Kudos to Mayor Eric Adams for moving smartly to limit the municipal payroll as more bad budget news rolls in.
In his third round of budget cuts this year, Budget Director Jacques Jiha on Monday ordered most city agencies to fill no more than half of their current full-time vacancies. (Teachers and uniformed NYPD and FDNY ranks are exempted.) That means about 4,700 openings won’t be filled.
Jiha also directed agencies to cover any new initiatives and programs out of their existing budgets.
This follows sweeping cuts Adams made on taking office in January, plus the 3% across-the-board “PEG” cuts he ordered in September.
Tough medicine, but do-able after Mayor Bill de Blasio bloated the municipal headcount to a record 337,294, with his final budget officially hitting $98.7 billion, up about 34% over the last Bloomberg one, more than double the inflation rate. Plus, Blas spent all the federal COVID aid he could, and left huge out-year deficits that Adams has to cover.
And now the city faces an estimated $1 billion in added costs thanks to the migrant crisis, plus a major ongoing drop in its property-tax take as remote work has businesses trimming office space. And its tech industry is in recession, slamming one of the brightest local business sectors. Worse, Wall Street’s cutting back, too.
Meanwhile, the city’s labor contracts are all coming up, and every union will want substantial hikes to counter Bidenflation.
And 2023 is likely to bring a national recession, further slamming the city budget. So Adams is entirely right to start cutting now to avoid even worse cuts down the line that could threaten core services.
All of which makes it . . . awkward that we have to keep reporting on various Adams administration crony hires. The latest: A longtime friend of the mayor got tapped for one of the best-paid jobs in city government. Lisa White became NYPD deputy commissioner for employee relations in May, pulling $241,000 a year, five times what she’d earned as a 911 dispatcher before retiring.
Adams is getting the big picture right, but such ugly details keep marring his record.