Budget Wrangling to Begin As Hearings Wind Down This Week

The final day for New York City residents to weigh in on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget before the City Council begins wrangling for the restoration of funds is on Wednesday.

The Council is also expected to hear Wednesday from independent watchdogs, including City Comptroller John Liu and Ronnie Lowenstein, director of the Independent Budget Office.

Once the budget hearings end, the Council will then spend much of the rest of June in negotiations with the Bloomberg administration, in hopes of restoring funds to certain programs.

City Council committees have spent the past few weeks examining the $68.7 billion spending plan with the heads of city agencies.

The areas facing the biggest cuts, and getting the most attention, are after-school and childcare programs and the proposed closure of 20 fire companies.

The advocacy group Campaign for Children estimates that the executive budget proposal eliminates more than 15,000 childcare seats and more than 32,000 slots for after-school programs.

These are the issues the Council has said are priorities when it looks to dip into its own discretionary funds.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has said she is "deeply concerned" about cuts to major childcare and after-school programs and that cutting 20 fire companies needlessly endangers public safety.

The executive budget does protect the teaching workforce, a change from the mayor's preliminary budget proposal in February. Without the restored funds, the Education Department would have seen a loss of more than 2,500 teachers through attrition.