NEW YORK — Most of New York City’s public libraries won’t be open on Sundays anymore. There will be fewer sidewalk trash cans and less city street cleanings. The city’s universal pre-K program is getting curtailed. Various services for newly-arrived migrants will be phased out, and the NYPD is on track to have less than 30,000 cops for the first time in decades.
Those are just some of the results of drastic spending cuts contained in Mayor Eric Adams’ November budget modification released Thursday.
In a written statement, Adams — who did not hold a briefing to take reporters’ questions on the budget update — said the steep belt-tightening is necessary to offset the nearly $11 billion his administration projects the city will spend on sheltering and providing services for the tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived since last year.
And Adams warned that even more cuts could be on the table early next year unless the federal government provides more financial and logistical aid to accommodate the migrants.
“No city should be left to handle a national humanitarian crisis largely on its own, and without the significant and timely support we need from Washington, D.C., today’s budget will be only the beginning,” the mayor’s missive said.
In a virtual briefing with reporters, Adams administration officials — who only agreed to speak on condition that their identities not be used — said the reason even more spending reductions could be enacted early next year is because, despite the November plan’s deep cuts, there’s a $7.1 billion budget deficit for libraries. Adams’ revised $110.5 billion municipal budget released cuts to trash pickups, the city’s universal pre-K program and services available for newly-arrived migrants, among a number of other spending categories, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The so-called November budget modification plan also projects that the city’s deficit will grow larger than previously thought next fiscal year, according to a document obtained by the Daily News. That indicates even more belt-tightening could be on the horizon, with a “massive” cut to migrant services expected, sources said.
As first reported by The News on Wednesday, the budget modification plan includes a freeze on hiring of new NYPD officers as well as a ban on FDNY overtime spending.
Despite the spending trims in the current 2024 fiscal year, the plan projects there will be a $7.1 billion gap between how much the city government’s expected to spend in the 2025 fiscal year versus how much it’s expected to recoup in revenue, the document obtained by The News shows. That’s a $2 billion increase from what the city’s adopted budget from June projected the deficit would be for the 2025 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2024.
It’s unclear exactly how some of the 2024 fiscal year cuts will play out. Adams spokesman Charles Lutvak declined to comment other than to say the full modification is set to be released later Thursday.
Since the city government has to balance its budget by law, the fact that the deficit for the 2025 fiscal year is larger than previously thought likely means even more cuts could be next, as Adams has pledged to not increase taxes.
A source familiar with the matter said one of the next budget-trimming steps is expected to come in the form of a Program to Eliminate the Gap, or PEG, that will order a 20% reduction in fiscal year 2024 spending on sheltering and providing services for the tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the city. According to previous projections, the city is expected to spend $4.7 billion on migrant crisis services in the 2024 fiscal year, meaning the Adams administration would have to figure out a way to cut that price-tag by nearly $1 billion under such a PEG.
It’s unclear how such a “massive” spending reduction would be achieved, especially as hundreds more migrants continue to arrive every week, the source said. The migrant crisis services PEG could be announced as soon as Monday, the source added.
Adams, who first announced in September that the November plan would include a 5% city government-wide budget cut, has said for months that the austerity is necessary to offset the nearly $2 billion his administration has already spent on the migrant crisis.
But Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan, a Democrat who chairs the Council’s Finance Committee, said it’s about more than just migrant spending.
“The budget chaos we’re seeing now is the result of a perfect storm,” he said. “Yes, it’s migrant spending, but another, larger piece of the puzzle is the end of federal stimulus money from COVID. A lot of that temporary money was used to stand up permanent programs, and now the bill is coming due.”