In his final budget address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented a balanced plan that focuses on reducing costs wherever possible, including some city employee benefits.
Bloomberg’s plans, which take effect in July, include promoting a recent spike in private sector hiring and readjusting health care and pensions for city workers.
There will be no new taxes this year, the mayor announced.
Jobs are up this year, hizzoner said, attributing the spike to a demand for professional services and hospitality posts throughout the city. January numbers showed 3.3 million people were privately employed, many in the hospitality, technology and retail industries.
However, the city has seen a drop in the financial services sector. Bloomberg said that was partly due to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The federal act, passed in 2010, aims to ensure accountability and transparency in large banks and end tax payer bailouts.
“Dodd-Frank is not good for our city,” Bloomberg said. “All these banks are cutting back their employees. And a lot of the ways we made money, on which we taxed them and paid for police, fire, education have gone away. This is really bad news for us.”
Because the state has continued to increase pension amounts, Bloomberg said the city is looking for new ways to reduce those costs and work on a plan for employees to pay for part of their health care coverage.
While New York State workers currently pay a portion of their provided healthcare, most city workers do not pay anything. Bloomberg said it would be up to the next mayor to ease the cost on the city and would require significant work with unions.
He added that while Sandy caused devastation, the superstorm would not affect this year’s budget. Bloomberg said the storm caused $4.57 billion in damage to the city, all of which he expects to be covered by federal aid.
“That’s not to say we aren’t that sympathetic to those that were hurt,” he said. “And we’ve got to make sure we continue to do everything we can to help the victims of Sandy. But in the context of the budget, it is not something that really hurts.”
For his successor, Bloomberg is leaving behind a program to close future gaps in the budget that are expected to start by fiscal year 2015. A $2.2 billion budget gap is expected for that year. The city has already set aside $142 million for then.