NYC Budget Crisis Will Lead to Unpaid Furloughs for Mayor and Hundreds More

A family, some wearing face masks and some not, ride the subway on Monday in Brooklyn, New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

MANHATTAN (CN) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that he and his staff of nearly 500 employees will be furloughed for a week in an effort to combat a multibillion-dollar budget crisis. 

“Dedicated public servants have worked tirelessly for our city and their fellow New Yorkers throughout this crisis,” said de Blasio in a press release. “This is a painful step, but it shows just how committed we are to responsible budgeting and leading the city through these challenging times.”

The mayor, first lady Chirlane McCray and 493 employees will take an unpaid weeklong furlough at some point between October 1, 2020, and March 2021. 

“It is with pain that I say they and their families will lose a week’s pay, but it’s something we have to do. It’s something I have to do,” de Blasio said at a press conference. “And with these furloughs and with the additional savings and cuts that we achieved in the June budget, the Mayor’s Office budget will now be 12% less this fiscal year than it was last fiscal year.”

Making over $258,000 a year, the mayor will lose out on nearly $5,000 while on his furlough. 

The city is facing a $9 billion toll on city revenue and has already cut $7 billion from the budget between February and the 2021 fiscal year, according to the mayor’s office.

According to an August report, the city lost $336 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

At Wednesday’s press conference, de Blasio expressed concern that there would be no relief from Washington coming.

“I couldn’t have imagined no action by Washington, D.C., up until this point,” de Blasio said. “I thought it would be an article of faith that there would be a federal stimulus, but there hasn’t been, and I see no indication that there will be for the remainder of this year.”

The furloughs come also in an effort to not have to cut funding elsewhere, the mayor said.

“Now, look, we’ve already had to make some tough cuts that have affected the city and the services we provide,” said de Blasio. “We’re trying to do everything we can to stop from those cuts becoming worse. We do not want to take away jobs from public employees. We do not want to take away services from communities that need it.”

The city had been hit hard with Covid-19 at the outset but has stayed below a 2% infection rate since June. As of Wednesday, based on a seven-day average, there were 277 new cases in the city.

The mayor noted that the city is still working with labor groups to find savings and to prevent future layoffs.

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