New York Daily News

April 3, 2003

NYPD blue may see pink

Budget hints at more job cuts

By MICHAEL SAUL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU

The city's $1 billion slice-and-dice contingency plan includes the possibility of police layoffs, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.

"The plan includes everything in this city, unfortunately," Bloomberg said when asked about cutting the police force. "It would be a very damaging thing for this city, but the law requires us to balance the budget."

The Police Department already has lost 3,500 officers — nearly 9% — in just more than a year. By June 30, the NYPD is on track to cut the force to 37,210 through retirement and attrition.

At this point, administration officials said the contingency plan does not include pink slips for uniformed personnel. Instead, the Police Department is considering laying off civilian employees and reducing its uniformed force through attrition.

Move called devastating

Al O'Leary, a spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said any further reduction in the police force would be devastating. "The staffing level of the NYPD is already dangerously low, and there is no guarantee that the city could be adequately protected if the staffing gets any smaller," O'Leary said.

On Tuesday, the Bloomberg administration confirmed it had begun working on a drastic contingency plan to cut the budget by $1 billion if Albany does not come through with a huge aid package. Bloomberg is scheduled to unveil his executive budget April 15.

A Bloomberg aide said the mayor could not "rule out" layoffs at other uniformed agencies, including the Fire Department. Firefighters recently converged near City Hall Park to oppose an administration plan to shutter eight fire companies.

Waiting for Albany

Bloomberg said yesterday he remained confident that Albany would come through with an aid package. Still, he said, the city has to be prepared if Albany rejects the city's budget proposals.

"I'm still optimistic that Albany will be there and will help us," Bloomberg said. "But prudence says that we have to have a plan just in case."

Councilman David Weprin (D-Queens), chairman of the Council's Finance Committee, said the mayor's plan highlights the severity of the city's budget crisis. "It emphasizes the need to step up the lobbying effort in Albany and Washington," he said.

This year, Bloomberg ordered city agencies to identify $600million in cuts. The newly announced $1 billion contingency cuts would come on top of these cuts.

"It's fair to say in 15 months we have cut $2.6 billion in city funds being spent, but almost without exception, city services have improved, not declined," Bloomberg said. "There will be a point where that trend just cannot continue."