(The Center Square) – New York City Mayor Eric Adams has unveiled a $109.4 billion preliminary budget that scales back some proposed cuts prompted by the city’s costs for caring for tens of thousands of migrants.
The spending plan, released Tuesday, calls for balancing a projected $7.1 billion budget gap by cutting spending on asylum seeker services and using city reserves on top of higher-than-expected tax revenue.
Adams said better-than-expected revenue projections, a reduction in spending on migrants and additional state aid have pumped billions into the city’s annual spending plan.
“The growing asylum seeker crisis, COVID-19 stimulus funding drying up, tax revenue growth slowing, and unsettled labor contracts that we inherited widened the FY25 budget gap to a record level,” Adams said in a statement.
“But, with responsible and effective management, we have been able to provide care for asylum seekers and balance the budget — without unduly burdening New Yorkers with a penny in tax hikes or massive service reductions, and without laying off a single city worker,” he added.
Adams is restoring funding for the New York City Police Department to add another police academy class of 600 recruits to join the ranks in April. The city is also walking back cuts in funding to the Fire Department of the City of New York, restoring funds to return a fifth firefighter at 20 engine companies and maintain 190 firefighters on payroll who are not expected to be able to return to full-duty status.
Adams said the city had overestimated the cost of caring for migrants by $2 billion in preliminary budget projections, which has lowered the projected costs through fiscal year 2025 to $10.6 billion.
But he noted that the migrant crisis is still draining the city’s resources and reiterated calls for more assistance from the state and the federal government.
“We cannot wait endlessly for the federal government to do their part,” he said. “If they won’t act, we must.”
The budget rollout begins negotiations between the Adams administration and the Democratic-led City Council, whose members, including Speaker Adrienne Adams, have pledged to roll back cuts. The budget goes into effect in July.
It was released shortly after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled a $233 billion preliminary state budget that includes $2.4 billion to help the state deal with the migrant crisis.
The Citizens Budget Commission issued a statement praising the Adams administration for leveraging savings and cutting costs in the preliminary spending plan. However, it said, “many more hard choices are still needed to stave off a fiscal reckoning.”
“While this budget starts to increase transparency and accuracy by including some previously omitted funding for ongoing programs — a welcome and important start — it continues to underbudget overtime and still does not fund or explicitly end many recurring programs that are not budgeted in the future — perpetuating large fiscal cliffs,” Andrew S. Rein, the group’s president, said.
The group cautioned City Council members against restoring any cuts to the budget based on the savings outlined by Adams’ preliminary budget.
“Some public officials, advocates, and others will point to the savings plans and strong revenue already announced to avoid the necessary additional hard choices. That would not be wise,” Rein said. “More is needed to align recurring expenditures for all programs and close out-year gaps, including the fiscal cliffs.”