Mayor Bloomberg announced plans on Thursday to lay off thousands of city workers, in one of the most visible signs yet of the recession's toll. In presenting their annual November budget update, mayoral aides noted that a total of 6,201 city employees would be laid off in between the current and following fiscal year (which starts next July) and that another 4,165 jobs would be lost through attrition.
The aides, whose announcement precedes the formal presentation of the budget in January, maintained that the job cuts would save taxpayers $1.6 billion, and help close a $3.3 billion budget deficit.
Some of the measures include:
- Eliminating 350 civilian positions at the NYPD
- A reduction of 6,166 teachers, through layoffs and attrition, beginning next year
- Un-staffing 20 firehouses at night, and redeploying those firefighters
- $9 million in reduced subsidies for the cultural sector -- resulting in 190 layoffs at various cultural institutions
- 118 fewer workers at the Administration for Children's Services
- Layoffs of 129 workers at the Department of Finance
- Eliminating 15 percent of the security guards in family shelters run by the Department of Homeless Services
In some areas, the savings are less straightforward. One proposal, aimed at the Department of Transportation, requires 600 street maintenance workers to take one-week furloughs. Expect 9,000 fewer potholes to be filled.
Even inmates will feel the pain -- city correctional facilities will start doling out fewer slices of bread at mealtimes.
The city also intends to make it more expensive to park on the street and in municipal parking lots. Metered parking rates are set to rise from $2.50 to $3 an hour, below 86th Street, and from 75 cents to $1 an hour everwhere else.
One union, DC-37, has been pushing for the Mayor to consider other revenue-raising ideas, such as cracking down on businesses receiving property tax exemptions they don't qualify for. And DC-37 official Henry Garrido argues that employees at the Department of Finance may be actually generating revenue.
"So we think that just a blanket reduction of staff doesn't necessarily mean the savings that the administration is projecting," he said.
And Council Speaker Christine Quinn, while conceding the Mayor's ability to enact cuts, expressed concern that the cuts would "fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable New Yorkers," such as children, seniors and the poor.
But Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith warned that the worst is yet to come.
"This is just preparation for a much much more difficult situation in 2012," he said, "and we hope that there'll be some modifications in Albany that'll help reduce some of the stress."