Mayor Eric Adams unveiled his Fiscal Year 2024 Preliminary Budget during a presentation at City Hall on Thursday, which he said came in at a balanced $102.7 billion and placed a significant focus on cost-cutting measures.
The mayor’s second preliminary spending plan — since taking office a little over a year ago — is up roughly $4.1 billion over his first, which totaled up to $98.6 billion. It also rose $1.7 billion from last year’s $101 billion June adopted budget, but was down $1.3 billion from the $104 billion November Financial Plan.
The budget also contains sizable outyear gaps of $3.2 billion for Fiscal Year 2025, $5 billion for Fiscal Year 2026 and $6.5 billion for Fiscal Year 2027.
“By staying focused on savings and efficiency, we will bring these gaps down over the course of the finite financial plan,” Adams said.
The spending plan contains $8.3 billion in reserves the mayor said were gleaned from measures like cutting vacant agency positions by 50% and covering new agency initiatives either with savings or existing funds within those departments.
The mayor framed the cost-saving measures as part of a broader strategy to prepare the city for a potential recession amid signs of an economic slowdown, rising city health care costs and upcoming negotiations with municipal labor unions. He also cited the added expense of providing for the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who’ve flooded into the city over much of the past year, an expense his budget office said has come out to roughly $366 million as of December during a briefing on the spending plan with reporters Thursday afternoon.
“This creates the perfect storm,” the mayor said. “We will still need to support the cost services that New Yorkers depend upon every day, but with fewer resources. In addition, we face billions of dollars and new unfunded costs related to asylum seekers, labor deals, and health care. So we must be more efficient. We must make smart decisions, invest wisely and give New Yorkers the most bang for their buck.”
The mayor said the plan cuts 4,300 vacancies at city agencies in both the current fiscal year and FY24. Those headcount reductions will save $451 million between the current fiscal year and the next.
A representative with the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said no public school teacher positions would be eliminated under the cuts but 390 civilian vacancies at the city Department of Education (DOE) were put on the chopping block.
The mayor’s second preliminary budget maintains the cuts he called for under his November Financial Plan, released late last year. That plan has gotten significant pushback from City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Finance Chair Justin Brannan, because of cuts it makes to city services like the City University of New York (CUNY), public libraries and early childhood education.
The pair of lawmakers blasted the mayor’s November Plan Thursday morning, ahead of the release of his preliminary budget, noting that they won’t be voting on the budget modification. They also rejected the “false choice” between cuts to agencies or reductions in council members’ discretionary funds, which fund nonprofits that dole out many services on behalf of the city.
“The city is facing multiple crises that require smart investments, and the approach in the November Plan only undermines the health, safety, and recovery of our city,” Speaker Adams and Brannan said. “Over $17 million in funding for non-profits is on the line – including funds that expand services for community safety and crime victims, increase direct access to abortion care for those who cannot afford it, and provide mental health care, workforce opportunities, and student support services.”
“For this reason, we will not vote on the budget modification with an understanding of the negative consequences in all potential options – we will not reject our own support for vital services to New Yorkers,” they added.
The final plan resulted from Adams’ so-called Program to Eliminate the Gap, or PEG, which called for all city agencies to cut their budgets for the current fiscal year — Fiscal Year 2023 — by 3% and for each of the next three fiscal years by 4.75%.
Speaker Adams and Brannan, in their statement, also said they’re ready to do battle with the mayor over the FY24 budget if it continues to make cuts to city services.
“We are committed to delivering for New Yorkers, and we are prepared to fight to realize our vision in this year’s budget,” they said.
Later Thursday, after the release of the mayor’s plan, the pair put out another statement saying “many of our concerns with the Mayor’s November Plan remain with the Fiscal Year 2024 Preliminary Budget.” They vowed to hold hearings on the preliminary budget in the weeks ahead.
Mayor Adams, however, pushed back on the idea that he and the speaker are at odds — following a briefing he held with the council earlier Thursday — and insisted disagreements about the budget are just part of the process.
“We had a good conversation, there were things she agreed on, disagreed on, there were things that she wanted and that’s fine with me,” Adams said. “I really believe [that for] 2022, it’s unfortunate that the dialogue got in the way of our success. And that is not going to be 2023 for me. I have partners in every part of government and Adrienne is one of those partners. I may be the pilot, but she’s the co-pilot. And we have to land this plane. We can’t land it without each other.”