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Bloomberg calls off NYC's hiring freeze

New York City's hiring freeze has thawed and now 250 officers will be added to the city police force, Mayor Bloomberg said Friday.

Bloomberg ordered the freeze Monday because the state Senate, locked in a power struggle for more than a month, had not approved the city's new tax revenue legislation.

With the Senate stalemate ending, the city's sales tax increase passed 43-19 at 1:40 a.m. Friday, allowing Bloomberg to call off the hiring freeze - which included the police recruits.

"They did do one thing that was good for us . . . passing the sales tax so that we can now go ahead and I will unfreeze the hiring freeze that we had," Bloomberg said on his morning radio show. "We have big problems down the road so we are not hiring willy-nilly."

The mayor said it may take least a week to reschedule the swearing-in of recruits. The recruits had been prepared to become officers in a ceremony Wednesday, which was canceled after Bloomberg ordered the freeze.

The mayor, who is seeking a third term, was criticized for shutting out the recruits, with some opponents saying he jeopardized public safety for political chest thumping.

Bloomberg said there was no room in the budget for the immediate hiring of officers because the city was losing $2 million a day without the sales tax increase.

The deadlock in the Senate ended when state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. (D-Bronx) decided to side with the Democrats after siding with Republicans for weeks. Before his return, a power struggle between Republicans and Democrats had created a Senate stalemate, stalling legislation.

The power struggle had delayed various bills from municipalities across the state, including the proposal increasing the city's sales tax 0.5 percent to 8.875 percent. The hike is projected to bring in more than $550 million annually.

State lawmakers had to approve the increase, part of a multimillion a revenue package needed to help balance the city's $59.4-billion budget for fiscal 2010, which began July 1.

The recruits were among more than 1,000 public safety positions as part of the freeze. The other hires included firefighters, traffic agents, 911 emergency operators and school crossing guards.

The New York Police Department has about 35,000 officers. The city's workforce totals about 310,000.

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