Bloomberg Announces Surplus at Final Budget Release

NEW YORK (Reuters) -

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented an updated budget proposal for the coming fiscal year on Thursday with largely cosmetic changes before the budget goes to the city’s legislature for debate.

Bloomberg presented the adjusted figures for fiscal year 2013-14 as a last update to his $70-billion budget presented in January. The city’s current fiscal year ends on June 30.

Bloomberg said better-than-expected tax revenue in the current fiscal year would pull some tax revenue forward from next year. The city collected an additional $800 million in the current fiscal year after taxpayers sold assets at the end of the 2012 calendar year to avoid higher federal taxes.

In total, the city expects $1.1 billion in extra revenues this year when $222 million netted in corporate tax audits is included.

“It sounds good but it really is more bookkeeping,” Bloomberg told a press conference at City Hall. “We lowered tax revenues for fiscal ’14 because of that.”

The city now expects $462 million less revenue in fiscal 2014, $194 million of which is due to a lower tax revenue forecast.

“Despite the one-time increase in tax revenues this year, this does not substantially change the city’s forecasted revenue base,” the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, and Domenic Recchia, chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a joint statement.

“The city’s overall fiscal outlook continues to reflect the solid and steady improvements in the city economy that we anticipated in the winter,” they said.

New York has also cut by half its estimate for revenue from the collection of sales of taxi medallions to $300 million in the coming fiscal year.

The sale of the medallions is disputed and is currently working its way through the court with a decision on whether the sale can go ahead in the coming months.

The city’s comptroller, John Liu, criticized the Bloomberg administration for including any revenue from the sale of the medallions while the dispute is ongoing.

“The mayor’s executive budget for FY 2014 contains some major unwarranted assumptions that risk opening yawning gaps,” Liu said in a statement.

“It assumes that the city will reap $1.5 billion over four years from a taxi medallion sale that for the foreseeable future is tied up in court,” said Liu, who is a candidate for mayor.

Bloomberg is now in the last year of his third term as mayor and cannot seek re-election due to term limits.

Other changes from the January projection include a $327 million increase in projected agency expenses. Total expenses increased by $472 million compared to January’s projection.