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IBO Puts out Alternatives for City to Save and Generate Revenue

Friday, April 27, 2012

The city's Independent Budget Office issued a report Friday that included a list of 72 ways the city can save and generate revenue.

On the list are old favorites that are often discussed but never implemented, such as restoring a commuter tax and increasing personal taxes on the rich. But there are newer, more controversial options this year, such as ending summer school for tens of thousands of city students for a savings of $28 million , according to the report.

The IBO said that students who fail state math and english exams must attend summer school. The only problem is test results aren't available until August ― after summer school ends. That means the DOE must predict who will fail. Last summer, DOE sent roughly 34,000 kids to summer school ― 7,000 ended up passing state exams and didn't need to be there. Another 9,000 students didn't progress in summer school and had to repeat a grade anyway.

The IBO report suggests retesting students in June after an extra month of instruction that would likely allow more students to pass the state english and math exams. 

IBO Director Ronnie Lowenstein said whether you're for or against cutting summer schools depends on how you view the 4-week summer school. "If there's real learning going on there then I would argue, even if a child who was on the cusp was required to attend, even unnecessarily, there's a lot of good going on," Lowenstein said. "If not that much gets accomplished in the 4-weeks then that's another story".

The Department of Education said the IBO’s recommendation of retesting would eat into any savings. "The extra instructional time students receive in summer school can be critical for ensuring they have the foundation and skills needed to achieve success," DOE spokeswoman Barbara Morgan added.

Among the more obscure proposals for saving city tax dollars is eliminating some outdated perks. According to the IBO report roughly 3,000 DOE administrative employees receive 20 minutes of paid banking time every 2-weeks in which they may go cash paychecks. Eliminating this perk would save $1 million, according to IBO.

"It's not a lot of money but how that has persisted for so many years while all of us are out there using our ATM's is not clear to me," Lowenstein said.

The IBO also said the city could save $131 million by eliminating 35 minutes that police officers receive to “wash up” and debrief after their shifts, although the report does acknowledge the time can be valuable.

Another way to raise money from the report would be to tax tickets to movies and Broadway shows. The IBO thinks that would generate $68 million.

City Hall has said it would not be raising any taxes.

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Comments [7]

vmgillen from Staten Island

Again, the point is: taking this away from city workers requires changing the law. The law should not be changed: it is valid. Changing this law would have a significant negative impact on the many people in our city who work at minimum wage, or, all too often, less. It carves into free time.

Apr. 30 2012 06:41 AM

i understand the point, and i never said i supported corporate welfare either. I have many issues with how the government chooses to spend OUR money.

I am one of those single mothers by the way, so i dont have to imagine anything. a lot of assumptions are made about the demographics of NPR listeners, evidenced by your thinking you had to explain that to me, and which are extremely condescending to those of us who dont fit the model. Tell me why do the ones who do think they are the only ones with social concerns and have been annointed with the duty to worry about the rest of us who are just waiting to be saved? We talk and think and fight too, you know.

Also, I dont happen to work for the city but many of my friends do, and i can say with confidence that if i was asked to give up 20 minutes of pay, equivalent to about $10 per month, to help close the city's budget gap and hopefully to relieve some other services which we all use and mostly take for granted, I would gladly. And $10 means a lot to me so that is not a small statement. Actually this country and some in Europe too could do well to take note of the ethics held by the segments of the population who have struggled when everyone else wasn't - we have a much better understanding that survival requires a communal spirit of sacrifice and dedication to the good of the group.

Apr. 29 2012 01:47 PM
vmgillen from Staten Island

Again: this is separate from the city worker issue - presumably most have direct deposit to MCU or similar. But, as far as the LAW (aka those problematic government burdens)consider, if you can, that you are a single parent, traveliing for hours then working many hours, getting home and having house keeping, child care - including the shopping and banking (and there's a good chance there are no decent supermarkets or banks in your area) so you travel and then wait on interminable lines because, after all, everyone is trying to accomplish things on the weekend - please, try to understand these realities. To spare us from this expense the law would be changed, affecting everyone. Think it through: then consider the corporate welfare we see in instances like Fresh Direct, or tax breaks encouraging hazardous industrial development in areas already populated by families . . . we can save money AND be humane. It just requires consideration, not knee-jerk reactions.

Apr. 29 2012 09:06 AM

ok but there is a finite number of dollars the city has to spend on a multitude of things. do you think this is a better use of money than many causes that are seeing cuts this year, like affordable child care, rape crisis centers, etc.? just because its a law doesn't mean its not outdated - and we wonder why americans are fed up with the government and its agencies when so many of its policies are irrelevant and purely self-serving. Even in a time like this, can anyone even make a tiny sacrifice for the good of the whole?

Apr. 28 2012 09:41 PM
VMGillen from Staten Island

Xtopher, the one thing your employer has to give you is legal tender. Not a check, not gold, not housing, not turnips: pay. You should not have to spend time or money to get your pay: the labor laws acknowledge this. For a change, this isn't a question of City employees receiving extraordinary privileges. This is a question of law, and this is a good law. Consider it from the point of view of a person from the non-NPR audience socio-economic strata. . .

Apr. 28 2012 05:46 PM

Meanwhile the rest of America does their banking on Saturday. Or, ya know, after work on Friday when banks are open late. This is a rule from a different time when banks didn't have convenient hours. Dump it.

Apr. 28 2012 08:34 AM
VMGillen from Staten Island

The 20 minutes allotted for check-cashing is a law - IF the employer pays by check, time must be given to turn that check into something the employee can actually use: cash. This is fair, this is just. If payment is made by direct deposit, the employer is off the hook. Another thing to remember: the employee should not incur any fees to get their pay in cash.

This is a reasonable rule, and should not be changed in order to generate bs headlines.

Apr. 28 2012 08:12 AM

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