Since Bill de Blasio became Mayor the city’s budget has always been robust. In 2014 the budget was around $74 billion. In 2019 it was closer to $92 billion. The expectation was that the 2020 budget would be higher still, then Covid-19 hit, leaving New York City with a $9 billion revenue shortfall. As such, the City Council and the mayor agreed to a $87 billion budget ahead of the July 1st deadline.
To close the budget gap the city will demand across-the-board savings from agencies, and slash services. Including trash pickups and overnight service on the Staten Island Ferry, tree pruning, and stump removal. Also, there will be fewer traffic agents deployed at intersections. The city pools will remain closed this summer and the residential composting program will be eliminated. To balance the budget, the mayor drew down on the city’s reserves, tapping $4 billion in savings while requesting the authority to borrow $5 billion. The prospect of layoffs looms large over the city workforce as the mayor continues to state that unless the borrowing authority is granted or money comes from the Federal Government, up to 22,000 city workers will be laid off. Though, the city could cut around $9,000 jobs through attrition and negotiate employees to pay more into their health care premiums.
Making matters more contentious this year is the allocation of funds to the NYPD with calls to “defund the police” growing around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The mayor and City Council agreed to $1 billion in cuts which would cancel the planned hiring of 1,163 police officers and move school safety officers out of the Police Department and into the Department of Education. There is a similar talk about removing traffic agents from the Police Department and moving them to the Department of Transportation.
As dire as this budget is, the expectation that due to continued uncertainty related to Covid-19 as well as diminished savings, the 2022 budget will be even worse.