Crowdsourcing Cost Cutting

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stephen Goldsmith, New York City's deputy mayor for operations and author of The Power of Social Innovation: How Civic Entrepreneurs Ignite Community Networks for Good, talks about the city's recent request for cost-cutting suggestions.

How do you suggest NYC can save money?


Stephen Goldsmith

Comments [43]


Charge public officials (and their friends and relatives) parking fees for use of public property, where private citizens would be towed: Sidewalk parking, $500/day. Traffic lane parking, $750/day. Fire plugs, bus stops and parks, $1,000/day. Where ever children would walk to school, if they were not forced to walk in the street by public officials, $10,000/day.

Charge fees for frivolous DOB permit applications, where none are required by the DOB. Angry coop shareholders can appeal to their coop board, management and fee-churning architects

Nov. 23 2010 07:42 PM
Alan Lasher from Staten Island

Use smaller buses for routes and times that don't require the large buses. Smaller buses could be used to better serve the ends of the lines.
Create hubs with the big buses going from hub to hub, and then use smaller buses to take the people from the hub to their final destinations.
Similiar to what is used with airplanes

Nov. 23 2010 07:31 PM
John from Staten Island

Bring back the Fall leaf compost program. Why does NYC Sanitation need to collect this annual tonnage of leaves and ship it out as part of the refuse process? Review the process for other localities in the area - Westchester and Connecticut to see how these governments handle the process. Maybe hire seasonal workers to collect the leaves with a pilot program for the outer boroughs.

Here is a link to a NYTimes article

Nov. 23 2010 05:06 PM
anna from nyc

not only do we need to finally ticket vehicles that idle, but if there's a number that the public could call [akin to 311] to help report consistent vehicle idling?...esp. in delivery and restaurant areas, because i can smell the exhaust through my windows when they're open, even several floors up.
in the summer, i cannot use a regular air conditioner that pulls in air from the outside for circulation - i had to buy a much more expensive a/c that uses an exhaust system to remove the heat/humidity mostly.
i've complained to the drivers, but even the TLC guys go "..well, i don't know when my ride is coming out, so i have to be ready." couldn't TLC require some sort of calling to the driver system, so as to also save money on gas, while they're at it?
and if those cars have to wait more than an hour inbetween their passengers actual ride,why can't they be required to do other smaller pickups in the meantime instead of just waiting?
as a last point, city council along with the lower east side ecology council figured out that @ 20% of coop taxes go to sanitation. recycling recoups some of that costs. could the sanitation dept & mayors office put out a cost chart of how much is saved when recycling is increased. i think people would recycle more if they had an idea of how much they could save on taxes. win win.

Nov. 23 2010 01:52 PM
Ben from Park Slope

Here's one that will get me shot!

Policemen earn a pension based on their last year's work, including overtime. And I thank them for their service to our city!!! (We are forever in their debt, both literally and figuratively.)

It is well known that the NYPD lets officers in their final year of work earn as much overtime as possible to exaggerate their pensions.

(In fact, another poster asked that the city save money by replacing cops earning overtime with cheap labor to erect barricades at parades -- he'll get shot for that one too.)

Why not change the law so that pensions are based on an average of the last TEN YEARS of work, including overtime? Not just the final year.

This way, a job that really requires 20% overhead will be compensated as such. But people won't be able to easily earn a $160K pension on a $80K job.

Nov. 23 2010 12:15 PM
Joseph from Brooklyn

Sweep a street only once. Do we really need to sweep street 4 times on alternate side day? And why are the sweepers even out when alternate side day is suspended? They just end up driving down the street and not sweeping anything.

Nov. 23 2010 11:59 AM
Eugenia from Harlem

Start fining people for jaywalking. Traffic would move more smoothly and the city would make tons of money.

Nov. 23 2010 11:48 AM
Kristine from E.63d and 2nd

Please enforce the no honking law!! It was agreed to be important enough to make a finable offense. It needs to be enforced. It is a constant barrage of noise pollution, and it makes people sick -- waking from sleep, emotionally exhausted, road rage, high blood pressure, etc... If the officer already posted on E.63rd between 1st and 2nd had honking fines pre-written, you could pay down the deficit fast while making the city more livable.

Nov. 23 2010 11:43 AM
lucy from Fort Greene, brooklyn

Examine every contract and consultant. Consultants, some who were put in by Giuliani, charge over $200 and hour. And then they build up huge hours. These are jobs that could be done by City employees which would give a job at a fraction of the hourly price. Comptroller John Liu saved the City millions by examining the City Time contract. The same should be done with every City contract and many millions could be saved. Make these companies stick to their original cost and not raise their cost as they go.

Nov. 23 2010 11:40 AM
judith ackerman from Upper west side

l. Close 65 Court Street.2. Convert it into a public school.3. Take all the employees, pencil pushers mostly, and put them in schools all over the city because the clerical staff is overloaded and we need more school clerks to help handle the paperwork.

Nov. 23 2010 11:40 AM
Lars from Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

Enforce traffic laws (speed limit, FAILING TO USE TURN SIGNAL, illegal U turns on crowded streets, etc)! Maybe the awareness campaign for the speed limit is a precursor, but I live near the entrance to the Prospect Expressway from Ocean Parkway--a traffic cop could simply shoot fish in barrel for the all-day drag race as cars jockey for position from the traffic circle. Other hotspots include: FDR southbound entrance to Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, Gowanus to BQE exit, Belt Parkway near the Verrazano.......I routinely see extremely dangersous driving, breaking traffic laws with impunity because the laws aren't enforced!

Nov. 23 2010 11:39 AM
Evan from Brooklyn

How about traffic light cameras? This would bring in revenue in a big way! NYC drivers seem to think a red light is just a suggestion they should stop.
This would make the city safer too!

Nov. 23 2010 11:37 AM
Dan B from Staten Island

Inter-agency correspondence is still largely paper and US mail based. This is slow, costly, and inefficient.

Nov. 23 2010 11:36 AM
kendall from Brooklyn

We collect garbage too frequently (w/possible exception of Manhattan); recycling collections were added in 1990’s, but frequency of trash collection has never been adjusted (w/sole exception of Bklyn CB6, which kept weekly recycling collection and gave up one of its trash collections – from three to two).

For example, my medium-density neighborhood – Bklyn 9 – still gets trash collected three times per week, plus weekly recycling; the Wednesday collection is totally unnecessary.

At a time when total trash generation is actually declining – 5% annually in some cases - other cities and suburbs are making such adjustments – reducing trash collection to once or twice per week, while maintaining and encouraging weekly collection of recyclables.

Wouldn’t it make sense to consider such restructuring and rationalizing of collection frequency?

Nov. 23 2010 11:36 AM

It isn't a question of saving money, it's a question of generating money. Bring back the commuter tax -- although Albany will never agree. Shout out to Sheldon Silver -- do something for the city not just yourself!

Nov. 23 2010 11:35 AM

In regards to pension costs -

Nov. 23 2010 11:32 AM
Jeff from uoper east side

Could enforcing bike lane laws generate significant revenue? by ticketing cars in bike lanes, ticketing delivery bikes racing up and down the sidewalks, ticketing pedestrians loitering in bike lanes? This may also reduce injuries to many new yorkers.

Nov. 23 2010 11:32 AM
Karen King from NY

Just require bikes used for commercial purposes to be licensed. If the bikes have a "licence plate" or equivilent, violators could be tracked and fined.

Nov. 23 2010 11:31 AM
James from Nyack

Hire lower cost laborers to set up the barricades for the many parades NYC has every year.
Currently, NYPD officers due this work and are probably paid at overtime rates. This is a poor use of the NYPD and taxpayers dollars.

Nov. 23 2010 11:29 AM

1. Turn out lights when not needed in public buildings, esp schools, where they are routinely left on well into the night when there are few people there. In one school I'm familiar with (LaGuardia Arts on UWS) an escalator is on 24/7. A simple foot-pedal at the base of the escalator would save current and the motors wouldn't burn out every few years. Right now schools have no incentive to save power as it doesn't come out of their budget. Glad to hear the city is thinking about how to changes that. (this sugg was taken up on the air this am).

2. Follow DOT's example, and reduce the number of city-owned/maintained vehicles. Where necessary (like DOT) use car-sharing (like Zip Cars), which solves 2 problems: New Yorkers can rent them on weekends and evenings providing $$; and the city can share vehciles across agencies.

3. Stop under-pricing or giving away parking for free. Do the Bentley and Mercedes owners parking at meters on Fifth Avenue really need it?

4. Do parking enforcement personnel really need to ride around in a car? Why not a bike or electric scooter?

5. I know the city doesn't run the MTA, but if the MTA knew where every bus was (easy and cheap with handheld GPS tech) we could reduce bus bunching, with its attendant inconvenience and empty seats (which wastes $$), provide real-time arrival times at bus shelters and online, and wouldn't need people standing around with clipboards (the current expensive, inefficient practice).

6. Persuade the state legislature to reconsider congestion pricing. Congestion wastes money, and this proposal could also fund transit/transpo improvements which helps the entire economy.

Nov. 23 2010 11:29 AM
david gellman from riverdale

Bring back hotel and commuter taxes - two of the most rational taxes ever...We employ many police, fire, sanitation, etc. because of tourists and commuters.
These taxes would not reduce tourism and private sector employment!

Nov. 23 2010 11:28 AM
Ben from Park Slope

It is well known that NYC charges brownstone owners and owners of private homes a lower property tax rate, pretty much because these owners actually see their bill (apartment and coop dwellers do not). And they complain.

Fair enough.

But why not charge single family home and brownstone owners a commercial tax rate WHEN THEY USE THEIR HOME AS AN INVESTMENT?

I lived in Brooklyn in a brownstone where there were four tenants. The owner lived in Florida, his son on Long Island. It was an investment property to the owners. Why are they given any tax preference? It makes no sense.

NYC could bring in a ton of revenue quite easily by requiring home owners to prove they pay NY State taxes from the same address they are claiming as their dwelling. Otherwise, they should pay a commercial property tax rate.

Nov. 23 2010 11:28 AM
howard stevens from Upper WS

License news boxes as is done in Bostaon, Chicago, LA et.

The Municipal Art Society has proposed legislation to charge a modest fee for each news box and also limits siting and requires they be kept clean.

This has gone nowhere. Adopt this initiative for a cleaner and more proipserous city!

Nov. 23 2010 11:28 AM
Drew from Brooklyn

Bikes get stolen at an insane rate in this city. I've had 2 stolen this year, locked up with heavy duty locks and chains. If I and all the other cyclists have to register them and get licenses the city is going to have to put a lot more resources into making the bike lanes safer and more prevalent and they are going to have to address the thievery situation. For all that people complain about cyclists, you really are opening a can of worms here. When every street has bike lanes that are separated from traffic with parked cars that will be the day you can begin the discussion about registering and licensing cyclists.

Nov. 23 2010 11:28 AM
steve from Brooklyn

What about private row boat ferries across the East River? They would be eco-friendly and if they flip only hipsters will get wet!

Nov. 23 2010 11:26 AM
Nick from Brooklyn

Street sweeper machines are not effective, in fact, they litter rusty metal shards around the streets (the bristles). Surely there's something cheaper that could do as much or better.

Nov. 23 2010 11:25 AM
Bobby G from East village

Restore the Commuter Tax.

Nov. 23 2010 11:24 AM
Shana from Brooklyn

Charging people for bike licenses is a terrible policy idea. We should be encouraging clean methods of transportation, not discouraging them through fees.

Nov. 23 2010 11:24 AM
nick from brooklyn


Nov. 23 2010 11:23 AM
Deborah Harkins from manhattan

The can MAKE money, not just save money, by enforcing the traffic laws against cyclists who ride on the sidewalk, ride without lights at night, ride through red lights, ride the wrong way.

The fines start at $130 for these violations. WHY doesn't the city ticket every biker who doesn't have a light at night? Easy money! They're so NABBABLE

Nov. 23 2010 11:18 AM
jeff from brooklyn

It's a sign of our impoverished time when
a puffed up efficiency expert passes for
a social visionary and a deep thinker like
Van Jones is drummed out of government.

Nov. 23 2010 11:17 AM

What!? The City has never thought to turn off lights in buildings?? However I doubt that would save much -- and a totally dark buildling could be a target for mischief. So you'd need to have security lights 24/7 at least.

Nov. 23 2010 11:17 AM
Bobby G from East Village

Start issuing tickets for violation of the law that makes it illegal for vehicles to idle for more than three minutes.

Nov. 23 2010 11:17 AM
marie from brooklyn

how about *raising* money by actually giving traffic tickets to cars that block intersections, especially during rush hour? this infraction occurs on a daily basis so would definitely raise money *and* cut down on illegal driving behavior.

Nov. 23 2010 11:16 AM
bernie from bklyn

i have an idea- maybe someone in the city government should go out and tell me why there are 8 guys standing around a hole watching the one guy do something in the hole on eery major roadway in this city on a daily basis.
for example- can someone from the city tell me why and how the project to "modernize" the gowanus expressway is in a constant, decades long state of being repaired? this is such an obvious, corrupt example and NO ONE from the gov't does anything about it.

Nov. 23 2010 11:15 AM

Fix the Building Department. Any city agency or non-profit has to put repairs building projects in for bid and are required to take the loweest bid. The bad contractors know this and put ion a very low bid, and good contractors know this and don't bid. The bad contractors get the contractand either do a poor job that needs to be refixed or go so over budgit it would have been cheaper to go with a better contractos

Nov. 23 2010 11:15 AM
Julia Miller from Carroll Gardens, brooklyn, ny

Re: cost savings for sewage treatment have give incentives to homeowners to create back gardens to receive the run off from rain water from roofs-much less expensive than turning the roof into a green one-requires little other than gutters being lengthened and pitched towards the back yard-many 5 borough homes have concrete in backyard and city could give tax credits for cost of rerouting of roof run-off and removal of concrete.

Nov. 23 2010 11:13 AM
EVC from B'klyn

1. An idea in the form of a question: has NYC done an thorough 'energy audit'? This is done on small scale for a home or businss but could be done for the city.
2. Convert the stop lights to LEDs.

Nov. 23 2010 11:11 AM
Jay F.

How about charging cyclists for licenses and registration fees for their bicycles? That should bring in some revenue.

Nov. 23 2010 11:11 AM from Queens

Solar charged LED outdoor lighting on Streets, Bridges, Traffic Lights, etc.

Nov. 23 2010 11:10 AM
Robert McFeeley

The city funds the board of election. The Board of Elections maintains the voter datebase which all elected official and some government depts use to contact its citizens. The database is bloated up to 20% with people who are dead and have moved. I won a HAVA complaint detailing some of these problems.

My solution to save money is for all correspondence which a government agency uses the BOE database has a mail return back to the BOE and the BOE can use this mail return as a legitimate proof of a voter no longer living at this address. Currently by law the BOE can only use its August mail check as a proof to remove a voter. To implement my idea the state legislature would have to authorize these mailing to be a proper mail check.

Nov. 23 2010 10:28 AM

I've worked in several high schools where the heat is on so high during the winter (and spring and fall) that classroom windows must be left open or the air conditioners have to be turned on.

How about turning down the heat?

Nov. 23 2010 08:08 AM
George from Bay Ridge

How about adding revenue by charging for the Staten Island Ferry using a Metrocard?

Nov. 23 2010 02:48 AM

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