Saturday, November 20, 2010

City's broke but has money for a boondoggle

From the Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

With the mayor proposing massive layoffs, isn't it time for all of those folks who are concerned about the loss of certain vital city services to join with the businesses of Willets Point United? But first, here's the bad news: "Mayor Bloomberg is outlining stark plans for thousands of city layoffs to close looming budget gaps, and unions are already pushing back. “We’ve kept the City’s financial house in order through these difficult times by planning ahead and never shying away from making the hard decisions, and our current budget remains balanced because of that sound approach,” said Bloomberg. In short, City Hall says, reducing the city’s budget deficit for next year means getting rid of 2,102 employees in the current fiscal year, 2011, and 8,264 in Fiscal Year 2012. That includes 889 layoffs in Fiscal Year 2011 and 5,312 layoffs in Fiscal Year 2012."

In other words, the city is not in good fiscal shape-and needs to drastically cut back: "But we face a significant challenge for next year, as Federal stimulus dollars run dry and the city still suffers from the impacts of the national economic downturn. We began working to attack next year’s deficit immediately after passing this year’s balanced budget, and there is still more work to do. More spending reductions are going to be necessary, and we have to continue to reduce the number of employees we have by not filling positions - we simply cannot afford the size of our current workforce.”

Municipal labor isn't happy with this: "And DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said, "We have not yet had an opportunity to analyze the Mayor’s budget proposals in depth. However, I have written the Mayor and suggested he focus on enhancing the city’s revenue before slashing services, laying off workers and placing the burden of balancing the budget on public employees and millions of New Yorkers. Layoffs of any city worker will end up costing the city money. Layoffs in the city’s Department of Finance are particularly self-defeating. These are revenue-generating positions. The millions in tax revenue that goes uncollected because the Dept. of Finance is understaffed amount to tax breaks for the wealthy. Everyone should be asked to pay their fair share. The city’s workers should not be asked to bear the burden of this financial crisis."

Philosophical arguments aside, it's clear that the city's revenues are in the dumpster-and Bloomberg's response is to lay off workers; while Lillian Roberts proposes increasing taxes on an already overburdened citizenry. But there are other ways to skinning the budget cat-and pulling back on Bloomberg's massive boondoggle of a legacy project at Willets Point is as good a place as any-and there are billions in proposed infrastructure and buy-out funds that could be put to much better use.