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You’ll Never Guess Which City Agency Mayor Adams Saved From Budget Cuts [UPDATED]

And more shocking, unforeseeable links to keep you on your toes this Thursday.

Mayor Eric Adams makes a public safety-related announcement introducing the NYPD robot called K5 at the Times Square subway station on Friday, September, 22, 2023.
(Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office)

Have you heard the news? Mayor Eric Adams isn't very popular right now. That's probably due in part to the federal investigation into his 2021 mayoral campaign, but the harsh budget cuts the mayor has enacted throughout his time in City Hall haven't helped either—especially not November's blanket five percent cuts to City agency budgets, which pushed the largest City workers union to sue the mayor

That's why it was exciting to see Adams get behind his podium on Wednesday to announce the rollback of some of those cuts, thanks to what he called "strong financial management...and better than anticipated tax revenues." Which beloved public services would the mayor restore? Funding for composting programs or universal pre-K? Trash pickup in NYC parks? Sundays at the library?

Not so much. Instead, surrounded by City officials including Police Commissioner Edward Caban, two other NYPD officials, and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks, the mayor let New Yorkers know exactly where his administration's priorities lie: "I'm happy to say that we'll be able to reverse some of the cuts to the NYPD and FDNY that we initially announced in November." According to Adams, restored funding for these departments will allow a cadet class to move through the police academy in April, along with the three other classes already scheduled to matriculate in 2024. 

"[This means] thousands of additional cops on our streets in 2024 under this administration. More police officers means safer streets, safer subways, and a safer New York City," Adams said, with the addition of 600 from the now-restored April police academy class. The mayor also announced the restoration of the "fifth firefighter" position on the 20 fire engines where that role was initially cut back in November—sorry arsonists! Not in Adams's New York City. 

How did the mayor achieve this win? Not from state or federal assistance, he said, but from the hard work of his administration to cut spending on asylum seekers—the expense he blamed for the most recent round of budget cuts back in November over protests from the City Council that City Hall may have been drastically overestimating the cost of migrant services.

Of course, there will always be those who criticize the mayor, even when he's done something good. "This is not sound governance or budget management," the City's Council's Budget Committee Chair Justin Brannan said after Adams's announcement, "and it should leave New Yorkers with more questions than answers."

But forget all of that—this is a win for the Adams administration, which means it's a win for New Yorkers. By enacting the 30-day limit on shelter stays for single adult migrants, and the new 60-day limit on shelter stays for migrant families, Adams said, the City will be able to make up 20 percent of its asylum seeker and migrant spending. "Let me reiterate: No child, no family will sleep on the streets of the city of New York based on our policies," Adams said. "These steps help to bend the cost curve below the forecast released in August. Thanks to the exceptional work of our public servants, we have continued to move forward in running the City efficiently throughout this entire crisis that we are facing." (Never mind, obviously, how it's actually going for the migrants themselves.)

[UPDATE, 1:25 p.m.] At a press conference this afternoon, Mayor Adams and his budget director, Jacques Jiha, announced that they would be restoring the previously announced cuts he made to DSNY litter basket pickup and the Parks Department's job corps.

Why was he managing the budget this way, one reporter asked. Isn't this budget whiplash confusing to New Yorkers?

"It's not confusing for New Yorkers," Adams responded. "I think there's been an attempt to give an impression that we don't have good smart fiscal skills, and we do."

Another reporter pointed out that next week Adams is scheduled to announce another round of cuts. Why restore these programs and not other popular ones—like Sunday library service and funding for pre-K?

"It's a question of priority," Jiha responded. "The mayor's priorities are: safe and clean city. So we have to juggle the resources where we need [them]."

Jiha added, "When you look at those restorations—this is small stuff."

This of course, is what City Councilmembers had been saying the whole time: The Adams administration had more money than it was letting on, and that cutting these important small-dollar programs had no real impact on balancing the budget, but were instead done to further the administration's narrative that migrants would "destroy the city."

"The council projections can be more liberal," Adams said. "We have to make sure we have enough money to pay the bills, to keep the lights on."

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