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De Blasio, Mayor's Office staff to take furlough days amid budget crisis

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Posted at 10:38 AM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 17:41:17-04

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio is furloughing his entire City Hall staff, including himself, for five days as the city continues to look for savings in the fiscal budget that would avoid massive layoffs set to begin in October.

From Oct. 1 through March, de Blasio and every Mayor's Office employee will take five furlough days, the mayor said. The decision impacts nearly 500 staffers.

"This is a step you never want to see for good, hardworking people ... It is with pain that I say they and their families will lose a week's pay," de Blasio said Wednesday during a coronavirus briefing. "It was not a decision I made lightly. 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."

The furloughs, along with other financial cuts made in June, will decrease the Mayor's Office budget by 12% compared to the last fiscal budget, according to the mayor.

When asked the decision on furloughs was not made earlier, the mayor said the city had hoped for a federal stimulus. Since it has not happened, the city is now looking for every possible way to make moves to address the financial crisis.

“It’s at the point we have to show we’re going to do everything and anything to do this,” he said.

De Blasio also rejected the idea of a property tax increase, arguing "people in the city are hurting" and making them pay more in property taxes would negatively impact New Yorkers, particularly working families, even more.

New York City lost $9 billion in revenue when the coronavirus pandemic shut down non-essential businesses in March, de Blasio has said.

The mayor announced in June that the city was prepared to lay off and furlough 22,000 city workers to make up for a $1 billion budget shortfall caused by the pandemic.

In July, city lawmakers passed an $88.19 billion budget that includes $1 billion in labor savings as a last resort.

"This current fiscal year budget is $7 billion less than what had been projected in February," de Blasio said Wednesday.

Layoff and furlough notices were expected to be sent out in August, but de Blasio announced he would hold off after municipal labor unions asked for more time to resolve the issue of borrowing power that could avert the layoffs.