Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) last week were singing the praises of an agreement on an approximately $75 billion budget.
Now the rest of the city, including Comptroller Scott Stringer, is waiting for the Council to vote on final adoption to see just how the city intends to spend the money, and where it will come from.
The City Charter requires a new budget to be in place before Tuesday, July 1, when it takes effect.
“I think we’ve seen the framework for an agreement on a larger city budget, but the details are still lacking,” Dick Dadey, chairman of Citizens Union, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Dadey said it would be premature to form an opinion just yet.
“We do know that we didn’t get the 1,000 police officers that [the Council] wanted,” Dadey added. “But we don’t know how things like discretionary funding will be handled. Many details will have to wait until they pass the budget.”
A spokesman for Stringer said the Comptroller’s Office will review the final document upon receipt and will issue a public report shortly thereafter.
With the first Democratic mayor in 20 years, there was not what most had come to call the annual “budget dance,” particularly in the last few years, when former Mayor Mike Bloomberg would target afterschool programs, senior citizen centers, public library funding and 20 FDNY firehouses for the cuts, only to have the Council restore the funding.
De Blasio called it “a fiscally responsible, progressive and honest budget,” one he said would have an enormous impact on New Yorkers while protecting the city’s fiscal health.
Mark-Viverito praised the budget process this year as “substantive and thorough.” She said the agreement will deal with the needs for public safety, infrastructure, education, and employment.
The budget does not call for any increases to the tax rates.
As per Dadey’s observation, the agreement will result in the hiring of 200 aides to fill clerical and administrative positions in the NYPD that are now being filled by uniformed officers.
The officers will be reassigned to patrol and other law enforcement duties.
Other items in last week’s statement included $6.2 million to pay for free lunch for all middle-school children beginning in September;
• $17 million to keep 57 community and senior centers open in buildings run by the New York City Housing Authority;
• $17.5 million for summer youth jobs; and
• $10 million for daycare vouchers for needy families.
Without delving into specifics, the mayor’s statement also said the agreement funds his efforts to add or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units over the next 10 years; reduces what he called punitive fines and fees on small businesses; and pays for Vision Zero traffic safety improvements.
All were major campaign themes when de Blasio was running for election last year.
If the “approximately $75 billion” figure is voted in by the Council, it would be an increase of about $5 billion from the current year, which has an adopted budget of just under $70 billion.
In a statement issued by her office, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said the deal was arrived at using conservative estimates of anticipated revenue.
“It is important to note that Council Finance [Committee], the Independent Budget office and the New York City Comptroller all believe that there will be significantly more tax revenue in Fiscal 2015 than is contained in this budget,” Ferreras said.
When asked on Monday in an email to her office to specify where the city intended to find the additional money, Ferreras or her aides were off by about $1 billion.
“The Fiscal 2015 Executive budget was $4 billion larger than the Fiscal 2014 adopted budget,” Ferreras said.
Which is true enough, considering that de Blasio’s executive budget, presented in May, came in at $73.9 billion, or about $1 billion short of the “approximately $75 billion” total that de Blasio, Mark-Viverito and Ferreras herself were quoted as praising in the joint statement on the latest plan, issued from City Hall on June 19.
The statement from Ferreras’ office on June 24 covered only $4 billion.
She said an estimated $3 billion would come from increased tax revenue, about equally split among personal income, property and other taxes.
Another $1 billion is expected in the form of increased aid promised by Gov. Cuomo to fund universal prekindergarten and afterschool programs for middle -school students.
In a statement issued by his office last Friday, Councilman Donovan Richards hailed the agreement.
“Our 2015 budget demonstrates a much more inclusive way of thinking, where everyone in our city gets a fair shot,” Richards said.
Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), the head of the Queens delegation, declined to comment on Tuesday.
Representatives of Councilmen Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) could not be reached for comment on the story.