By MIKE LEE
Standing with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and other council members and union leaders including DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido in the rotunda of City Hall, the mayor announced an agreement for a budget for fiscal year 2020. “We have a budget. The budget is balanced. It is progressive — and it’s early,” Mayor de Blasio said.
Over months, DC 37 waged fierce campaigns with community-based coalitions to press the City Council for hiring and improvements.
At rallies at City Hall and in testimony before the City Council, union members urged lawmakers to increase support for public services. .
In the end, the union’s message was heard loud and clear. For Parks and Recreation, the city answered with $31 million in additional funds. This includes baseline (permanent) funding of $9.5 million to create positions for 100 seasonal park workers, 50 gardeners, 50 Urban Park Rangers and 80 PEP Officers. In total, 43 million has been budgeted for our city’s parks. Libraries also received a much-needed — and historic — $33 million boost that will expand services and buttress staffing, including $19 million in baselined funds.
“This money is going to help children in literacy programs; it is going to support immigrants with English classes, and it’s going to help families with virtual visitation for incarcerated family members, ” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Throughout the budget negotiations process, DC 37 noted that the city is losing revenue because of an undermanned workforce. In testimony before the Council’s Finance Committee, Garrido warned: “Millions of property tax dollars are left on the table by the city because it lacks the necessary assessors and tax auditors. It is time to address these issues and provide the funding to hire more workers.”
The budget now includes funding to hire 28 assessors.
Additional highlights of the new budget include:
- $60 million toward retrofitting large buildings for energy efficiency, a key component of the Green New Deal, announced in April;
- 285 new social workers for the city’s schools;
- a $250 million boost for the city’s reserve funds; and
- a commitment to achieve pay parity for early childhood education staff at community-based providers.
“This budget was founded on two key principles,” de Blasio said. “One, investing in a fairer city, a city for everyone – this is something that unites us all. Two, realism about the challenges we face in our economy from other levels of government and the things that we know we deal with every single day. Those two concepts were brought together to create this budget.”