City Quits Nicotine Program, Raises Ambulance Transport Rates Amid Budget Woes

The city is seeking to balance the budget for the next fiscal year.

Saturday, Nov 19, 2011  |  Updated 9:39 AM EDT
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Nicotine Program Snuffed in Budget Cuts

AP

City agencies have submitted budget-saving proposals to the mayor, and the list includes raising ambulance transport rates, eliminating the city's popular free nicotine kit program and hiking commercial parking rates, among other belt-tightening moves.

A number of layoffs are also being proposed, including at the medical examiner's office and the Department of Transportation.

The agencies were ordered last month to submit their plans for cutting spending by 2 percent this fiscal year, which ends in June, and 6 percent the next fiscal year.

It is the 11th round of cuts since 2007, and is estimated to produce $1.5 billion in savings -- $470 million this fiscal year and $1 billion the following year.

The city's budget gap for next fiscal year is $2 billion, partly because of the cuts, and also due to a higher revenue forecast by $81 million, along with $1 billion in new revenues from the sale of additional taxi medallions.

The cuts include a plan to raise the fee for street activity permits from $15 to $25, and hike commercial parking rates from $3 to $4 for one hour, $9 for two hours and $15 for three hours.

When the city cuts the popular nicotine kit program, which has given out tens of thousands of nicotine patches in recent years, the city will direct callers to the New York state Quitline instead, at 1-866-NY-QUITS, for a savings of $1.1 million.

And the ambulance transport rate will mean that the city will charge insurance companies $704, up from $515, for basic life support, or the lowest level of care needed. The next level of life support will cost $1,190, up from $750, and the highest will cost $1,290, up from $850.

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