By Connor Adams Sheets
Queens residents can breathe a sigh of relief along with the rest of the city now that the City Council has passed by a vote of 48-1 a $63 billion budget last week that reversed many of the most feared cuts Mayor Michael Bloomberg included in his proposed budget.
The fiscal 2011 budget, which arose from a deal struck between Bloomberg and the Council late last month, included $37.4 million in funding to keep 20 firehouses open that had been slated for closure under Bloomberg’s proposal and $38 million to avoid closing libraries.
“We’ve managed to get restorations for the firehouses, we’ve managed to get restorations for the libraries so there will be five-day-a-week operation in Queens,” Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said. “All the city pools will stay open all summer. All the district attorneys, their funding will pretty much be restored and we’re working on addressing the disparities between the offices.”
Funding for district attorneys’ offices has long been distributed unevenly among the boroughs, with the Queens office historically getting less than its fair share, Halloran said. The Council plans to close that gap during negotiations.
“Unlike Albany, the city of New York has once again passed an on-time, balanced budget that does not include any tax increases,” Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said. “Thanks to years of responsible budgeting and smart planning, the city’s strong fiscal position has allowed us to avoid drastic cuts to areas that would have had a devastating impact on the lives of nearly every New Yorker.”
Some fiscal hawks have criticized the budget because it includes more spending on discretionary spending projects than it did last year despite the weak economic climate.
The Council increased discretionary spending from $363.5 million last year to $396 million this year — a jump of 9 percent, according to the New York Post.
One remaining question loomed about the budget: what amount of state and federal funding the city will receive. Most of that money goes to state-run programs, but there would still be a need to do some budget modifications if the state ended up approving less funding in its final budget than the city is currently banking on.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.