Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday proposed a $102.7 billion spending plan that called for a relatively modest 2% increase over last year’s budget, citing an uncertain economy and mounting expenses from the migrant crisis.
The proposal for fiscal year 2024 is a reflection of Adams’ priorities for his second year. It includes some new investments in housing and infrastructure, but notably requires no further cuts to city agencies. The mayor, who has stressed the need for fiscal responsibility, has faced heavy criticism from the City Council since rolling out cuts last year that hit schools and libraries.
“By asking agencies to self-fund new needs with pre-existing resources, the Fiscal Year 2024 Preliminary Budget continues our strong track record of making prudent use of taxpayer dollars while continuing to ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers,” Adams said in a statement.
Among the spending initiatives the mayor highlighted was an additional $20 million in affordable housing, which he said he planned to prioritize this year, allocating $259 million toward expediting projects that allow the city to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals under a law passed in 2019. The budget earmarks $259 million toward expediting projects that allow the city to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals under a law passed in 2019.
The city will spend $228 million to pay for “high-priority street reconstruction projects” related to Vision Zero, a plan to dramatically reduce traffic-related deaths.
Another $153 million has been budgeted for the proposed Willets Point redevelopment in Queens, which is slated to feature a soccer stadium, a hotel and 2,500 affordable housing units.
Some analysts have disagreed with the mayor’s bleak fiscal outlook, accusing the administration of failing to recognize the uptick in the most recent revenue numbers. The latest budget was updated to include an additional $2.4 million in revenues. After projections of multibillion-dollar deficits, budget officials say the city is now expected to have a balanced budget over the next two years.
Under Adams, the city’s workforce has shrunk significantly. According to the mayor, the city achieved $3 billion in savings from reducing the headcount, which had ballooned over 300,000 under his predecessor Bill de Blasio. As of August, the total number of city workers was under 282,000. Lawmakers have questioned how the shortages have affected the delivery of services. About 23,000 vacant positions remain unfilled.
The preliminary spending plan was not well received by some members of the City Council, who appeared to reject it altogether. They argued the belt-tightening will exacerbate already strained services that could harm vulnerable New Yorkers.
“We will not allow our city to be damaged by the undermining of city agencies and services that meet the essential needs of all New Yorkers,” wrote Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Brooklyn Councilmember Justin Brannan, who is the Council’s finance chair. “We are committed to delivering for New Yorkers, and we are prepared to fight to realize our vision in this year’s budget.”
In the same statement, the speaker and Brannan said that the Council would not hold a vote on a proposal by Adams to cut spending, a move that would limit library services, social programs and early childhood education.
But under the City Charter, the mayor’s fiscal proposal, also known as a budget modification, will move ahead after 30 days as long as the Council does not vote it down. Budget modifications also typically include new funding.
The two councilmembers expressed outrage over the cuts, but conceded they’ll allow them through to ensure that nonprofits that offer abortion and community safety services can remain intact.
“For this reason, we will not vote on the budget modification with an understanding of the negative consequences in all potential options – we will not reject our own support for vital services to New Yorkers,” they wrote.