(The Center Square) – With less than a week before the city’s new fiscal year begins, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s financial situation coming out of the COVID-19 is getting worse as officials now must look to cut an additional billion dollars from their budget.
Without help from Washington or Albany, that could force de Blasio to lay off or furlough up to 22,000 city workers later in the year. The budget woes aren't likely to be short-term, either. He said he was working with the City Council as well as organized labor to identify where cuts can be made.
“It brings me no joy, but it's really important to level with all of you,” de Blasio said. “This is just the beginning of what will be a prolonged challenge in terms of both our economic situation and our budget situation. This is not just one year or two years. This is probably more like three or four years to bring everything back to the level it should be.”
Any jobs cuts that would take place would occur in the fall, and he added those would be a “last resort.”
Originally in February, de Blasio proposed a $95 billion spending plan, but after the pandemic hit New York harder than any other city in the world, the budget was cut to $89.3 billion in April to make up for the lost revenue due to businesses being forced to close and tourism grinding to a halt.
Now, the city needs to squeeze out more.
“The billion dollars we would need from labor is the only way that we can close this budget gap because we're all struggling to find more and more savings from agencies,” he said.
The mayor cautioned that even more cuts may need to happen in the future, and that the fiscal year 2022 budget was already starting with about a $5 billion hole.
For months, there has been talks of the federal government helping local communities, but now the earliest that could take place is toward the end of July. Getting permission from state leaders to borrow funds also likely won’t come in time.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said in the past that he’s leery of cities borrowing money to pay for day-to-day expenses.
Even as de Blasio mentioned the possibility of job cuts, the governor still was noncommittal.
“We have to see what happens on the federal side,” Cuomo said after he announced a 14-day quarantine period for visitors to New York from COVID-19 hot spots. “And we also have to gauge how quickly the city's economy rebounds.”