Mayor de Blasio presents preliminary budget

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Mayor Bill de Blasio, presenting his preliminary budget, promised a fiscally responsible, progressive and honest financial plan for the city.

The budget process is “one that puts us on the road to giving hardworking New Yorkers a fair shot,” de Blasio said, when he issued the preliminary budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Wednesday.

For the current year, FY 2014, the budget remains balanced by relying on $1 billion from the prior year, according to the mayor. The FY 2015 plan currently relies on $1.8 billion of resources from the prior year for balance, but the city is already facing a deficit of $1.1 billion for FY 2016, he said.

One financial concern facing the city is the more than 150 labor contracts that are still unresolved.

The preliminary budget is an initial plan to meet the financial concern, he said.

The budget’s “centerpiece” was education, the mayor said, and provided for his universal pre-kindergarten and after-school expansion programs.

They would be paid for with $530 million in revenue that would come from a .0534 percent increase in the personal income tax rate for households earning more than $500,000 per year.

The budget also asks the state for an additional $500 million to fund improvements to the city’s public schools.

Several other initiatives announced by the mayor will continue to be funded through FY 2015, including an independent NYPD inspector general and an expansion of paid sick leave.

With the recent unusually snowy weather, an extra $35 million has been added to the previously budgeted $57 million for the Department of Sanitation’s storm response operations for the remainder of the season.

The budget additionally redirects resources for New York City Housing Authority repairs and maintenance, bolsters homeless services, and improves access to mental health services.

In presenting the budget, the mayor promised to “end the budget dance” by restoring $59 million for 20 fire companies that were previously cut from the FY 2015 budget and $10 million in funding for the borough presidents and public advocate.

One billion dollars will also be restored to the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund, which pays for the cost of retiree health benefits for city workers.

The mayor also discussed the city’s economic outlook during his budget presentation, saying that the real estate market showed positive recovery signs.

But the city’s affordability and unemployment remained a problem, he said.

De Blasio added there were federal financial uncertainties, which included Sandy recovery money.