By Sadef Ali Kully
Mayor Bill de Blasio presented his preliminary 2016 budget of $77.7 billion for the city Monday at City Hall with a strong focus on public safety, social resources, education and income inequality while still managing a fiscally responsible approach.
“The goal in each investment is to create a stronger city, a safer city, a fairer city, and we’re doing that in a way we think is very cost-effective,” the mayor said.
The $77.7 billion will have reserves of $750 million per year until 2018 to further reduce deficits.
The city will invest $7.3 million in bullet-proof vests for NYPD officers in this fiscal year , which ends June 30, and an additional $4.2 million in 2016, he said. Some $10 million will go to expand the police cadet program and $3 million will be earmarked for the Law Department to end “frivolous” lawsuits against NYPD officers and the city. The Fire Department will have more than $11 million for 45 new ambulance tours and $6.7 million to add 149 new EMS dispatchers to address response time problems, particularly in western Queens, The EMS response time for Queens is longer than the average of the city, which is six minutes and 50 seconds, according to First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris.
“We got rid of the habit of putting items in for cuts that then later would inevitably be restored. The most obvious example is fire houses, where year after year, there was a Kabuki theater around firehouses,” de Blasio said. “We have made it a point not to engage in that practice. I think it’s been appreciated by the City Council and the public alike. [We are] trying to be straightforward about real costs,” he said in between sips of lemon herbal tea with honey as he battled illness.
The mayor pledged to keep promoting universal pre-K and after-school programs for middle school children in addition to a literacy intervention for children and language services for parents by adding over $530 million. An estimated $30 million will be added to varied CUNY programs.
In order to address the rise in the homeless population, the city needs $28 million for rental assistance as well as programs to move homeless New Yorkers out of shelters and $8.6 million to prevent New Yorkers from becoming homeless, he said.
His budget proposals added $5 million to the popular IDNYC, a new identification card option for all New Yorkers, for staffing to address the 260,000 appointments.
The mayor mentioned that middle-class households had fallen by 4 percent and now make up only 25 percent of the population in New York City since 1990.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.