New York City Council to unveil budget rebuttal

Council members will convene at City Hall on April 1 to provide their view on the city’s fiscal health

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams Gerardo Romo, NYC Council Media Unit

The New York City Council plans to unveil its response to the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget on April Fools Day, an appropriate date to kick off the next phase of a budget season plagued by ambiguity and a series of “gotcha” moments. 

The council’s announcement follows a month-long series of preliminary budget hearings, where the body’s various committees analyzed the objectives and fiscal implications of the preliminary budget – which currently sits at a hefty $109.4 billion – for the upcoming fiscal year. 

Once the City Council responds to Mayor Eric Adams’ preliminary budget, his administration will present a revised proposal that will undergo a similar examination by the city’s legislative body. Both the mayor and the council will have to agree upon an adopted budget by June 30. 

Democratic Council Member Justin Brannan, who chairs the powerful Committee on Finance, will make the announcement alongside Speaker Adrienne Adams and Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala at City Hall.

“The council maintains that the Administration’s proposed blunt cuts were unnecessary. We will be fighting for and expecting to see full restorations across the board from 3K to CUNY to our libraries to our cultural organizations and everything in between. Hardworking New Yorkers deserve nothing less,” he said in a text message to City & State. 

A series of dramatic funding cuts – then reversals to several of those same cuts – have resulted in a particularly dramatic budget season. 

Last fall, the Adams administration announced three rounds of 5% cuts across all agencies, coming in November, January and April. The move was intended to close a budgetary gap the mayor attributed in large part to the city’s output of asylum-seeker services. 

In January, however, the mayor rang in the new year by reinstating portions of the police, fire, parks, sanitation and education departments’ respective budgets, saying the reversals were due to savings made by limiting the city’s spending on asylum-seeker services. The preliminary budget released later that month again claimed that cuts to migrant services were what enabled Adams’ office to balance a projected $7.1 billion budget gap. In addition to restoring some portions of certain agencies’ budgets, the administration canceled the third round of citywide cuts planned for April.    

All the while, the City Council and the Independent Budget Office have contended that the administration’s projections are too conservative and place an unnecessary amount of focus on the cost of the city’s efforts to meet newly arrived migrants’ needs. The watchdog group Citizens Budget Commission, however, has estimated that the current draft of the budget is too optimistic. 

The confusion surrounding the budget seems to have encouraged the City Council to take a strong offensive approach to this most recent round of oversight hearings, which included notably contentious meetings with the New York City Police Department and the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget.