New York, NY – The City Council, in its response to the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2014 preliminary budget, makes a series of recommendations resulting in a more balanced approach for the Executive Budget. This year’s budget proposal builds on the prudence and foresight exercised by the Council and the Administration in setting aside $11 billion in surpluses during the boom years between 2003 and 2008. Having largely avoided deep cuts to critical programs during the last five years of recession and slow economic recovery, the City is now in a position to construct a budget and financial plan that truly reflects the mix of services and programs New Yorkers most value and rely on.
We can maintain a healthy, thriving city and economy by making investments in the best educational opportunities, from early childhood through adulthood; keeping our citizens safe; making our communities vibrant and welcoming; and by protecting the most vulnerable. The Council looks forward to working with the Administration to reassess the city’s financial priorities so that the budget process begins by building on a stronger baseline and guarantees these vital services and programs.
Public Safety: The Council strongly urges the Administration to heed Commissioner Kelly’s call for increasing the size of the next police academy class this July – without, however, shrinking the next class in January – in order to begin re-building our police force level. In addition, civilianization of jobs that do not need to be filled by a uniformed officer is a proven cost-effective approach to getting more police officers onto the streets.
Children & Youth: After successfully restoring nearly $100 million in additional funding for child care last year – including $38 million in baseline increases – the Council pledges to renew its commitment to affordable and accessible child care for FY 2014. We also believe it is untenable for over half of Out-of-School Time (OST) slots to be funded on a year-to-year basis, and urge the Administration to fully fund the OST program.
Education: The State Budget’s education aid restorations must be used first and foremost to prevent the loss of over 1,500 teachers through attrition. The most important resource of all for education our children is teachers and other school-based staff. The hiring freeze currently in effect at DOE should be lifted immediately for teachers, school-aides, and other school-based staff.
Easing the Burden on Working Families & Small Businesses: The Council is proud that the Administration agreed to delay implementing an increase in school lunch fees that would have negatively impacted families earning over $42,000. This implementation must be withdrawn from the FY 2014 executive budget in favor of an approach that phases in increases either more incrementally or for higher income households.
Similarly, under pressure from the Council, the Department of Transportation rescinded its unacceptable increases in parking rates for permit holders in city-owned lots and garages, instead capping the increases at 20 percent. We call on the Administration to withdraw any further increases from consideration for FY 2014.
Additionally, the Council remains deeply concerned about the inappropriate use of enforcement as a revenue-raising tool. Agencies that write violations against property owners and businesses must be subject to greater oversight, therefore, the Council urges the Administration to provide much greater detail on violations and related fine revenues in the budget and Mayor’s Management Report.
Utilizing Additional Resources: In the course of our preliminary budget hearings, the Council identified at least $400 million resources that are available to fund next year’s budget. The Council urges the Administration to aggressively pursue the recovery of payments to contractors working on the Emergency Communications Transformation Project (ECTP) who either overbilled the City or under-delivered on the terms of their contract. The Administration should also recognize various budgetary surpluses in the Executive Budget, such as heat, light and power and tort payouts, and revenues from the sale of City buildings as part of the Civic Center plan.
The Administration has also been engaged in a successful back-office operations streamlining initiative which has yielded significant savings in the areas of fleet management. We support and encourage continued efforts to pursue these common-sense cost-savings in other areas, including IT services, an aggressive review of City office and other space and facilities, and continued energy efficiency investments. We also encourage a citywide review of the use of consultant contracts that are either non-critical or could be performed in-house less expensively.
“It is time to recognize the need for a more balanced approach to budgeting – one that builds on our record of successful fiscal management and recognizes the values we share as a City,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “We look forward to receiving the Mayor’s Executive Budget and working with the administration to adopting a budget in June that reflects our optimism for our City’s future.”
“The hard work and collaboration that has gone into the sound fiscal management of this City over the years has brought us to a place where, looking forward, the Budget process should reflect a thoughtful and balanced debate on how, together, the Council and Administration can best build the City’s future,” said Council Committee on Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. “That discussion should begin with the priorities we know we all ultimately agree on: public safety, protecting and supporting working families and small businesses, economic growth and job creation, policies that allow for world-class schools and educational opportunities, including supporting our public libraries, and of course protecting those most vulnerable. I look forward to reading the Mayor’s Executive Budget and working with the Administration to adopt a budget that continues our progress and invests in New Yorkers and the future of this City.”