Budget Negotiations Enter Home Stretch

Budget negotiations between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council are entering the home stretch ahead of their June 30 deadline. While the mayor promised a different approach to the budget than his predecessor, that doesn’t mean the process is drama-free. Our Bobby Cuza filed this report.

It was known as the budget dance: mayors would threaten budget cuts, only to have the City Council ride to the rescue, restoring funding at the eleventh hour.

“I don’t really believe this is a revisiting of the dance,” said City Budget Director Dean Fuleihan.

The de Blasio administration promised to do things differently, but many of this year’s budget battles are reminiscent of years past. 

There have been the usual rallies on the City Hall steps, this one Tuesday protesting cuts to English-language and adult-literacy classes.

There have also been rallies protesting the mayor's proposed cut to library operating funds, and an impassioned plea at Tuesday’s City Council hearing for a requested increase of $65 million.

“As long as we haven’t done the $65 million and have six-day service, we haven’t fully gotten to the place that we need to get to,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

Council members also made their case for more funding for seniors.

“I’m asking you, you better hurry up with that discussion, and make sure you put the money back for senior services," said Councilwoman Margaret Chin.

Still, the administration says it shares many priorities with the council, and that in some areas there is simply a disagreement on emphasis.

“That’s not really a dance. That’s part of a negotiating process, and establishing priorities of a budget. That’s very different than cutting a firehouse you know you’re going to restore,” said Fuleihan.

One area council members steered clear of Tuesday: their request for more police officers, which de Blasio has so far resisted.

“We haven’t wavered in the importance of new officers. But I didn’t think – they were going to say nothing new in this hearing,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras.

NYPD headcount and other areas of disagreement will be the subject of negotiations over the next three weeks; a final budget is due by the end of the month. 

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