Mayor partially restores police and fire budget cuts, brings migrant cost estimate down

Mayor Eric Adams partially restores funding to the NYPD and FDNY cut in his November Financial Plan. Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Just two months after making deep budget cuts across city agencies, Mayor Eric Adams announced he is reversing some widely unpopular trims to the police and fire departments, while also revealing the projected cost of the migrant crisis has gone down by roughly $2 billion.

During an impromptu City Hall press conference on Jan 10, Hizzoner said he will restore one 600-member NYPD academy class of the five he cut in his November Financial Plan as well as funding for the FDNY’s “fifth firefighter” position at 20 engine companies in the department. 

He made the cuts as part of a $3.7 billion savings plan — referred to as a “Program to Eliminate the Gap” — aimed at closing a projected $7 billion budget deficit over the next fiscal year, which he says is driven by spending on the migrant influx. Other areas that were impacted by the cuts include the number of litter baskets in the outer boroughs, Sunday service at most library branches and early childhood education seats.

Adams’ budget director, Jacques Jiha, also revealed the administration has reduced its estimate for how much the city will spend on sheltering and providing for tens of thousands of migrants by next summer from $12 billion to approximately $10 billion. The reduction is the result of a 20% cut to migrant spending ordered by City Hall shortly after the release of the November Plan.

The mayor said he was able to restore the police and fire funding due to projected savings gleaned from the reduced migrant spending and better than expected tax revenue collections. He said they then looked at where funding could be given back.

“We did the November plan. We didn’t have any clear understanding of what the fiscal outcome was going to look like,” Adams said. “So we wanted to be as fiscally prudent as possible. So that instead of having to go back to the team and tell them we underestimated, we wanted to make sure we were getting the right numbers. [Jacques] did that and he said ‘here are some of the things that we can do in restoration.”

The mayor’s announcement came ahead of the roll out of his Fiscal Year 2025 preliminary budget next Tuesday, a plan he has long said would include another round of 5% cuts. The mayor, however, told reporters they would have to wait until Tuesday to know if any other agencies would be restored.

The cuts to the NYPD and FDNY were some of the most high-profile of the mayor’s November Plan and drew backlash from unions and pols alike. The pause on police recruitment would have reduced the department’s ranks to below about 29,000, the lowest number it would have been since the 1990s.

Those reductions could have hurt the department’s ability to keep the city safe, NYPD commissioner Edward Caban said Wednesday.

“[When] word came out a few months ago about future police academy classes being canceled due to budget constraints, I immediately thought about how the fallout would affect both our cops and our collective safety,” Caban said. “As we look to further improve public safety in 2024. We need every officer we can get. Which is why today is a great day for the NYPD and all New Yorkers.”

When asked where the migrant savings are going to come from, the mayor said one example is by bringing down spending on food in emergency shelters.

“We looked at how much we were paying in food, we brought in some good partners and we’re going to bring down the cost of food,” the mayor said. “Whatever a human being needs, we were supplying. Cleaning clothing, feeding, cleaning the facilities that they’re in, creating a humane environment. We have to pick up the entire cost. Now we’re at a place of saying ‘let’s look at these contracts, let’s see where we can negotiate these contracts.’”

Part of the reason City Hall was able to partially restore the cuts, Jiha said, was because they did not make up a significant portion of the $3.7 billion savings program.

But City Council Finance Chair Justin Brannan said he was expecting the funding to be restored, while noting that the council had predicted more revenue than the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in December. Additionally, he said there are other areas where he would like to see funding restored.

“It’s great news but we’re not surprised,” Brannan said. “Last month, the Council forecast about $1.5 billion more than OMB over FY24 & FY25 driven by our durable and resilient economy. Someone at OMB must be a Billy Idol fan because it seems they’re budget dancing with themselves. I’ve personally been fighting for more cops and restoration of the fifth firefighter for a long time. Now let’s talk about restoring community schools, composting, and libraries!”

Furthermore, the move is indicative of broader problems with how Adams has managed the city’s finances, Brannan said.

“This is not sound governance or budget management, and it should leave New Yorkers with more questions than answers,” he said. “People deserve a better and more honest accounting of the financial challenges we face. Let’s stop playing budget games and actually prioritize the needs of New Yorkers.”