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No new taxes, lots of painin Bloomberg 2011 budget – QNS.com

No new taxes, lots of pain
in Bloomberg 2011 budget

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented his 2011 fiscal year budget, there were no new taxes, but significant agency gap closing actions that will impact all city agencies as well as reductions in the growth of city employee salary costs. However, he also warned things could get worse before they get better if a state budget takes away funding from the city.

On Thursday, January 28, Bloomberg presented his 2011 preliminary budget and plans to close a $4.9 billion deficit for that year as well as a new round of agency gap closing actions that will save the city $1.6 billion including $484 million in fiscal year 2010.

“New Yorkers continue to feel the harsh impact of the deepest national recession in more than 60 years, and as many businesses and families continue cutting back on their budgets, so too must city government,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Because of the early steps we took to diversify our economy and keep our fiscal house in order, we’ve avoided the very worst-case scenario, but we still face a very large deficit that will require very difficult decisions.”

Overall, Bloomberg’s gap closing actions to balance the budget will require a reduction in headcount of 4,286 employees – 834 through layoffs and 3,452 through attrition – although none of those layoffs will come at uniform agencies.

“We will confront the challenge head-on by taking the same approach we have used to successfully overcome past fiscal crises: doing more with less by finding new efficiencies and developing innovative new ways to attack old problems,” Bloomberg said. “Through this approach, we’ve proven that the city’s quality of life doesn’t have to plummet when the economy does – and in fact, the city is safer and cleaner today than ever before.”

Bloomberg’s plan also seeks employee productivity increases, pension reform and mandatory health care premium contributions in exchange for future salary increases.

“Notwithstanding the most severe economic downturn in generations, we must begin the new fiscal year with a balanced budget,” said City Comptroller John Liu. “That will necessitate expense reductions and possibly revenue increases. Public hearings will be held in the City Council and the boroughs to discuss various proposals.”

Bloomberg’s proposal calls for a 2 percent salary increase for teachers and principals on the first $70,000 of salary, which is less than the 4 percent increases they were supposed to get. However, Bloomberg said that this reduction would save about 2,500 teaching jobs at the Department of Education.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg also said that if the New York State Legislature were to adopt the budget proposed by Governor David Paterson, the city would lose about $1.3 billion in funding.

If Paterson’s proposed budget were to be implemented, Bloomberg warned that 8,500 teaching positions could be reduced, 3,150 police officers could be laid off and staffing could be eliminated for 42 engine companies resulting in 1,050 uniform firefighter layoffs. Other cuts would include eliminating 484 positions at the Department of Parks & Recreation, reducing recycling pickups to once a week and eliminating funding to 500 soup kitchens and food pantries throughout the city.

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