Last month, mayor eric adams he proposed a $101 billion city budget for the fiscal year that begins in July, about 1% more than de Blasio’s final budget. Now the City Council is rewriting The document. The council’s proposed huge spending increase shows that if the mayor isn’t living fully in the reality of high inflation, the council is completely in fantasyland.
Adams Fiscal Year 2023 proposal it’s what passes for a fiscally conservative budget in New York City, especially with inflation approaching 8%. The mayor issued a document prudent enough, asking city agencies to save money and cut staff while his commissioners figure out how their departments really work.
However, the council wants to increase spending by another $1.3 billion.
The numbers show the council’s new aggressiveness. During Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first budget season, the council proposed $257 million in its own programs, less than half a percentage point of spending funded by tax dollars.
This council wants to add 1.8% to tax-financed spending. (Municipal tax and fee dollars make up about $71 billion of city budget; the rest comes from federal and state sources).
The council is particularly bold when it comes to social services. He wants $800 million annually in additional spending on “affordable, supportive, and public housing.”
But Adams has already budgeted more than $2 billion a year for such expenses. Even at the height of the de Blasio era, we spend “only” about $1.5 billion annually on such projects. There is no evidence that without cost controls we can wisely duplicate that.
Same with new homeless spending. The council wants $115 million to expand “safe haven” shelters with on-site health services as well as drop-in centers. The money would pay for 2,376 of those beds, including 490 that the mayor is already creating, because the number 2,376 “aligns[s] with the number of homeless homeless people” each night.
Funding one-time beds for each individual who sleeps on the street or in the subway is meaningless until we know how many of those people will agree to stay in such shelters. The “safe haven” remains a communal shelter, which is resisted by many homeless people.
The council also wants $50 million to convert hotels into housing for the homeless. There is no doubt that the owners of more run-down hotel properties, who can no longer get away with charging exorbitantly high rates to unsuspecting European tourists, would love this rescue of the city.
Other ideas are simply wasteful: $59 million for “restorative justice coordinators” in 250 schools, as well as “restorative justice” training.
Some things are small, but still, $5 million is $5 million, instead of spending it to “support communities affected by hate crimes,” why not prevent hate crimes?
Finally, despite The Post’s exposure of the futility of oversight “monitors,” the council wants $12.3 million to allow the Board of Corrections to conduct further investigations of Rikers Island.
Us to know that Rikers Island is screwed. It’s time to get real about the real impediments, including union rules, to fixing. At least give the council some credit: You know the Rikers’ problem isn’t a lack of money, and you don’t offer more money for the jails.
How is the city going to pay for all this? Conjuring money out of thin air. The council says tax revenue will be $4.4 billion higher than expected over the next 15 months (proposing putting the balance in emergency funds).
Maybe taxes it will come higher, maybe not.
However, there is one certainty that the council almost ignores: the fact that the unions are going to ask enormous Salary increases to compensate for inflation. An 8% salary increase would cost $4 billion per year.
Noting that the City has not budgeted for none poses for the next two years, the councilman observes that “it is unlikely that the city’s unions will settle. . . for this.”
Of course. Until both the council and the mayor realistically deal with inflation, the budget is a fictitious document.
Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.