Adamses Hug on City Budget with Small Gains for Parks and Garbage

Mayor Eric Adams and City Council agreed to a $101 billion budget on Friday that promises to increase funding for parks and child care and increase trash pickup, while increasing reserves out of town for rainy days.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams noted that the budget is larger than the $98.7 billion executive proposal the mayor released in April and includes some of the Council’s priorities. These include a property tax refund for some 600,000 households and more money for human and legal service providers who are under contract with the city.

“At this important time for our city, this council has recognized that the strength of our communities is essential,” she said during Friday’s announcement in the City Hall rotunda, known to insiders as the name “handshake”. “We know that for our communities to be safe and for our city to be stronger, we need to invest in New Yorkers.”

The budget deal was aided by a newly recognized $4.5 billion in additional tax revenue, largely due to huge profits on Wall Street last year. A few weeks ago, city and state comptrollers estimated the city would collect up to $3 billion more in revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30 than the mayor had forecast in its executive budget. And on Friday, the mayor revealed an additional $1.5 billion in expected tax revenue.

He said the budget deal — reached nearly three weeks before its deadline, earlier than it has been in years — reflected a new kind of management in New York.

“You can look at the leadership in the city and see what the possibilities are,” Adams said.

However, there was no mention of major health initiatives – coming after two years of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 40,500 New Yorkers.

Representatives for the mayor and the speaker did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Friday’s announcement – including a celebratory handshake and cheers – was big on generalizations, small on specifics. The full budget breakdown should be available next week before the Council vote to approve it.

Here are some of the biggest problems the budget addresses:

public safety

The NYPD budget is expected to remain the same as last year, about $6 billion, the president and mayor said during Friday’s briefing.

The move comes two years after calls to “defund the police” rocked the Council’s budget vote following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota and protests across the city.

Critics said the NYPD’s budget should have been cut, with money allocated to other agencies and services.

“Mayor Adams’ budget will not make our communities safer, but rather undermine the true sources of community safety, stability and well-being,” New York Democratic Socialists of America co-chair Sumathy Kumar said in a statement. a statement. “By slashing funding for schools and housing when the city is teeming with resources, Mayor Adams’ first budget is failing working-class New Yorkers.”

An NYPD van in Times Square, June 8, 2022.

Mayor Adams also touted the addition of 1,400 Safe Haven beds for New Yorkers who are homeless and in need of social services, at a cost of about $226 million, according to City Hall. The budget deal would also include spending $54 million to expand a program that aims to redirect those at risk of participating in gun violence into jobs.

Mayor Adams’ proposal to add nearly 600 more officers to the Department of Corrections, which has been plagued by staffing issues and prison chaos, including an unusually high number of inmate deaths, has been cut from the budget final.

Green area

Although he promised during his campaign to dedicate 1% of the city’s overall budget to the Department of Parks and Recreation, this year’s funding for the city’s green spaces is only expected to increase slightly above its 563 million current dollars, according to an official familiar with the finalized budget. That’s still only about half a percent.

The increase includes $43 million for park maintenance and upgrades, and $4 million to add an additional 50 urban rangers.

The budget also adds $488 million in capital funding for projects such as planting 20,000 new trees and repairing swimming pools.

People gather in Astoria Park ahead of an outdoor movie, May 21, 2021.

Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Board member Shekar Krishnan (D-Queens), chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, called the deal a winner.

“We secured permanent core funding to protect the jobs of hundreds of park workers who were set to expire imminently, he told THE CITY, noting that the budget saved hundreds of jobs. , including 50 community gardeners.

“We fought to get funds for our natural areas, our forests and our Green Thumb gardens. We fought to restore park equity funding.

Schools

The city’s public school system is facing its first budget in two years that doesn’t include federal stimulus money — while dealing with a 6.4% drop in enrollment since the pandemic began.

Friday’s budget deal statement didn’t include many details about the Department for Education, but school leaders were reportedly prepared for cuts to curricula or limiting plans to hire teachers additional.

“Our schools have endured the toughest two years and need every penny to provide the social, emotional and academic support all of our students deserve this summer and fall,” Comptroller Brad Lander said.

Council and the mayor’s office noted increases to the Summer Rising academic enrichment program, adding funding for an additional 10,000 slots, bringing total capacity to 210,000, officials said, at a cost of $101 million. .

The new budget will also include $50 million to upgrade cafeterias at 100 schools, according to city hall.

Help

The budget includes continued funding for Fair Fares, which provides discounted MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers.

Owners of homes, co-ops and condos, about 600,000 of them in the five boroughs, will each receive their share of a $90 million property tax refund, or $150 per household, officials said. responsible.

The budget also includes $19.2 million next year to provide childcare vouchers for low-income and immigrant families.

Trash city

The new budget includes an additional $22 million for the Department of Sanitation to restore street-corner litter box service to pre-pandemic levels.

There’s also $5 million to add 1,000 rat-resistant public trash cans and fund a study to examine a possible waste containerization program, which would create a system to store outdoor household trash in large bins, according to City Hall.

Seward Historical Park on the Lower East Side, June 10, 2022.

Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“Nobody wants dirty streets…it’s just unpleasant to live with,” the mayor said at the budget press conference on Friday afternoon. “And let’s be clear: I hate rats.

Adams came up with famous traps using an acidic concoction of chemicals to liquefy rats while he was Brooklyn borough president in 2019.

Lodging

As rents continue to rise in New York, the budget adds $5 billion in investment funds to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, bringing the agency’s total funding to $22 billion. dollars over 10 years, officials said.

Mayor’s spokesman Jonah Allon said the additional funding will allow HPD to continue its pace of development despite rising costs and inflation over the next decade. The money will also be used to rehabilitate thousands of social housing units, he added.

But some said it was not enough to offer relief to New Yorkers struggling to pay rent and find affordable housing, as the median rent for available apartments in Manhattan hit historic highs this week. .

Lander hoped for more capital funding for housing, given rising costs.

“Housing is still a big challenge and they are worried about their ability to spend all that money,” he told THE CITY.

Save

The final budget deal also adds $2 billion to reserves set aside to avoid major budget cuts in the event of an economic downturn, bringing the total to more than $8 billion.

The deal includes $750 million to create a new rainy day fund, $750 million for the retiree health benefits trust that was used to fill holes in previous budgets, and $500 million to the general reserve.

Additionally, the agreement between the mayor and council adds money to the city’s reserve to cover future salary increases, bringing it to nearly $3 billion. But that amount would only cover annual bumps of less than 2%, a figure that seems unlikely given New York’s inflation rate of just over 6% a year.

Mayor Eric Adams at City Hall, June 10, 2022.

Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“The mayor and council recognize that the strong increase in revenue is unlikely to continue, and there is more concern about the possibility of a slowdown, and that must give you plenty of breathing room,” said Lander.

Adams’ aides said budget gaps in coming years, which average about $4 billion a year, are “manageable.”

Andrew Rein, chairman of the Citizens Budget Committee, disagrees. “When you look at the need to negotiate employment contracts, the economic risks and the budget cliffs as the federal money used to fund ongoing programs dries up, you’re going to be dealing with budget gaps far greater than the $4 billion. dollars reported,” he said.

Lander also warned of possible trouble ahead.

The discrepancies are manageable if there is a downturn and the city cuts $4 billion from the budget in two years. You can – but it’s extremely painful,” he said.

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