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City’s report card mixed

A crowded hallway at Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows. Class sizes are up, according to the Mayor's Management Report.
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The mayor released a report on the performance of all city agencies over the last year and touted increased efficiency in many areas, but several alarming trends were also contained in the data.

“Even as New York City is emerging from the most difficult fiscal crisis in a generation, the data show that city agencies continue to provide the high-quality services that New Yorkers have rightly come to expect,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in Mayor’s Management Report. “Across the board, overall trends are strongly positive , which is why people continue to come here in unprecedented numbers to live, work and visit.”

Out of the 145 indicators of the administra­tion’s performance, 56 percent have remained stable or gone up since last year.

“The 2011 data clearly show that tight budgets don’t have to mean fewer or worse services,” he said.

In addition, nearly 65 percent of the indicators remained stable or increased since 2003, the report said.

The indicators were divided into several categories like safety and public health.

In some areas, it is clear that budget cuts took their toll, according to Doug Turetsky, spokesman for the Independent Budget Office.

“Certainly there is some clear signs that the city is straining: the increase in some key crime areas, the growing [school] class size, the reduction in home care hours as well as the growing number of children in foster care,” he said.

Rapes across the city have jumped the most out of any crime listed in the report, from 820 last year to 1,138 this year, a rise of 32 percent.

Other crimes including murders and other felonies were slightly higher than last year, but as the report suggests, lower than 2003 levels. Average response times for crimes in progress increased by a minute.

But other areas showed an improvement as felonies in schools and traffic fatalities dropped.

In public health, most areas showed fewer instances of problems like lead poisoning and drug overdoses, although slightly more children were diagnosed with asthma than last year.

In other sectors, the processing time for consumer complaints dropped from 90 days in 2007 to just 15 days in 2011.

Building permits issued in the city rose to 121,027 in 2011, a slight increase from last year and nearly triple 2003 levels.

In education, the percentage of students in grades 3-8 who met standards in math rose slightly to 57.3 percent and in English to 43.9 percent.

But Turetsky also cautioned that some of the numbers in the report could be misleading.

For instance, Medicaid enrollment is up from last year, but Turetsky does not know if the city is reaching more people, or if the poor economy has driven more people to require the service.

“You have to be careful how you interpret these indicators,” he said.

But some of the indicators seemed clearly positive.

Adults who were diagnosed with AIDS in 2011 fell by 25 percent from last year, and the numbers of infant deaths as well as New Yorkers who smoke dropped to record lows.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 1:14 pm, September 22, 2011
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