Opinion

Tom DiNapoli, CBC is right to warn New York City about the “fiscal cliff,” but can Eric Adams limit the pain?

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When the normally reserved state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Citizens Budget Commission head Andrew Rein jointly toss around the A-word – “alarming” – to describe the city’s finances, you can bet New Yorkers are headed for a world of tax damages.

The two did just that last week, warning that the city now faces “a fiscal cliff.”

“Our mandate is to alert the public when the city faces an alarming financial situation,” the watchdogs wrote in a Crain’s op-ed.

“That time has come: the large budget gaps ahead will have serious consequences for New Yorkers unless action is taken now.”

Gotham could suffer a staggering $14 billion cash shortfall next year, and that’s based on a lot more conservative numbers than those used by the city.

DiNapoli and Rein blame “the staggering influx of asylum seekers and migrants” for overburdening social services and straining the budget, racking up costs that could rival what the city spends on sanitation and parks. set.

Disbursements to welcome immigrants, according to the City Council, could exceed $12 billion in three years and represent 42% of the gap of $14 billion next year.

However, watchdogs stress, “the main underlying cause of the budget gap comes from years of added and expanded municipal programs” backed by little or no funding.

“City-funded spending has increased more than 50% over the past decade, while recurring revenue has not kept pace.”

They refer to the city’s waste under Mayor Bill de Blasio that exploded during COVID and was allowed to continue under Mayor Adams.

The city gave raises to unions, adding $16 billion to the budget, with no way to pay for them. and There are no changes in working conditions to reduce costs.

He used federal COVID aid and a temporary boost in tax revenue from Wall Street bonuses to grow the programs.

Overtime exceeded budgeted amounts.

All of this leaves the city facing “a fiscal abyss,” the men warned.

Which proves that Adams is right to impose budget cuts of up to 15% on city agencies.

Meanwhile, raising taxes (already among the highest in the country, leading wealthy New Yorkers to flee (with their tax dollars)) is no longer an option.

Control agencies suggest, to begin with, improving efficiency and carefully managing the city’s workforce.

Beyond that, though, the city needs to prioritize important services, like policing, when it comes time to make cuts.

Schools in particular are ripe for cuts: Gotham already spends more per student than any other major city in America: approximately triple the national average.

And total Department of Education outlays continue to rise even though public school enrollment is falling.

In fact, without serious cuts, per-pupil spending grows even more.

That’s why Schools Chancellor David Banks is raising the idea of ​​consolidating some schools, such as secondary schools with enrollments as low as 80 children.

The City Council itself praised DiNapoli and Rein for issuing the warnings: “As the op-ed says, ‘Difficult decisions must be made, with the needs of New Yorkers at the center, today and in the future.’”

However, progressives will push for further unfunded expense.

If Hizzoner can’t confront them, the city will return to 1970s-style bankruptcy.

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