De Blasio touts city savings in November plan

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New York City’s November budget update and four-year financial plan revealed millions in new savings that offset two-year spending, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

According to de Blasio, the city realized $234 million in new savings for fiscal 2018 and $238 million in new savings and $123 million in pension savings the following year. Spending, he said, will be up by $47 million and $59 million in FY18 and FY19, respectively.

Carol Kellermann, president of the watchdog Citizens Budget Commission, called the plan "a wait and see modification."

Kellermann cited numerous variables.

"The uncertainty about what will happen in Washington and the possibility that the economy may slow are not yet reflected in the current or outyear budgets," she said. "We await January's plan to indicate how the administration intends to address potential storm clouds on the horizon and to fund new initiatives the mayor has discussed."

New savings, said the mayor, include debt-service and healthcare savings in addition to agency adjustments. The vast majority of growth in the budget, now just under $86 billion for fiscal 2018, is due to increases in federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts and homeland security grants.

Further increases are due to state asset forfeiture funds, he added.

“While we will continue to provide for New Yorkers however we can, we must also be cognizant of the fact that Washington continues to threaten billions of dollars of federal aid and investments must be thoughtful,” de Blasio said.

On Tuesday afternoon, he led a rally at Trump Tower in Manhattan, opposing the Republican tax plan. He said the plan, if enacted, would cost Medicare $25 billion and bankrupt many New York senior citizens.

"They're about to be robbed in broad daylight," he said. "This plan is going to cut them to the bone."

Two weeks ago, the mayor's top advisors criticized the tax bill that ultimately passed the House of Representatives, saying it would impair the city's ability to manage debt and would compromise affordable housing and other initiatives by eliminating advance refundings and private activity bonds.

On Monday, a Tax Policy Center analysis said the bill that passed the House last week would produce a net loss if $1.3 trillion, even with economic growth baked in.

The mayor in April struck a deal with Washington that included reimbursement to the city for keeping watch over the president's Midtown tower. The city received $20 million for costs incurred between Election Day and Inauguration Day and $41 million for all costs after the inauguration. This funding was in addition to the $7 million allocated in fall 2016.

As part of the November financial plan, the city is reducing tax revenues by $207 million for the current fiscal year. This primarily reflects a decline in business taxes despite a partial offset by increases in real property tax collections, according to the mayor.

The budget includes $4.5 million to help fund the city’s new construction safety site program, and funding to assist with NYC Emergency Management’s efforts to dispatch supplies and city workers to Puerto Rico to assist with recovery. The city will spend $4 million on these efforts.

It also includes upgrades to the 311 call-taking platform and other citywide Internet technology projects. Upgrades will cost $7 million in fiscal 2018. The buildout of the citywide procurement system PassPort, will cost an additional $10 million for FY18.

Moody’s Investors Service rates the city’s general obligation bonds Aa2. Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings peg them at AA.

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Budgets Bill de Blasio City of New York, NY New York
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