Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
NEW YORK, N.Y. — After days of contentious negotiations on a budget put together in the middle of a global pandemic and nationwide police accountability protests, the New York City Council adopted an $88.1 billion Fiscal Year 2021 budget late Tuesday evening.
The budget was passed as the city grapples with $9 billion in revenue losses sparked by the coronavirus pandemic forcing the city to make spending cuts to virtually all agencies.
Final negotiations on the budget were made as demands from anti-racism and police accountability protesters grew to defund the NYPD following the death of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man who died after a white cop kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio eventually agreed on more than $1 billion in cuts to the police department, a plan that reduces the NYPD’s uniform headcount by 1,163 officers, significantly cuts the department’s overtime budget and reinvests that funding into summer youth programs and public housing.
Ahead of the vote, hundreds of protesters had camped outside of City Hall for a week demanding the $1 billion cut to the NYPD’s budget be made.
HOW ISLAND REPS VOTED
The budget passed 32-17.
Republicans Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) and Minority Leader Steven Matteo (R-Mid Island) voted against the budget because of the steep cuts to the NYPD’s budget.
Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) voted in favor of the budget, calling it a “small but important step forward” by taking funds from the NYPD’s budget “to provide programs that empower youth, not imprison youth.”
Speaker Corey Johnson said he was “disappointed” more cuts were not made to the NYPD’s budget, arguing the more than $1 billion in cuts were not true cuts to the department.
“To everyone who is disappointed that we did not go farther, I want to be very honest and candid, I am disappointed as well, I wanted us to go deeper,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday before the City Council voted on a final budget.
“I wanted larger headcount reductions and I wanted a real hiring freeze, but this budget process involves the mayor, who was not budging more than what we got, and 49 other council members, currently many of whom were not open or supportive to the kinds of cuts that I was pushing for,” he continued.
BUDGET DOES NOT FULLY RESTORE OVERNIGHT SERVICE TO STATEN ISLAND FERRY
The budget failed to fully restore funding for overnight service on the Staten Island Ferry.
In April, de Blasio proposed $5.5 million in cuts to overnight service on the Staten Island Ferry, a cut that remained in the final budget, the Department of Transportation confirmed.
But the Staten Island Ferry was able to score $16.6 million in CARES Act reimbursement for operations expenses for more fuel, ferry terminal cleaning, and security.
CUTS TO THE NYPD, RESTORATION OF SUMMER YOUTH PROGRAMS
Cuts to NYPD would be made by canceling the NYPD’s upcoming recruitment class in July, reducing its headcount by 1,163 — the number of recruits that had been slated to be hired by the department after the July recruitment class.
The cuts also include reducing the department’s overtime spending by $296 million while also returning school safety to the Department of Education and removing the NYPD from homeless outreach crossing guard duties.
The city will instead shift about $430 million from the NYPD for summer youth programming, which will create 100,000 summer youth programs. Part of that funding will also be used on education and social services programs.
Another $537 million in capital will be shifted from NYPD to NYCHA and youth recreation centers.
Also slated in the fiscal 2021 budget is a 1,600 headcount reduction across all city agencies saving the city $100 million in costs and $400 million in cuts to the Department of Education over two fiscal years.
The budget also included $1 billion in labor savings. If the city is unable to get funding from the federal government and the state Legislature to close its budget gap, the city will be forced to lay off 22,000 municipal employees by Oct.1.
The city’s fiscal 2021 budget needed to be adopted by Tuesday evening before fiscal year 2020 ended. The new fiscal year begins on Wednesday.
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