Comptroller: NYC Fiscal Picture Strong, But Caution Needed

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York City is in strong fiscal shape but Mayor Bill de Blasio should be more demanding in cutting costs to guard against possible economic downturns, the city’s fiscal watchdog recommended Tuesday.

In a budget analysis released by his office, Comptroller Scott Stringer painted a largely rosy picture of the finances for the nation’s largest city and projected higher revenue than de Blasio’s office has estimated — enough to balance budgets through 2019.

“This is an unprecedented situation in New York City,” Stringer said in a briefing at his Manhattan office. “Based on our projections, this means the city now has almost enough to balance each year’s budget all the way until the end of the financial plan.”

Stringer’s projections show the city having more than $1 billion in tax revenue over the mayor’s estimate for the next two fiscal years. He also projected far smaller budget gaps for several years.

Despite the optimistic projections, he urged caution, saying that if the economy takes a plunge, New York would need “a cushion of billions to make it through a downtown.”

In previous years, the city has required agencies to cut costs. De Blasio has not imposed such cutbacks but a spokeswoman for the mayor said city agencies were asked to find efficiencies and noted that the administration would not rely on overly optimistic revenue forecasts.

“We are intentionally prudent in our revenue projections,” said spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.