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City to Increase School Lunch Costs, Parking Fees to Fill Budget Gap

By Jill Colvin | November 12, 2012 9:11am
 Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to increase school lunch prices and parking fees under the budget proposal.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to increase school lunch prices and parking fees under the budget proposal.
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NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to boost the price of school lunches and install hundreds of new Muni-Meters across lower Manhattan in an effort to slash the city's budget deficit by $1.6 billion over the next two years, officials announced late Sunday.

The plan includes trimming the city's workforce by more than 2,000 workers through layoffs and attrition, including major staff reductions at the health and transportation departments.

But the spending plan also relies heavily on items that raise new revenue. The city intends to make extra cash by upping the price of school lunches to $2.50, up from $1.50. The move is intended to bring in more than $30 million over the next four years, budget documents show.

The Department of Transportation is also hoping to raise millions of dollars in revenue by establishing new commercial and passenger parking meter areas across lower Manhattan, as well as adding 428 new multi-space meters.

The city also wants to boost parking rates at Muni-Meters across Manhattan, from $3 to $3.50 an hour, south of 96th Street. Parking costs would jump from $1 to $1.50 an hour between 96th and 110th streets. Municipal parking garage rates would also rise.

In prisons, the city intends to eliminate 50 uniform positions by cutting back inmates' recreation schedules from seven days a week to five. However, longer exercise sessions will mean weekly workout time will increase by 30 minutes, to 7.5 hours a week, documents show.

The city also intends to save money by canceling a planned January 2013 reopening of the Queens Detention Complex, and laying off staff in areas including HIV testing, a cut budget officials warn "may lead to delays in partner notification."

The city also intends to cut after-school programming by $10 million and slash school health budgets, eliminating funding for vision screening of students in kindergarten and first

Officials stressed the cuts would not impact any of the city’s Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and said that NYPD and FDNY staffing levels will not change. The number of sanitation workers will increase by more than 100 from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2014.

"New York has fared better than other cities through fiscal uncertainty because of our responsible budgeting, and these measures will help to maintain critical services, including all hurricane relief, while keeping the city's fiscal house in order," said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

Despite the new cuts, the city still faces a $1.15 billion budget hole next fiscal year, assuming the city is able to cash in on the $790 million it expects to collect through the sale of 2,000 new yellow cab medallions — a deal that is currently held up by the courts.