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Speaking in succession at a breakfast event in Bayside, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller avoided blaming any city officials in disagreeing on the root causes of the city's current fiscal crisis.
Bloomberg, speaking first at a fund-raiser for the Queens Jewish Community Council, said the national economy's downturn contributed to a loss in tax revenue that is the source of the city's $3.8 billion budget deficit. He said the city lost out on anticipated revenues from Wall Street, which accounts for one third of its income, because of the economic slump. The result was a $6 billion tax loss.
"We will find ways to make the tough decisions," Bloomberg said. "We have got to make sure we work on some big projects."
Citing several examples of companies moving into the borough and city, the mayor assured audience members that there will be no massive exodus by city businesses to other parts of the country. He said he would avoid making fiscal decisions that could burden future generations with debt or jeopardize education funding.
Several minutes later, Miller said in his speech that the allocation of tax dollars by the state and federal governments to the city is the reason New York is facing a budget crisis. He cited both the Sept. 11 attacks and a faulty formula by which the state and federal governments dole out tax monies to the borough and city for the shortfall.
"This could be the worst fiscal crisis in the city's history," Miller said. "But even if we get aid packages, we still have tough choices."
Miller, indirectly criticizing Bloomberg's budget cuts, hinted that the Council is in a better position to propose reductions than Bloomberg because the individual council members are in greater contact with city residents. He said the mission of the Council is to address residents' problems and make decisions based on citizens' needs.
"We understand what the real human consequences are," he said. Miller, along with other council members, started the "Fair Share Campaign," an initiative whose goal is to change how funds are distributed to the city from the state and federal governments.
Bloomberg and Miller were guests at the seventh annual testimonial and installation breakfast hosted by the Queens Jewish Community Council at the Bayside Jewish Center. Jan Fenster, current president of the organization, was reinstalled as president at the event.
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) was given the organization's Claire Shulman Public Service Award for his more than 30 years in the state senate.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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