Council Budget Tackles Inequality Through Responsible Budgeting and Builds City’s Reserves While Expanding Services to All New Yorkers

City Hall — New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and the New York City Council today released the Council’s Fiscal Year 2017 Preliminary Budget Response. Focused on tackling inequality through responsible budgeting and expanding opportunities to all New Yorkers while also building up the City’s reserves, the Council’s recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year prioritize essential services and include:

• Ensuring Opportunities for New York City’s Youth
• Supporting New York City’s Immigrants
• Budgeting for a More Equitable City
• Building for New York City’s Future
• Safeguarding the City’s Programs and Services through Budget Stability
• Baselining City Priorities
• Expanding and Enhancing Vital City Services
• Tracking the City’s Progress

“The Council’s budget recommendations are the culmination of dozens of comprehensive budget hearings and reflect the needs of all New Yorkers while also planning for our City’s future,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This is a budget that is smart, fair and fiscally responsible, all while greatly expanding opportunities to New Yorkers across the City. I thank Finance Chair Ferreras-Copeland and my Council colleagues for their dedicated efforts and look forward to working with the de Blasio Administration and my Council colleagues in the months ahead on passing an Executive Budget that will uplift all New Yorkers.”

“These preliminary budget recommendations reflect a central challenge in government: making our city more equitable while also planning prudently for the future,” said Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “The proposals included address inequality in New York City while remaining fiscally responsible, and I believe they represent the diversity of needs across our city. As the budget process advances, I will continue to ensure that the Council is an equal partner and that the Administration’s investments are transparent. I thank the Speaker for her vision and leadership, and my Council colleagues for their ongoing input. I look forward to delivering a budget that strengthens New York City.”

Ensuring Opportunities for New York City Youth:

With nearly two million City residents under the age of 18, the City must provide opportunities for all of its youth by creating new programs and services, expanding existing ones, and at the same time making certain that the City is maintaining equitable access to such programs.

In anticipation of the Executive Budget, the Council calls for an investment in programs that would offer valuable services to meet the needs of, and increase opportunities for, New York City’s youth population. These recommendations include:

• Increased funding for Summer and Year-round Youth Employment.
• Eliminating all school lunch fees.
• Increasing support for Beacon programs.
• Restoring School’s Out New York City (SONYC) summer slots.
• Improving civic education in New York City schools.
• Increasing funding to allow more sports opportunities for female students.
• Establishing a grant program for children who age out of foster care.
• Expanding the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program to include Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training for high school students.

Supporting New York City’s Immigrants:

With immigrants in New York City comprising nearly 40 percent of the City’s population and accounting for approximately $257 billion in economic activity in 2013, immigrant New Yorkers are part of what makes New York City unique, strong, and resilient.

Setting an example for municipalities across the nation, New York City continues to lead when it comes to addressing the needs of immigrants and foreign-born New Yorkers. More than 700,000 City residents already possess an IDNYC card, and the City has founded the nation’s first public defender program, guaranteeing representation to detained immigrants facing deportation. The City Council also has launched a landmark public/private partnership that provides attorneys to unaccompanied minors and adults who arrive in New York, and provided other vital services for immigrant communities.

In furtherance of the Council’s goal to support immigrant New Yorkers, the Council’s FY 2017 Budget Response calls for an investment in programs that would offer valuable services to meet the needs of immigrants with limited English proficiency, complex legal services, inadequate access to health services, and those requiring workforce development.

Budgeting for a More Equitable City:

With over 8.5 million residents, New York City is the most diverse city in the nation. Such diversity includes racial, socio-economic, gender, and sexual orientation diversity, among many others. The City must ensure that these diverse populations receive the specific support they need. To that end, in October 2015, the Council launched the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), a multi-platform coalition aimed at supporting young women in New York City and combating chronic racial and gender inequality in outcomes relating to healthcare, education, the justice system, and economic development. The first of its kind in the nation with many similar initiatives aimed at young men of color, YWI seeks to address inequality by ensuring that young women are afforded the tools they need to thrive in this City.
However, YWI programs were not funded in the City Budget.

In anticipation of the Executive Budget, the Council calls for an investment in programs that would offer valuable services to meet the needs of, and increase opportunities for, City residents. The Council calls for funding for:

• YWI programs.
• Extend the City’s Child Care Credit to households caring for dependent adults and raise the income threshold to $45,000.
• The Department of Mental Health and Hygiene (DOHMH) to conduct engagement and linkage-to-care health care, housing and other services for HIV-positive people living in New York City shelters.
• The Department for the Aging for caregiver support services.
• DOHMH to develop crystal methamphetamine prevention efforts that would include increased social marketing and training of clinicians and community service providers to incorporate crystal methamphetamine prevention into their work with people at risk of use.

Building for New York City’s Future:

The City’s Capital Commitment Plan reflects the Administration’s priorities for maintaining the City’s core capital infrastructure needs. The creation of new infrastructure, and the repair or expansion of existing infrastructure, is critical to adequately support the City’s current and future operations.

To this end, the Council calls for funding several initiatives that would ensure that the City’s current infrastructure needs are met and that the future expansion and evolution of the City’s operations will not be limited or compromised because of inadequate infrastructure. These initiatives include:

• Additional Capital Funding for necessary improvements and repairs to New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) 2,551 buildings, which provide affordable housing to nearly 404,000 low-and moderate income City residents in 177,666 apartments throughout the City.
• Funding for the School Construction Authority to complete wiring upgrades to support air conditioning in aging school buildings.
• Funding to the FDNY for the construction of three additional Emergency Medical Service (EMS) stations to accommodate the increased headcount of EMS personnel.
• Increasing the Department of Correction’s (DOC) Capital Budget by $50 million to build a new training facility. The Department of Correction’s current training facility is located in Queens and is in need of serious renovations.

Safeguarding the City’s Programs and Services Through Budget Stability:
While providing sufficient services and programs to City residents is necessary to address inequality and ensure opportunities abound, it is only one part of a multi-part process.

To ensure that these services and programs are adequately funded and can nimbly evolve over time, the Administration must utilize budget stabilizing measures while ensuring budget accuracy and transparency. To that end, the Budget Response recommends several proposals, including:
• The creation of a Rainy Day Fund, which would allow the City to save during good times and use those savings to cushion bad times.
• Increasing appropriations to existing budgetary reserves.

Baselining City Priorities:
Baseline budgeting uses current spending levels as the “baseline” for establishing future funding requirements and ensures that the City’s programs and services are adequately funded.
However, far too many City programs and services are not baselined, and as a result, many of the City’s priorities are at risk of being inadequately funded or not funded at all.

To combat this risk, the Council’s FY 2017 Budget Response calls for baselining several essential programs to ensure continuity and quality in the services they deliver and reassurance to the City residents who benefit from those services that they will not be abruptly taken away or severely reduced in the next fiscal year. These programs include:

• Priority 5 Vouchers
• Staten Island Drug Treatment Court
• LGBT Students’ Liaison
• School Bathroom Construction
• Emergency Food Assistance Program
• Offer Merit-Based Scholarships
• NYCHA Senior Centers
• CUNY Citizenship Now
• Anti-Eviction and SRO Legal Services
• Citywide Civil Legal Services
• Commission on Human Rights
• Legal Services for the Working Poor
• Parks Enforcement Patrol
• Tree Stump Removal
• Anti-Gun Violence Programs
• Case Management Waitlist
• Senior Centers, Programs, and Enhancements
• Small Business/Job Development/Financial Literacy
• Vision Zero Public Education Campaign

Expanding and Enhancing the City’s Services:
The City provides a comprehensive and varied range of services to meet the needs of its diverse population, but in order to address inequality the City must provide those services to everyone who falls within the parameters of the intended beneficiary group.

At their current funding levels, many City services are limited in scope or scale such that the benefits cannot be provided to the entire targeted population. Additionally, as the need for a service increases, so does the need for adequate staffing to deliver that service to minimize delays in service provision or prevent the absence of service delivery.

Accordingly, the Council’s FY 2017 Budget Response calls for the expansion and enhancement of several services and programs, notably in the vital areas of criminal justice, community support, and human services. These services and programs include:

• Creating an Office for Crime Victim Services.
• Expanding strategies and programs that are part of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety to other NYCHA developments beyond the 15 originally selected.
• Increasing the headcount at the FDNY so it can acquire the 45 EMS tours that were left vacant in February 2016 when TransCare, a private corporation that previously performed the EMS tours, filed for bankruptcy.
• Additional funding to the Department of Parks and Recreation for increased headcount of seasonal park staff for adequate staffing levels during the warmer months when park use is at its highest.
• Additional funding for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) education and referral services at Syringe Program Exchange sites throughout the City.

Tracking the City’s Progress:
The Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report (PMMR) and the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR), which are both mandated by the City Charter, serve as public accounts of the performance of City agencies, measuring whether they are delivering services efficiently, effectively, and expeditiously.

The PMMR provides an early update of how the City is performing four months into the fiscal year. The MMR, published each September, looks retrospectively at the City’s performance during the prior fiscal year. Both documents set forth performance indicators and targets for such indicators, and indicate whether such targets have been met. While all City agencies provide services or programs to the public, many agencies and programs within agencies are not listed in the PMMR or MMR, thereby making it difficult for the public to track the performance of City agencies’ administration in those areas.

For agencies that do include performance indicators, additional metrics are necessary to gain a comprehensive understanding of the successes or challenges that such agencies are experiencing in administering the program or service.

Accordingly, the Council calls for additional indicators in several agencies, including:
• Metrics for the New York City Taxpayer Advocate’s Office within the Department of Finance (DOF) to allow the public to know the types of inquiries received by the office, response times to such inquiries, and resolution times of such inquires.
• Metrics for the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) application processing and resolution times.
• Metrics for DOF’s newly created Business E-services system to include the number of people who pay on-line, file returns on-line, and statistics of delinquency rate of people who pay on-line.