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Goodbye fire class, hello school cuts as Mike Bloomberg says chop $1.4B


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Mayor Bloomberg's knife is cutting deeper - pressing agencies to cut another $1.4 billion from next year's budget, with more pain to come.


The new cuts come barely a month after Bloomberg projected a $1.3 billion gap in the fiscal year starting July - a chasm that spreads daily as tax revenues plunge, Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler said.


"Things have unfortunately gotten worse and not better," he said. "The numbers are truly staggering."


The Fire Department has been told to postpone a scheduled academy class of 110 new Bravest next month. The NYPD lost one class in the first round of cuts.


The growing crisis could lead to layoffs - even after previous cuts of $500 million in this year's budget and $1 billion in the next.


"Every agency is going to have to do more with less and, in some cases, it's just going to mean doing less," Bloomberg said Wednesday night. "Hopefully, everybody will pull together."


Budget Director Mark Page ordered agency heads this week to identify 5% cost savings in their budgets, plus another 2%, if necessary, to be submitted to the mayor by Dec. 22.


The cuts would be applied equally to city agencies, forcing the Police and Fire departments to take the same 7% whack as Planning, Information Technology and Youth Services.


City Council Finance Committee Chairman David Weprin said that's a bad idea.


"I don't think all agencies are equal, and I don't believe all agencies should be cut equally," said Weprin (D-Queens).


"It may send a message, but I don't know if it's the right message."


Bloomberg's doomsday message came as he is locked in a struggle with the Council to define how bad the problem really is - and what should be done about it.


The Council has revolted against Bloomberg's plan to eliminate the $400 property tax rebate that had been promised to homeowners two months ago.


Not everyone agrees with the mayor's plan to rescind a 7% property tax cut in January.


Council members have proposed an $80 million hike in the hotel tax and dozens of other cuts as an alternative to Bloomberg's plan.


Speaker Christine Quinn said the Council wouldn't back down on the rebates, calling them a "core commitment" to New Yorkers. Everything else, she said, is on the table.


"We always knew that the budget was going to get worse before it gets better," said Quinn (D-Manhattan). "There really, probably, isn't anything that you can say without a doubt won't happen."


The only specific cut identified Wednesday was the FDNY academy class, which had already been trimmed down from 300 candidates. "Given the direction that more cuts are coming, this is a prudent decision to defer the class," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said.




December 11th 2008



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Wow another great move! This a time when a large city like NYC needs both cops and fire fighters. I was not alive during the 70's but I have always been told that on any given night you could see several fires burning at the same time from Yankee Stadium. At least this bad economy will cause many members of the FDNY and NYPD to stay on after 20 years.

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