Queens Council members, as well as legislators across the five boroughs, are urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to pour millions of more dollars into the city budget to boost the number of police officers throughout the city, lawmakers announced last week.
When unveiling the Council’s preliminary budget, a final version of which must be adopted by July 1, legislators advocated for an additional $257 million in the financial plan for 1,000 more NYPD officers, free school lunches for students, and an expanded city-sponsored summer youth employment program.
Borough lawmakers, including Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) have said there is a significant need for additional officers on city streets. Since the 2003 fiscal year, the NYPD has lost approximately 60 to 75 officers per precinct – which has caused the department to rely heavily on overtime to meet daily enforcement demands. In the 2013 fiscal year, overtime expenditures reached $634.6 million – a figure that lawmakers argued could be significantly reduced with the influx of 1,000 officers.
“The NYC Council’s budget is truly inclusive of all New Yorkers and promotes public safety as one of our highest priorities,” Crowley said. “This budget recommendation includes a long-overdue investment in hiring 1,000 more cops to strengthen our police force and provide the additional resources necessary to properly serve diverse communities across our city.”
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), along with Council Members Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), the chairwoman of the Finance Committee, detailed at City Hall last Wednesday the proposed budget, which would also eliminate school lunch fees for all students, and provide 10,000 more city-sponsored summer jobs for teenagers.
“From increasing our police force, to bolstering job creation, to eliminating school lunch fees and reducing the homeless population, our proposals will strengthen the city’s infrastructure, innovate government operations, and build a stronger, safer city that delivers results for all New Yorkers,” Mark-Viverito said.
Ferreras too praised the proposal.
“Simply put, the proposals in our budget response seek to make the city and its operations better,” Ferreras said.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) highlighted the fact that the preliminary plan includes a financial boost for cultural resources in the city.
“It is incredibly important in a statement of priorities that the arts and libraries be included” said Van Bramer, Council Majority Leader and the chairman of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee. “… From increasing capital dollars to small culturals and calling for certified art teachers in schools, this Council is committed to the arts. Our stated goal of restoring six-day library service and stabilizing capital funding for libraries are equally important toward ensuring access for all.”
Among a number of other items, the proposal would also increase the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs budget by $400,000 to develop programs to address the needs of city veterans. And the Council recommended the de Blasio administration allocate another $1 million for mental health, employment, and legal assistance for veterans.”
By Anna Gustafson