New York Daily News

April 17, 2002

Backup Plan for Budget Hits NYPD

Daily News City Hall Bureau Chief

The NYPD could face $76 million in new budget cuts — and its lowest manpower levels in years — under a dire new contingency plan that Mayor Bloomberg will release today.

While steering clear of specifics, he warned the new cuts could be unavoidable if state, federal and city union officials don't do their part to help close a $4.8 billion hole in the city's budget.

"People should not think this is business as usual," Bloomberg told reporters. "I am optimistic that we are going to get that help. But it requires the federal government, the state government and the unions, all three to help."

Under the contingency plan, New York's Finest would be forced to delay from July 2002 to January 2003 its latest class of recruits, saving some $63 million, City Hall sources said.

That would drop the size of the force from 39,110 to 37,790 — its lowest level in years, and well below its peak of 41,000 in the late 1990s — as officers retire and are not replaced.

Just In Case

City Hall also would delay plans to hire some 800 civilians as a way of putting more officers on the street, chopping another $13 million from the department's proposed budget.

The police cuts are part of a package of $500 million in new hits — a kind of budgetary Plan B — that will be released today along with the mayor's executive budget.

The contingency cuts are not a part of the budget itself, which is expected to closely resemble the preliminary plan Bloomberg released in February — a stark mix of $1.8 billion in service cuts, increased fees and unprecedented borrowing to help pay day-to-day costs.

But the contingency cuts — which the mayor stressed would come into play only if Albany, Washington and the city's unions failed to deliver on about $1 billion in combined givebacks and other aid — offer a new level of pain. "My hope is that we will never get to the point where we have to implement these," Bloomberg said.

PBA Raps Plan

Union officials quickly slammed the proposed hits yesterday as penny wise and pound foolish.

"The one thing that we have learned over the past years is that what brings tax revenue into the city is the safety factor," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. "When people feel safe, tourists come and businesses stay and recruit here."

Other contingency cuts that Bloomberg is expected to outline today include proposals to:

Consolidate eight Fire Department engine companies in so-called low-volume call areas. No firehouses would be closed under the plan, but some would be left with just a ladder truck. These are generally slower to respond than smaller engine crews.

Reduce curbside pickup of residential trash and corner wastebaskets throughout the city. Business improvement districts also would be asked to pay for their own trash removal, saving the city $2 million.