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Mayor proposes cuts in city jobs, services

Mayor Michael Bloomberg blamed Albany decision-making for huge proposed cuts in the city’s 2011 fiscal year budget that could include the elimination of 11,000 jobs, more than half of which would be teaching positions.

The mayor detailed cuts in the budget during a news conference last Thursday at which he blasted the state Legislature for “failing to tighten its own belt.”

“It’s a game that’s played again and again,” Bloomberg said. “We recognize the state faces a budget crisis, but it should not result in the unfair treatment of New York City. Unless the Legislature acts, New York will pay the price for Albany’s fiscal irresponsibility.”

A total of 11,000 jobs are proposed to be cut including 6,400 teaching slots, of which more than 4,400 would be through layoffs and nearly another 2,000 through attrition. The mayor also has said the city could lose 400 firefighters and four engine companies. In addition, an estimated 50 senior centers, 10 libraries and four city pools are expected to face the chopping block.

But jobs in the city Police Department will not be cut, the mayor said. The decision to slash some 900 NYPD jobs was reversed after a faulty car bomb was discovered in Times Square May 1.

Other proposed cuts include adult literacy programs funded by the city Youth and Community Development Department and 32 units in the city’s protective services for children.

“Our ability to put together a balanced budget is very seriously hampered by state government’s continued inaction in addressing its own budget problems,” Bloomberg said, referring to the Albany budget, which is nearly six weeks past its deadline. “The governor’s proposed a budget that, in effect, balances the state’s books by starving New York City.”

Despite deep cuts to city agencies, the mayor said he planned to “increase support” for the city’s public hospital system.

“It’s one of the few social safety nets we have,” he said.

Bloomberg outlined a four-year executive spending plan of $62.9 billion that does not include any tax increases. The plan is based on the assumption that state aid will be cut by $1.3 billion.

“It’s unrealistic to think we can afford any raises for the next few years as we cut our work force,” Bloomberg said. “But this only saves us a couple million through 2014.”

He said the city’s economy was getting better, but tax revenues would not likely improve for at least two years.

The proposed city budget cuts would be the largest since the 1970s, when the city neared bankruptcy.

Bloomberg said good news for the city included a rise in tourism, a stabilized housing market with 9,000 to 10,000 apartment units coming onto the market and continued work on major city developments, such as the Willets Point redevelopment project.

The budget, which will now go before the City Council for hearings and approval, must be ready by June 30.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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