New York City budget director Hartzog named deputy mayor for health

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Melanie Hartzog, director of the New York Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget during Bill de Blasio’s second term, will become deputy mayor for health and human services, de Blasio said Monday.

Jacques Jiha, commissioner of the city’s Department of Finance, will succeed Hartzog as budget director.

In her new role, Hartzog will guide the city’s response to the COVID-19. Jiha will coordinate the city’s efforts to emerge from the fiscal crisis the pandemic has triggered.

Revenue losses from business shutdowns and stay-at-home mandates have punched a $9 billion hole in the city’s operating budget through the next fiscal year. The city has requested an additional $5 billion in federal funding, although Congress is gridlocked overt the latest rescue package.

The city has also asked New York State for additional borrowing capacity.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of public health in our city’s recovery," said Melanie Hartzog.

Moody’s Investors Service on Oct. 1 downgraded the city’s general obligation bonds to Aa2 from Aa1, affecting $38.7 billion of city debt. Moody’s also downgraded other city-related credits.

“Melanie and Jacques have the experience and vision necessary to support New Yorkers during this crisis and guide our city through financial hardship,” de Blasio said in a statement.

Before joining OMB, where she succeeded current First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan, Hartzog was executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund. Previously, she was family services coordinator for the deputy mayor for health and human services and deputy commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of public health in our city’s recovery, including a robust social services sector,” Hartzog said.

Hartzog holds a master of science degree from the New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy and a bachelor of arts degree from Eckerd College. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three children.

De Blasio in 2014, when he took office, appointed Jiha as the commissioner for the Department of Finance, the agency responsible for collecting more than $40 billion of revenue that make all city services possible.

The mayor credited Jiha for integrating new technology and data analytics to the department. Initiatives incudes a full-service call-center, an online property tax system, a parking ticket mobile app and the offices of the taxpayer advocate and parking summons advocate.

Previously, Jiha was the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Earl G. Graves, Ltd/Black Enterprise. He has also been a deputy comptroller for pension investment and public finance in the New York state comptroller’s office, deputy comptroller for Nassau County, chief economist for the city comptroller’s office, executive director of the New York State Legislative Tax Study Commission, and principal economist for the state assembly’s ways and means committee.

Born in Haiti, Jiha arrived the city in 1979 and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Fordham University. He also holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the New School for Social Research.

He lives in Queens with his wife and daughters.

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