Blaz to chop NYPD by $1.5B, shift funds
This year’s city budget will have something for nearly everyone to hate.
After weeks of demands that City Hall make significant cuts to the NYPD’s budget, Mayor de Blasio on Monday touted a range of cuts to the NYPD but said New York could still be forced to lay off municipal workers as early as October.
He committed to $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD’s operating budget and promised another $500 million in capital funding would be reallocated from police projects to youth and public housing programs.
The changes come on top of $8 billion de Blasio had already slashed from his proposed budget — which now stands around $86 billion — and in the wake of huge tax revenue shortfalls due to the coronavirus outbreak. City Hall’s executive office and the City Council remained embroiled in budget negotiations Monday, one day before the legally-mandated deadline to hammer out an agreement.
The mayor said the cuts to the NYPD were not intended to punish the department in the wake of criticism over its use of force during anti-police brutality protests.
“We want to shift resources more and more into young people in particular, into youth centers. We want to shift resources more and more into public housing,” de Blasio said at a Monday morning press conference. “We’re going to take that capital money and shift it into creating youth recreation centers.”
The city is also poised to cancel next month’s Police Academy class — bringing an estimated savings of about $80 million — and transfer school safety officers from the police to education departments, a move trimming about $422.1 million from the NYPD budget. That’s according to sources who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks.
They said the change in who oversees school safety officers may seem superficial, but could transform how students are policed.
The move could entail “stronger guidelines and checks and balances on what school safety can do,” one person noted.
The school safety officer program, initiated in the Giuliani administration, has long been accused of disproportionately targeting students of color.
The new NYPD cuts also include transferring homeless outreach programs to the Department of Homeless Services, in an attempt to address criticism that cops are the wrong city workers to get the homeless off of streets. Details of the change were not immediately known.
Also on the table was an attempt to curb NYPD overtime pay by a whopping $352.2 million — though similar efforts have faltered in the past — and smaller measures such as canceling $5 million in spending on new vehicles for the department.
Including the measure on overtime pay, estimated cuts come to about $512.1 million. The rest of the roughly $1 billion sum comes from shifting funding from the NYPD to DOE and DHS.
The home stretch of budget talks comes after de Blasio proposed cutting the city’s popular Summer Youth Employment Program, drawing outrage from pols and activists who said kids need the extra income more than ever.
The Council drew concessions from the mayor over the weekend, according to sources who say summer jobs programs will come back, albeit in reduced form. Details were not immediately known.
Both the mayor and Council Speaker Corey Johnson are likely to tout the NYPD changes and revival of summer youth employment as major wins — but the budget seems sure to leave activists angry.
“It tinkers here and tinkers there, but it does not represent the sea change that people had been demanding and camping out for,” a source familiar with the budget talks said of the NYPD changes.
“You’re going to get a number of nos on the left and you’re going to get a number of nos on the right, but they’ll have the votes to pass the budget,” the person added.
In recent weeks, de Blasio threatened to fire as many as 22,000 city workers as he sought authority from Albany to take on debt to cover operating expenses, a move Gov. Cuomo opposes.
In spite of the dire threat from the mayor, widespread layoffs were off the table for now, sources said. About 50 park rangers and 80 park enforcement patrol workers, who are charged with enforcing social-distancing rules, might be cut in the short term, though.