With a budget time bomb ticking down, Mayor de Blasio has finally ordered city agencies to think about finding some savings — too little, too late.
The mayor at last admits that Washington most likely won’t be coming to his rescue as the city faces a $3.8 billion deficit next year, so he’s ordered his minions to draw up plans to cut spending 1 percent over the next six months and to propose added cuts of 2.5 percent in the next fiscal year.
Meanwhile, some cuts are too much: With shootings and murder up across the city, City Hall has told the NYPD and Correction to come up with 3 percent cuts. This, when he’s looking to expand his utterly failed ThriveNYC initiative.
And even as school enrollment plummets because Chancellor Richard Carranza’s Department of Education failed miserably amid the pandemic, Hizzoner is only asking the DOE to find 2.25 percent trims in its outlays for FY 2022.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer reports that from March through October, total city tax collections were $2.2 billion below the same period in 2019: “Hotel tax revenue was cut by 66 percent, while real property transaction taxes were down 41 percent and sales tax revenues were down 24 percent.” But business tax collections, led by Wall Street, exceeded the forecast by $378 million through October.
De Blasio has spent most of the pandemic-ridden year denying the fiscal reality, after years of swelling the city’s labor force with tens of thousands of new workers. The present crisis is largely his own doing.
To date, he’s done nothing except kick the can down the road by moving a billion or so in various labor expenses to future years — at the high price of new concessions to municipal unions, including no-layoff commitments. Yet agency cuts won’t be enough unless he cuts the total public-employee headcount and gets the unions to agree to cutting other costs and boosting productivity.
His fecklessness will all too likely leave the next mayor taking over just as the fiscal bomb explodes. Any candidate that doesn’t admit that reality should be laughed out of the mayoral campaign.