Saturday, August 2, 2008

NYC BUDGET | Cuts to Meet Emergency

In connection with the fiscal emergency announcement by NY State Governor David Paterson, who has called for a $600 million cut in State spending, the following article from ten months ago is worth resurrecting. It is reprinted in full from the NY Sun.

NY State's budget problems are especially acute because the State does not receive property-tax revenues, which act as a fiscal stabilizer for the City. However, NYC will be affected by NY State budget cuts and by the shortfall in investment returns for the NYC pension funds below the required return of 8 percent – which means another hit to the City's budget because the City makes up the shortfall.

City Council To Oppose Any Midyear Budget Cuts
By GRACE RAUH, Staff Reporter of the Sun October 29, 2007

If Mayor Bloomberg proposes midyear budget cuts to soften the blow of lower than expected tax revenues, he may face stiff opposition in the City Council. The chair of the council's Finance Committee, David Weprin, said yesterday that he would object to layoffs or midyear cuts now, but he added that individual agencies should always be looking for ways to be more efficient. "I think we should be looking at ways to save money, but I don't think we should be looking at any kind of panic scenarios," he said. "At this point, I would just sit back and just look for savings, but not look for any midyear budget cuts of layoffs." In September, Mr. Bloomberg sent a memo to top city officials saying the city's budget director, Mark Page, would be in charge of closely scrutinizing all future hires to ensure that the only positions filled were those deemed "critically necessary." The mayor noted that the city's economy depends on the profitability and success of Wall Street and said "recent events in the financial markets are, therefore, a subject of deep concern."

A report in the New York Post yesterday, citing an unnamed source, said Mr. Bloomberg is instructing city agencies to list potential budget cuts and that a public announcement is expected this week.

On Friday, Mr. Page reported to the state's Financial Control Board that tax revenues for the current fiscal year and future ones are less than had been anticipated in June. Tax revenues are down $238 million for the current fiscal year and predicted to be down $577 million in fiscal year 2009 and down $638 million in fiscal year 2010.

A former chief economist in the city comptroller's office until 2006, John Tepper Marlin, said that if he were at City Hall, he would act quickly to address the lower tax revenue projections by holding a press conference today to announce an official hiring freeze.

"There is absolutely no point in waiting. You want to act immediately," he said. Mr. Marlin said he agreed with Mr. Page's projections and added that if anything, "it could be worse." Unlike past mayors, Mr. Bloomberg is not afraid to deliver bad news, he said.

A spokesman for the mayor, Stuart Loeser, wrote in an e-mail message that when Mr. Bloomberg has a budget announcement to make, he will make it.

"We don't announce that we're announcing them and then announce them at a later date," he said.