The Associated Press May 6, 2010, 5:44PM ET

NYC mayor says state is 'starving' city of funds

Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused the state of starving New York City as he unveiled his budget plan that deflates the municipal work force by nearly 11,000 jobs, eliminates 20 fire engine companies and shrinks key city services because of expected losses in state funding.

The Bloomberg administration had delayed its spring budget update -- usually released by the end of April -- while waiting for the state to pass its spending plan, which is already a month late.

Early state budget proposals in January envisioned cutting aid to New York City by as much as $1.3 billion. Bloomberg said his hopes are dwindling that the city's slice of the pie will be much better than expected.

"Never before has New York City faced so much uncertainty in its budget so late in the process," Bloomberg said. "That leaves us no recourse but to plan for the possibility that the state will go ahead with the draconian cuts."

State budget director Robert Megna said the city is using "selective accounting" to overstate the potential loss in state funding, and suggested the city is exaggerating the cuts it would have to make.

"The mayor's budget uses the state as a scapegoat to shirk responsibility for their own budget choices," Megna said in a statement.

Even without state cuts, the mayor was already facing a deficit of about $3.5 billion for the fiscal year that begins in July. The city must pass a budget by the end of June.

Forecasts for city tax revenues are up slightly, from $42.1 billion this fiscal year to projected $43.2 billion in fiscal 2011. They are still below the pre-recession level of $43.9 billion in fiscal 2008.

The boost allows for some funding to be restored, including about $55 million for nearly 900 police officer jobs that were targeted for elimination from the 35,000-member force.

But there is plenty of grim news.

The new plan slashes agency spending by more than $1 billion, and Bloomberg said $800 million of those savings proposals are in the plan because of the expected loss in state aid.

He said if the state were to come up with more money for the city, some of those cuts would not have to occur.

City agencies have endured eight budget cuts in the last 2 1/2 years, and Bloomberg said there is little left to cut besides personnel.

The new plan gets rid of 10,997 jobs, 6,026 through layoffs and 4,971 through attrition. That includes 6,400 teaching jobs and hundreds of firefighters.

The new budget also includes many belt-tightening moves and revenue-raising ideas that were proposed in January, but that many believed would not occur.

Those include closing four public swimming pools, closing all city pools two weeks early, eliminating 20 fire engine companies, raising parking rates in midtown Manhattan and cutting subsidies to libraries and the zoos in Brooklyn and Queens.

The city also proposes raising money by renting out unused beds in its correctional facilities to federal agencies for their detention purposes.

The idea, which was also in the January plan, would raise an estimated $13.2 million per year.

The city is also planning to close a drop-in center for the homeless in Manhattan and shutter 50 senior centers that serve 1,600 people a day.

Bloomberg also warned there is no money for raises in upcoming labor contracts, unless unions come up with other measures that save money.

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio applauded the decision to restore funding for police jobs, given the anxiety over security following Saturday's failed car bombing attempt in Times Square.

But he said he is concerned about other proposed cuts, including the elimination of fire companies, which he said "puts neighborhoods throughout our city at tremendous risk."


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