Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito shook ceremonious hands over New York City’s budget a week before it was due, after the mayor reversed his position on hiring new police officers. Thanks to strong local economic growth, the $78.5 billion budget for the coming fiscal year starting July 1, includes more spending on city services nearly across the board. The final budget is a 4.7 percent increase from last year.
Aside from the 1,300 new police officers slated for hire in the new fiscal year, the budget also includes $100 million for homeless services, $54 million more for mental health services, and $163 million to expand after-school programs for middle schoolers. The city’s libraries also received a $39 million boost to extend library hours, and keep some locations open six days a week.
More contentious though, is the mounting costs of the city's pension obligations. With the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, police and fire unions want disability pension plans to resemble those of hires from before 2009, before the pension was changed. Instead, de Blasio has proposed to limit that reinstatement to severely disabled cops and firefighters. The mayor's reform would cost the city an additional $2 billion over the next five years, compared to the $6 billion supported by Cuomo and the unions.
Rent Stabilization and 421-a
Meanwhile, after fits and starts of negotiations, state lawmakers finally agreed to a four-year extension for the 421-a tax provision. The 421-a provision gives developers a tax abatement if their projects make at least 20 percent of the units in a development affordable. The tax break expired June 15, which began 10 days of New York State operating without it. But, reports show it made little difference to the number of work permits for residential construction in the city. The luxury market is going strong thanks to the flow of international capital to New York real estate, but the demand for other types of housing inside the city remains.
Lawmakers in Albany added a caveat to the provision that will cause the tax break to expire in six months if the Real Estate Board of New York and labor unions cannot agree on worker wages in that time.