.

"This is serious news — but last year we had a similar problem and by working together we solved it without layoffs. That’s what the union, the Mayor and the Chancellor —  whoever that person turns out to be  — are going to have to do again this year," he said.

In addition to cutting the Department of Education’s budget by $350 million, the plan replaces $853 million of expiring Federal stimulus funding with city money.

In September, Bloomberg ordered a partial hiring freeze and told city agency directors to shrink their budgets by 5.4 percent this year and 8 percent next year, with smaller cuts for the Department of Education and police and fire departments.