New York City’s budget outlook is great/terrible depending which watchdog you ask.

Differences between budget projections point to the complexity of the massive spending plan.

Mayor Eric Adams proposed a preliminary budget of $109.4 billion.

Mayor Eric Adams proposed a preliminary budget of $109.4 billion. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Budgeting is not simple – especially when you’re dealing with a 12-digit budget that is bigger than that of some entire states. New York City Mayor Eric Adams released his budget proposal in his annual address in January, and since then, some of the city’s budget watchdogs have released their analyses. Unfortunately for the mayor – there isn’t exactly a consensus on whether he’s proposing to spend too much or too little. 

There has also been a fair amount of waffling this fiscal year. The mayor recently pivoted away from his declaration last fall that at least three more rounds of citywide cuts to agency spending would be necessary to balance this year’s budget. Announcing his budget proposal for fiscal year 2025 in January, Adams and his Office of Management and Budget forecasted a rosier fiscal outlook, and backed away from some cuts. And on Wednesday, Adams announced that he’s canceling the third round of those cuts planned for April, thanks to better than expected tax revenues, reduced spending on asylum-seekers, and plans to further cut spending on asylum-seekers. The hiring freeze that has been in place for most city jobs since last September will also be eased, allowing agencies to hire on a two out, one in, basis.

Starting in March, the City Council will conduct a series of budget hearings with agency heads to investigate the mayor’s initial 2025 proposal, and they will come up with their rebuttal sometime in April. After that, the mayor will release his Executive Budget, followed by another round of hearings from the Council. The mayor and the council usually agree on a final budget plan in June, and the council votes to approve it ahead of the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. 

Citizens Budget Commission: “There isn’t enough money!”

The New York budget think tank said that the mayor’s budget is short of several billion dollars if the city wants to maintain current services. In their report on budget gaps in the proposal, they said the plan is “$3.6 billion short of what would be needed to fund the current level of programs and expenses.” The watchdog group said the current proposal wouldn’t fully cover services including CityFHEPS rental vouchers, homeless shelters and pre-K, and called for the mayor to cut spending further. The report commended the mayor for improving budget transparency, but called for more specificity in the funding plan to make it easier to see additional areas for potential cuts. 

Mayor Eric Adams: “This budget is just right.”

Adams released a $109.4 billion preliminary budget proposal for fiscal year 2025, several billion dollars higher than the 2024 $106.7 billion adopted budget. The mayor touted near-record reserves for the fiscal year 2025: $8.2 billion. In a year with financial pressures due to asylum-seeker costs and new labor contracts, the mayor said he is being responsible and focused on keeping a stable budget while prioritizing for working class New Yorkers by investing in public safety, public spaces and youth.

Independent Budget Office: “There is more money than you think!”

The New York City Independent Budget Office is stating that the city has more money for the budget than anticipated. The IBO anticipates a $3.3 billion surplus in fiscal year 2025. They say the surplus will partially result from an approximate $900 million dollar increase in anticipated tax revenue and underspending in 2024 by $1.9 billion. The IBO also expects there to be a lower spending cost on the city for asylum-seekers than the mayor projected. However, the IBO also said the mayor underestimated  funding that will be needed for CityPHEPS rental vouchers and the four uniformed agencies: fire, police, sanitation and correction.