Mayor Bloomberg to city agencies: Tighten your belts

THE BRONX - In the wake of Wall Street?s meltdown, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked city agencies to slash their budgets by $1.5 billion over the next two years.

The mayor emphasized that in order to fill in the expanding budget gap, all agencies, including police, fire and education departments, will be expected to tighten their belts this year.

One local councilman says Bronx residents will feel the impact.

?Can I tell you that there will not be pain? Can I tell you that many of these cuts will not hurt? No,? says Councilman James Vacca (D-The Bronx).

The mayor?s budget director sent a letter to city agencies, notifying them that the first round of cuts for 2009 must amount to 2.5 percent, or a total of $500 million. The following fiscal year, agency heads will be expected to slash their budgets by another 5 percent, which translates into $1 billion.

In an agency-by-agency breakdown, about $100 million will be shaved off the budgets of the Department of Sanitation and the FDNY. The NYPD will lose $300 million and New York City schools will have to do without $580 million.

?No one agrees to budget cuts, but do I agree that the mayor is making the appropriate decision?? Vacca asks. ?I don't think the mayor had much of a choice.?

Agency directors are expected to turn in their budget proposals no later than Oct. 8. The city council will then vote to approve or modify the cuts in November. In years past, the city has accepted the mayor?s recommendations for budget cuts, but experts say there could be greater opposition this time.

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