Bonds News

NYC mayor does not expect to lay off city workers

NEW YORK, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Layoffs of New York City workers “were not in the cards,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday, a day after announcing another round of severe budget cuts to help close next year’s $2.3 billion deficit.

Wall Street’s sliding profits are costing both the city and state billions of dollars in tax revenues and the mayor has already said that a 7 percent property tax cut put in place last fiscal year and added again this year may be eliminated in January.

Property taxes are the only taxes the city directly controls, without the need for state government approval.

Bloomberg told reporters addressing any other tax hikes will have to wait until after November because the state legislature would have to approve them.

“It’s an election year in Albany; nobody’s even going to consider raising taxes up there,” Bloomberg said.

Democratic Gov. David Patterson on Wednesday recalled the legislature to make additional cuts in the state budget.

But the city’s fiscal problems are not as severe as in 2002 and 2003, when it was coping with the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 air attacks that steepened an existing downturn, Bloomberg said. That is because the city has already made big budget cuts, putting it ahead of the curve. City commissioners are also much more experienced, he added.

The mayor, an independent who took office in January 2002, inherited a multibillion deficit from his Republican predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani.

“I don’t think layoffs are in the cards. I do think we will not be able hire as many people as we would want,” Bloomberg said, citing rising overtime costs as another risk.

The mayor, who projected that revenues from business, sales and personal income taxes will slide 12 percent, said it was only a “remote possibility” that collections of those taxes would fare better than expected.

New York City sends the state about $12 billion in tax revenue and Bloomberg predicted the state might try to slash city aid, partly because he says its revenue forecasts are to optimistic. “If anything we’re going to have to fight like heck to keep from getting cut,” Bloomberg said. (Reporting by Joan Gralla; editing by Richard Chang)