Mayor, City Council reach budget deal

Michael Gianaris

June 30, 2011

Queens Chronicle included Senator Gianaris' statements on the restoration of Ladder 128 in LIC as part of the New York City budget.

Seven weeks after detailing an executive budget fraught with some of the most severe cuts the city has ever seen, Mayor Bloomberg, joined by members of the City Council, announced last Friday night that they had reached an agreement on an on-time fiscal year 2012 plan that averts teacher layoffs and the closure of fire companies and senior centers.

In May, Bloomberg blamed the proposal to give more than 4,000 teachers pink slips and shutter 20 FDNY companies — four of which are located in Queens — on decreased federal and state aid. As a result of the executive budget, he was roundly criticized in a series of rallies organized by City Council members and the United Federation of Teachers.

So where did they find the money?

The administration attributed the deal, in large part, to “prudent past budgeting” by both branches of government, and UFT concessions. The balanced $66 billion plan, hailed by both Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) as “fiscally responsible,” boasts no tax increases, while relying on more than $5 billion in savings from past gap-closing actions by individual agencies; more than $4 billion from the 2011 surplus and the Retiree Health Benefit Trust fund; and an increase in revenues to protect services.

“We are able to produce a budget that will keep our city strong through difficult economic circumstances because of our unwavering commitment to fiscal responsibility over the years, which produced savings that are now allowing us to avert the most severe cuts,” the mayor said in a prepared statement. “Across the city, families are still struggling to recover from the national recession — and they are cutting back on expenses, and finding savings wherever they can. City government owes taxpayers a budget that does the same — and that is exactly what we are delivering.”

Quinn noted that nearly one-third of the cost of preventing layoffs will be covered by the UFT. Further funding was found within the Department of Education, with decreases to school busing contract costs and other efficiencies.

“Even in these difficult fiscal times, New Yorkers expect us to protect the most vital services without putting our future economic stability at risk,” said Quinn, an expected major player in the 2013 mayoral race.

Additionally, all senior centers, including 10 new ones, will be fully funded, Quinn said.

However, not all the news was good. Though no libraries will close, service at most will be cut to five days from six. The budget agreement also includes more than 1,000 total layoffs; it is believed the Administration for Children’s Services will be hit hard. Some of the layoffs can be averted with union cooperation on savings, Bloomberg said.

State elected officials praised the agreement which saved the FDNY units, including Ladder Co. 128 in Long Island City, Engine Co. 294 in Woodhaven, Engine Co. 306 in Bayside and Engine Co. 328 in Far Rockaway.

“Ladder 128 is vital to our community and I am thankful it will remain open to ensure our neighborhood receives the fire protection it requires,” state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) said of the Long Island City company. “It goes to show what can be accomplished when our community comes together to fight to protect our quality of life.”

Read the full article here.