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NYC Council gives final approval to $78.5 billion budget

The New York City Police Department's graduating class

The New York City Police Department's graduating class of December 2014 takes the oath of office during a ceremony Dec. 29, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

The New York City Council passed a $78.5 billion budget Friday afternoon -- a 4.7 percent increase from a year ago -- which includes $170 million to hire 1,297 more NYPD cops.

The final vote for the budget, which covers the 2016 fiscal year beginning Wednesday, July 1, was 46 in favor, one against and another abstaining.

The most contentious part of the monthslong budget process was over the additional police officers that Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed in final negotiations on Monday to hire. For months he had refused to expand the force, saying its current size of about 35,000 was sufficient.

The city is expected soon to begin to boost the head count, a process that will conclude a year from now with 1,297 more cops. They'll cost about $170 million, with 300 cops going to counterterrorism and the rest part of a new neighborhood policing initiative. De Blasio said the blueprint includes a cap on police overtime that will save about $70 million a year.

The city has been battling a modest increase in shootings and murders, though both the mayor's office and the council denies the spike was a factor in their decision. De Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton said the first meaningful increase in the force size in decades would encourage cops to get to know the neighborhoods they patrol.

The budget also establishes a citywide fund to help bail out the city's poorest, low-level arrestees, funds year-round jobs for 6,000 young adults and provides free meals for tens of thousands of schoolchildren.

The budget passed for fiscal 2015 was $75 billion.

The only no vote came from Councilwoman Inez Barron (D-Brooklyn), who opposed the addition of police officers.

"This is a broken system in terms of NYPD," said Barron, a frequent critic of police excesses. "Let's see how we can first fix the system before we dump more people into a broken system."

The abstention came from Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Queens), who has been indicted on corruption charges. Two council members were absent, and one seat of the 51-member chamber is vacant.

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