Yesterday, we reported on the $2 billion worth in cuts that would skewer the budget in the next two full fiscal years. The main targets included the police, sanitation, corrections, education, and fire departments of New York City; overall, the mayor told the departments that they would have cut their overheard by 5.4 percent this year and 8 percent the following year. However, according to a Daily News report, it seems as if the Hozziner’s staff in City Hall were not only immune from the chopping block but also actually received the spoils.
In the article, it was discovered that 10 of the mayor’s employees received a salary bump of 20 percent or so over the summer. The news, after the announced budget memo, comes off as bad PR for a mayor that is telling all of City government to tighten its belts a little more than a bit.
However, the mayor’s office has defended the raises as a reaction to staff cuts; in the past year, 17 workers have been removed from the total staff of 484. In other words, fewer staff members equals more work for employees — the argument goes that the workers deserve higher pay for the new responsibilities. Overall, the budget for the office’s salary has dropped off by $1.4 million.
Regardless, the report is the last thing workers want to hear or see; salary raises in the time of cuts to our children’s education is not the best news story to deal with. City Councilwoman Letitia James sounded off to the News about that relationship: “It is hypocritical. It’s just disrespectful to the people who basically make the city run.”
With only a fourth of the City’s labor union members receiving salary raises last year, the “hypocritical” accusation by Councilwoman James is accurate, but what needs to be examined is just how much more work this smaller staff has now taken on. It’s easy to pin down a scape goat but it’s also hypocritical in itself to chastise workers for doing a better job.
If it’s just more clerical work, then you have yourself a decent argument. But if it’s much more technical than that, maybe a raise was necessary for the onslaught of budget strains in the workplace. Either or, the mayor will have to defend himself for picking the worst possible time for salary raises. Because you can’t ask for $2 billion in cuts that easily.