Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves NYC mayor, the budget, and the furlough of staff members.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he was furloughing his own staff at City Hall, himself included. This policy is due to cover 495 mayoral staff members, who will have to take an unpaid, weeklong furlough at some point between October and March 2021. The furloughs will apply to everyone from administrative assistants to Mr. de Blasio and the office of his wife, Chirlane McCray.
This is because a $9 billion, two year revenue shortfall due to the coronavirus’s impact on the economy. Mr. de Blasio this year closed the city’s budget with $1 billion in unspecified labor savings.
He warned that he would have to lay off 22,000 employees, a number that might be reduced depending on the factors on negotiated union givebacks, state approval for New York City to finance its operations with up to $5 billion in long term debt and more federal assistance.
The efforts to convince Albany to act have fallen on deaf ears. So, too, have his pleas for aid from the federal government. So at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Emma Wolfe, a deputy mayor for administration and the mayor’s chief of staff, sent out an email detailing the furloughs.
The furloughs would bring $860,000 in anticipated savings, but the move has symbolic implications and could be a precursor to similar maneuvers to slash the budget.
The mayor said on Wednesday, the furloughs were “the right thing to do at this moment in history,” and an unfortunate but inevitable result of the state and federal government’s unwillingness to act.
“I thought it was an article of faith that there would be a federal stimulus,” Mr. de Blasio said. “There hasn’t been. And I see no indication there will be for the remainder of this year. I truly believed that our colleagues in Albany would have acted by now on long term borrowing.”
The budget faces the possibility of $2.3 billion in state education cuts and an attendant loss of possibly 9,000 education jobs on top of the likelihood that it will bear much of the brunt of the state’s monumental budget shortfalls. It also includes what experts describe as possibly illusory New York Police Department savings.
During an interview, Harry Nespoli, who leads the Municipal Labor Committee, a coalition of about 110 city unions, said he was unsure there was $1 billion in labor savings to be found by any means.
“Can’t do it,” he said. “There’s not $1 billion there.”
He said he wanted the mayor to hold off on layoffs until later this year.
“After the election, who knows, there might be a whole new different atmosphere in Washington,” he said.
Henry Garrido, who runs the city’s largest municipal employee union, District Council 37, said many of his members could not afford a five day furlough.
“My members live paycheck to paycheck,” said Mr. Garrido, who wants Albany to instead authorize an early retirement package as a cost saving measure.