It’s not quite the budget battle royale experienced every spring, but Monday’s City Council oversight hearing on the mayor’s latest financial plan is likely to produce some sparks.
City Council leaders have continually opposed budget cuts from Mayor Eric Adams’ administration over the past two years, even as the administration has made the case recently that deep cuts are necessary to close widening budget gaps, pinning much of the need for those cuts on the city’s spending on asylum-seekers. Council leaders have not only disagreed with the level of cuts in Adams’ November financial plan – and those planned for next year – but also with how the mayor is going about closing real shortfalls.
"It's important for New Yorkers to understand that while these budget gaps are real, they're not solely due to the migrant crisis. The end of federal COVID stimulus funds, a resilient but static economy, and commercial real estate challenges also play a big role,” Council Member Justin Brannan, who chairs the Finance Committee, said in a statement. Brannan and Speaker Adrienne Adams have repeatedly argued that the across-the board cuts that the administration is pursuing – most recently in 5% cuts across all agencies last month – are needlessly blunt and will result the loss of key city services. “To close these gaps, the administration is once again using a scythe,” Brannan said. “Equal cuts across the board may sound as if OMB is prescribing the same amount of pain to everyone, but in reality it will yield a disproportionate impact counter to making this a safer, healthier, and more livable city."
Sunday, the council also released an updated economic and tax revenue forecast that anticipated nearly $1.5 billion more in tax revenue between this fiscal year and the next than the Office of Management and Budget has estimated. It’s typical for the council to have higher revenue estimates than City Hall.
With most city agencies already instructed to find additional savings for fiscal year 2025 by January, council leaders have floated alternative options to raise revenue, such as dipping into the city’s budget reserves, evaluating existing city tax breaks and investing in collecting unpaid fines and fees. Brannan has said that raising property taxes is not on the table.
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