City Budget Update: Jobs, Funding on the Line

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As the City moves closer to finalizing a budget, several critical areas of New York City’s public services remain at risk of significant cuts in funding.

At a May 24 hearing of the New York City Council’s Finance Committee, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido spoke of dire consequences if budget cuts on the table move forward.

“We ask for your help. As of last week, we have 25,000 vacancies in the City’s civil service, many in critical positions touted as ‘essential.’ I was notified the New York City Police Department intends to eliminate (nearly) 500 School Crossing Guard positions from the budget out of 2,000 full strength,” said Garrido, who later commented that losing 25% of the workforce is a potential safety risk. “The evidence is clear that in the absence of a school crossing guard in high-volume intersections, you have the most accidents.”

Garrido pointed to the city workforce vacancies as adding more stress to an already overburdened workforce.

“Three days ago, I went to an agency where folks are being unfairly impacted by overtime mandates. A young woman told me, ‘I haven’t seen my child in a week.’ Mandatory overtime is rampant,” Garrido said. “The City is forcing people to do two and three jobs. This needs to stop. This is putting our New Yorkers at risk, and we must push back and get agency staffing back up.”

Local 768 President Carmen de Leon called attention to pay parity’s impact on the public workforce.

“I have dental assistants who received the pay increase, but it is way below where they should be. One member went to $45,000 from about $38,000. A single parent with two kids on that salary — they’re below the poverty level. How do we as a city say that these workers, my members, are valuable if they live below the poverty line?”

Local 1505 President Dilcy Benn, who represents the Department of Parks and Recreation Seasonal and Maintenance workers, expressed disappointment in Mayor Adams’ refusal to not provide baseline funding for needed positions.

“We wouldn’t have to come back every year requesting these positions if the Parks Department were funded at 1% of the city’s total budget,” Benn said. “If this were to happen, we would not have to engage in this budget dance yearly.”

Other DC 37 leaders spoke at the hearing, including Local 3778 President Olivia Duong, Local 372 Executive Vice President Donald Nesbit, Local 983 President Joe Puleo, and Local 205 President Robert Ramos.

Although the Adams administration backed off from a 4% cut to public library budgets in late April, $36.2 million in budget cuts remain on the table, threatening future hiring and library programming.

“Our members feel the stress of these potential cuts,” said Deborah Allman, President of the New York Public Library Guild Local 1930, at a hearing on March 20. “The possible loss of $36.2 million will severely impact all services, programs, and materials our libraries provide. In addition, we may have fewer staffers through attrition, which affects our programs.”

At a rally supporting the city’s cultural institutions, Local 374 President Leonard Paul asked for a 1%, $50 million baseline for the city’s dozens of Museums, Aquariums, Botanic Gardens, theaters, and other cultural sites and facilities. “Mr. Mayor, you keep boasting about these cultural sites bringing in so much revenue to the city. All we want is a little something.”

By law, Mayor Adams and the City Council must adopt the City’s budget by June 30.

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