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More than 2,000 vacant positions in the municipal workforce are being eliminated as part of the city’s recently announced budget cuts.
Mandated to trim 5 percent from their budgets under the “Program to Eliminate the Gap,” city departments are slashing their budgeted headcounts by 2,873 positions, according to City Hall.
By June 30, 2025, the Police Department will have eliminated 647 civilian positions currently vacant, 322 of which are in the school safety division. Prior to the updated budget plan’s announcement, the Adams administration had already scrapped a 250-person class of school safety agents, whose staffing levels are 1,000 fewer than they were pre-pandemic. The administration also announced the cancellation of five NYPD academy classes, which, together with attrition, will reduce the department’s uniformed headcount to about 29,000 by the end of Fiscal Year 2025, the lowest it’s been since the 1980s.
The FDNY plans to remove 190 uniformed and 286 civilian vacancies by the end of FY 2025, according to the PEG. The agency will move to terminate an estimated 190 uniformed staff who have been working on light duty and do not have a reasonable accommodation. The eliminated civilian positions will mostly be administrative titles and will not include EMS, 911 dispatchers or fire protection inspectors, according to City Hall.
City Council Member Carmen De La Rosa, who chairs the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, noted in a statement Monday that the FDNY “is reducing administrative positions during a peak time for fires during the holiday season.”
She criticized cuts that will reduce services at the city’s public libraries, pre-K programming and other essential services.
“Cuts continue to accumulate as this is not the first time the mayor has cut — or threatened to cut — budgets that affect the delivery of critical services. The unaddressed and growing vacancy rates and hiring freezes across our city agencies put all New Yorkers at risk and impact our city’s revenue. We cannot run one of the most influential cities in the world with skeleton operations,” De La Rosa said. “We will continue to push back against these cuts and will not settle for a scarcity mentality without proper transparency, accountability, and more thoughtful solutions to our out-year fiscal constraints.”
The Department of Buildings, which is facing a shortage of building inspectors, will remove 117 vacant positions from its budgeted headcount. The agency has lost about 100 staffers since the pandemic: in January 2020, there were 1,666 employees working at the DOB, but as of this past July there were 1,556 staffers, according to a monitoring tool released by the state comptroller’s office that tracks services and staffing levels at city agencies.
DC 37: Reductions hurt services
As of September, the city had nearly 21,000 unfilled positions.
And although the Adams administration has made efforts to hire and retain city workers, including by holding numerous hiring halls and establishing a pilot program that allows some members of District Council 37 to work from home, the city implemented a hiring freeze Oct. 1 to help address budget concerns. Positions that support public health, public safety and revenue generation were exempted from the hiring freeze.
Unions, including DC 37, have denounced the widespread cuts.
“Further reducing the authorized strength of the workforce is bad for our workers, bad for public safety, and bad for New York City,” said Henry Garrido, DC 37’s executive director. “These eliminated positions will only further impede the delivery of vital services New Yorkers depend on, placing stress on an already overburdened system and hurting the most vulnerable among us.”
The Law Department, which has seen a large exodus of workers, will cut 56 unfilled positions in response to the city’s hiring freeze. The agency had 1,394 employees as of July, compared to 1,753 in January 2020, the comptroller’s monitoring tool indicated. Earlier this year, the Adams administration decided to lift residency requirements for city attorneys as a way to help recruit and retain talent.
More than 430 positions will be cut at the Department of Education. There will also be 262 unfilled uniformed positions eliminated at the Department of Sanitation because of cuts to some of its cleaning programs. An additional 321 civilian positions will be removed from the agency’s budgeted headcount.
The city’s public advocate, Jumaane Williams, said the mayor’s plan for the spending cuts could have been more judicious.
“These cuts aren’t abstract, and do real harm to our systems of government and New Yorkers relying on those services,” Williams said in a statement soon after the budget modifications were announced. “While there is a clear and urgent need for additional funding and resources from the state and federal government, the mayor should come to the table with a scalpel instead of cuts across the board.”
Some agencies, though, did not indicate cuts to vacant positions. Among those are the Department of Transportation and the Department of Social Services, where staffing shortages have contributed to longer processing times for food stamps applications.
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