Hey, big spender.
Mayor de Blasio on Thursday proposed a $89.06 billion fiscal 2019 budget that adds $386 million for homeless services — and provides enough funding for a record workforce head count of 330,818.
Overall, the mayor identified nearly $1.5 billion in new funding needs spread over 2018 and 2019 that surfaced in just the two months since he released his preliminary budget.
A large part of the expenditures is offset by higher tax revenues in the current fiscal year.
Despite the extra cash coming in, a fiscal-watchdog panel pointed to warning signs that it said called for prudence.
“City-funded spending will grow 5.8 percent and total head count is projected to increase to a record high . . . as the city continues to face challenges managing rising expenses related to homeless shelters and overtime,” the Citizens Budget Commission said in a statement.
“The Citywide Savings Program features little in agency savings, instead relying on debt-service re-estimates.”
The big-ticket items added since February include $291 million for the Department of Education, of which $80 million was directed to pay the private-school tuition of special-education kids that public schools can’t serve.
Nearly all the money added to homeless services was earmarked for shelter costs, a total tab of $343 million that officials attributed largely to the higher costs of housing people in commercial hotels rather than apartments.
The budget for the Department of Homeless Services was projected to reach $2.06 billion — more than the $2.04 billion set aside for the Fire Department, the $1.8 billion going to the Sanitation Department and the $1.6 billion to the Health Department.
The mayor insisted the up-front costs of creating 90 new shelters and moving people out of poorly kept private units will be offset with future savings.
But City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the mayor needs a new strategy.
“It’s an explosion of spending related to DHS and we need to reduce homelessness, not manage it,” said Johnson, who wants the city to divert shelter spending toward more permanent solutions such as supportive housing and rental vouchers.
“We need an accurate number on what homeless policy costs in New York City and we don’t have that — and we need that,” he added. “We need to actually have an accurate projected number every year and not be doing budget modifications and increases throughout the year for new spending.”
Two key items demanded by the council were not included: a property-tax rebate that would cost $187 million and $212 million for half-fare MetroCards for low- income residents.
The mayor was unapologetic about the budget boost.
“There is a logic to each increase — it’s real money — but we do think it aligns to values and to what’s effective,” he said.
The mayor and the council have until June 30 to negotiate the final budget for fiscal 2019, which starts on July 1.
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