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5 Things You Should Know About New York City's Proposed Budget

By Jeff Mays | February 10, 2015 12:20pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a $77.7 Billion budget for fiscal year 2016 Monday that includes spending on everything from new bulletproof vests for police to $190 million for afterschool programs.
De Blasio Preliminary FY 2016 Budget
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CITY HALL — Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a $77.7 billion budget Monday that includes spending on everything from new bulletproof vests for police to $190 million for after-school programs.

The plan tackles everything from unequal ambulance response times around the boroughs to money for better training of Administration for Children's Services workers.

Here are five proposals in the mayor's budget that you should know about.

1. Reducing EMS response times

The city will spend $11.3 million to add 45 new ambulance tours to make ambulance response times across the city more even. Another $6.7 million will be spent to add 149 new EMS dispatchers.

According to city officials, the average ambulance response time is 6 minutes and 50 seconds. But in some neighborhoods in Staten Island, The Bronx and Western Queens, response times are higher, First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris said.

"There are communities in the city where we start running substantially higher than that," Shorris said.

Some areas in The Bronx face response times of more than 7 minutes, a discrepancy de Blasio called "unacceptable."

The mayor's office could not provide specifics about response time.

2. Improving early childhood education and post-secondary education

The city will continue spending money on its expansion of universal pre-K, investing $340 million in this budget. Another $190 million will be invested to provide 100,000 middle school students with after-school programs. About $700,000 is being dedicated to help kids with dyslexia.

At the college level, the city will invest $29 million to help provide support for students in science, technology, engineering and math studies at City University of New York community colleges.

3. The Administration for Children's Services will receive $11 million to train its workers.

De Blasio was highly critical of the child welfare agency during his time as a city councilman and as the public advocate. Calls to improve the agency came after the tragic death of Myls Dobson, a 4-year-old who was tortured to death last year.

Workers at the agency suffer from a "lack of training," de Blasio said. The money will be used to reform the agency with training and provide preventative services.

The mayor said the spending was "not because of one particular tragedy." Instead, de Blasio said, "it's about looking structurally at the agency."

4. The New York City ID program is getting a boost in funding.

The city will spend $5 million to hire 180 workers to help improve processing time for the program. Some people applying for the identification say they can't get appointments and that the wait time for some appointments is monthslong.

"Guess what? We have more demand than expected," de Blasio said.

The program has distributed 6,000 cards with 4,000 more going out soon, the mayor said. More than 260,000 people have made appointments to get the card with most scheduled to take place over the next 90 days.

It's unclear what effect the new hires will have on wait times.

5. Police are getting new bulletproof vests but more officers may not be added.

De Blasio's budget includes $7.3 million this fiscal year and $4.2 million in fiscal year 2016 to replace all 22,000 NYPD bulletproof vests that are more than 5 years old.

Another $10 million is being used to expand the police cadet program while $3.2 million is being budgeted to help the law department fight frivolous suits against the NYPD.

However, what was not in de Blasio's preliminary budget was money to fund the 1,000 new police officers that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and many members of the City Council would like to see.

"More police officers has been something the Council has made a priority for quite some time," said Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams.

"I'm disappointed we haven't seen it yet."

But de Blasio said this was just the first draft of his budget and that doesn't mean the funding would not be in the executive budget he will introduce in April.

"It's an ongoing discussion," de Blasio said.