After his predecessor closed a $2 billion projected deficit, Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio will come into the office with a balanced budget for the next fiscal year.
"It doesn't make the next mayor's job easy, but it reduces the pain and it means one less thing he's got to worry about," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday.
Cost-savings, higher-than-expected tax revenues and the sale of two city-owned buildings helped the Bloomberg administration balance a roughly $72.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins next July.
"We have done that without proposing any tax increases or cuts in essential services," the mayor said.
After the 9/11 attacks, Bloomberg became mayor with a $4.8 billion budget deficit that grew to $6.4 billion in just a year.
"We certainly did not have the luxury of having a balanced budget," he said.
This is the first time since the 1975 federal bailout that an incoming mayor will inherit such a budget, officials said.
"The next administration does not have to go and cut services," Bloomberg said. "If they want to add services, add employees or increase compensation, they're going to have to find other sources of revenue."
Though the budget allows for 1.25-percent raises for city workers with expired contracts —totaling $475 million in the budget —unions have demanded larger raises and retroactive pay.
But Bloomberg cautioned de Blasio, saying the mayor-elect might be better off with the current budget.
"If you wanted to do things retroactively, you'd have to find a very big revenue source. The numbers would be staggering," the mayor said.
De Blasio has said repeatedly that conversations about retroactive pay raises would be in the context of cost savings and should be held outside of the media.
"We’re reviewing the budget modification released by the mayor today, and remain concerned about the continued impact of sequestration, high uncertainty around the flow of Sandy recovery aid, and the liabilities from unresolved labor contracts," a spokeswoman for de Blasio said in a statement. "We will continue to review this new budget information closely in the coming days and weeks."
Still, Bloomberg had more words of wisdom for his successor.
"You could cut back all services. You could close all firehouses and give all the money to raises for the cops," he said. "I wouldn't suggest doing that."
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