From reading the city’s officially adopted budget you’d think 1998 was a banner year for youth programs. But thanks to the unprecedented battle between the mayor and the City Council there’s no guarantee that the money allocated in the city budget will ever make it to city kids.
The nonprofit Citizens’ Committee for Children, which has analyzed budget data in child-related city agencies, is warning that some youth-related programs could suffer cuts when the mayor and the council convene to renegotiate the budget this fall.
Because the mayor and the legislature failed to agree on a budget this spring, the city’s November budget revision process–which typically involves a few minor adjustments–could result in a major fight to retain funding. “It’s unprecedented in recent history,” said committee director Gail Nayowith. “The ink may be dry and the papers are in the right place and signed, but a lot about [the funding] is up in the air.”
This spring, the council passed its own budget overriding a Giuliani administration veto. But under the city charter, the mayor is allowed to impound any budget items he believes will endanger the city’s fiscal stability.
The mayor hasn’t officially impounded any items yet but many of the budget lines he originally vetoed are likely to placed on the chopping block during the November negotiations. Cuts could include $100 million slated for replacing coal furnaces in schools, $38 million to provide schools with computers and safer playgrounds, $5.3 million in youth development and delinquency programs, $4.2 million for foster care and $1 million to pay for staffers to assist homeless families in the city’s overcrowded Emergency Assistance Unit.
There has been some indication that the mayor could even call for even further reductions. After the council passed the budget containing these items, Giuliani asked each city agency to draft plans to cut costs by 10 percent.
All this uncertainty is making many of many nonprofit agencies that do business with city very nervous. They aren’t sure what the future holds for their once-secure city contracts. “It’s a confusing time for contract agencies,” said an analyst with the city’s Independent Budget Office. “Theoretically, we’re operating under the adopted budget.