Mayor freezes hiring at city agencies

By Ivan Pereira

The mayor’s announcement that he will impose a hiring freeze on city agencies until they can come up with budget cuts to counteract the city’s deficit has angered at least one union, which claims he is going too far to fight the city’s financial troubles.

In a memo sent out to various agencies Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the agencies to stop taking in new employees and said he would lift the ban once they come up with a way to cut $2 billion in spending collectively.

In the letter, the mayor orders public safety agencies and schools to cut spending by 2.7 percent and all other departments to cut their spending by 5.4 percent. In the next year, the public safety agencies and schools would have to cut spending by 4 percent and the other departments would have to cut their spending by 8 percent, the mayor said.

“Although the city’s unemployment rate has declined seven months in a row, and job growth in the city has outpaced growth nationally and statewide, we are not immune from the impacts of the recession,” he said in the letter.

The plans from the agencies are due next month. The city will be facing a $3.7 billion budget gap for the next fiscal year.

Bloomberg said positions immediately affecting public health and safety would be spared from the hiring freeze.

The head of DC 37, the city’s largest union, which represents more than 125,000 workers, blasted Bloomberg’s plan, citing that the workers were essential to valuable projects around the city.

“City workers deliver essential services that New Yorkers need to maintain a decent quality of life,” DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said in a statement. “We’re already working with bare-bones staffing in most agencies. Now, what does the mayor do? He puts a freeze on citywide hiring of the very men and women who deliver these essential services.”

Roberts suggested the city could save money by putting a hiring freeze on its outside contracts. Bloomberg, however, countered in his letter by saying that the agencies needed to make their spending cuts immediately.

“[S]ince almost 60 percent of city spending goes toward labor costs, including pension and health-care contributions, the city must immediately take steps to rein in spending,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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