The following letter, signed by 26 City Council members, including Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, was recently sent to the mayor.
Dear Mayor de Blasio:
We write to encourage you to ask your administrative agencies to identify 5 percent in potential savings for Fiscal Year 2017 before you issue the preliminary budget.
This is an important exercise to ensure that agencies are operating at their most efficient, and that there is minimal waste. Beginning in 1982, prior administrations made a point to incorporate gap closing measures into yearly, city wide funding plans – whether or not a budget deficit was anticipated for the current year. Identifying savings has the benefit of contributing to the city’s financial stability by helping to cover gaps in current or future budgets by paring down agency spending, and avoiding the need for revenue-raising measures.
A City Council examination of the budget from April of this year reports that the city achieved a balanced budget in Fiscal Year 2015 and will do the same in Fiscal Year 2016. That same report, however, also shows a projected budget gap of $1.05 billion beginning in Fiscal Year 2017, and growing to a gap of $2.07 billion in Fiscal Year 2019.
After two years of experience, your agency heads should be asked to identify those policies that are either not working, or unnecessary. Freeing up funds could allow us to either address other funding priorities, to save for future obligations, or even to relieve tax burdens on small businesses or homeowners.
Conducting this kind of financial analysis is good policy. We encourage you to consider returning to the strong precedent set by the previous four mayoral administrations by including such a review in New York City’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. We hope you are open to this suggestion, and look forward to the results of this examination.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.