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Bloomberg unveils city budget that can't avoid cuts


Bloomberg Credit: Office of the Mayor

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday released a rosier budget than expected for fiscal year 2012, but the city will have to count on Albany to prevent further belt-tightening.

Bloomberg unveiled a $65.6 billion preliminary budget that forecasts a budget shortfall of only $600 million, where once it was thought to be as high as $4.6 billion. A $2 billion increase in tax revenues and other savings helped to shrink the gap, though the budget still calls for slashing thousands of teaching jobs and cutting social service programs.

The budget will be balanced, the mayor explained, assuming that the city wrestles state revenue and education aid from Albany — a challenging request as the state faces its own $10 billion budget gap.

“If the state does not come through, layoffs and service cuts will be more severe,” Bloomberg threatened.

A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “the governor looks forward to working with the mayor during these difficult times."

The city also needs the state Legislature to agree to restructure the $12,000 it pays annually to retired firefighters and police officers, which costs $600 million a year to subsidize.

The city police and fire unions are gearing up for a fight with City Hall.

The money was “forged in good faith and is a legally binding agreement that the mayor cannot change without the approval and support of the affected unions,” police union president, Patrick Lynch, said in a statement.

The mayor is to present his final budget in June, before the fiscal year begins July 1. In the meantime, the City Council will be able to hold hearings on the mayor’s proposals.

Despite nine rounds of deficit reductions across city agencies, these are some of the remaining cuts that the mayor is proposing in his budget:

•A loss of more than 6,100 teachers, mostly through layoffs and some attrition.

•The closing of an estimated 100 senior centers.

•The elimination of 5,500 summer youth employment slots.

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