Budget Cuts Could Shrink NYPD, FDNY to Lowest Level in Decade

DNAinfo - March 19, 2011

by Jill Colvin DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN -- The city's fire and police forces would shrink to their lowest levels in more than a decade under the mayor's preliminary budget plan, according to a new report.

Under the mayor's plan, unveiled last month, the police department's force would shrink to 34,413 uniformed officers by June 2012 -- its smallest size since 1992, the Independent Budget Office projected Friday. 350 civilian positions are also set to be cut.

The fire department would also shrink to 10,282 staffers -- the lowest number since "at least" 1980, the report said.

The report also warned that homeless shelter costs could skyrocket due to state cuts to the "Advantage" program, which provides rental subsidies to the working homeless so they can move out of shelters and into their own homes.

If 30 percent of families currently enrolled in the program were to return to shelters, costs would increase by $279 million, costing the city an additional $115 million, the report said.

If 70 percent were to return, shelter spending would soar by $455 million -- a 66 percent increase, costing the city $180 million more, it said

Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond had previously said that building extra shelters to accommodate the cuts would cost the city about $80 million.

In addition to the cuts, the report projected that the mayor's budget office had underestimated the deficit for fiscal year 2012 by nearly $200 million.

That shortfall includes the assumption that the city will have an additional $400 million in extra money, and $200 million in savings from the state that may never materialize.

The report also noted a significant shift in funding from public schools to nonpublic programs, including charter schools and special education pre-kindergarten programs.

Under the mayor's plan, the portion of funding directed at public schools would shrink. Charter school grants, meanwhile, would increase by $166 million, a bump of 30 percent.

Charter costs have tripled over the past four years thanks to increasing enrollment, the report noted.