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Fresh Hell

A City Council Showdown Over Mayor Adams’s Budget Cuts

Is the City's financial situation really that dire? And other links to start your day.

9:08 AM EST on December 11, 2023

Not even one month ago, Mayor Eric Adams announced his plan to implement yet another round of budget cuts that would slash five percent from almost every sector of City government, including schools, police, and sanitation. But are those cuts even necessary?

At 10 a.m. today the City Council will hold an oversight hearing to discuss the mayor's November plan, hear from Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) head Jacques Jiha on why they feel the cuts are necessary, and also hear some counterproposals. 

Ahead of the hearing, the council released its own financial projections for the next year, and found that the City will have $1.2 billion more in tax revenue for 2024 than OMB has forecasted. They say that OMB has not incorporated new economic data into its projections, and is using numbers from earlier this year to make flawed and conservative projections. 

While the council's own budget analysts are still anticipating that tax revenue is going to dip in 2024 because of high interest rates and a weak office rental market, they predict it will pick back up for 2025 and 2026, helping the City close its $5.3 billion and $3.65 billion budget gaps in 2025 and 2026 respectively (2024 will see a budget surplus).

What does this mean for you, the person who lives in New York City? That the punishing cuts ordered by the City Hall need not be so severe, and that near-record high reserves the City has for just these types of gaps can be used to help us stay afloat without trimming services. In the meantime, the council analysis says that the City can work to identify new revenue by ending tax breaks for large corporations, or just doing something totally crazy—like increasing taxes on the obscenely rich, who aren't going anywhere. (Though that's something the state legislature would have to do in the new year, which the governor has already said she won't agree to.) 

In a recent op-ed, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Chair of the City Council Finance Committee Justin Brannan pointed out that the Adams administration's insistence on cutting social services is driving working class families from New York City

"The reality is that the increasing lack of affordability in our city, combined with an erosion in services, has already imposed a de facto tax increase on working and middle-class families," they wrote. "When families cannot rely on affordable childcare, early childhood education, and other services, they make the calculation to leave."

And while the City Council can attempt to stave off some of the more heinous cuts (libraries closing on Sunday, the Parks Department laying off hundreds of low-income workers), the mayor can move unilaterally to make the cuts anyway. 

Aside from the council's financial projections, City Hall has other reasons to consider backing down on the cuts: They are a big reason why Adams is currently a historically unpopular mayor. When you think about it, the mayor might have a lot bigger problems to deal with than stripping libraries from kids

Meanwhile, here are some things that happened in other parts of our fair city, for you to read on this dreary Monday: 

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