“When New York is under attack. What do we do? Stand up and fight back!" That was the chant of community leaders and elected officials in front of City Hall on Friday.
Fallout over the mayor’s recent round of budget cuts has been swift.
Opponents say the cuts, which include a smaller police force, elimination of Sunday services at libraries, fewer litter baskets and potential elimination of universal pre-K seats, will have devastating consequences for New Yorkers.
“The mayor seems to think that we’re in deep debt. What he doesn’t know is that we’re going to be paying for this for decades. The cuts to education is a debt we’re going to be paying for 10 years,” said Brookyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.
Critics said the cuts are only further harming working class New Yorkers who rely on essential services.
“Your kids are going to have sub-standard education. They are going to have sub-standard roads and transportation, sub-standard parks, they might be food insecure, they might not have a home to go to that is dignified,” Reynoso said.
Part of the cuts, revealed on Thursday, included eliminating overtime for the Fire Department and slashing the next five police cadet classes. The cuts to the NYPD are expected to lower the force to about 29,000 officers by 2025.
Local officials say other solutions, like taxing wealthy New Yorkers, need to be an option.
“He won’t tell Johnny Rich, ‘hey instead of a billion dollars you made this year, you’re going to make 999 million.’ That we won’t do!” Reynoso said.
For many agencies, the latest round of cuts was the fifth time they’ve had to slash their budgets. Previous rounds included examining vacancy reductions and efficiencies.
“They’re having to let go of people. They are constantly being asked to do more with less. We can’t get these inspections done on time. We can’t get these food stamps approved for hungry families on time. That is embarrassing,” said City Councilwoman Jennifer Gutiérrez.
Local officials refused to accept the mayor’s position that a lack of federal and state help amid the migrant crisis is to blame for the fiscal cliff.
“We need to stop looking to him for any type of vision, because he doesn’t have it. We need to stop looking at him for any type of direction, because he doesn’t have it,” Gutiérrez said.
“All the finger pointing—oh it’s your fault, oh it’s the feds, oh it’s the state, oh it’s the asylum seekers—its you!” said State Senator Jabari Brisport.
Adams defended the cuts at an unrelated event on Friday, saying New Yorkers need to have faith in him.
“I know what I’m doing, and I need New Yorkers right now to trust me,” Adams said.
He also noted that the cuts were done with precision—keeping the neediest New Yorkers in mind.
“We looked around to say, when we have to make these efficiency cuts, how do we do it without hurting productivity and hurting growth?”
The city is facing a $7 billion budget gap in the coming fiscal year. Two more rounds of 5% cuts are expected in the coming months to help close the deficit.
Two areas that the city is looking at for revenue are, according to the budget plan for November, speed cameras and renewals for taxi licenses.