Thousands of jobs are on the line as City Hall tries to hammer out a budget.
More than 4,000 city jobs will be eliminated and four fire engine companies will shut down as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget plan to close a $4.9 billion budget deficit.
The saving will amount to some $484 million for this fiscal year and $1.1 billion for next fiscal year, which begins in July, the mayor said today at City Hall. The city budget for 2011 is about $63 billion.
Of the 4,286 jobs being eliminated, 834 will be through layoffs and 3,452 through attrition.
"These decisions have been weighed carefully," Bloomberg said today. He added that "at this point, they appear unavoidable."
The plan does not call for the elimination of any workers at the uniform agencies -- among them NYPD, FDNY, Sanitation and Corrections -- however there is no guarantee that no jobs would, in the end, be eliminated at these agencies.
In addition, "we draw the line on headcount reduction at the school house door," the mayor said.
The plan will not include any new taxes. But, savings will come from a $22 million dollar cut to libraries, the elimination of four more fire engine companies and the closing of a drop in center for the homeless. School nurses will be eliminated at elementary schools with fewer than 300 students.
The mayor introduced two new budget books -- one with the cuts from Albany and one without -- or what City Hall officials call the bad and worse news. The mayor has said that the cuts proposed in Albany's new budget would be a "bloodbath" for the city.
More than 25,000 jobs could be up for elimination if the Albany budget passes, including the loss of 8,500 teachers. Today, the mayor said there is no way to know what budget Albany will come up with, but current proposals are "unfair" to the City and Long Island.
Other cuts, should Albany's Executive Budget pass, would include reducing recycling pick-up to every other week, the elimination of 500 soup kitchens and food pantries and preventative slots at The Administration for Children's Services will be slashed by 30 percent, at a savings of $9.2 million dollars.
But there was some good news: The mayor said the tourism industry is still doing well and "retail sales are going up and projected to continue."
And there was an ultimatum from Mayor Bloomberg to teachers: Forego some of the salary increases they'd hoped for in the future or lose 2,500 jobs.
The plan calls for the reduction of salary increases for teachers and principals from 4% each for the next two years to 2% for the first $70,000 in salary for the next two years. The Bloomberg administration says this would be consistent with raises that managers at the Department of Education are receiving.
The news comes just after the teachers union declared that teachers and City Hall were deadlocked their contract negotiations.
Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler said “The Mayor’s Preliminary Budget will acknowledge that while the economy has improved the city’s fiscal standing, it hasn’t improved enough to avoid difficult choices and real consequences. We are avoiding a ‘worst-case’ scenario but need to take decisive action to close what was a $5 billion budget gap for the next fiscal year."
Meanwhile, various city officials and union leaders lined up to critique the plan after the mayor's address.
“Today Mayor Bloomberg’s budget demonstrated the difficult choices we have to make, especially in light of the challenges posed by the state’s budget problems," said newly minted Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. "While I respect Governor Paterson’s fiscal discipline, it is now clear that his proposed budget would create unacceptable consequences for our City, including layoffs of over 3,000 police officers, taking the NYPD back to 1985 staff levels."
Patrolman's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch added, "Mayor Bloomberg recognizes that safe streets is the fuel that powers the city’s economic engine. Staffing levels at the NYPD have reached the breaking point already. Safe streets are a magnet for prosperity just as dangerous streets prevent neighborhoods from thriving. It would be in the city’s best fiscal interest to spend the dollars it does have beefing up the fight against crime, terrorism and disorder.”
Meanwhile, Uniformed Firefighters Association president Steve Cassidy noted, “Any firehouse closings will compromise public safety and endanger the lives and property of New York City’s taxpayers.”
New Comptroller John Liu chimed in: "The Mayor's proposal contains quite some pain, unavoidably so, given the large $4.1 billion deficit the City currently faces. This now begins the budget process, of which there are many moving parts. A great deal of uncertainty rests in the proposed State budget, which in its current form would widen our City deficit by an additional $1.3 billion... While my office reviews the Mayor's proposal, we will continue to seek additional savings by auditing and improving the efficiency of City agencies."
Harry Nespoli, Chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, said, "he Mayor has just released a financial plan that unfortunately would, if enacted, severely curtail services. The City is now entering a time of uncertainty. With difficult financial problems facing all levels of government the only “solution” being proposed -- as usual -- is to freeze or reduce government services.
"We will do our part to make sure that the State does not treat the City unfairly because of its own financial problems. We have six months to resolve these problems so that the financial problem caused by others does not adversely impact the public or the city’s workforce," said Nespoli.