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Quinn, Recchia Offer More Budget Brainstorms
June 6th, 2011

The City Council leadership continues the drumbeat against the city’s burgeoning contract budget. In a release issued today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Finance Committee Chair Domenic Recchia contend that cutting 5 percent of the contract budget in four areas — unspecific general contractual services, data process equipment and commuter consultants, legal services and other professional services — would free up money to save all 20 fire companies slated for the ax.

The contract budget has surfaced as a key point of contention this year, fueled by scandals over CityTime and various education department technology deals — and by its sheer size. The contract budget has grown by more than 70 percent since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office and is slated to top $10.3 billion next fiscal year. (For more on the dispute over city contracts and consultants, see Officials Call for Holding the Line on Contracts.

Recchia and Quinn also target some particular programs, raising them as alternatives to some areas the mayor has called for cutting. Under the council, the city’s sustainability play — PlanNYC would take a big hit — losing $4.4 million for a parks plan and$2.6 million for an air quality study. Other proposed savings of a million or more would defer or cut evaluation in the Center for Economic Opportunity ($2.2 million), reduce parking meter collection staff ($2.3 million), reduce the subsidy to the Central Park Conservancy ($1 million); reduce the strategic planning group division ($1.1 million) and the research and policy unit ($1.1 million) in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and eliminate the sanitation department’s public information budget ($2 million).

In their statement, the council members continue a theme often sounded during this spring’s budget negotiations: that the administration is not giving the council the information it needs to make decisions. “We do find it troubling that we have not received answers to the many questions we have posed regarding the specifics of nearly $2 billion in contract services,” Quinn and Recchia said. “In a year in which we face the prospect of thousands of layoffs and dramatic reductions in services, we cannot allow such a large area of spending to escape the same rigorous review that we apply to all areas of city spending.”

At last week’s hearing on the education budget, Recchia and education committee chair Robert Jackson made similar charges.

“If we cannot get the information we need to analyze information, you cannot expect us to pass a budget,” Jackson told schools chancellor Dennis Walcott at the hearing.

Earlier this year, the administration originally resisted releasing the names of firehouses it might close until it gave in to pressure from City Council.

By on June 6, 2011, 1:59 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Gotham City,Public Finance | Comments Off

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