Move is expected to yield $860,000 in savings
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced Wednesday that all members of his mayoral staff — including himself — will be subject to a mandatory one-week furlough due to the city’s massive revenue shortfall amid coronavirus lockdowns.
The policy, which forces city employees to essentially take an unpaid vacation sometime between October and March, will affect 495 people, including de Blasio himself and first lady Chirlane McCray, the New York Times reported.
The forced furlough comes as de Blasio has so far failed to petition New York state for longterm borrowing or the federal government for a stimulus bailout.
It is a largely symbolic move as it is expected to yield $860,000 in savings — a mere drop in the bucket compared to the city’s $9 billion, two-year revenue shortfall.
In recent weeks, the embattled mayor has threatened laying off 22,000 city workers unless the city receive a bailout of some kind. But so far, state and federal officials have balked at his warnings.
President Donald Trump, for one, has voiced opposition to granting federal bailouts to Democratic states and cities, which he argued suffered from significant fiscal mismanagement long before the virus.
On Wednesday, de Blasio took on a more somber tone in making the announcement.
“This is a step you never want to see for good, hardworking people, the folks who work here throughout this crisis,” the mayor said. “So it is with pain that I say they and their families will lose a week’s pay.”
“We have to make tough choices to move this city forward and keep our budget balanced,” he added.
During the news conference, de Blasio made sure to call on constituents yet again to push their federal and state representatives to act on behalf of the city.
“We’ll keep fighting for those bigger changes,” he said.
Speaking with the Times, Citizens Budget Commission President Andrew Rein argued that, now six months into the pandemic, the mayor should have already produced a plan to tackle the debt.
“It would be great if this helps dislodge that inertia,” Rein said. “It’s hard to say if it will.”
In contrast, Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for the mayor, hailed the move as “a significant gesture that reasserts City Hall recognizes the sacrifices that will have to be made across the board if we don’t get a stimulus or borrowing.”
Fox News reported that with a mayoral salary of $258,541 per year, de Blasio is set to lose just short of $5,000 during his weeklong furlough.
Author: Phil Shiver