New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city council agreed on a $70 billion budget that restores day-care and after-school programs for thousands of children and saves Fire Department units from closing.
The budget agreement yesterday for the most-populous U.S. city doesn’t raise taxes and comes before the June 30 deadline marking the end of fiscal 2013. Bloomberg, 71, and the council used unanticipated revenue and savings to restore funds the mayor had cut that would have closed 20 fire companies and reduced child-care and after-school programs.
Bloomberg, an independent, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, 46, a Manhattan Democrat running for her party’s mayoral nomination, joined their negotiating teams in City Hall last night to shake hands on the deal. Bloomberg, who is barred by law from seeking a fourth term, will step down Dec. 31.
For Bloomberg, it is his 12th budget. He arrived in office Jan. 1, 2002, weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which combined with a national recession produced deficits that were closed by a property-tax increase and emergency borrowing.
“Even as cities and states across the nation experienced large-scale layoffs and service cutbacks, our city’s commitment to sound fiscal management and pro-growth economic strategies pulled New York out of the recession faster than any other place in this nation,” Bloomberg said with Quinn at his side.
The mayor left for his successor the task of negotiating with the city’s almost 300,000 workers, including teachers, police, firefighters and civil-service employees, some of whom have been working with expired contracts for years.
The financial plan came together after real-estate transfer revenue from last year exceeded forecasts, augmented by taxes collected through Finance Department audits and about $200 million in reduced debt service, Bloomberg said.
The city still faces challenges. Bloomberg forecast a $2 billion deficit for 2015. The city’s budget must be balanced, under state law. A $70 billion plan would bring spending down from this year’s $70.4 billion of expenditures.
The city also used savings from other departments to keep libraries open five days a week and finance social programs, including $58 million for the Housing Authority to replace funding lost from federal sequestration. The budget also contains $250 million in spending for protection and investment in low-lying coastal areas, after Hurricane Sandy struck the region Oct. 29.
Negotiations preserved 325 housing-authority jobs and kept open 60 senior centers and community facilities.
“This budget does not rely on one-shots or cash infusions, a good indication that we’re not leaving the next council and administration in a bad financial footing,” Quinn said. “We were faced with challenges because of what the federal government failed to do, but we’ve all come together to deliver.”
A court decision this month also assures that the city will receive about $1.5 billion over the next few years starting in fiscal 2014 from the sales of 2,000 licenses to operate taxis. The medallions would increase the yellow-cab fleet to about 15,000.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
In trading June 19, investors demanded about 0.3 percentage point of extra yield on average to own New York general obligation bonds maturing in August 2023, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The securities have an AA grade from Standard & Poor’s, the third-highest rank.
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