Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson are finalizing an $87 billion budget deal that would avoid municipal layoffs while slicing $1 billion from the Police Department’s budget through transfers and spending cuts, The Post has learned.
The agreement — which the City Council was being briefed on late Monday night — largely restores cuts Hizzoner made to summer youth employment programs, counselors for high needs schools and tuition aid for low-income City University students.
But, it also keeps the bulk of the other spending cuts proposed by de Blasio in April intact as officials attempt to navigate the Big Apple’s estimated $9 billion deficit, which was caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic shutdown.
Hizzoner’s April budget — when the deficit was estimated to be just $7 billion — continued the city’s tradition of sparing the NYPD from the budget ax even during tough times.
Just weeks later, the brutal in-custody police death of George Floyd in Minneapolis rocketed across social media, sending tens-of-thousands New Yorkers to the street in protest — the first in a series of dominoes that would fall — leaving Hizzoner politically besieged and completely remaking the budget debate.
This latest spending plan hopes to answer calls from protestors to ‘defund’ the NYPD by slashing and transferring $1 billion from its budget, four sources confirmed. However, City Hall hit the mark using accounting measures that critics have labeled as ‘tricks’.
It transfers the school safety officers back to the Department of Education, moving $307 million off of the NYPD’s budget in the first year. It also calls for school safety agents to be moved to another still-unspecified agency, accounting for another $42 million.
Controversially, sources told The Post, City Hall also tallied the $134 million in fringe benefits — like health, dental and eye care — associated with those employees to other agencies, and counted those savings toward the $1 billion goal.
The NYPD is also supposed to slash its overtime spending by $352 million in 2021 — roughly half of its annual outlay, which exceeded $700 million in each of the last three completed budget.
Much of the rest of the savings come from reducing the department’s headcount through attrition and by delaying cadet classes, the sources added.
However, some popular programs cut by de Blasio in April have seen their funding either partially or completely restored, three of the sources said:
- The ‘Fair Student’ program that helps equalize funding between Gotham’s richer and poorer school districts will see its funding remain flat, instead of facing a $100 million cut
- The Department of Education’s popular ‘Single Sheperd’ guidance counselor program for high needs schools faced the ax but now has its $11 million budget back
- CUNY’s ASAP aid program for low-income students in community colleges also saw much of its cut reversed, restoring funds to near last year’s level
And there’s $100 million included to provide programming and employment for city youth during the summertime, largely reversing one of the most controversial cuts from de Blasio’s April budget.
Additionally, the sources said that the deal struck between de Blasio and Johnson also avoids any layoffs in the municipal workforce.
The mayor had publicly warned that 22,000 employees could be axed unless state lawmakers in Albany approved emergency lending authority, only to see the state Senate rebuff his request twice.
Still, the budget — which must be passed by Tuesday — will not be an easy sell.
One tally seen by The Post showed that 15 of the city’s 50 lawmakers may oppose the agreement. The Council has 51 seats, though one is currently vacant.
“The Mayor had two goals for this budget: maintain safety, and invest in youth and our hardest-hit communities — all while facing the toughest fiscal situation the city has seen in decades,” said City Hall press secretary Freddi Goldstein, who declined to comment on the details. “We believe that we presented a plan that accomplishes that mission and look forward to working with the Council to pass a budget that helps this city rebuild stronger.”
Johnson’s office declined to comment.