NYC Council approves budget

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The City Council early Thursday morning approved a $75 billion city budget agreed upon with the mayor that funds raises for employees who went without them for five years, including about 10,500 health care workers whose unions reached settlements earlier in the day.

The budget passed 50-0 with one member abstaining.

The administration tentatively settled contracts for city workers with 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the New York State Nurses Association, which have members working at city-run Health and Hospitals Corp. facilities.

The gross cost of the deal is about $879 million, to be offset by hundreds of millions in health care and other savings, the administration said.

The budget agreement featured compromises with Mayor Bill de Blasio, including $6.2 million to hire civilians for NYPD desk jobs in order to shift 200 officers to street patrol and a $6.25 million pilot program to offer free lunch to public middle-school students. The council, led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, originally had requested 1,000 more officers and universal free lunch for all students.

"Every community in the city had a seat at the table, and every community stands to benefit," Mark-Viverito said, opening the meeting shortly after midnight. Of the additional police on the street and free lunch program, she said, "Both of these initiatives are wins for New Yorkers and we are proud to have championed them."

Councilmen Steven Matteo and Vincent Ignizio, both of Staten Island and two of three Republicans on the 51-member council, said they still believe there is room in the budget for more NYPD officers.

The city's financial plan also includes about $50 million in discretionary funding for hundreds of community organizations.

The funding, called "member items" because it is doled out to council members who request the funds for community groups and nonprofits in their district, was distributed in accordance with new formula championed this year by Mark-Viverito as more transparent.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Now, the more impoverished the district, the more discretionary funding it receives. Each member gets a minimum $400,000.

Council members in previous years had accused then-Speaker Christine Quinn of withholding member items to punish colleagues in disfavor.

The funding this year will go toward local gardens, anti-gun violence initiatives, immigrant services and education centers among other types of groups, according to a list released Tuesday night by the Council.

Council leaders and de Blasio had lauded "collaboration" in agreeing to a $75 billion budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1. They announced the deal on June 19, 11 days before the legal deadline.

The budget reflects between $100 million and $200 million more in spending than de Blasio had proposed earlier this year. With Dan Rivoli

You also may be interested in: