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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

60 Budget Fixes from the Independent Budget Office

Following is a press release we just received from the Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan city agency, announcing a report that looks at 60 ways to cut spending or increase revenue to plug the hole in the city's budget. We thought it was worth reprinting here. We'd love to hear your suggestions, too, on where the city might find some untapped revenue, and where it can cut. So comment away. Here's the release ...

The New York City Independent Budget Office today released the 10th annual edition of its Budget Options for New York City. The new edition includes more than 60 options for cutting costs and raising revenue, and provides pros and cons for each measure presented.

“Although New York City’s tax revenues may have started to rebound from the recession, the city still faces significant budget challenges,” said IBO Director Ronnie Lowenstein. “This volume, with its clear calculations of expected savings or revenues from dozens of budget options as well as the best arguments for and against each of the measures, can help policymakers and the public as they consider ways to address the city’s ongoing fiscal difficulties.”

Some of the options for annual savings and revenues presented for the first time include:
·         Eliminating the parent coordinator position in public schools (saving $87 million)
·         Asking the state to give the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, rather than the city, responsibility for administering civil service exams for NYC Transit and MTA Bridges and Tunnels employees (saving $4 million annually)

·         Increasing the collection of fines for housing code violations (generating $66 million)
·         Taxing the compensation known as carried interest of general partners in private equity and hedge funds like other business income (generating an average of $200 million)
·         Charging a tax on plastic bags (generating $94 million).

The budget options report also considers the pros and cons of the city constructing a waste-to-energy plant, which could save an estimated $29 million annually beginning in 2019 by reducing the need to export about 900,000 tons of trash a year. But as the report notes, the construction of a waste burning plant also presents land use and environmental concerns.

IBO does not endorse or recommend any of these new options nor any of the other measures considered in this volume. Our role is to analyze, not endorse. Over the past decade a number of options presented in prior editions have been adopted such as the shifting of children from the child welfare system’s congregate care facilities to family-based home care and the merging of the Department of Employment with the Department of Small Business Services. Most recently, the Tax Commission has adopted a fee for appealing assessments on properties valued at $2 million or more.  

Budget Options for New York City is available on IBO’s Web site at http://bit.ly/hqeZxr  A free, printed copy of the 69-page report can be obtained by calling 212-442-0632.


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