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NYC mayor returns 5th FF to FDNY engine companies

Mayor Eric Adams announced a reversal to proposed staffing cuts, layoffs of firefighters on long-term disability


Mayor Eric Adams announces funding restorations to the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY). City Hall. Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office./TNS

By Chris Sommerfeldt
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — New York City won’t freeze hiring of police officers or lay off disabled firefighters this fiscal year after all, Mayor Adams announced Wednesday, citing “better than anticipated” tax revenue and a reduction in projected migrant crisis spending as the reasons for calling off the planned NYPD and FDNY cuts.

At an afternoon press conference at City Hall, Adams said the reversal allows the NYPD to reinstate a Police Academy class expected to start in April that got canceled as part of various municipal budget cuts he announced in November.

Due to the reinstatement of the class, 600 new recruits are now set to join the NYPD ranks, according to Adams’ office. Adams did not say how much taxpayer money will go to pay for the new recruits.

“We need every officer we can get, which is why today is a great day for the NYPD,” said Police Commissioner Edward Caban, who joined Adams for the announcement, along with City Hall Budget Director Jacques Jiha, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks and FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.

Also under Adams’ reversal, the FDNY will no longer need to eliminate the so-called “fifth firefighter” position at 20 engine companies or lay off 190 firefighters on long-term disability who were supposed to be let go under the November cuts.

Adams, however, wouldn’t say whether any other city agencies will be spared from his deep November cuts. He said Jiha will do a “deep dive” on that next Tuesday when his administration plans to roll out its preliminary city budget for the 2025 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

“He lives for this time of the year, so I don’t want to take away his thunder,” Adams said of Jiha. “He’s going to go deep into all of that.”

While he wouldn’t say whether any other agencies are getting relief from the belt-tightening, Adams, a retired NYPD captain who was elected in 2021 on a tough-on-crime platform, told reporters he recently directed Jiha to make it his top priority to find a way to reinstate the canceled Police Academy class.

“At the heart of what’s important to me is that this city is safe, and I said to Jacques, ‘I need to find a way to get those classes,’” he said. “We cannot go backward, and that is why I focus so hard on anything that’s going to erode our ability to keep this city safe.”

According to NYPD data, the rate of major felony crimes in the city stayed effectively flat in 2023 as compared with 2022, though some categories, including murder and rape, dropped last year. As compared with 2021, crime was up last year across the board in the city, NYPD data shows.

Adams has argued for months that budget cuts are necessary to offset the tens of millions of dollars the city’s spending every month to provide housing and services for newly arrived migrants.

The City Council’s Democratic majority has countered that many of the mayor’s proposed cuts are unnecessary and based on low-balled tax revenue projections.

According to the Council’s projections, the city will collect $1.5 billion more in tax revenue than what’s estimated by Adams’ team over the current 2024 fiscal year and the 2025 fiscal year. Council Democrats say that’s big enough of a surplus to cancel various cuts sought by the mayor that would suspend weekend library service across the city, impede sanitation efforts and hamper various education programs, among other issues.

Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan, a Democrat who is chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee, said he welcomes the reversal of the NYPD and the FDNY cuts, but that the mayor must next undo spending reductions at various other agencies.

“Someone at OMB must be a Billy Idol fan because it seems they’re budget dancing with themselves,” Brannan said, referring to the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget. “I’ve been fighting for more cops and restoration of the fifth firefighter for a long time. Now let’s talk about restoring community schools, composting and libraries!”

Members of the Council’s Progressive Caucus took a more combative tone against the mayor’s announcement.

“Our libraries are still closed on weekends. Our schools and students are still suffering. Sanitation services are still reduced and less frequent. No community composting. Those cuts stand. Whose cuts are getting reversed? The NYPD, of course,” Queens Councilwoman Tiffany Caban, a democratic socialist, seethed on Twitter.

Jiha confirmed the mayor’s office has compiled “new revenue projections,” but would not say whether they match the Council’s estimates, or provide any more details about them. “We will disclose them next Tuesday,” Jiha said.

Under the Adams administration’s original projections, the city was supposed to spend about $12 billion on providing housing and services for migrants through June 30, 2026.

But Adams said Wednesday his administration has figured out a way to cut that projected price tag down to just over $10 billion. Adams said his administration has produced those savings by renegotiating contracts with private companies helping the city provide shelter, food, security, case management and other services for migrants.

“From food to the cost of housing, to laundry, to security — everything is on the table of how do we get a better price,” he said. He did not offer specifics on how exactly the costs are coming down, though.

In November, Adams said he had to figure out a way to plug a $7 billion city deficit in his January preliminary budget plan.

Jiha wouldn’t say how the NYPD and FDNY restorations play into addressing that budget hole, but sought to downplay the fiscal impact of reversing the cuts.

“This is a very small, very modest restoration,” Jiha said. “So this is not a big thing.”

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