New York 1 News

January 16, 2003

Mayor Backs Off Talk Of Laying Off Police Officers


The police commissioner has been sounding the alarm for weeks. But Thursday Mayor Michael Bloomberg said layoffs may not be on the horizon for the NYPD.

“My hope is that with the 3 percent that we've asked the Police Department to cut, just with attrition and good management, we can avoid layoffs coming out of that particular peg,” said Bloomberg. “Long term, I don't think there's any question we need productivity enhancements from our municipal workforce.”

For the first time since the NYPD submitted a new proposal to City Hall to trim another 3 percent of its budget, the mayor acknowledged Thursday that there may have been enough retirements to prevent any layoffs in the Police Department.

Uniformed services and the Department of Education were asked to cut another 3 percent; 6 percent for all other city agencies. The savings would amount to about a half a billion dollars, a small fraction of the city’s $3 billion hole.

Bloomberg said he doesn't see layoffs in any agency's future, but he wouldn't rule them out completely.

“Each time you come back, it goes to show that good management can get people to work together and find new ways of doing things,” the mayor said. “And what we're trying to do is to cut the budget not cut services.”

But City Council members don't seem so sure services aren't in jeopardy.

“I don't know if there is any way you can sugar coat it,” said City Councilman Lewis Fidler. “People out there know what's happening. They know that we are providing less services, and we have to make this as painless as possible and affect people's lives and the quality of their lives as little as possible.”

“We're going to look at every dollar that's going to be cut from the agencies and make sure the quality of life for the folks we represent are not going to be affected,” said City Councilwoman Melinda Katz.

Besides the new round of cuts, the mayor is also asking for $600 million of productivity enhancements from the city's unions. But even then, there is still an overwhelming budget gap the city can't fix without help from the state and Washington, two more fronts for the city to fight the budget battle.

--Sandra Endo