Bloomberg, Council Agree on $70B NYC Budget Plan

NEW YORK -

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council have reached an agreement on a $70 billion budget proposal that does not raise taxes and avoids major layoffs and childcare cuts, the mayor and Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced at a rare late Sunday afternoon press conference at City Hall.

“[Balancing the budget] was done in a responsible way without a lot of acrimony and posturing though the press,” Bloomberg said in the final budget deal of his 12-year mayoral career. “This was done in a thoughtful way by the city council and our administration and it shows democracy works.”

Isaac Sofer, an askan with UTA-Satmar, said that little was changed from last year’s budget in regard to Orthodox concerns.

“It’s basically almost identical to last year’s budget in terms of yeshivah after-school funding,” Mr. Sofer said.

Councilman David Greenfield, who represents the Orthodox Jewish areas of Boro Park and Flatbush, said that while wrinkles are still being ironed out, there were changes which were made that could have affected his constituency.

“Most of the areas which the community was concerned about we did, I think, fairly well,” Greenfield, a Democrat, said. “Specifically in childcare, where most of the restoration were not items that were up for restoration.”

But in terms of libraries and senior centers, Greenfield said that everything will end up remaining intact.

“There was a senior center in the [Orthodox] community that was on the chopping block — they were already notified about this — and [the budget deal] was able to keep it open,” he said. That center, whom he refused to name, will stay open.

The budget will include no tax increases, Bloomberg said, noting that the city expects $300 million in new revenue from the sale of 2,000 new taxi medallions for outer-borough street hail service. Lower interest rates would also save the city about $200 million in lowered debt services.

“There will be no reduction in the number of fire companies in our city,” Bloomberg said, Quinn, the frontrunner in the race to replace him, standing at his side. “City support for public libraries and cultural institutions will also remain essentially the same as it is in the current fiscal year, and that means libraries will be able to remain open on average more than five days a week just as they are now.”

The city budget also relies on $250 million Sandy-related “resiliency measures,” including $100 million to secure city facilities.

The budget does not call for hiring more law-enforcement officers, a demand of many of the mayoral candidates running to replace Bloomberg. He said that it is unneeded since “we’ve been able to bring crime down to record lows.”

The budget adds $58 million for the New York City Housing Authority to counter the effects of the looming $205 million drop in federal funding as a result of sequestration.

The City Council is expected to vote on the budget agreement this week.