Council budget provides access, opportunity and justice to New Yorkers Across the Five Boroughs

City Hall — Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras and the New York City Council today released the Council’s response to the Fiscal Year 2016 Preliminary budget. Dedicated to providing New Yorkers with a fair, just and fiscally responsible spending plan, the Council’s recommendations for the upcoming year prioritize critical services and include:

Creating a Citywide Bail Fund
Investing in NYCHA
Expanding Services for New York City’s Immigrant Population
Hiring 1,000 additional NYPD officers
Creating A Year Round Youth Employment Program
Expanding the Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs
Supporting Ending the Epidemic Initiatives
Baselining Support For Senior Center Operations
Providing Universal Free Lunch to City Students
Supporting Industrial Business Solution Providers
Restoring and Baselining Funding for Parks Enforcement Patrol
Investing in New York City Street Resurfacing
Supporting Priority 5 Vouchers

“The City Council’s preliminary budget response is smart, fair and fiscally responsible and reflects the needs of New Yorkers in every corner of our City,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “From strengthening our police force, to standing up for veterans and protecting our immigrant population, to easing property taxes for working families and making sure no child goes hungry, the priorities the Council will be fighting for in the coming months reflect the shared values of the entire City Council and will help uplift all New Yorkers. I thank Finance Committee Chair Julissa Fererras and my Council colleagues for their hard work and oversight and look forward to working with the Administration on negotiating an Executive Budget that will provide access, opportunity and justice to all New Yorkers.”

“The Council has spent countless hours in hearings, demanding the information we need and evaluating the needs of all New Yorkers to ensure that our budget is accountable and offers equal opportunity. As chairwoman of the Finance Committee, my goal, and that of my colleagues, is to be responsible when the City is prosperous so that we remain stable when it is not. I am confident my colleagues and I have accomplished that in this budget response and am proud of our work together,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Chair of the Finance Committee.

Creating a Citywide Bail Fund:
The Council calls upon the Administration to create a Citywide Bail Fund to provide bail for indigent defendants charged with low level misdemeanors with bail set at $2,000 or less. A significant number of inmates in the Department of Correction’s (DOC) custody are there solely because they cannot make bail, particularly for petty cases where small amounts of bail are required.

A Citywide Bail Fund could be established with an initial investment of $1.4 million. Of this amount $445,000 would support staff and administrative costs and $1 million would seed the bail fund. The bail fund would be sufficiently funded to meet the demand of the system and would be replenished as participants made their court dates. Creating a Citywide Bail Fund has the potential to generate cost savings for the Department of Correction by reducing the population of detainees at Rikers Island.

“For too long, New Yorkers of color have filled our jail facilities—without ever having been charged with a crime—because they could not afford a $500 to $1000 bail. New York City’s citywide bail fund would help individuals in qualifying cases to get home to their families and reduce the number of lives forever marked by an unnecessary stay in jail,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Investing in NYCHA:

Match Council’s $25 million to Increase Resources and Empower Tenants at NYCHA
In the February State of the City address, the City Council announced that it would allocate $25 million in Fiscal 2016 for critical systems improvements, including brickwork and roofing, elevator replacements, and heating and plumbing repairs, to improve the underlying conditions causing open work orders at five targeted developments. The Council believes the Administration should match this allocation. These funds will be targeted toward the NYCHA development in each borough with the highest number of open work orders.

“NYCHA residents deserve serious commitment to improvements in housing units that have been neglected for far too long,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Public Housing Committee. “The Council’s capital investment of $25 million is a first step in putting the necessary funding back into our public housing system, and with a serious and long-term investment from the Administration, we can begin taking real steps to make repairs and renovations where they are most needed. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and my Council colleagues for their dedication to this important issue.”

Provide $200 million in capital funds to NYCHA
As the capital needs of aging buildings grow, operating costs, such as maintenance and repair increase. NYCHA’s aging housing stock requires far more capital investment than has been available from Federal, State, and City subsidies. Although the State historically provided capital funds for NYCHA developments, in 2001 state contributions were reduced from $15 million to $6.4 million before being completely terminated in 2007. Since then, New York City Council allocations have attempted to fill critical capital funding gaps within the Authority.

While the State recently reversed the trend of disinvestment by allocating $100 million for modernization funds for NYCHA in the 2015-2016 Enacted Budget, more capital funding is needed to address critical infrastructure improvements. The Council calls on the Administration to provide $200 million in Capital funds to NYCHA.

Expanding Services for New York City’s Immigrant Population:
With current DACA funding of $18 million over two years slated to end this fiscal year, the Mayor’s Preliminary Fiscal 2016 budget does not include funding for continuing outreach, legal and adult education services for immigrant populations.

The Council urges the Administration to include $10 million in Fiscal 2016 and in the outyears to support services associated with federal immigration relief, which includes outreach, legal services, Key to the City events, and adult education services for immigrant populations. This funding should also include the expansion of the CUNY citizenship NOW program and coordination of legal services in the City.

“This funding reiterates our dedication to inclusivity and to justice by ensuring that unaccompanied children need not navigate our complex legal system afraid and alone. The reality is that this issue is not one of immigration–it is about affirming the humanity of every person in our City. Once again, our policies are living up to our values in way that can be felt in our City, and across our nation,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“New York City is at the forefront of our nation’s fight for comprehensive immigration reform and this funding will build on that commitment. Whether it’s providing legal services for unaccompanied minors, guiding paths to citizenship, or keeping families together in the face of unnecessary deportation, funding for immigration services is an essential part of our goal to enfranchise and welcome anyone who calls New York City home,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.

Baseline the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP)

In Fiscal 2015, the City Council provided $4.9 million for the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the nation’s first government-funded legal representation program for detained and non-detained immigrants facing deportation. NYIFUP provides high-quality, holistic representation to New Yorkers facing deportation who cannot afford an attorney. NYIFUP attorneys carry a full caseload of deportation defense cases, and provide services including: master calendar, bond and individual merits hearings, appeals, and social work services.

The Council urges the Administration to maintain New York City’s reputation as a national leader in immigrant rights by including $4.9 million in Fiscal 2016 and in the outyears to support the first-of-its-kind public defender system that offers legal representation to immigrants under the threat of deportation.

Baseline and Expand Services for Unaccompanied Minor Children in NYC
The Council urges the Administration to include $4 million in Fiscal 2016 and in the outyears to provide legal services and to develop a mechanism for assessing the health and social needs of unaccompanied children/youth, so that those needs are appropriately met. The Mayor’s Preliminary Fiscal 2016 Budget does not include funding for these vital services and the $900,000 in private funding from Robin Hood and New York Community Trust for this work is slated to cover legal services until the end of calendar year 2015.

Hiring 1,000 Additional NYPD Officers:

NYPD’s patrol workload exceeds current staffing levels, forcing the Department to routinely use overtime to keep up with daily enforcement demands. At the Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget hearing, Commissioner Bratton projected overtime to reach $672 million in Fiscal 2015 an increase of $89 million from Fiscal 2014. The Fiscal 2015 uniform overtime budget totals $498.6 million, whereas the Fiscal 2016 budget for uniform overtime totals $423.6 million.

The Council proposes hiring 1,000 additional uniform officers to facilitate community policing across the city while decreasing reliance on overtime expenses. The cost to hire 1,000 officers for the July 2015 class is $68.7 million in the first year, growing to $95 million in the second year.
“Today’s City Council budget response highlights our belief that this City functions best when we allocate sufficient resources to those we charge with protecting our streets, our safety, and our children. We recognize the necessity for raising the headcount of uniformed police officers as a measure to control overtime, successfully implement new initiatives, and continue to carry out many of the anti-gun and anti-crime programs already in progress. I am so pleased that our response has included a proposal to civilianize 200 positions currently filled by able bodied officers, a move that will create good jobs for New Yorkers while adding officers to the streets who can keep crime low and focus on building partnerships in the community. School Crossing Guards are the lifeblood of public safety for our school children and I am pleased that we are prioritizing a 10% increase in their headcount. They provide an invaluable service for our communities and are truly a necessity. As the budget process continues, I applaud the hard work and leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and my Council Colleagues for their steadfast commitment to the public safety of all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson.

Create a Year Round Youth Employment Program:
New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program has offered employment and workforce training opportunities to tens of thousands of New Yorkers between the ages of 14 and 24. However, at six weeks in length, these opportunities only begin to offer the level of experience and guidance young people need to develop lifelong skills.

The Council calls upon the Administration to allocate $17.3 million toward the development and implementation of a new year-round youth employment program. Modeled after an extension of the In-School Youth Program from Fiscal 2009 and Fiscal 2010, the new program could provide 8,000 participants with up to 192 hours of employment per year in jobs at ISY, Beacon and Cornerstone sites, at an hourly wage of $9.

“So many of the youth in our City are eager to find experiences that will enable them to develop the skills, discipline and self-confidence that will enable them to be successful throughout the course of their lives. Creating a year round employment program for youth will provide them with a wider range of job opportunities and create an environment that further enables them to unlock their full potential,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene.

“High demand for slots in the Youth Employment Program is a clear sign that New York has no shortage of young residents who are eager for an opportunity to earn a paycheck and gain work experience. Expanding these opportunities from a seasonal basis to a year round program and increasing the amount of slots will allow more participation and help the youth of this city stay engaged as they prepare for the transition to successful careers as adults. Additionally, we know that employment lowers crime rates, so I am proud to support expanding this program, not only because it provides a great opportunity for our youth to engage in many of our city’s jobs, but because it helps reduce violence by keeping kids safe and off the streets. As an elected official, I have worked to introduce programs like this in neighborhoods that have high gun violence rates, and will continue to work with my colleagues to reduce violence throughout the five boroughs,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader.

Expanding the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs:
In its current form, with an annual operating budget of approximately $600,000, the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA) is ill-equipped to address the growing needs and growing numbers of New York City veterans.

The Council renews its call on the Administration to double MOVA’s budget in order to expand the Office’s reach and impact for the over 200,000 NYC veterans. The additional funding should include an allocation of $20,000 to support administrative costs associated with the operation of the Veterans Advisory Board (VAB).

“New York City has a moral obligation to connect our veterans with the services they need to build stable lives for themselves and their families. The Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs is currently understaffed and underfunded, and we must equip it with the resources it needs to serve our city’s 200,000 veterans with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich, Chair of the Veterans Committee.

Support Ending the Epidemic Initiatives in New York:
While the incidence of HIV/AIDS has remained stable overall in recent years, there are about 50,000 new HIV infections per year. Since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic in 1981, New York City has endured the highest U.S. burden of HIV, with New York State leading the pack and 80 percent of all New Yorkers with HIV residing in New York City.

The Council strongly urges the Administration include $9.7 million in Fiscal 2016 and in the outyears to support and establish prevention, viral suppression and supportive services that will ensure that New York City has the tools to decrease new HIV infections to 750 per year by 2020.

“It is essential that New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS have the resources they need to live healthy and strong lives. This funding will not help affected individuals to manage their illness, but will also provide education and outreach to New Yorkers on how to stay safe, responsible, and healthy,” said Council Members Carlos Menchaca and Corey Johnson.

“With proper investments in research, treatment and prevention, we have an opportunity to once and for all end the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “By investing $9.7 million into prevention programs and important supportive services we will make advancements in New York City’s ability to eradicate new HIV infections and empower New Yorkers. I applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras and my colleagues for crafting a preliminary budget that addresses our City’s needs and prioritizes important services that will enhance the lives of all New Yorkers.”

“This funding will go a long way toward ensuring that New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDs can come out of the shadows and get the support they need to stay strong and healthy. Our city is on track to significantly reduce the HIV infection rate by 2020 and our budget should include the education, outreach, and tools needed to make that goal a reality,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.

Baseline Funding for Senior Center Operations:
There are 1.4 million adults aged 60 and over in New York City, totaling more than 17 percent of the City’s residents. By 2030, the number of seniors will grow by nearly 50 percent and comprise 20 percent of the City’s total population. The increase in the senior population puts further pressure on the Department for the Aging to deliver quality services and programs for the older adult population; and it is imperative now more than ever that the Administration provide adequate funding for senior centers and senior services across the City.

The Council calls upon the Administration to baseline the Fiscal 2015 City Council allocation of $4.3 million for core senior center operational expenses. Of the $4.3 million, $3 million supported underfunded senior centers in DFTA’s network, $800,000 provided enhanced funding for senior center space costs, and $500,000 bolstered support for senior center transportation costs. The Council believes that funding for core senior center expenses is the responsibility of the Administration, as it is a vital part of the Department for the Aging’s (DFTA) mission. In addition, relying on one-time Council funding year-after-year compromises the consistency of services that senior centers provide, as this funding is not guaranteed. The proposed Fiscal 2016 budget for senior centers totals $151 million.

“Crafting a responsible budget means providing the resources we need to serve our city’s rapidly growing senior population,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, Chair of the Aging Committee. “Last year we took a huge step forward, with the first new funding boost for seniors after years of devastating cuts — but the fact is that too many seniors are still struggling to hold on within the very communities they helped build. The only option is to continue our progress by doing more to enable seniors to remain safely and securely in their homes.”

Providing Universal Free Lunch to City Students:
Eating a nutritious lunch is essential for learning and developing, especially for those who may go hungry at home. In the Fiscal 2015 Adopted Budget the Council funded $6.25 million for the free lunch in middle schools initiative, where data shows middle school student participation in the school lunch program increased by over 8 percent. During this same period, elementary and high school lunch participation remained flat, strongly suggesting that increased participation in 2014 for middle school students is directly related to the implementation of universal free school lunch.

There is a clear and direct positive impact on a student’s educational attainment when they have a healthy meal each day. In addition, the City will receive an additional $4.1 million in federal and State reimbursements based on the first four months of the school year increase in participation. The benefits of this initiative if implemented universally could offset the costs dramatically. The Council calls on the Administration to offer free lunch to all students to increase participation and ensure all students eat a healthy lunch in school.

“We know that hunger can be a significant detriment to learning for our children. Universal school lunch will make sure that students are receiving the nutrition they need to receive a quality education in New York City classrooms,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Education Committee.

Supporting Industrial Business Solution Providers (IBSP):

IBSPs are non-profit organizations that are contracted to provide services to the manufacturing businesses in New York City. These services are unique to the manufacturing industry and have been invaluable in helping these businesses stay and thrive in New York City. In Fiscal 2015, the Administration provided $578,203 for the IBSPs and the NYC Council provided $830,000. The Council urges the Administration to baseline $1.4 million in Fiscal 2016 and the out-years to provide the funding necessary to support the IBSP contracts citywide.

“Industrial business zones provide strong middle-class jobs for New York City’s working families. It is crucial that we nurture and support growth in these sectors and provide our city’s local manufacturing economy the resources it needs to thrive,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

“We must support New York City’s growing manufacturing industry by making sure industrial business zones are fully funded and I’m proud to support this important job-creating initiative,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

Restoring and Baselining Funding for Parks Enforcement Patrol:

PEP officers are responsible for enforcing quality of life laws, the New York City Administrative Code, Parks’ Rules and Regulations, and acting as Parks’ ambassadors. Public safety in parks and playgrounds is one of their most important responsibilities. However, because there are only 182 PEP officers available many City parks are left without any PEP presence. To address the need for additional PEP officers and to ensure that more City parks receive the benefit of having PEP officers’ presence, the Council allocated $5 million in the Fiscal 2015 Budget for 80 additional PEP officers. However, because the funding was not baselined, it is not included in the Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget. The Council urges the Administration to increase the baseline funding for PEP officers in Fiscal 2016 by $5 million for 80 additional PEP officers, bringing the total number of PEP officers to 360 including 98 that are privately funded in Fiscal 2016.

“Parks and green spaces are the key to creating vibrant, livable neighborhoods in the midst of increasing development and density. They are places where New Yorkers can come together to build community, whether its planting spring bulbs, listening to smooth jazz, or playing a game of chess with new friends. That is why the City Council is proud to support funding for New York City’s parks, including allocations for GreenThumb community gardens, tree plantings, and sidewalk improvements as well as baseline funding for PEP officers and the Parks Equity Initiative. Every neighborhood deserves a park they can be proud of, and this funding will go a long way toward meeting that goal,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

Investing in New York City Street Resurfacing:
The Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget includes $206.7 million to resurface 1,000 lane miles in Fiscal 2016, thereby maintaining the status quo of repaving 1,000 miles each year. However, since Fiscal 1999, the City has resurfaced approximately 2,000 fewer lane miles than it should have. To close the over 2,000 lane miles gap within the next four years would require that the annual lane miles goal be increased by 500 lane miles in each of the next four years. The Council calls on the Administration to increase baseline funding for street resurfacing, including for historic cobblestone streets, citywide by $103.4 million for a total funding of $310.1 million in Fiscal 2016.

“We must make sure the City has the resources it needs to maintain and repair our streets, especially in communities that are underserved by public transportation. The Council is proud to stand up for Staten Island residents and drivers across the City by investing $103 million dollars to resurface streets in all five boroughs, and I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and my Council colleagues for their support,” said Council Member Debi Rose.

“We are extremely pleased the Council’s budget response embraces some of our top priorities – including hiring an additional 1,000 police officers; adding more than $100 million to DOT budget to resurface and repair 1,500 miles of roads that badly need it; as well as expanding services for veterans and maintaining funding for our city’s growing population of seniors. While we do not agree with everything this response proposed, we want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and Finance Chairwoman Ferreras for continuing to work with us on issues important to our constituents, and look forward to making our case to the administration during the budget negotiation process,” said Council Members Vincent Ignizio and Stephen Matteo.

Supporting Priority 5 Vouchers:
The City Council is proposing $17 million baseline funding for Priority 5 after-school vouchers.
Priority 5 child care vouchers act as an invaluable support for families where parents work at least 20 hours per week but still struggle to afford child care and for families with children who have special needs. The Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget does not propose an increase to ACS’ budget for child care services and includes no funding for Priority 5 child care vouchers, despite a commitment from the Mayor to do so. The absence of Administration support for Priority 5 vouchers greatly concerns the Council and as a result, the Council is calling on the Administration to baseline $17 million in funding. The $17 million is requested so that the Fiscal 2015 funding level will not only continue, but increase and enable more families and children to be served. It is estimated that $17 million could provide approximately as many as 6,186 vouchers, if the $2,748 average voucher rate is utilized.

“We were disappointed that Priority 5 after-school vouchers were not included in the Mayor’s preliminary budget. This program is vital to thousands of low-income working parents who would not be able to hold down their jobs without this childcare. That is why we are calling on the Mayor to restore these much needed funds to help working families,” said Council Member David Greenfield.