Council budget balances City’s finances with progressive agenda that increases transparency and efficiency of City government and delivers results for all New Yorkers
City Hall – City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras and the City Council today released the Council’s response to the Fiscal Year 2015 Preliminary budget. Balancing the City’s finances with sound proposals to increase the efficiency of City government and deliver results for all New Yorkers, the Council’s fiscally responsible recommendations for the upcoming year prioritize critical services and include:
• Hiring An Additional 1,000 NYPD Officers
• Eliminating School Lunch Fees
• Reducing the Homeless Population Living in Shelters
• Creating New Technology Incubators to Spur Entrepreneurship
• Supporting New York City’s Veterans
• Overhauling the City’s Property Tax Code
• Expanding Summer Youth Employment
• Increasing Anti-Gun Violence Initiatives
• Protecting the City’s Workforce
• Tackling Affordable Housing Crisis
• Increasing Transparency in the Capital Budget
• Maintaining Base lined Council Initiatives and Restorations
“From increasing our police force, to bolstering job creation, to eliminating school lunch fees and reducing the homeless population, our proposals will strengthen the City’s infrastructure, innovate government operations and build a stronger, safer City that delivers results for all New Yorkers,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The Council’s recommendations will not only increase City services and quality of life for New Yorkers, they will ensure every single dollar is spent prudently, efficiently and effectively. I thank Finance Chair Ferreras and my Council colleagues for leading a thorough examination of City spending at our preliminary budget hearings and I look forward to working with Administration to negotiate a sound budget.”
“The Council’s Budget Response reflects the values and priorities of the City Council and our great City’s residents,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “As Finance Chair, I am proud to say that many proposals contained in the Budget Response would bring increased transparency to the City’s budget, propose tax reform, protect the City’s workforce, and create greater agency efficiency. Simply put, the proposals in our Budget Response seek to make the City and its operations better. The process leading up to our Budget Response was very deliberative and comprehensive. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership throughout this process and my fellow Council Members for working very closely with us to ensure that the Executive Budget, and ultimately our Adopted Budget, will reflect the City’s values and priorities, and will be presented in a way to allow a thorough discourse about those values and priorities.”
“It is incredibly important in a statement of priorities that the arts and libraries be included,” said New York City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, Jimmy Van Bramer. “In this budget response we have the most comprehensive and specific list of proposals when it comes to these two critical areas. From increasing capital dollars to small culturals and calling for certified art teachers in schools, this Council is committed to the arts. Our stated goal of restoring 6-day library service and stabilizing capital funding for libraries are equally important toward ensuring access for all. I want to thank speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras, and all of my colleagues for this responsible and visionary budget response.”
“Road resurfacing goes a long way to protecting the vital infrastructure that lies beneath our streets,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “Our City has grave infrastructure needs that come with big price tags, but this is a smaller investment that comes with far-reaching benefits that we should be embracing.”
The full report can be accessed at http://council.nyc.gov/downloads/pdf/budget/2015/FY15%20Preliminary%20Budget%20Response.pdf
Fund An Additional 1,000 NYPD Officers
Since Fiscal Year 2003, the NYPD has lost approximately 60 to 75 NYPD officers per precinct. The impact of this decrease has been a heavy reliance on overtime to meet daily enforcement demands, which has cost the City millions. In Fiscal Year 2013, overtime expenditures reached $634.6 million dollars.
Hiring an additional 1,000 officers will address concerns of understaffing at City precincts and will significantly reduce the City’s overtime costs.
The Council proposes hiring 1,000 additional uniform officers to address the headcount decrease and to support community policing and new initiatives such as Vision Zero. The cost to hire 1,000 officers for the July 2014 class is $94.3 million in the first year, growing to $97.9 million in the second.
“With New York’s increasingly diverse and growing population it is essential to ensure that the NYPD has the staffing levels it needs to improve public safety throughout the five boroughs,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx, 16th CD), chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee. “We need to provide the NYPD with the resources necessary to successfully implement innovative programs that will improve community relations and save lives through policy initiatives like Vision Zero. This proposal turns the corner and truly invests in the future of our City by making a critical commitment to investing in the public safety of all New Yorkers.”
Eliminate School Lunch Fees
The Department of Education currently offers universal free breakfast and provides free lunch to qualifying students. While 75 percent of students qualify for free lunch, many qualifying students do not take advantage of the program because of the perceived stigma associated with receiving free lunch. Additionally, many families just above the cutoff for eligibility struggle to pay the $1.75 lunch fee.
The Council recommends the Department of Education offer free lunch to all students to increase participation and ensure all students eat a healthy lunch in school. The implementation of universal free lunch would cost the Department of Education $24 million dollars, and the additional City funds would generate an estimated $60 million in additional state and federal revenue.
Reduce the Homeless Population Living in Shelter
The homeless population living in the New York City shelter system has reached unprecedented highs over the last several years, with much of the increase in the shelter population beginning in 2011, when the City eliminated funding for the Advantage program.
Currently, there are over 53,000 people in shelters every night in the City, 22,000 of which are children. The Council proposes the following initiatives to significantly reduce these numbers:
Create a Rental Subsidy Program to Reduce Homelessness in New York City
The New York State 2014-2015 Executive Budget removed the restrictive language prohibiting the use of State funds for a rental subsidy program for the homeless. The Council urges the Administration to create a new rental subsidy program that will assist at least 5,000 households annually and provide rental assistance for a longer period of time than previously covered under Advantage.
Prioritize Housing for the Homeless
New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Section 8 housing vouchers provided rental subsidies to eligible low-income families to locate into affordable housing before their elimination in 2004.
Restoring priority housing for homeless individuals and families would help families transition out of shelter and into permanent housing, decreasing family shelter costs by $29.4 million dollars. The Council urges the Administration to reinstate Section 8 voucher referrals and priority waiting list status to homeless individuals to help the homeless permanently transition out of shelter.
Create New Technology Incubators to Spur Entrepreneurship and Promote Economic Growth
Technology incubators not only provide start-ups with affordable spaces but access to early capital and mentors. Technology incubators have helped start-ups tackle the challenges of fledgling businesses and have helped transform New York City neighborhoods into hubs of entrepreneurship.
The need for technology incubators in underdeveloped areas of New York City is undeniable. The Council proposes adding $1,000,000 in funding to launch four new technology incubators in the outer boroughs to support technology entrepreneurs and promote future growth in these areas.
“Our Council proposal for technology incubators in the four boroughs has the potential to promote economic growth all across the city,” said Council Member Mark Weprin (D – Oakland Gardens).
Support New York City’s Veterans
The Administration must do more to address the needs of the over 200,000 veterans living in New York City.
The Council proposes the Administration increase the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs budget by $400,000 to develop programs to address the needs of New York City veterans. Additionally, the Council recommends the Administration allocate an additional $1,000,000 for mental health, employment and legal assistance services for veterans.
Overhauling the City’s Tax Code
New York City needs a property tax system that not only continues to provide a stable source of revenue, but does so in a transparent, equitable way that seeks to manage sustainable and affordable growth for its residents.
The Council proposes the creation of a Commission on Property Tax Reform to examine how property tax can be restructured to meet the demands of New York City in the 21st century and to encourage sustainable and affordable growth.
Expand Summer Youth Employment Program
The Summer Youth Employment Program provides New York City youth between the ages of 14-24 with paid summer employment for up to seven weeks in July and August.
While the Summer Youth Employment Program directly addresses the low youth employment rate, the demand continues to far exceed the capacity. This past summer, over 135,338 youth applied for 35,957 openings.
The preliminary fiscal budget allocated funding for just 28,000 openings, the lowest in the last five years. The Council proposes increasing funding to expand the Summer Youth Employment program and address the overwhelming demand for youth employment.
“Our Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair, Julissa Ferreras and the City Council have stepped up to the plate big time with this game changing budget proposal,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “It will resonate on multiple fronts, from safety to unemployment, housing to homelessness solutions, and it will help our city tremendously as we move forward together. Particularly when it comes to measures aimed at lowering unemployment with quality job growth, expanding the Summer Youth Employment Program and creating new business incubators will help to prepare our workforce of tomorrow and yield lasting results long into the future.”
Increase Funding for Innovative Anti-Gun Violence Initiatives
Two years ago, the City Council’s Task Force to Combat Gun Violence launched an anti-gun violence initiative to provide supportive and preventative services in five neighborhoods with high incidences of gun violence.
While the Council applauds the Administration for base lining funding for the Cure Violence and Therapeutic services programs introduced by Council, funding for other vital components of this initiative, including job training, legal services and conflict mediation programs in schools were not funded.
The Council urges the Administration to expand the Council’s program model to ten additional communities. The cost to provide the Cure Violence program and the wrap around services for one neighborhood is $955,800. The cost to expand the program to ten additional neighborhoods is $9,558,000. The total cost to provide the Council’s anti-gun violence program to the five original neighborhoods and the ten additional neighborhoods is $12 million.
“I applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair, Council Member Julissa Ferreras, and the entire council on developing this budget response, which puts the safety of all New York City residents at the forefront,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams. “A focus on preventing gun violence is absolutely necessary, and became even more apparent yesterday, as Gama Droiville, a 13-year-old, was released from the hospital after being shot in the face last week while walking down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Ending gun violence requires a holistic, multi-pronged approach from the administration, city agencies, along with violence interrupter organizations, law enforcement officials and residents alike. Additional funding for anti-gun violence initiatives, as well as reassessing our approach to addressing this issue, will ensure the safety of not only our children, but all New Yorkers.”
Protect the City’s Workforce
Civil servants make up the majority of the City’s workforce. The Council proposes a series of initiatives to strengthen the City’s workforce and give those who commit themselves to serving the City the opportunity to prosper:
Expedite Civil Service Hiring
The median time from civil service exam administration to the establishing of hiring list was 344 days. By expediting the civil service process, the City would be better equipped to New Yorkers and could save millions of dollars in overtime.
Reduce Contracting Out
The Administration must fully utilize the City’s municipal workforce as a vehicle to provide quality jobs that help uplift and sustain communities. Reducing the City’s reliance on contractors will reduce costs by limiting the use of outside consultants and will enable the City to provide comprehensive oversight on City agencies.
Tackle Affordable Housing Crisis
New York City has an affordable housing crisis and solving it will not only take resources, but require that we use those resources as efficiently as possible.
The Council proposes establishing an Income Overage Charge in Affordable Housing to make sure affordable housing stays available for those who need it.
When a household’s income exceeds the eligibility threshold for a subsidized unit, they will contribute a reasonable portion of that additional income to help fund affordable housing development for other households who need it.
This ensures that we are targeting our scarce resources to those who most need it, but without forcing anyone out of their home.
This follows the model one sees in a number of affordable housing programs, such as SCRIE, NYCHA, and Mitchell-Lama, where income is tied to the rent one pays.
Maintain Base lined Council Initiatives and Restorations
The Fiscal 2015 Preliminary Budget includes approximately $483 million of base lined funding in Fiscal 2015, with half restored for agency operations, and the other half funding hundreds of community-based organizations throughout the City providing services that range from child care and HIV/AIDS services to afterschool programming and immigration services.
The Council and the Administration have agreed to work together to ensure that hundreds of community-based organizations will receive one-year contract extensions – Negotiated Acquisition Extension (NAE) – ensuring the continuity to vital services from Fiscal 2014 to Fiscal 2015 all across the City.
Increase Accuracy and Transparency in the Capital Budget
The front loading of the City’s Capital Commitment Plan used to measure need for City funded capital dollars is unreliable and reduces transparency on how City money is spent.
The Council urges the Administration to move commitment forecasts to the outer years of the four year plan to more accurately represent the timing of the commitment of capital dollars. Additionally, the Council urges the Administration to reduce the level of appropriations it currently carries to no more than 25 percent.