The Adams administration is curbing discretionary spending for city agencies as part of the mayor’s effort to manage New York City’s budget in light of the anticipated $12 billion deficit driven by the migrant situation.
As a result of this decision, agencies will have to tread through an intricate bureaucratic process to secure approval for even the most routine operational expenses.
In response to the types of contracts that would need approval, a City Hall source critiqued the order to the New York Post, stating, “It could be like the coffee guy or someone who delivers water… It’s so vague.”
Further illustrating the reach of this mandate, the source said, “That’s a big spigot to turn off. That’s like all outside spending. Maybe if it was like [over] a dollar amount, but you don’t need to look over everything.”
Issued on Tuesday, September 19th, by the Office of Budget Management, this directive will remain effective until next summer, aiming to achieve the initial 5% budget cuts by November.
The memo lists over three dozen budget sectors affected, including travel costs, service agreements, equipment acquisition, and promotional activities.
To sanction any expenditure in these highlighted areas, agencies must now petition for exemption from the Office of Budget Management and the city’s upper echelons, specifically to the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Camille Varlack and the First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright.
Any unauthorized spending by agencies could result in halted approvals for hirings and promotions for a month, warns the memo.
However, certain exemptions are possible for legally mandated services, matters related to the migrant crisis, or mayoral priorities.
The approval process is anticipated to take up to 10 days for expenses already covered by grants and possibly 21 days for other expenditures.
Ana Champeny, a leading budget analyst at the Citizens Budget Commission, remarked, “Freezing spending in specific object codes is a pretty specific spending control that the city hasn’t typically done.”
She estimated that the freeze could impact around $4.4 billion of the city’s total $107.1 billion budget. However, how lenient the administration will be in granting exemptions remains uncertain.
The Adams administration has emphasized the need to identify up to 15% savings by next year, given the soaring expenses associated with caring for nearly 60,000 asylum seekers in the city.