Amid specter of inflation and global uncertainty, Adams unveils $99.7 billion budget
“There are four main areas we will focus on going forward: protecting our people, growing our economy, raising our youth and building our infrastructure,” Adams said.
Adams shouted out to several members of the public like council chairwoman Adrienne Adams – whose members have their own spending priorities — and well-known activists, including Christian Smalls and Derrick Palmer, who led the unionization of an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island. Throughout the ceremony, the mayor emphasized the importance of the city while comparing its pandemic-era leadership to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Some of Adams’ new spending will be offset by better-than-expected revenue compared to November projections. This year, for example, the city is on track to collect $1.6 billion more in personal and business income taxes, which can be attributed to a recent windfall on Wall Street. And next year, the authorities are already planning approximately $400 million more in property taxes, a sign of the good health of the real estate market in the five boroughs.
Unlike former Mayor Bill de Blasio, who resisted requiring city agencies to cut waste in their budgets, Adams recalled Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s practice of consistently demanding spending cuts. Shortly after taking office, Adams ordered 3% cuts to most city services, known as the Program to Close the Gap, which totaled more than $2 billion between the fiscal year in upcoming course and exercise. The budget also raised more than $1 billion in the general reserve and $1.2 billion in the Rainy Day Fund.
But in the long term, the additional spending will always eclipse tax revenues and the mayor’s savings plan: the budget forecasts more than $11 billion in deficits between 2024 and 2026, compared to $8 billion two months ago. By law, the city budget must be balanced when it is passed, leading mayors to regularly push back deficits in future years.
“They’re manageable,” Adams said when asked about the budget holes at a City Hall press conference after his speech. “We will continue to seek savings within the agencies; we’re going to continue to streamline what we do and we’re really going to ask agencies to do what we’re asking all other New Yorkers to do at home, which is better manage our budgets.
These discrepancies over the year, combined with greater fiscal risks – a lagging economic recovery in the country, inflation and a declining commercial office market – have raised concern among the Citizens Budget Commission, a government organization. budget watchdog who argued that the mayor should save more.
“They’ve identified a whole bunch of new priorities – many of them good – but he hasn’t done anything to improve productivity or the structure of government to offset that,” said Andrew Rein, chairman of the budget committee. “So we’re preparing for a future crisis, and that puts the health and safety of New Yorkers at risk.”
In addition, the mayor will have to negotiate new contracts with the city’s unionized workforce. The administration has budgeted for a 0.5% wage increase, although any deal reached is sure to top that figure. A 3% increase, for example, would add more than $3 billion to the city budget each year by 2025, according to Rein.
A fact sheet released by the mayor’s office touted “the city’s sound stewardship of resources in the face of uncertainties related to rising inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and choppy performance on Wall Street.” , but Rein countered that Adams was not doing enough to protect against those factors.
The left wing of the Democratic Party has rallied behind what it sees as insufficient commitments to a host of city services, from homeless shelters and mental health programs to housing and recycling organics. And on Tuesday, the mayor alternately appeared to provoke his political partners while going out of his way to win their approval.
The administration plans to increase NYPD spending by about $182 million from February, for example, cutting the department’s budget to $5.6 billion and one of the most contentious tax issues in the first plan. The money will go towards a more expensive contract with unionized detectives, more realistic overtime numbers and new initiatives that include resources for the mayor’s anti-weapons units and dash cameras for patrol cars. , administration officials said.
“All of my initiatives cost money,” Adams said. “So it’s not spending, it’s investing.”
The budget also stung housing advocates, who noted that the $5 billion increase in capital spending for affordable and public housing over ten years — or $500 million a year — is less than the increase nearly $2 billion annual campaign pledged by Adams during the election campaign. Administration officials said the money would be used to maintain annual production of about 25,000 affordable homes built or preserved amid rising costs.
“While we are heartened that he has increased spending on housing, he simply hasn’t done enough – and millions of his constituents across all five boroughs will pay the price,” said Rachel Fee. , executive director of the New York nonprofit Affordable Housing Group. Housing Conference.
Still, Adams seemed eager to win over criticism from the left.
In the days leading up to his speech, the mayor previewed some of the main components of the budget, including an investment of $904 million in street infrastructure over the next five years, a waste containerization pilot project and $171 million for 1,400 new shelters and stabilization beds for homeless New Yorkers living on the streets.
The new budget adds about 570 corrections officers to the struggling Rikers Island prison complex to end solitary confinement – which Adams said was called for by defenders – and to implement an alternative called punitive segregation which he has described as more human. Adams also pointed to investments in summer jobs and educational resources that had been pushed by left-leaning figures, including public attorney Jumaane Williams.
“It’s going to be hard for people to hate me,” Adams told the Kings Theater crowd.
Satisfying his critics, however, may be more difficult than the mayor imagines.
“While we are still analyzing the full budget, it is very worrying to see a massive underinvestment in housing at the same time as the mayor approves a 9% rent increase. [for stabilized apartments]and to see life-affirming programs forced into PEGs as the corrections workforce grows and the NYPD budget remains unscathed,” said Zara Nasir, coordinator of left-wing alliance The People’s Plan, in a press release.