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New York City Municipal Budget, Essay Example

Pages: 7

Words: 1846

Essay

A municipal budget refers to a financial plan, which carries details of spending level needed to maintain municipal assets and promote municipal assets to the community level. The budget and the process of budgeting help the council and the mayor in making decisions regarding services needed by the municipal residents. It also provides guidance to the council on which infrastructure repairs need attention in the year under budget. The budget is an extremely crucial document used to determine whether to increase taxes or not in order to raise required financial requirements for the budget. In this short paper, we are going to give a review of the financial plan of the New York City for the financial year 2012-2013. This will involve revenues and expenditures amongst other considerations in the budget. We are going to see the forecast and the expected percentage growths in the economy.

The New York City Financial Plan 2012-2013

(In million dollars)

REVENUES

Taxes

  FY 2012 FY 2013
General Property Tax 17,902 18,354
Other Taxes 23,486 24,503
Tax Audit Revenue       700        724
Subtotal Taxes   42,088 43,581
     
Miscellaneous Revenues 6,747 7,278
Unrestricted Intergovernmental Aid       25 ——
Less: Intra-City Revenue (1,790) (1,596)
Disallowances Against Categorical Grants       (15)       (15)
Subtotal: City Funds 47,055 49,248
Total Revenues 67,624 68,717

 

Source: UNITED STATES INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT (2012).

EXPENDITURES

Personal Service

  FY 2012 FY 2013
Salaries and Wages 21,940 21,735
Pensions 7,999 8,145
Fringe Benefits 8,014 8,452
Retiree Health Benefits Trust   (672)   (1,000)
Subtotal: Personal Service 37,281 37,332
     
Other Than Personal Service    
Medical Assistance 6,248 6,283
Public Assistance 1,327 1,274
All Other 20,909 20,599
Subtotal: Other Than Personal Service 28,484 28,156
General Obligation, Lease and TFA Debt Service 5,623 6,123
FY 2011 Budget Stabilization & Discretionary Transfers 3,742 ——
FY 2012 Budget Stabilization Discretionary Transfers (1,728) (1,728)
FY 2013 Budget Stabilization ——- 124
General Reserve      40     300
Subtotal 69,414 70,313
Less: Intra-City Expenses (1,790) (1,596)
Total Expenditures 67,624 68,717

 

Source: UNITED STATES INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT (2012).

The national economic recovery pace slowed down after the second half of 2011 strong gains. Housing markets remained weak employment growth slowed, and financial markets have faced pressure. Considering future trends, we expect subdued economic growth and recovery will continue facing risks from the prevailing European crisis and looming changes in taxation and federal spending. The following table shows City fund revenues for the Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013.

City Fund Revenues

(In million dollars)

Taxes

  FY 2012 FY 2013 Annual Growth
Real Property Tax 17,902 18,354 2.5%
Personal Income Tax 7,966 8,476 6.4%
Sales Tax 5,835 6,064 3.9%
Business Taxes 5,400 5,486 1.6%
Real Estate Transaction Taxes 1,426 1,547 8.5%
Other Taxes 2,859 2,930 2.5%
Audits 700 724 3.4%
Subtotal 42,808 43,581 3.5%
Miscellaneous Revenues 5,027 5,756 14.5%
Unrestricted Intergovernmental Aid 25 —– -100%
Grant Disallowances  (15) (15) NA
Total 47,125 49,322 4.7%

 

Source: UNITED STATES INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT (2012).

The following table gives the annual growth expected in the various City-funded expenditures.

Estimated City-Funded Expenditures

(Adjusted for Surplus Transfers and TSASC)

(In million dollars)

  FY 2012 FY 2013 Annual Growth
Salaries and Wages 12,771 12,715 -0.4%
Pension Contributions   7,843    7,988 1.8%
Medicaid   6,091    6,190 1.6%
Debt Service    5,237     5,832 11.4%
Health Insurance    4,162     4,658 11.9%
Other Fringe Benefits    2,796      2,863 2.4%
Energy       874      1,010 15.6%
Judgments and Claims       665         735 10.5%
Public Assistance       561         532 -5.2%
General Reserve         40          300 NA
Drawdown Retiree Health Benefits Trust    (672)      (1,000) NA
Prior Year’s Expenses    (500)     ——- NA
Other  9,271  9,103 -1.8%
Total 49,139 50,926 3.6%

 

Source: UNITED STATES INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT (2012).

Analysis of the accessibility and clarity of City budget documents available online

The Municipal Archives makes available and preserves historical records of the City of New York Municipal government. The archives are available at NYC.gov/RECORDS. These archives are also available online and anyone can access them. Therefore, we note that the information in the budget is available for the public, and we can easily conclude that there is a high sense of accountability and transparency in the municipal governance. The budget documents are available mostly in portable document formats (PDF) online, and they carry comprehensive budgetary information.

The budget documents available online are also clear, and they give concise information on the expenditure, revenues and the breakdown of each of these. However, since, they are available in summary form; it cannot be easy for all people to understand the way certain calculations were arrived. For example,     many people find hard understanding the calculation of the annual growth percentages given. Therefore, there is a need to add information on how to calculate the annual growth percentages and ensure that this is as easy as possible. The documents also contain graphs/curves, which are hard to understand. There is a need to give concise explanation along the curves to ensure that there is no challenge interpreting. However, it is worth noting that the use of the curves, pie charts and other crucial charts matters a lot and presents the budgetary information in a well, organized manner. The documents are sometimes large, and summaries are, therefore, preferable provided they give relevant information for the public to access and go through them with ease.

Analysis of the government agency’s budget hearing process

The New York City budget underwent a joint legislative, public hearing where the President and CEO, Heather C. Briccetti presented the budget before the public on January 31, 2012 (Chin, 2012). According to the President, new jobs and private sector investments drive the economic growth of the City. This would improve the well-being of the residents and assure adequate state resources necessary for social services, public infrastructure, and investments in education. The speech by the president touched on continued fiscal reform, local mandate relief, economic development, infrastructure investments, health care, government procurement, taxation, regulatory reform, and travel, tourism, racing, and gaming.

The state’s economic competitiveness is so crucial and depends on the ability to control the fiscal situation of the City. The report gives a perspective of how to deal, with fiscal reform, to ensure that the local government competes well in its businesses with other states. According to the President, we have the highest pension burdens in the New York after Alaska. The speech also touches on a local mandate relief aimed at easing life costs for the New York residents along with predictable and affordable pension system. The local mandate relief includes reforms to special education, phased state takeover of county Medicaid administrative responsibilities, and consolidation grants and extended local government efficiency.

According to Nagaswami (2012), the report touched on economic development, which will support key investments in public infrastructure and business. The proposers of the economic development plan have hope that the process of the regional council will lead to long-term gains in the New York economy.  The Executive Budget has a renewed focus on infrastructural investments. The budget entails a total sum of $1.64 billion capital funding, which includes $917 million from the federal government and $723 million from the state.

The above information regarding the hearing of the budget to input relevant information from the stakeholders is not an easy task. It is worth noting that, the budget is an estimate and funding might be a challenge. The cost of life has gone up in the recent times and the budget might strain the public, if the state will not have other means to provide funding for the proposed budget. An affordable pension plan may also mean reduced benefits to the public in the end. The Council should weigh the all options available to bring down costs and increase economic gains.

Analysis of budget challenges and recommendations

The budget for the fiscal years 2012 and 2013 will face a challenge in the fact that it failed to address cuts to the services of children proposed by the Preliminary Budget (Nagaswami, 2012). The Executive Budget thus failed to bring $110 million for mental health services, runaway and homeless youth services, child health clinics, the Teen RAPP program, legal services to prevent evictions, food stamps at farmers’ markets and the City’s suicide prevention hotline.

We also note that the City’s plan of eliminating after-school and childcare services for more than 47,000 children does not feature in the budget. This will mean that the problem will go on to the future. The budget should have considered this plan with considerable concern. Chin (2012) asserts that after-school and childcare guarantee safety for children and their social and academic development will ensure that parents who work for low income will support their families well. The neglect of the budget on after-school and childcare has clear repercussions, and this will lead to significant harm to families, children, City and communities. A survey on over 4,000 parents with children in after-school and childcare programs sought to know what parents would do if the services stopped. It was astonishing that fifty percent of parents with children in childcare saw quitting their jobs as the only remedy. Thirty-six percent of those with children in after-school said that they would leave their jobs while 16% saw leaving their children alone at home as an option (FEDERAL REGISTER Vol. 77 No. 24 February 6, 2012).

The Executive Budget has also failed in its proposal to cut $ 1.3 million for the funding of Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). The Health and Hospitals Corporation has been operating this program. We will have to witness many problems on sexual assault, as SART had been so instrumental in providing counseling and forensic services to victims of sexual assault. The Executive Budget also proposed to cut $2.5 million for funding interventions focusing community districts with elevated infant mortality rates, ethnic and racial disparities of infant mortality. The Executive Budget proposed to reduce funding for programs, which increase employment opportunities and skills to move the recipients of adult public assistance, who are mostly women, into the self-sufficiency (UNITED STATES INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT, 2012). This entails $13.9 million cut from substituting Work Experience Program laborers for Parks Opportunity Program participants, which is one of the largest transitional programs of employment in the nation. The budget also proposes a reduction of the workforce in human and health services, libraries and parks. The personnel reductions will total 3,900, and this will affect most the sectors with large numbers of women laborers such as human and health services, parks and libraries.

The Business Council should consider the highlighted concerns by increasing funding for childcare and after-school services. There should be no reduction in the workforce concerned with human and health services, parks and libraries. The allocation for the Sexual Assault Response Team should be increased to ensure that the team continues its crucial services to the public.

References

UNITED STATES INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT. (2012). U.S. Infrastructure Report, (3), 3-128.

Chin, T. (2012). NEW YORK: Long Beach Targets Deficit. Bond Buyer, 380(33697), 9.

Nagaswami, R. (2012). The Road Ahead: Rethinking the Investment Policy Roadmap. Rotman International Journal Of Pension Management, 5(1), 42-49.

FEDERAL REGISTER Vol. 77 No. 24 February 6, 2012. (2012). Federal Register, 77(24), 1-315.

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