NYC Council Gearing Up For Fight Over Budget

NEW YORK -

The New York City budget for 2014 is currently being negotiated, and a city councilman said he is planning on battling the cuts to child care, after-school programs, libraries, firehouses, and senior centers.

Councilman David Greenfield said that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget, released earlier this month, would reduce the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) budget by $78.2 million, including the $60.7 million the City Council restored last year to avoid cuts to child care.

A $5.3 million cost-savings program enacted by the mayor in November against ACS will take away child care from nearly 300 families, many of them in Boro Park and Williamsburg. In all, the mayor’s proposal would eliminate child care for about 9,000 children through a $59.6 million cut and after-school programs for more than 41,000 children through a $66.2 million cut.

Greenfield, a Brooklyn Democrat, had the chance Tuesday to question ACS Commissioner Ronald Richter at a Council hearing about the cuts.

“Your logic is circular,” Greenfield told Richter. “All you are doing is forcing these parents who finally found a job to give it up to take care of their children. That really doesn’t make any sense.”

Under questioning, Richter agreed that the cuts were not “ideal” and said he would prefer to put the money back in the budget.

Senior citizens also face substantial cuts to several important programs in this year’s budget, including trimming $6.6 million from the Department for the Aging’s case management program, $800,000 from elder abuse prevention funds and $1 million from the money allocated for extended services, which funds community-based programs like Ohel and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.

Also at risk for elimination is $2 million for autism services, funding that will allow neighborhood libraries to maintain current service levels, and funding to make sure fire companies are not eliminated.

By law, a balanced budget must pass by June 30 for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. The mayor’s budget traditionally begins a tug of war with the council, who seek to restore funding for constituent services. It usually ends with the programs restored.