New York City Mayor will furlough himself to curb budget crisis

16 September 2020, 18:48 | Updated: 16 September 2020, 19:31

Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio has agreed to furlough himself to help save money
Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio has agreed to furlough himself to help save money. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio will furlough himself and 495 staff members for one week without pay to curb an ongoing budget crisis.

Every worker in the mayor's office will be furloughed between October and March 2021 to close a budget shortfall that has been created by the coronavirus outbreak, Mr de Blasio announced on Wednesday.

The city of New York has lost $9 billion in revenue because of the pandemic, forcing it to cut $7 billion from its annual budget.

It is hoped furloughing staff will save about $1 million and act as a symbolic gesture by the mayor who is currently negotiating with labour unions, that represent municipal employees, over broader payroll savings.

“It was not a decision I made lightly,” he told reporters.

“To have to do this is painful for them and their families, but it is the right thing to do at this moment in history.”

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With the furloughing of staff taken into account alongside other savings, the mayor's office budget will be 12% smaller for this fiscal year than it was last year, Mr de Blasio added.

It will mean Mr de Blasio, who earns more than $258,000, will miss out on just under $5,000. His wife Chirlane McCray is among the workers who will be affected.

Week-long furloughs will begin on 1 October and will be staggered until March 2021 in order to not overly disrupt local government.

He also warned reporters he may have to make 22,000 city employees redundant if he cannot strike an appropriate deal with the labour unions.

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Mr de Blasio is hoping to obtain greater borrowing powers from lawmakers in Albany, the state of New York's capital, who have so far been reluctant to grant such powers.

"I couldn't have imagined no action by Washington, D.C., up until this point," the mayor said.

"I thought it would be an article of faith that there would be a federal stimulus, but there hasn't been, and I see no indication that there will be for the remainder of this year."

He added: “We’ve already had to make some tough cuts that have affected this city and the services we provide. We’ve tried everything we can to stop from those cuts becoming worse. We don’t want to take away jobs from public employees, we don’t want to take away services from communities that need [them]."

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