What will the mayor propose in his budget?

What will the mayor propose in his budget?

Today in City Hall at 1 p.m., Mayor Bloomberg will reveal his preliminary budget for fiscal year 2013. What are his likely targets to boost or slash? You’ll find the answers here later today. In the meantime, we offer eight budget predictions, based on past years’ proposals and the insights of experts on the city’s balance sheet, including the Independent Budget Office and Citizens Budget Commission.

1. Merit bonuses for teachers

2. Employee contributions toward health care premiums

3. More raids on the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund

4. Layoffs and attrition

5. Balancing the books on libraries

6. Firehouses, again

7. The kids may not be alright

8. …and there’s always garbage

First look at the mayor’s budget

Updated 5:30 p.m.: The $68.7 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2013 includes no new taxes (though it does project a 22 percent increase in non-tax revenue) and no layoffs for uniformed services and teachers. During most of his time at the podium, however, the mayor addressed the city’s growing pension problem, which he referred to as a “ticking time bomb.” Since fiscal year 2002 city-funded pension costs have nearly quintupled, rising from $1.3 billion to $8 billion for 2013.

“We cannot afford these pensions,” Bloomberg said. “We have no obligation to people we have yet to hire.”

In some respects this year’s budget dance will be a repeat of last year. Not surprisingly, perennial losers libraries and cultural institutions face big cuts. Libraries could loose about $70 million and cultural institutions $40 million under Bloomberg’s new budget. Almost certain to be controversial this year is the revival of last year’s plan to close 20 fire companies. Similarly, missing from this budget were about 8,000 child care seats – removed by Bloomberg during last year’s budget only to be restored by the council six months later. In a sign of things to come Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a prospective mayoral candidate, waited outside City Hall with talking points for reporters on the potential cuts.

“The consequences of the Mayor’s proposal are striking: with so many of our schools stills struggling, nearly 16,000 of New York’s youngest and most vulnerable would be forced to go without the preparation they need to enter school ready to succeed,” de Blasio said in a statement.

Councilmember Domenic Recchia disagreed with de Blasio’s assessment. “I think it’s generally a good budget,” Recchia told reporters after Bloomberg’s presentation. “Much better than last year.”

Also included in the budget were the gap-closing measures that city agencies presented the mayor in November. The Departments of Transportation and Health will loose the most headcount, though much of the shrinkage is due to attrition.

Notably, in contrast to his 2010 budget, Bloomberg did not propose to have city employees pay into their healthcare premiums. He will, however, dip into the Retiree Benefits Trust Fund to help close the gap.

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