9:50 am Jun. 26, 2012
On Monday evening, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn unveiled a final, $68.5 billion budget for the 2013 fiscal year, one in which most disputed cuts to after-school programs, child care, libraries and fire companies had been restored.
At City Hall, surrounded by Council members, Bloomberg said the budget, which must be balanced by law, "does not raise taxes on New Yorkers" and "preserves the essential services that we all rely on."
He said that there would be "de minimus if any" layoffs.
The mayor's May executive budget included substantial cuts to after-school and child care programs services and the closure of 20 fire companies. At the time, the mayor hinted this was all part of a larger budget dance.
"Well, number one, we work with the City Council between now and June 30, so we'll see how all of that works out," he said, referring cuts to social services.
The City Council, which can now take credit for those restorations, is expected to approve the budget this week.
But the document still relies on a couple of dicey prospects: $300 million in state and federal funding that is contingent upon the city reaching a still elusive agreement with the teacher's union on performance-based teacher evaluations, and revenues from the sale of 2,000 yellow taxi medallions.
The mayor's original executive budget relied on $1 billion in anticipated revenues from those medallion sales.
In a concession to the substantial delays to their sale, the new budget agreement spreads out those proceeds through fiscal year 2015 and includes only $635 million in this year's budget.
Significantly, the mayor and City Council also argue that by spreading out the sale of those medallions, and thereby maintaining scarcity, the medallions will be worth not $1 billion, but $1.46 billion.
The accompanying press release described that $1.46 billion estimate as "conservative."
"Owning medallions has turned out to be a great investment, and we think that people will still want to do that," said the mayor on Monday.
Of the ongoing litigation, he said, "We still think that we've done it right and that we'll win. It just takes a while."
The budget also relies, among other things, on increases in revenues derived from fees, licenses and permits; lower debt service costs; lower than expected pension costs; a big settlement from ING; $1 billion from the Retiree Health Benefits Fund; and the diversification of the economy into film, TV, tech and higher education, which the mayor said provided a pillow for distress in the financial sector.
Bloomberg said the city faces a $2.5 billion budget deficit next year.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article referred to the proposed closure of 20 "firehouses," rather than fire companies.
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